The Chess Variant Pages




Horus

by

Peter Aronson

Introduction

Horus is named for the Egyptian God who bears the title "Falcon of the Horizon" and who was sometimes depicted as having a Falcon's head. Horus is a game where the Falcon from George Duke's Falcon Chess is the "Royal" piece, and when you have captured all three of your opponent's Falcons, you win.

Board and Setup

Horus is played on a board of 44 squares with 12 pieces to a side, all of which start off of the board.









       +---+---+---+---+---+
7      |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
6  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
5  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
4  |:::|   |:::|XXX|:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
3  |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
2  |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
1      |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
       +---+---+---+---+---+
     a   b   c   d   e   f   g

(Note that the center square at d4 has been removed, and is not part of the game.) Each player starts with three Falcons, two Rooks, two Bishops, two Knights and three Pawns.

General Rules

The general structure of FIDE Chess is used: White moves first, Black second; a player must move a piece each turn, etc.

  • The game is won by capturing all three of your opponent's Falcon pieces.

  • All pieces start off of the board, "in hand". If a player has pieces in hand, they may drop an in hand piece on any unoccupied square on the board. This counts as a move.

  • If a player has no Falcons on the board, the only legal move they have is to drop a Falcon from in hand to the board.

  • The first three moves by both players must be drops.

  • White's fourth move must be a non-capturing move. There is no restriction on Black's fourth move.

  • When a piece other than a Falcon is captured by a piece other than a Falcon, it is returned to the owning player, who places it in hand. A captured Falcon, or a piece captured by a Falcon is removed from play.

I do not believe a stalemate is possible.

The Moves of Pieces

  • The Falcon moves to squares three squares away not moved to by a Queen or a Knight. The Falcon moves by a sequence of exactly three steps, two in one direction, and one bent at a 45° angle to the first direction. This gives the Falcon up to three paths to any square it can reach. The two squares moved through must be empty, though the square stopped in may be occupied by an opposing piece, which is captured.










           +---+---+---+---+---+
    7      |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
       +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
    6  |:::| * |:*:|   |:*:| * |:::|
       +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
    5  | * |:::|   |:::|   |:::| * |
       +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
    4  |:*:|   |:::|XXX|:::|   |:*:|
       +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
    3  |   |:::|   |:F:|   |:::|   |
       +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
    2  |:*:|   |:::|   |:::|   |:*:|
       +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
    1      |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
           +---+---+---+---+---+
         a   b   c   d   e   f   g

    In the above diagram, the Falcon can move from d3 to a2 by any of three paths: d3-c3-b3-a2, d3-c3-b2-a2 or d3-c2-b2-a2. However, since the center non-square of the Horus board blocks movement, the Falcon on d3 has only has two paths to b6 and and f6, and only one path to c6 and e6. For greater detail about the Falcon's movement, see the Falcon Chess page.

  • Pawns move and capture like omnidirectional FIDE Pawns, moving one step to the left, right, up or down without capturing, or moving one step diagonally, but only to capture. There is no promotion, double-move, or en-passant.

  • Knights, Bishops and Rooks move and capture as in FIDE Chess. The Knight's move is not blocked by the missing middle square, as Knight moves don't have paths, thus there is nothing to block.

Notes and Comments

George Duke's Falcon moves rather like a Bison, a fairy piece that combines the moves of a Camel and a Zebra. It is somewhat weaker than actual Bison, particularly on a board this small, since it can be blocked, but it is much stronger than a lame Bison would be. One result of the Falcon's multiple movement paths is that, unlike with lame pieces, if Black's Falcon attacks White's Falcon, White's Falcon also attacks Black's Falcon.

Horus was inspired by the thought (expressed on the page for Prisoner's Escape) that a Falcon Chess Falcon would be rather crowded on a 44-square board. Taking that thought, I turned to Knight Court, with its Royal Knight and where captured pieces return to their owner's hand, and Re, where the board starts empty and its scoring system (the three Falcons instead of one were derived indirectly from the idea of a scoring system), and synthesized this game.

Thanks to John Lawson for playtesting and suggestions.

Computer Play

I've written an implementation of Horus for Zillions of Games. You can download it here:


Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: January 12th, 2004.