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Chigorin Chess

By Ralph Betza

Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin

Chigorin was a great chess genius, a deep calculator, and a strategic wizard, but was never the world champion.

Today he is mostly remembered as a player who preferred Knights to Bishops. He didn't, really; instead, he had a more modern understanding of the relative values than his contemporaries, he realized that it all depends on the position, and that losing a tempo to get B for N is usually a bad idea.

Chigorin Chess

White starts the game with two Rooks, on h1 and a1, four Knights, on g1, f1, c1, and b1, a Chancellor on d1, and the usual King and Pawns.

Black begins with two Rooks, on h8 and a8, four Bishops, on g8, f8, c8, and b8, a Queen on d8, plus King and Pawns.

   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   | r |:b:| b |:q:| k |:b:| b |:r:|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |:p:| p |
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   | P |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:| P |:P:|
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
   |:R:| N |:N:| C |:K:| N |:N:| R |
   +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ 

Pawn Promotion

According to the FIDE rules, Pawns can promote to anything that was on the board at the start of the game, except that promotion to King is illegal; and this is how I usually interpret the rule when applied to Chess with Different Armies.

However, in this case, I rather like the rule that Pawns can promote to anything (except King) that was in the player's army at the start of the game. This is also a valid interpretation of the FIDE rules, and seems to be especially appropriate for this game.

Other than that, the standard rules of FIDE Chess are used.

Critique of Chigorin Chess

Chigorin Chess is the sort of game you can get a regular chessplayer to try, as it uses strictly normal rules and almost normal pieces. This is perhaps its main value -- a stealth form of Chess with Different Armies.

However, it is also a good game in its own right. It emphasizes a single aspect of the struggle found in FIDE Chess, and therefore is easy to understand and to enjoy.


Written by Ralph Betza.
WWW page created: April 8, 2002.