The Chess Variant Pages

Not A Chess Variant


This game was developed for the 41 square chess variant contest at the Chess Variant Pages. I consider this variant to be something of a sequel to my entry in the 38 square contest, The Royal Standard. Both games are explorations of alternatives to rows of pawns in serving as a buffer between each side's major pieces. The name of this variant is inspired by a famous painting by Magritte. Just as a painting of a pipe is not a pipe, so the rules to a chess variant are not a chess variant; only in the playing of the game does it become one.


Each player begins with 10 pieces, placed as shown on the board below. (The black pieces are represented with lowercase, white uppercase.)

        +   +   +   +   +
          a   k   c   a
+   +   +   +   +   +   +
  r   e   d   d   e   r
+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +

+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +

+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +

+   +   +   +   +   +   +   +
      R   E   D   D   E   R
    +   +   +   +   +   +   +
      A   C   K   A
    +   +   +   +   + 
R = Rook
A = Android (zR)
C = Caretaker (RzR)
K = King
E = wirErider
D = short winDrider


At the beginning of the game, the edges of all of the squares are empty. In the course of play, wire segments are placed on these edges, If placing a segment creates a loop, all segments on that loop are removed. The outer edges of the board are a legal place to put wire segments, and may be a good choice for the purpose of closing loops or giving extra mobility to wireriders, even though they won't have an effect on pieces' moves via the mobility rule.

Mobility Rule:

Excepting the King, any piece that is moved must cross exactly one wire segment during its move. The crossing of the segment may occur at any point in the move. As in normal chess, pieces may not pass through other pieces or land on pieces of the same color, and landing on a piece of the opposite color captures it.

The Pieces:

The King and Rooks are identical to the FIDE pieces. (Remember that the King alone may ignore the mobility rule.)

The Android is identical to the Crooked Rook, discovered by Ralph Betza and described here. (I.e., it moves as a rook, but must make a 90 degree turn every move, moving away from its starting square. Ed.)

The Caretaker is a combination rook and crooked rook, and may make the moves of either. (Betza notation RzR.)

The remaining pieces are novel to this game:

The Short WindRider:

The Windmill is described by Ben Good in the Piececlopedia:

The windmill moves as follows: first it chooses a piece, friendly or enemy, adjacent to itself. It can then move either clockwise or counterclockwise around that piece, passing through empty squares adjacent to the piece around which the windmill is moving. The windmill can end on an enemy piece, capturing it. The windmill must end on a square different than the one it started on.
A WindRider can be defined as a piece that makes an arbitrary number of Windmill moves in succession. The Short WindRider is a little more reined in; it can make up to two Windmill moves in a row, (but still must end in a different square from where it started.)

The WireRider:

The WireRider's move is unique in that it is dependant on the placement of the wire segments. If a WireRider is adjacent to a segment, it may move one square in either direction parallel to the segment. It may repeat this any number of times, subject to the mobility rule. Like the WindRider, it may not end the turn on the same place it started. Notice that both the WireRider and the WindRider may encounter the same square twice during a move; because of the mobility rule it may be necessary to pass through a square once before ending at that square, if no segment had been crossed yet at the first encounter.

In the diagram below, the WireRider may move to the positions marked with an 'x':

+   +   +   +   +
+   +   +   +   +
        | x   x
+   +---+---+   +
            | x
+   +   +   +   +
    |     E   x
+   +   +---+   + 


Players alternate turns; white starts. On each player's first turn, that player places 5 wire segments on the board. No loops may be created with these initial placements. On subsequent turns each player first moves a piece, if possible, and then places a segment.

Ending the game:

The game ends when the king is mated. It is possible to use segment placement to get out of check. There is no stalemate; if a player cannot move a piece, e must pass, (but e still places a segment that turn.)


In this game I limited myself to pieces making orthogonal moves, to help keep their interactions with the mobility rule clear. I was also interested in pieces that could get to a square in more than one way, since the mobility rule means that different ways of getting to the same square are not equivalent. The loop-destruction rule is there because I want there to be a dynamic equilibrium in the position of the wires, rather than the board simply becoming more and more crowded with segments over time. If the loop destruction rule is too strong, it can be weakened so that only loops around a single square are destroyed.
Send comments about this game to Alexandre Muñiz
Written by Alexandre Muñiz. (Edited by Hans Bodlaender.)
WWW page created: April 2, 2001.