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Return to the Golden Age of Open Games

This is a second game of Chess on a Really Big Board.

It is played on a 16x16 board, but no special equipment is required because you can simply push four boards together into a 2x2 square, and use two mismatched chess sets to help represent the extra kinds of pieces.

This file describes the setup for this game, but for the complete rules, you have to look at Chess on a Really Big Board. If you don't feel like looking there right now, at least you should be aware that unmoved Pawns can advance to the midline in one move.

This game is designed to create an open position in which development, initiative, and attack are all-important, the positions are too complex to calculate so you must play by intuition, and you never count Pawns -- in other words, a return to the Golden Age!

Adolph Anderssen would have loved this game.

Despite the larger board and the larger number of pieces, I expect that on the average it will take no longer to play a game of Golden Age COARBB than it takes to play a game of FIDE Chess. This is because of the open positions and early attacks: there should be many short games.

The Setup for Golden Age Chess On a Really Big Board

WDD, qN, zB, NLJ, NN, NB, GHFD, t[FR], K, GHFD, NB, NN, NLJ, zB, qN, WDD

We have WDD in the corners, which combine the powers of Wazir and Dabaaba-Rider; for example, White's WDD at a1.a1 defends a2 with its W move, and attacks a2.a7 with its DD move (because a1.a3 is empty and a1.a5 is empty and so on, the DD move can go all the way).

Next to them are a pair of Roses. The "Rose" is a circular Knightrider (example: from e1 to g1 and if g2 is empty continue to h4, g6, e7, c6, b4, c2, e1) which cannot use its whole move on any board smaller than 13x13.

Then come two Crooked Bishops. You'll notice that the zB has its own page, and a good page it is. No need to say more here.

The NLJ superKnight comes next. The NLJ is the Knight (1,2) plus the long Knight (1,3) plus the long, wide Knight (2,3). You can't have this piece on an 8x8 board because it's too long and can threaten multiple mates with its first move, so the NLJ seems like a good piece for the 16x16 board.

Fifth in, we have the NB (Archbishop). This piece moves and captures either as a Bishop or as a Knight.

Next, KnightRiders, NN in my funny notation. These are at a1.e1, b1.d1, a2.b8, b2.d8 (just in case you're losing track of where we are). The KnightRider makes a Knight move, and if the square is empty, it can continue in the same direction.

Seventh from the corner is the GHFD, which adds a 3-square diagonal leap to the well-known HFD (the HFD is used in the Remarkable Rookies). The GHFD can leap two or three squares Rookwise, or one or three squares diagonally.

The t[FR] is the Gryphon, which makes a one square diagonal move and *then* if it landed on an empty square it may if it wishes continue outwards with a Rook move. This is called this 't[FR]' in my funny notation.

The Black King is at b2.a1, the rest is symmetrical.

Why Choose These Pieces, Why Start them There?

WDD, qN, zB, NLJ, NN, NB, GHFD, t[FR], K, GHFD, NB, NN, NLJ, zB, qN, WDD

I started off reading the Crooked Bishop page, and thinking that this piece would look nice on a 16x16 board.

In that page, I said "As chessplayers, we are trained to create open files and diagonals, but we have no reason to learn about zigzags."

When I thought about how the amount of space on the 16x16 board would always create an open game where long-range pieces could flow fairly freely, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to have many pieces that move along different kinds of "open lines".

In addition, it seemed logical to try to concentrate on pieces that are either too strong or too big for the 8x8 board.

So, we have a crooked Bishop, a circular Knightrider, a normal Knightrider, a skipping Rook, a nearly-normal Rook, a nearly-normal Bishop, and two long-range short-range pieces; but we have no "normal" R, B, N, Q, nor even the "normal" RN.

The WDD is in the corner because of what happens when you Castle. The zB and the qN are near the edge to make them less convenient, and the other pieces are fairly normal, distributed to defend all the Pawns.

The NB is the most normal piece on the board. I considered using an LB, which would be colorbound and use the long-Knight move instead of the short one (from f1 it could jump to g4, for example), but decided that I preferred to have the concentrated mating power of the NB in the game.

Values of the Pieces

I can only guess about the values, but it's an educated guess.

The WDD and zB are probably about equal, and are the weakest pieces; each is worth roughly 4 Pawns on the normal scale where a Knight is 3, but that doesn't mean that they are worth 4 Pawns in this game.

The GHFD, NN, and qN are close to equal, and a bit stronger than the WDD or zB; maybe 6 "normal" Pawns.

Just a wild guess, perhaps the Gryphon (t[FR]) is worth 8.

The NB should be worth 7 or 8, and the NLJ, which would be worth 9 or 10 Pawns on a smaller board, might be worth 8 or 9 on this big board.

Pawns are probably worth less than a "normal Pawn" because they need to make more moves before they can be promoted.

The general fighting strength of the King is perhaps only 3, because of the size of the board; however, for close-up work it still has its normal strength, its normal ability to defend itself.

In order to mate the bare King with King and one other piece, you need either a WDD, a GHFD, an NB, a t[FR], or perhaps an NLJ; however, it is not clear if you can force mate with any of these except the WDD and NB.

The Nature of the Game

In this very open position, development is all-important. Falling behind by a few tempi can lead to a quick loss. Successful defense should bring massive exchanges and an interesting endgame.

In this very open position, each side has a great many possible moves every turn. I expect that it will be impossible to calculate very far ahead, and that the players will be forced to play more intuitively than they do in FIDE Chess.

Passive defense is likely to be impossible, particularly because there are so many different kinds of "open lines" that it will be hard to block them all.

Neither King will ever be quite safe.

Sample Game 1

1. (WDD)a1.a1-a2.a5 b2.a7-b2.a8 2. (WDD)a2.a5-b2.a5 (NB)b2.c8-b2.a7 3. (WDD)b2.a5-b2.a4 checkmate

Is this the "foolsmate" for this game, the shortest possible game ending in checkmate? The shortest checkmate with zB giving check is half a move longer, qN can't give check until White's 4th move, but what about the NN?

There are two NN lines leading to the King's position, but White needs more than 2 moves to prevent himself from interposing at b1.b3; so the question is, if White plays 1. a1.h2-a1.h8 and 2. (NB)a1.f1-a1.h2, can Black give mate with NN on his second move?

As chessplayers, we don't have the NN's "open lines" memorized: a chessplayer knows without thinking that b1-c2-d3-e4-f5-g6-h7 is a diagonal line, and a chessplayer knows that c3 is a Knight's move away from b1, but a chessplayer doesn't know without thinking that b1-c3-d5-e7 is a Knightrider's open line -- a "Knightagonal?"

Therefore, it takes a bit of work to figure out that there simply isn't any way to do it.

Sample Game 2

The shortest game featuring quadruple check:

1.  (WDD)a1.a1-a1.a3   (NN)b2.d8-b1.h8 (b2.e6 b2.f4 b2.g2)
2.  (WDD)a1.a3-b1.a3   (NN)b1.h8:b1.e2
3.  (NB)b1.c1-b1.d3    (NN)b1.e2-b1.c1
4.  (zB)b1.f1-b1.f5    (NN)b1.c1:b1.a2
5.  (t[FR])a1.h1:b1.a2 b2.a7-b2.a1
6.  (t[FR])b1.a2-a1.h3 b2.a1-b1.a8
7.  (zB)b1.f5-a1.h5    b1.a8-b1.a7
8.  (WDD)b1.a3-b1.a2+  b1.a7-b1.a6
9.  (NB)b1.d3:b1.a6    b2.h7-b2.h6
10. (NB)b1.a6-b2.d3++++ mate

Sample Game 3

w o b j n a h r k h a n j b o w  8
p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P P  2
W O B J N A H R K H A N J B O W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h
I finally decided I needed an ascii diagram (I can play blindfold too well on an 8x8 board, and never feel the need for a diagram). A is Archbishop, O (a circle) is the Rose, and the other pieces are designated by a randomly-chosen letter from their proper notation.

The diagram is quite ugly, but does make it easier to follow the game.

1. b1.e2-b1.e5

w o b j n a r f k h a n j b o w  8
p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . P . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P . P P P  2
W O B J N A H R K H A N J B O W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h

This move opens the way for the zB at b1.f1, and also for the nearby qN. I chose a short Pawn move in order to block the NN line leading through (b1.)e5 to f3 to g1, and therefore perhaps to make the White King a bit safer at g1 after an eventual O-O.

1.  b1.e2-b1.e5        b2.a7-b2.a1
2.  (zB)b1.f1-b1.f5    b2.e7-b2.e4
3.  (GHFD)b1.b1-b1.e4  (zB)b2.f8-b2.f4
4.  (qN)b1.g1-b1.f3    (GHFD)b2.b8-b2.e5

w o b j n a h r k . a n j . o w  8
p p p p p p p p . p p p . p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . h . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . p b . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . p . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . P B . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . H . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . O . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P . P P P  2
W O B J N A H R K . A N J . . W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h

Black pushes the Pawn that's defended by the t[FR], White develops at random. Black decides to imitate, White forms a detachment around his Pawn, Black imitates, and White keeps clearing the first rank: from b1.f3, the qN still defends b1.e5, but now also defends b1.d2 (so the NB is free to develop).

5.  (NB)b1.c1-b1.d3    (qN)b2.g8-b2.f6
6.  (NLJ)b1.e1-b1.c4   (NN)a2.e8:b1.c4

w o b j , a h r k . a n j . . w  8
p p p p p p p p . p p p . p p p  7
. . . . . , . . . . . . . o . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . h . . .  5
. . . . . . , . . . . . p b . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . . . . . , . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . p . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . , . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . , . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . P B . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . n . H . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . A . O . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P . P P P  2
W O B J N A H R K . . N . . . W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h
White moves the NLJ to a White square because of Black's zB, and Black decides to trade his undeveloped long-range NN for White's developed short-range NLJ. (The NLJ probably has more long-range value, but the NN is very strong in the early part of the game.)

7.  (NB)b1.d3:b1.c4    b2.d7-b2.d2

w o b j . a h r k . a n j . . w  8
p p p . p p p p . p p p . p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . o . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . h . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . p b . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . p . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . p . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . P B . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . A . H . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . O . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P . P P P  2
W O B J N A H R K . . N . . . W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h
White has many valuable pieces exposed on white squares, so Black thinks it might be interesting to develop his other zB; the Pawn is pushed to a black square so that it does not interfere.

Looking at WHite's position, we see that he can Castle as soon as he moves the NN. Being able to Castle would be good, and keeping it as an option rather than actually Castling might be best. Meanwhile, developing the pieces has changed the protection status of the pawns. b1.c2 is now undefended, but I don't think it's attacked; and b1.f2 is defended only by the NN, and is attacked by Black's zB.

White finds an NN move that defends f2 with (NN)b1.a7-b1.g4+; and in any case it is interesting to give the check and see what Black does.

8.  (NN)b1.d1-b1.a7    (zB)b2.f4:b1.f2

w o b j . a h r k . a n j . . w  8
p p p . p p p p . p p p . p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . o . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . h . . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . . . p . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . p . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . p . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . N . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . P B . .  5
. . . . . . . . . . A . H . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . O . .  3
P P P P P P P P P P P P . b P P  2
W O B J N A H R K . . . . . . W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h
Oops, the Pawn at b1.e5 is in the way of (NN)b1.a7-b1.g4+!

Now, 9. a1.d2-a1.d5 is defended by the (zB)b1.f5, and blocks the (zB)a2.c8 from reaching a1.c4.

Later, the threat 12. (zB)a2.d2-a2.h2 (attacking the t[FR]) is troublesome.

9.  a1.d2-a1.d5          (qN)a2.b8-a2.b2
10. (NN)b1.a7-a1.c4+     b2.g7-b2.g4
11. (zB)a1.c1:a2.d2      (qN)a2.b2-a1.c8

w . b j . a h r k . a n j . . w  8
p p p . p p . p . p p p . p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . o . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . h . . .  5
. . . . . . p . . . . . p . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . B . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . p . . . . . . .  1
. . o . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . P . . . . . . . . P B . .  5
. . N . . . . . . . A . H . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . O . .  3
P P P . P P P P P P P P . b P P  2
W O . J N A H R K . . . . . . W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h
This magnificent move defends a2.h2, attacks a1.c4, attacks a2.d2; perhaps White is in trouble.
12. (zB)a2.d2:b2.a1!     (qN)a1.c8:a1.c4
13. (zB)b2.a1:a2.h8      Ka2.a8:a2.h8
14. (NLJ)a1.d1:a1.c4

w . b j . a h k . . a n j . . w  8
p p p . p p . p . p p p . p p p  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . o . .  6
. . . . . . . . . . . . h . . .  5
. . . . . . p . . . . . p . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
. . . P . . . . . . . . P B . .  5
. . J . . . . . . . A . H . . .  4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . O . .  3
P P P . P P P P P P P P . b P P  2
W O . . N A H R K . . . . . . W  1

a b c d e f g h a b c d e f g h
The first battle is over, and material is fairly even. White has an advantage in development, and can still Castle if necessary.

Now the second battle must begin. Because I just noticed that b1.g2-b1.g3 traps Blacl's zB, the first move will be a retreat.

That will add to White's advantage in development; probably (GHFD)a1.g1-b1.b4, so that the two "H" pieces defend each other and set up an area of White-controlled space in front of the Pawns, followed by some move of the b1.a-Pawn so that the t[FR] can get into play. Black should probably counter by bringing his zB to b2.d3, or at least threatening to bring it there.

Around the 20th to 30th move, there will be another crisis, which will probably decide the game.


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