The Chess Variant Pages



Russian Chess

Whilst roaming the Web today, I found a site on a game called Russian Chess (Russian language site). This is different from the several varieties of Russian Chess featured in ECV. It is a newly created game, or should I say recreated, because there is a story that goes with it, claiming that it is an endeavour to bring back to life a chess variant that was played in Russia before the arrival of OrthoChess, and fell into disuse in part because the clergy opposed games of all manner, but is occasionally alluded to in epic songs and other early sources.

The game, which seems to be gaining momentum in Russia, with tournaments and all, is essentially to OrthoChess as Lasca is to Draughts. It's about building towers out of chessmen. Here's how it goes:

You have an ordinary 8 by 8 board and the ordinary set of 16 men per player, but the men are flat (and stackable) stones, and the Pawns, as in Timur's Great Chess, are related to the officers standing behind them in the initial array. The ranks must be marked on the stones in some such way as to be discernible from the side, so that you can tell what's in a stack without having to disassemble it.

All Orthochess rules apply, including castling and e.p.; but when you capture something (which may be yours as well as your opponent's), you don't take it off the board, rather you climb it and form a stack. A stack belongs to whoever owns the uppermost man, and moves as that man does. It does not have to move as a whole, however; you may move part of the stack and leave the rest behind.

As soon as a Pawn reaches the last rank (alone or as the top of a stack), it is flipped over and from then on moves as the officer that was behind it in the original array (N, B, R or Q); the King's Pawn moves as an Amazon (Q+N). If a promoted Pawn is captured, however, it is demoted to its original estate, as in Japanese Chess. A Pawn brought back to the 2nd rank doesn't get to move two squares again.

Victory is by checkmate.