The Chess Variant Pages



Halfgi is a hybrid of Chessgi and Ralph Betza's Half Chess. It was invented by Peter Aronson shortly after Betza's invention of Half Chess. Peter thought that a game with drops might compensate for the loss of mobility of halflings, and so combined them with Chessgi to produce Halfgi.


Halfgi uses the same pieces as Half Chess. These are the Crab and the sliding absolute halfling pieces created by Ralph Betza. Specifically, the Rook is replaced by the halfling Rook, the Bishop by the halfling Bishop, the Queen by the halfling Queen, and the Knight by the Crab. Pawns and Kings are unchanged.

The Crab has half the moves of the Knight. It can leap two spaces forward and one to the side, or it can leap two spaces sideways and one backward. Forward and backward are relative to the player. So Black and White Crabs can attack each other, but Crabs of the same color cannot give each other mutual support. Here is a diagram illustrating how a Crab moves:

Halfling Bishops, Rooks, and Queens can move half as far (rounded up) as the corresponding piece could in Chess on an empty board. For example, a Rook at a1 could move as far as a5 or e1. A Rook at a5 could move as far as a3, a7, or e5. A Rook at a6 could move as far as a3, a7, or e6. Note that this is not a typo. A Rook on a5 or a6 is limited to the same range of movement along the file. As the distance between a halfling piece and the edge of the board gets smaller, the piece's range of movement also grows shorter. A halfling piece can reach a rank or file on the edge of the board only from an adjacent rank or file.

The King and Pawns are not half pieces of any sort. Kings can still castle, and Pawns still have their double move and can capture by en passant. Of course, the Pawn cannot promote to any standard Chess piece. It can only promote to a halfling sliding piece or to a Crab.


The setup corresponds with Chess. Halfling pieces begin where their counterparts do in Chess. Crabs start where Knights do. The King and Pawns begin where they normally do in Chess.


Halfgi is played like regular Chess with the following exceptions:

  1. Captured pieces change sides and on a subsequent turn may be dropped on an empty square by the player who has captured the piece.
  2. Pawns may not be dropped on the last rank.
  3. Any Pawn on its second rank, even it has been dropped or moved there, has the usual option of a double move.
  4. Sliding pieces may only move 1/2 the distance (rounded up) towards the edge of the board.
  5. The Knight is replaced by the Crab, which has half the moves of a Knight.

Zillions of Games

If you have Zillions of Games, you may play Halfgi on your computer.

Written by Fergus Duniho, based on some text by Peter Aronson.
WWW Page Created: March 19, 2001