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Greener Chess

By Ralph Betza

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, or so they say. In life, it may not be so, but in Greener Chess the grass is indeed greener.

The Obvious Place

The obvious place for the Fence is between the 4th and 5th rank, so that, for example, a Black piece moving from f6 to e4 would be crossing to its greener side.

The game can also be played with the Fence between the e-file and the d-file. Although I am only going to discuss games with the fence in the obvious place, it is very possible that playing with a vertical fence is an even better and more interesting game.


A piece which is on the greener side of the fence is Augmented (two more augmenters can be found here).

As per the standard rules, each player chooses an unaugmented army from the well-known armies of Chess with Different Armies, and then also chooses which augmenters to use with each of his pieces (in other words, before the piece moves from f6 to e4, both sides know what powers it will gain from that move).

A piece which retreats from the greener side of the fence to the wrong side of the tracks loses its augmentation.

In Greener Chess, all Pawns can be augmented; they gain the power of moving but not capturing sideways (for example, a White P on e5 could move to d5 or f5, but not capture there, and of course can also make its normal Pawnish moves.

In Greener Chess, Kings can also be augmented, but only by non-capturing Crab. Theoretically, they could be augmented by one of the following special choices:

  1. Non-capturing Alfil

  2. Non-capturing Dabbabah

  3. Non-capturing Crab

  4. Non-capturing Barc

In practice, the Crab is (surprisingly!) weakest, and makes for a better game.

Design Notes

Crossing the fence makes your pieces stronger, and the attack is aways dangerous. The exciting possibility is for the King to run from the attack and gain augmentation on the enemy side of the board!

Sample Endgame 1

Given a White Ka6, White Pb6, and Black King a8, with White to play, we have what would be a draw in FIDE Chess -- but in Greener Chess, the White King and White Pawn are on the other side of the fence and therefore are augmented.

How does this change things? Naturally enough, it depends on what augmentation the King has:

  • If the WK is augmented by non-capturing Crab, the game is still drawn.

  • Augmentation by non-capturing Barc allows Ka6-c7. This is stalemate, so instead one jinks the K around to c6, with the Black K on c8, and wins by Kc6-a7.

  • Alfil is basically the same as Barc.

  • Dababbah is simple: 1. b6-b7+ Ka8-b8 2. Ka6-c6 wins.

Sample Endgame 2

With a Black Ke1, White Ke3, and White Rook a2, Black to play, what is the result for each possible augmentation?

  • Because the Ra2 automatically covers the retreating moves of the Crab, I believe White wins.

  • With the Barc, 1...Ke1-d1 threatens Kd1-c3 escaping. Looks like a draw.

  • Alfil simply allows 1...Ke1-c3.

  • Dababbah, 1...Ke1-c1 2. Ke3-d3 Kc1-b1 3. Ra2-f2! Kb1-b3 4. Rh2-h4!! Kb3-b1! (Kb3-b5 loses its augmentation and loses the game) 5. Rh4-e4! Kb1-c1 and draws bespite White's best efforts.

Written by Ralph Betza.
WWW page created: January 17th, 2003.