The Chess Variant Pages

The Mannis Manglers

The genial, charming, wise and witty Mannis Charosh of Brooklyn invented an excellent chess variant called Relay Chess.

The basic idea of Relay Chess is that a piece whose move touches a second piece temporarily gives the power of the first piece to the second. For example, in the opening position of Chess, the move 1. h2:h7 would become possible: the Rh1 defends the Ph2, and so the Ph2 is permitted to make a Rook move.

You can see that straight-up Relay Chess with the simplest set of rules would be a mess, and for this reason the games of Relay Chess that have actually been played have used more limited rules.

The most commonly played one, and in fact quite a popular game, is N-Relay II, where only Knights have relay powers, and Knights may neither capture nor be captured.

Naturally, I had to wonder about the value of the relay power, and about the value of an uncapturable piece; and, naturally, I had to construct an army with relay powers...

The Value of Relay

Clearly, the relay power becomes worth less and less as there are fewer pieces on the board.

If we assume that each piece gives its relay power to one other piece (on the average), the relay power is worth exactly as much as the original power of the piece. However, some contacts will merely be incidental, coordination of the pieces may be broken, and there is always the problem of the endgame disadvantage.

I made a wild guess and decided that the relay army should have pieces worth roughly two thirds of the values of the normal pieces. This can be achieved by giving Queen odds!

The Mannis Manglers

  1. The Kings and Pawns are standard FIDE-chess Kings and Pawns, and neither gain nor give powers using the relay rule.
  2. The Queen may neither capture nor be captured, nor may she gain nor give powers by relay.
  3. The Rooks, Knights, and Bishops all have relay powers, and only the Rooks, Knights, and Bishops are affected by the relay power.

Thus, a Knight defended by a Rook gains the ability to move like a Rook; but when one of the pieces moves, if the Knight is no longer defended by a Rook it has lost its Rookly powers.

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