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Confusion Chess 1b

NEW! Rules change from the alpha version.
Up until recently, my research into the Values of Chess pieces was directed at the basic geometric units, and combinations thereof.

Then I started looking at long range pieces, and soon discovered the Crooked Bishop.

Then I started thinking about a piece from historical sources, which turns out to be " the griffion from Grande Acedrex, a large variant from 13th century Europe. This, of course, is very fitting, as a griffion is a mythological animal whose is composed of parts of two different existing animals (it has the body of a lion and the head of a large bird). (So, real `con-fusion'...)" as Hans Bodlaender writes. I had always loved this piece in the abstract, but never got to try it out in a game or analysis.

Finally, even though my main interest these days is in Chess with different armies, I came up with this new game, whose name is Confusion Chess 1b.

Con Fusion, of course, is the unification of two or more different things. All of the new pieces in this game combine two different rules of movement, making first one type of move and then another.

The "1b" means that this is the first version of Confusion Chess, and is in beta test; in the alpha version, there was a bug that would make the position on the board freeze up, and another bug in that the move 1. d2-d4 threatened 2. Qd1:a7.

Rules of Confusion Chess 1b

  • Rule Zero: The rules are the same as those of FIDE chess, except as specified in the following.

  • Rooks: Instead of Rooks, we have the Griffion, whose proper name I could not find when first I wrote all this; I wanted to call it a BiRook, just so it would have a name.

    This piece is confused about its identity, and begins moving as a Bishop; but as soon as it has taken one step it remembers its Rookness and goes straight from there on; this is why I called it a BiRook.

    More formally stated, this piece makes a one step diagonal move, and if that square was empty, may continue moving as a Rook, away from its starting position. From e4, it can go to d5, and if d5 is empty it can continue its move either to d6, d7, d8 OR to c5, b5, a5; or, it could go e4-f5-f6-f7-f8 or e4-f5-g5-h5 or e4-f3-g3-h3 or e4-f3-f2-f1 or e4-d3-d2-d1 or e4-d3-c3-b3-a3.

    This piece, on an open board, can cover most of the squares that two ordinary rooks could reach, which is why I call it a BiRook; however, it is not nearly so strong as two Rooks (except perhaps late in the endgame when there are few obstructions). In the opening and middlegame, perhaps you will find it as strong as a Rook and a Pawn.

    Notice that the BiRook on b1 is completely stuck until you move the Pawn off of a2 or c1.

  • Knights: The Knight is replaced by the TwiKnight Doubleheader (the name is an American baseball reference), which makes a one step Rook move, and then if that square was empty, may continue its move by playing a one step Bishop move away from its starting square, and if that square was empty it may continue with another one step Rook move in the same direction as its first, and so on....

    For example, from e4 its paths would be e4-e5-d6-d7-c8, e4-e5-f6-f7-g8, e4-f4-g5-h5, e4-f4-g3-h3, e4-e3-f2-f1, e4-e3-d2-d1, e4-d4-c3-b3-a2, or e4-d4-c5-b5-a6.

    This piece is presumably stronger than a Knight, but can be awkward to develop. The TwiKnight cannot jump over any obstructions.

  • Bishops: The Bishops are replaced by Crooked Bishops. The Crooked Bishop is a Bishop that must make a 90 degree turn with every step, and must of course always keep moving away from its starting square.

    For example, a Crooked Bishop on e4 could move one square to d5, or it could make a four-step move by going to d5 and then (only if d5 is empty) continuing on to e6 and then (if e6 is empty) to d7 and then (d7 being empty) to e8.

    In fact, from e4 there are 8 possible paths it could take: e4-d5-e6-d7-d8, e4-f5-e6-f7-e8, e4-f5-g4-h5, e4-f3-g4-h3, e4-f3-e2-f1, e4-d3-e2-d1, e4-d3-c4-b3-a4, and e4-d5-c4-b5-a4.

    Note: It is not legal for it to go e4-d5-e6-f7-e8, because the movement from e6 to f7 would fail to make a 90 degree turn.

    Note: Remember that it is exactly like a Bishop except that it must turn; it cannot go through occupied squares.

    The Crooked Bishop is stronger than the normal Bishop, not as strong as the normal Rook; it is probably closer in value to the Bishop than it is to the Rook.

  • Queens: Queens are replaced by the Bronx. The Bronx is actually two different kinds of bronco (horse) in one, moving as either a TwiKnight or as a KnightTwi.

    In other words, this piece makes either a one square Bishop move or a one square Rook move, then continues along its way by making the other kind of move.

    For example, from e4 its paths would be e4-e5-d6-d7-c8, e4-e5-f6-f7-g8, e4-f4-g5-h5, e4-f4-g3-h3, e4-e3-f2-f1, e4-e3-d2-d1, e4-d4-c3-b3-a2, e4-d4-c5-b5-a6; or e4-d5-d6-c7-c8, e4-f5-f6-g7-g8, e4-f5-g5-h6, e4-f3-g3-h2, e4-f3-f2-g1, e4-d3-d2-c1, e4-d3-c3-b2-a2, or e4-d5-c5-b6-a6. There are 16 different paths, but there is a lot of duplication, with the same square appearing in more than one path.

    The Bronx is not as strong as a Queen, I think. Perhaps the Bronx is not even as strong as a BiRook; it must clearly be stronger than a TwiKnight.

    NEW RULE! April 2 1996:

  • In the opening position, the Rooks and Knights must be exchanged; that is, the TwiKnights begin on a1, a8, h1, and h8, while the BiRooks begin the game on b1, b8, g1, and g8.

    With this change, the status of this game also changes from alpha test to beta. In fact, I think it's ready for prime time now!

Observations About Confusion Chess 1a

All of the pieces are long range pieces with curious paths, and so the definition of "open lines" is a bit different than what you're accustomed to.

The total absence of any short range jumping pieces is an interesting experiment.

Although the Bronx is a bit weak, the total amount of force on the board is greater than in FIDE chess; this should lead to shorter games with explosive combinations.

The 1a version was buggy because the move 1. d2-d4 threatens 2. Qd1:a7; and even though this is unclear, I consider it a bug.

1. d4 d5 2. Qd1:a7 Qd8:a2 3. Qa7:b8 e7-e6!? (or even b7-b5!?)

Not Qa2:b1?? 4 Qb8:c7 mate!, of course, but now things are unclear. White is a piece up and ready to grab another, but how can he stop Black from grabbing two pieces and catching up?

The story of Confusion Chess 1a should help you realize that devising a good Chess variant isn't always as easy as it looks.

Observations About Confusion Chess 1b

This one small rules change has made a huge difference in the game play, and all to the better.

With the new starting position, both players must make Pawn weaknesses on both wings in order to develop their pieces, which leads to a more intense fighting game than I saw with the old rules.

The strangely-shaped "open lines" are a feature of the game that takes some getting used to; these long range pieces operate very effectively from the edges and corners of the board.

Sample Game of Confusion Chess 1b

1. d2-d4 d7-d5 (Not 1...a5? 2 Qd1:Na8) 2. h2-h4 h7-h5 3. Rg1-h3 Rg8-h6

White threatened 4. Rh3:g7 Bf8:g7 5. Qd1:g7+

4. Nh1-g3 g7-g6

In order to defend h5. The Pg6 blocks the Nh8, but opens the way for the Rh6 to defend g8 -- and so Black plans Nh8-g8 attacking the Qd1.

5. Ng3-f3 e7-e5?!

White unpins the Pe7 in order to attack the Bronx (the Q). Black responds with a clever move, or maybe not so clever.

6. d4:e5 Bf8:e5 check 7. Nf3:e5

Black cannot reply with 7...Rh6:e5 (attacking the Qd1) because of 8. Qd1-g7+

7. ... Qd8:e5

Now Black attacks h4, and it's hard for White to find the right reply. I spent a lot of time on 8. g2-g4; if 8. g4 h5:g4 9. Bf1:g4 Rh6:g4 10. Qd1-g7+ seems to be a winning attack; however, if 8. g4 Nh8-g8! attacking the Qd1 and defending the square g7, and Black wins.

8. Rh3-d4!

Pinning and winning the Qe5. But wait! Is the Q really worth much more than the R in this game? After 8...Nh8-g8 9 e3 c5 10 Rd4:e5 (not check) Rh6:e5 (attacking d1), is White really winning?

This was where I broke off my analysis, filled with a sense of excitement and wonder at the complexities of this new game.

Sample Game of Confusion Chess 1a

This was the Alpha version of the game, where the R starts on a1 a8 h1 h8 and the N starts on g1 g8 b1 b8.

1. e4 e5 2. Bf1-f3 Bf8-f6 3. Ng1-e2 Ng8-e7 4. O-O O-O 5. b2-b4 b7-b5

Symmetry. Notice that 5...Ne7:b1 was not legal because the path is e7-e6-d5-d4-c3-c2-b1, and c2 is not empty.

I have tried 6. Nb1-d5, but Black can simply answer with d7-d6 and follow with c7-c6, and the N is driven back; Nd5-e3 is awful because these pieces block each other.

I have tried 6. Nb1:e7 Qd8:e7 7. Ne2-d5 d6, with a similar result.

I cannot find an advantage for White in this symmetrical position; there might well be one, but I can't find it yet. In fact, it's almost as if Black has the advantage because White runs out of moves first!

Probably the best try is 6. a2-a4 (defended by the Na1).

(Later:) Probably the best try is 2. b2-b4 *CHECK*!

That's all for now!

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