The Chess Variant Pages




Afterlife Chess

By Luiz Carlos Campos

Introduction

          In the eyes of the Egyptians, the afterlife was much more complex than the earthly life. You walked a long way until judgment, and if your fate was bad, my, was it bad . . . This chess variant, designed for the 42 square contest, tries to capture a little of that spirit.

General Rules

          The rules of Afterlife Chess are identical to those of FIDE Chess, except where noted otherwise. For any ambiguous points, refer to Rule Zero.

          One general difference from FIDE Chess is that you are allowed to capture your own pieces, not just opposing pieces.

The Boards and the Layout

          There are four boards in Afterlife chess:

  1. The World: This board is a 4x7 rectangle. Most action occurs here. Columns are named a through d. Ranks are numbered 1 through 7. The pieces are laid out as following:
         +---+---+---+---+   
       7 |:w:| p |:h:| w |   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       6 | s |:s:| s |:s:|   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       5 |:::|   |:::|   |   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       4 |   |:m:| m |:::|   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       3 |:::|   |:::|   |   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       2 | S |:S:| S |:S:|   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       1 |:W:| H |:P:| W |   
         +---+---+---+---+   
           a   b   c   d   
    White
    Pharaoh (P): c1
    High Priest (H): b1
    Warrior (W): a1, d1
    Slave (S): a2, b2, c2, d2
    Black
    Pharaoh (p): b7
    High Priest (h): c7
    Warrior (w): a7, d7
    Slave (s): a6, b6, c6, d6
    Gray
    Mercenaries (m): b4, c4
    If a Black or White piece is captured on this board, it goes to Limbo.
  2. The Limbo: Pieces captured in the World always come to this 1x1 square board, capturing any piece that is already here. After their owner's first movement after they're in Limbo, they may proceed to their Destiny. If a piece is captured in Limbo, it Ceases to Exist.
         +---+
         |:::| Limbo
         +---+
  3. The Twelve Hours of the Night -- this board is shaped like a bone and has four columns, named alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Alpha and delta have three ranks, 1 through 3, while the others have only one rank, number 2. In the beginning of the game, there are four Gray pieces on the board: Sethlings, at alpha 1, alpha 3, delta 1 and delta 3. A piece captured in this board Ceases to Exist.
         +---+       +---+   
       3 |:e:|       | e |   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       2 |   |:::|   |:::|   
         +---+---+---+---+   
       1 |:e:|       | e |   
         +---+       +---+   
           a   b   g   d   
           l   e   a   e   
           p   t   m   l   
           h   a   m   t   
           a       a   a   
    Gray
    Sethlings (e): alpha-1, alpha-3, delta-1, delta-3
  4. The Hall of Truth -- this board is a 1x5 corridor, with only column H and ranks 1 through 5.
         +---+
       5 |:::| Feather of Ma'at
         +---+
       4 |   |
         +---+
       3 |:::|
         +---+
       2 |   |
         +---+
       1 |:::| Entrance
         +---+
           H
    The important features of this board are three:

  5. All pieces move like a Wazir in this board (one step forward or back), but can capture either as a Wazir or as a Dabbabah (a leap of two squares forward or back, possibly passing over a friendly or opposing piece in the lept over square);
  6. Square H1 is the Entrance, and all pieces coming from Limbo or The Twelve Hours of the Night are dropped here, capturing any piece occupying this space;
  7. In square H5 lies the Feather of Ma'at, and any piece that occupies this square may be dropped in any empty square of the World, in a move called Reincarnation. This spends one's move.
  8. As in Limbo and the Twelve Hours, pieces captured here Cease to Exist.

The Destiny

          When a piece leaves Limbo, where it goes depends on what it was in life. If it's the High Priest, it always goes to the Hall of Truth. If it's a Slave, it always goes to the Twelve Hours of the Night. If it's a Warrior or the Pharaoh, it goes to the Hall of Truth if it captured any piece during its last passage in the World. Otherwise, it goes to the 12 Hours.

          Pieces going to the Hall of Truth are always dropped on the Entrance. Pieces going to the Twelve Hours must be dropped in an empty square. If there aren't any, tough luck, the piece Ceases to Exist. Both drops are instantaneous and do not require a move.

Gray Pieces

          Any player can move (or capture) a gray piece, but gray pieces can never capture other gray pieces. Moving a gray piece spends one's turn. The gray pieces are:

  • The Mercenary -- the Mercenary moves and captures only one square forward, from the point of view of the player moving it. However, if a mercenary reaches an army's first row (1 for White, 7 for Black), it is enslaved (becomes a normal Slave thereafter) by that army.
  • The Sethling -- the Sethling moves and captures like a Wazir (one square left, right, up or down). If there are non-gray pieces in the 12 Hours, but not if there are both Black and White pieces, the player without pieces in the 12 Hours can make one free Sethling move during his turn.

Normal Pieces

          They are the following:

  • The Pharaoh -- moves and captures like a FIDE Chess King. It can however be captured, and its capture does not lose the game. One loses the game only if their Pharaoh Ceases to Exist.
  • Warriors -- move and capture like a combination of a Knight and of a Ferz (a leap of two squares, not landing on the same row, column or diagonal as started on, or a single step diagonally):
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:::|   |:::|   |   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        | * |:::| * |:::|   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:*:|   |:*:| * |   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |   |:W:|   |:::|   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:*:|   |:*:| * |   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        | * |:::| * |:::|   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:::|   |:::|   |   
        +---+---+---+---+
    If a Warrior reaches the final row in the World (7 for white, 1 for black) it must promote to a Chariot.
  • Chariots (c or C) -- move and capture like Rooks. Upon dying, reverts to a Warrior. Pieces captured in Chariot form count as captured by the Warrior for the purposes of where the Warrior goes to after Limbo.
  • Slaves -- move and capture like FIDE Chess Pawns, but any Slave adjacent to a Pharaoh can be moved by that Pharaoh's player as if it belonged to that player. Slaves reaching the final row in the World become Freed Slaves. Slaves are also Freed upon death.
  • Freed Slaves -- move and capture like Wazirs. Freed slaves, should they ever Reincarnate, are enslaved again. Tough luck, eh?
  • The High Priest -- moves and captures like a combination of a Ferz, Dabbabah and Alfil (a leap of two squares on any Queen-line, or a single step diagonally):
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:::|   |:::|   |   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |   |:*:|   |:*:|   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:*:|   |:*:|   |   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |   |:H:|   |:*:|   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:*:|   |:*:|   |   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |   |:*:|   |:*:|   
        +---+---+---+---+   
        |:::|   |:::|   |   
        +---+---+---+---+
    Since High Priests are colorbound, they'll never fight in the World (Osiris forbids it). High Priests however can't Reincarnate. After reaching the Hall of Truth, they must remain there as protectors of the Feather of Ma'at. Since they're so finely attuned to that dimension, however, they are the only pieces that retain their normal movement (besides the one bestowed by the Hall). In practical terms, this means they can move like a Dabbabah in the Hall, not only capture as one.

Redemption

          There is still a way out for a piece in the Twelve Hours, albeit a tough one. Whenever a piece is the sole occupant of the Twelve Hours, it is immediately dropped on the Entrance of the Hall of Truth. This does not require a move, but killing the Sethlings and other enemies (and allies!) is a chore by itself and probably required a lot of moves. After this happens, the 12 Hours is instantly reset, that means, the four Sethlings are repositioned on squares alpha 1, alpha 3, delta 1 and delta 3.

Conclusion

          Is this complicated? I hope not. Anyway, this is my first major chess variant. Whether or not it's playable is an issue I haven't really addressed, but the idea is neat . . .



Written by Luiz Carlos Campos. HTML Conversion by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: July 29th, 2002.