Recapitulation is the process of starting again from the beginning, so this
is a game that starts from the beginnings of Chess and gradually becomes
more like the FIDE game, through the mechanism of promotion which has
changed little through the games. Perhaps it should more accurately be
called Recapitulative European Chess, but versions leading to most of the
Oriental standard games would be more difficult as these have very different
The array has
Elephant and a
Ferz instead of the modern Bishops and
Queen, like the games ranging from
Chaturanga to early European Chess.
However, the old pieces are promoted to the modern ones into which they
evolved - Elephant to Bishop on reaching the enemy Pawn rank, and Ferz to
Queen - on the enemy Pawn rank. Pawns are promoted on the far rank, to any
modern piece. Initially I considered having nine ranks and all promotions on
the far rank, but realised that this was an unnecessary complication. Pawns
cannot make an initial double move while an unpromoted Elephant or Ferz of
either army remains on the board (i.e., until all remaining pieces
are valid FIDE ones), and Castling is also subject to this restriction in
addition to the usual ones. This may make for interesting tactics,
for example holding back from promoting if castling is to the enemy's
advantage but not one's own. Checkmate can happen at any stage in the game,
although no doubt it is easier at some stages than others.
There is a theory, to which John Ayer drew the attention of regular readers,
that the Rook itself evolved from the piece now known as the
There may be no more in it than a justification for the more recent changes,
but if it did happen it was long before the game reached Europe. In an
alternative starting with Dabbabahs for (and promotable to) Rooks the extra
restriction on castling would effectively be a complete ban. It would theref
ore be better to drop it and instead allow Dabbabah promotion to Rook
through castling as well as by reaching the enemy Pawn rank.
So far, so simple. However, there is potential for promoting to produce
variant armies - either by giving FIDE pieces game-specific features or by
bringing in additional non-array pieces. An example of the first in to allow
the "win by marriage" of Doug Chatham's
Bachelor Chess, as there is after
all no modern Queen in the array, but only once every Elephant or Ferz is
promoted or captured of course. Examples of the second are promotion to the
army of Bird's,
Carrera's Chess, and those of
Duke of Rutland's,
and even my own
The two could even be combined in the manner of my
So many possibilities, and all on the long-standing 8x8 board! The best
rule for extra promotions is that Pawns follow the same rules as the game
from which the promotee army is derived, Elephants become any colourbound
and Ferzes become any other piece (e.g.
Gnu). The last-mentioned piece gives a case
of what another Charles nearly sang: Shi (the Chinese for Ferz) may
be the beauty or the beast!
Armies without all FIDE pieces often have some corresponding extra piece.
Thus in promotion to a
army the Ferz becomes a mixed-range
piece, as do the Pawns. In promotion to a
Poison Chess army Rooks become
Harpies on reaching OR passing the enemy Pawn rank, and the Ferz (but ONLY
the Ferz) becomes a Doctor. Armies retaining the ancient pieces, such as
Timur's (Tamerlane) Chess
would be more problematic, as there would be no "redundant" piece to
promote to the new ones and they would all have to come from Pawns.
Editor's Note: This game resembles a less extreme, but more historical
version of Köksal Karakus's game Primitive Chess.
Written by Charles Gilman.
WWW page created: February 16th, 2004.