The Chess Variant Pages

Cascudo Chess

This is an entry for Chessvariants 44-space competition. authored by DTJagger, and onvented by DTJagger in November 2003. © 2003 All rights reserved.

'Cascudo' is a 44 cell hexagonal chess featuring a powerful king. Each turn must involve a 'cascade' among a player's pieces. The maintainance/destruction of lines of communication between pieces is all important.


The board (illustrated) consists of an array of 42 hexagonal cells in 3 circuits around two hexagonal core cells, making 44 cells in all. The 44 hexagons are coloured regularly in 3 colours with no adjacent hexagons having the same colour. The files are lettered a to g, and the ranks numbered 1 to 8.

Cascudo board and setup


Each side starts with a king(K), queen(Q), 2 rooks(R), 3 bishops(B), 2 knights(N) and 6 pawns(P) as shown.

Rules of Cascudo

Orthodox western chess rules apply where any uncertainty remains.

*1* Object and outcomes

The object is to 'checkmate' the opponent.

A player is in checkmate (and has therefore lost):
either - if it is impossible for him to escape check,
or - if on his turn (though not necessarily in check) he is unable to perform a 'cascade'.

A draw occurs by agreement, on threefold repetition of a position by either player, or after 50 turns by each player without a capture. A player may resign the game.

*2* Capture

Capture must be of an opposing token and is by replacement.

*3* Cascades and moves

A player's turn takes the form of a 'cascade' or chained sequence of several (at least 2) moves.

The initial move and any middle moves of a cascade must be 'internal' moves. The final move of a cascade must be an 'external' move.

An 'internal' move involves a token moving into a cell already occupied by a friendly token and displacing that token which then makes either another 'internal' move of its own or else an 'external' move.

An 'external' move is one made either into an empty cell or else into one occupied by an enemy token (when a replacement capture is made).

In any cascade no token can be moved more than once. This sets a natural limit to the number of moves within a cascade - and prevents endless cycling.

Pawns(P) move one space straight forward (and never two), but capture one space sideways-forward into an adjacent cell.

(Bear in mind that an 'internal' move with a pawn can only ever be forward, as it can never involve a capture.)

Pawns promote on the first end cell they meet of any of the 7 files. They promote to any friendly piece (except a king) and cannot remain as pawns.

(A promoting move need not be the final move of a cascade - hence more than one promotion is theoretically possible within a single cascade).

There is no 'en passant'.

Knights(N) are the only leapers and move as in Glinski hexagonal chess, i.e 2 spaces straight onwards and 1 further space outwards and onwards, or 1 space onwards and 2 further spaces straight outwards and onwards.

Bishops(B) too move as in Glinski hexagonal chess, i.e along diagonals of the same colour as their start square. They may pass between tokens which lie on other colours. They are colour-bound.

Rooks(R) move straight onwards in any direction. There is no castling.

Queens(Q) move as either bishop or rook.

Kings(K) move as either queen or knight. The king is the lynchpin of Cascudo.

*4* Check and checkmate

Note that absolutely all turns are required to be cascades - including check, checkmate and a king's escape from check.

A check (typically of a concealed kind) can occasionally be missed in Cascudo especially with inexperienced players. If a check has been missed, the king cannot be captured the move after the missed check. Or put another way, a king can never be taken, only checkmated.

Like any other token, kings have two basic methods of moving (whether escaping check or not).
(1) The king moves into a cell occupied by a friendly piece, displacing that piece which is then moved elsewhere.
(2) The king, being displaced by the move of a friendly piece, is then able to move elsewhere.

Obviously the king must not be in check in his new position at the end of the turn.

A king is allowed to check the opposing king, provided he himself is not in check by so doing. This is quite possible, indeed typical, within Cascudo. Strategy and tactics The game is very lively with frequent checks and counterchecks. Everything soon starts to revolve around the kings, which are the pieces best suited to bind a side's pieces together. Try to avoid letting any of your tokens become isolated. Try to set your opponent fiendish puzzles at every stage (perhaps by checking him) even whilst escaping from check yourself. Even though you may be behind in material, a neat combination may well land you a surprise victory.

Pawns tend to function mostly as shields and, perhaps surprisingly, it is not at all easy to find time to advance them to promotion.

Design background

The board is essentially that of 'Diminuendo', one of my entries for last year's 43-space competition, except with the central doublecell now as two cells.

The name 'Cascudo' reflects the 'cascade' idea, with the 'udo' ending sounding suitably ludic.

Part of the challenge in designing a mini-chess is having the game generate a sufficient variety of early positions. The cascade idea provided me with the necessary great variety in a seemingly novel way - though I'm aware that hardly anything in games design can safely be said to be original.

Testing early prototypes soon showed that the king needed to be boosted in power to stop the game fragmenting overmuch. I experimented with king as rook+knight but settled in the end for the fulsome power of queen+knight - which allows the game to fully develop its character and provides the most fun.

Generally I like to retain the usual set of chess types, making the game at once familiar and easy to master.

I owe a debt of acknowledgement to Glinkski for the moves of most of the pieces, and to anyone else who has used composite moves within their games. Natural variants One could easily scale up Cascudo to be played on any hex chessboard, or even try out the basic idea on squared or other boards.

It works very well too using 'berolina' type pawns instead - i.e pawns that move one space sideways-forward and take one space forward. Chains of these can snake forwards with each move!

I enjoyed designing Cascudo. It provides an interesting and unusual game even as a solitaire. Perhaps some of you might be tempted to try it.

Happy cascading!

Any Zillions wizards out there are welcome to try to fit Cascudo to Zillions. Contributions of any board-design software gurus would also be welcome.

Written by David Jagger.
WWW page created: April 22, 2004.