Unscientific Chess Variants with Different Armies

Long before I had developed the amount of science and art needed to create Chess with Different Armies, I had already gotten the idea of the game, and in fact by 1980 I had already gone through a few stages of its development.

Between 1980 and the creation of the The Chess Variant Pages, I didn't publish any new CVs; but in 1980 I was interested in a series of different armies with extreme characteristics.

Recently, cleaning up some old papers, I discovered a notebook containing some of this, and remembered how much I liked the Jovian army from this "War of Worlds" series.

As fas as I can remember, Jupiter should be pretty close to the proper strength, but I must warn you that the game is probably unbalanced, and therefore not suitable for "serious" CV play; however, I must also encourage you to give it a try because the army from Jupiter is a lot of fun, both to use and to fight against.

Characteristics of the Jovian Army

Jupiter is a high-gravity world. As a result, its, army is very powerful but not very mobile; and in fact has a lot of trouble moving "up".

The Jovian power is expressed as different forms of invulnerability.

I also remember that Jupiter should always have the Black pieces, even when it moves first.

Starting Lineup of the Jupiter Army

You know that the idea is for one side to use the Jovian army and for the other side to use some other army, for example the other side could use the FIDE Chess army.

Here goes the list of pieces from Jupiter:

The Jovian Rook

The piece in the corner is a WbR, moves one square Rookwise when going forwards or to the side, but can move as far as it wants Rookwise when retreating.

The Jovian Rook is a "putback" piece: when you capture it, you must put it back onto the board, and you may choose any empty square.

You can never get rid of this piece, but since it moves forward so slowly you can profit by capturing it and sending it back home.

The Jovian Knight

The Jovian Knight is a non-leaping fsNbbN, a Crab in reverse: it makes Knight moves, but when it goes forwards it must go more sideways than forwards, and when it retreats it must go more back than sideways; and in order for it to go from b8 to d7, the square c8 must be empty.

The Jovian Knight is a "Circe" piece: when you capture it, you must put it back onto a starting-square for that kind of piece. Specifically, you must put the Jovian Knight back onto b8 or g8 (or b1 or g1 if Jupiter has White). If there is no empty starting square, the captured piece is removed from the board.

You can get rid of this piece with a bit of difficulty, and since it moves forward so slowly you can always profit by capturing it and sending it back home.

The Jovian Bishop

The Jovian Bishop is a Nemesis Ferz: it moves one square diagonally, it cannot by captured (except maybe by the enemy King; I have many slightly different versions of the rules, sometimes dated hours apart), it cannot capture, and it may not move away from the enemy King (the square it goes to must be at least as close to the enemy King as the square it starts from).

The Jovian Queen

The Jovian Queen is a Pyramid: WbFbAbDbbhNbsJ. Ugly ASCII diagram:

 . . . . . . . .
 . . . . . . . .
 . . . . . . . .
 . . . . x . . .
 . . . x q x . .
 . . x x x x x .
 . x x x x x x x
 . . . . . . . .
(Yes, the diagram shows a White Pyramid.)

The Jovian Queen cannot be captured unless it crosses its own fourth rank. It is my favorite Jovian piece. You win against the Jovian army by sacrificing something to pull the Pyramid out of position and then striking quickly, before it gets back.

In some versions of the rules, the Pyramid was not allowed to cross its 4th rank, and in others it would permanently lose its invulnerability if it crossed.

The Jovian King

The Jovian King captures by leaping two squares in any direction (NAD), but may not move without capturing (in some versions of the rules, it may move without capturing if it is in check).

The Jovian King can capture friendly pieces, but these are permanent captures. Even the Pyramid can be destroyed this way.

The weakness of the King compensates for the strength of the other pieces.

The Jovian Pawn

The Jovian Pawn moves by leaping two squares in any direction (NAD), and captures by going behind. It does not promote.

"Captures by going behind" means that when a Jovian Pawn moves to a square directly behind an enemy piece, the enemy piece is captured; for example, FIDE versus Jupiter, 1. d2-d4 d7-d5, and the "threat" is to capture by playing 2... d5-d3:d4 (which might or might not be a good exchange to make).

Some versions had the Jovian Pawn making lateral or advancing moves only.

Jovian and AntiJovian Strategy

I don't want to spoil your fun, so I'll just say a few obvious things here.

This game should take a lot of moves because neither side can afford to try to rush in quickly. The Pyramid should be on the fourth rank and in the center. A captured WbR should usually be placed on the Circe square so that you might be able to kill a fsNbbN.

Different Armies by Trial and Error

My records show that I worked on this army for more than a year, trying out dozens of versions with one small change after another.

Although its strength is as correct (where "correct" means "equal to the strength of the FIDE army) as can be expected for something as strange as this, the amount of effort needed to make it so was enormous.

I gave up on this project before completing any of the other War of Worlds armies because it simply was too daunting a task; and it was at this point that I realized that I needed a better and more scientific understanding of the values of chesspieces in order to create Chess with Different Armies.

As such, this army has some historical importance in addition to its value in providing an interesting and highly unorthodox chess experience.

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