Karl Kristianson wrote to us in September 2002:
Do you know anything about a chess variant called "Construction"? I played this game in high school many years ago. Do you know of any online places where this game is being played? Thanks for any info.
The King is the Contractor.
The Queen is the Demolition Expert.
The Bishops are Bulldozers.
The Knights are Dump Trucks.
The Rooks are Cranes.
The Pawns are Tugs.
This game is very interesting, because pieces are destroyed/taken out of the game in so many different ways.
The Contractor moves and takes like a standard King, but everything else is pretty much different.
The Demolition Expert moves like a Queen, but lays a charge on an empty square that blows up a 3 x 3 grid. Lays the charge one turn, detonates it the next.
The Bulldozers pushes one or more adjacent pieces one square at a time (I believe they move like standard Bishops when not pushing. It's been a LONG time since I played!). Lines up next to a piece one turn, pushes the next. If a piece is pushed off the board, it is destroyed. If it is not pushed off the board that turn, it is still active and can move normally if possible.
The Dump Truck dumps dirt onto pieces. I believe they move like Knights. The piece is not destroyed, but paralysed, symbolized by laying the piece on it's side. The Dump Truck and dumped on piece share the same square till the Dump Truck moves again. The dumped on square cannot be moved on till Bulldozed (which revives/uncovers the dumped on piece, whether yours or an enemy piece), Tugged, blown up, or hauled out by your own Crane. A dumped on square can be jumped over by a Dump Truck, though.
The Crane (which I believe moves like a Rook), picks up pieces. I believe it can only pick up one at a time. Altho I seem to remember playing a variant where it could pick up multiple pieces. Made it much more powerful. Once a piece is picked up, it moves one square orthogonally at a time till it leaves the edge of the board. The Crane stays in limbo till you use a turn to reenter it onto the board on one of two reentry points- the 2 Tug (Pawn) squares in front of the Crane (Rook). If the square is occupied, or has a piece with dirt dumped on it in the square, you cannot use it to reenter till cleared. If you have taken one of your own pieces out that had been dumped on, it can reenter also during another turn.
The Tugs move one square any direction orthogonally at a time. They have to sit next to a piece for a turn, then start moving away from the piece, "tugging" it along with them. They destroy pieces by tugging them off the board. They reenter the board like the Cranes do. I don't believe Tugs promote on the 8th rank like Pawns.
You win the game by destroying the rival Contractor. A Contractor with dirt dumped on them is not destroyed. They must be blown up, pushed off the board, carried off the board, tugged off the board or done in directly by the rival Contractor. Yes, it can be done. Your Contractor approaches the rival Contractor who has had dirt dumped on him. I personally find this much more satisfying than normal chess, where there is never any way the Kings can duke it out directly!
This game is very interesting, and much different than chess. It gets a little difficult to navigate sometimes, because so many squares are unpassable. The Dump Truck (Knight) may be the most powerful piece, even tho it can't directly destroy enemy pieces. It can immobilize then rapidly, which is usually enough. Also it can jump over unpassable squares, which none of the other pieces can do.
The Bulldozer (Bishop) is probably the next most powerful piece.
The Demolition Expert (Queen) is surprisingly weak. It is difficult to lay charges, and get away. A Demolition Expert can't blow charges if they are immobilized, destroyed, or being hauled somehow. The enemy Demolition Expert can detonate a rivals charge by laying a second charge immediately next to the first charge, then detonating it.