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Ice Hockey Chess


by Francois Tremblay, October 2000

INTRODUCTION
I found out that a variant called "Hockey Chess" already existed only after making this variant . However, this variant is different in the sense that it is much closer to real hockey than Hockey Chess (which also makes the rules more complicated). People who like hockey will like to play this variant.
Here, pieces can take the puck from opponents, shoot, clear the puck, and more. It is played with a considerably reduced team (army). The team with the most goals at the end of the three periods win, as in hockey.


Starting positions in Ice Hockey Chess All normal rules of piece movement apply.
In this explanation, "checking" designates the hockey term, not the chess term. There is no chess check, checkmate, stalemate, or other chess endings. The goal of the game is to score the most goals, as in hockey. This game presumes a basic familiarity with hockey terms and rules.

STARTING POSITION (white starts with the puck)
King E1 / E8 - goaltender
Rook B2, G2 / B7, G7 - defensemen
Bishop C3, F3 / C5, F5 - wingers
Queen D3 / D5 - center
I use a black pawn, on the same square than the piece in possession, to represent the puck, but a checkers piece could also be used.

The crease is the rectangle cornered by C1-C2-F2-F1 / C8-C7-F7-F8. The nets are composed of the two squares below D1 and E1, and the two squares above D8 and E8.
Crease and Net Rules : Only the goalie of the appropriate side may be located in the crease. No piece can enter the net except the puck.

Each period lasts 20 turns.

Basics on puck possession and movement :
A piece has possession of the puck if it is on the same square than the puck. When it moves, the piece with possession may skate with the puck, or leave it behind on its path. Passes, shots and clearings are all made in the same way : by shooting the puck in a chosen direction (limited by the possessor's movement lines) until it hits a piece or an obstacle.


Actions during a turn :

Both sides play their turn in alternance (the side that makes its turn first is the one that started on the faceoff). Note that it is possible that both sides have possession (or do not) consecutively.

A player in possession must play his turn in this order :
* movement of a piece (not necessarily the piece with the puck, pieces without puck can also move with or without checking)
* one or two passes (optional)
* a shot or clearing (optional)

A player without possession must play his turn in this order :
* movement of a piece (with or without checking)
* goaltender move (optional)

Every turn, one of the two players must turn the period time counter.


Faceoff rules :
Start back at the original positions, with the side that got the last goal scored against it putting its pieces in the same way than the white deployment, mirrored from the vertical middle axis (thus, if black team gets scored, the original board as you see it would now be the view from black's side, but mirrored from the vertical mirror axis : for example, a queen in D3 on white deployment would be on E3 for black), and starts with its queen with the puck.
Periods begin with the losing team on the offense - if the score is equal, white starts. The team that starts with the puck makes the first move, regardless of its colour. The faceoff is always the beginning of a new turn - if a turn is half-done, then it is deemed completed and the time is decremented.


Movement of the puck :
During a pass, clearing or shot (when the puck is free and moving) the puck is stopped by any piece on its way (the opponent's pieces can block the puck and take possession), and stops automatically when a wall blocks its progress (walls or pieces that are adjacent but do not block the next square on its movement line do not count).


MOVEMENT OF A PIECE, CHECKING
As a piece with the puck moves, it may leave the puck on a square along its path. While a piece cannot stop in a crease, it may skate thru one to get to its destination. Stopping in a crease or net is an illegal move.

A piece can capture the puck, in a similar manner to normal chess. A capture is a hockey check.
Checking a piece that has possession means that it loses the puck in favour of the piece that checked it. The piece that checked takes the puck, starts on the square where it captured, and must immediately jump as following : one square sideways, then one square adjacent to it. The move, check and the subsequent jump count as one move.
For example, a piece that checks on B5 may then move to, say, A4 (by way of A5), or D5 (by way of C5), or many other such squares. Since this is a jump, there may be a piece occupying the sideways square, but the piece must land on an empty square.
If no such move is available, the piece that checked (with its puck) must be dropped on an empty square, adjacent to the square of the check.

Checking any other piece than the one that has possession is an illegal move. Checking a king is an illegal move whenever it has the puck or not.

GOALTENDER MOVE
The king moves one square, as per normal chess. It is not restricted to his crease - in fact, it may move anywhere except the nets. This can be useful to position it for a pass. The king may not check an opponent.

The king may move with the puck : however, it must pass the puck within two turns of possession (keeping the puck on the second turn of possession is an illegal move).

PASSES
A pass is made as following : the piece with the puck launches the puck in a line of movement proper to its piece (queens can pass orthogonally and diagonally, bishops can pass diagonally, etc) and the recipient of the pass must be located on the puck's line of movement. If no enemy intercepts it until it gets to the recipient, the latter has now possession of the puck. Passes back and forth from one piece to another are authorized, but obviously not very useful.
The king passes the puck like the queen, that is, without the 1-square limit.

SHOT OR CLEARING
In this game, clearing or shooting works the same way (in fact, also like passes, except they have different end results). The puck is launched and moves in the same way than a pass. A shot is done when the puck ends up either as a goal or stopped by the goalie.
Clearing or shooting can be weak (that is, stop after a certain number of squares, as desired by the player) or the puck can slide until it hits an obstacle or an edge. In both cases, pieces can intercept the puck (but if a friendly piece is in position to intercept it, the player may choose to let it continue instead).
A shot scores a goal if, and only if, it gets to one of the two squares of a net (if a player shoots in his own net, the goal goes to the opponent).

Clearing in any direction from the opponent's territory is always allowed, but clearing to the opposite side from one's territory is an illegal move.

The image to the right shows black scoring a goal.

TURN ALL THE TIME COUNTERS
It is recommended to keep the period time with extra dice (start with dice turned up at 6,6,6,2).
The time counters must be set back to 20 at the beginning of each period.



Strategy :
When in defense, try not to let the opponent's pieces (especially the queen) crowd around your crease, because he can then set up devastating plays.
There are six different shooting lines that lead to a goal : two orthogonal lines and four diagonal lines. The goalie can only block a maximum of two at a time, therefore defense has its importance. Huddling around your own crease will make an impassable defense, but will not let you retaliate.
In offense, try to keep the queen in the open, where it can receive passes and be more efficient with the puck, as the big factor in this game is getting the puck in enemy territory.

I can only test in some limited ways, so if you play a game, please send me an email at (email removed contact us for address) patico.ca to tell me how it went.


Optional rules :
One problem is that defense might be too easy. Replacing the normal queen by a queen limited to 3 squares a move may play better.
A possible rule to add which would make the game more "realistic" would be to make crossing the middle line with the puck an illegal move if a piece belonging to the same player is already in the opponent's territory.
Another would be to permit checking against pieces that do not have the puck. In such a case, the checking piece would take the place of the victim, and would choose what adjacent square the latter would be "pushed" to. This would be a way to break impassable defenses and make play more fluid.


Written by Francois Tremblay.
WWW page created: March 16, 2001.