The Chess Variant Pages




CANOPUS

By Roberto Lavieri

 

Introduction

CANOPUS is the name of a bright star. Also it is an enjoyable attack game played on a 9x8 board with two marked red rectangles, one in each side, called *The GOALS*. Although almost all the pieces movements are range-limited, the game play is violent and tense, embodied with a notorious plasticity and beauty. 

There are two types of pieces that we are going to call SPECIAL PIECES in the game: The P32 and the MAGE-APPRENTICE. These pieces are called special because of some reasons, as we are going to see. Another piece in the game, the STAR, can change to a special piece with stationary movement capability. Also, you can promote a Soldier to a Special Piece in two ways, as we are going to explain. All pieces (except the King) in this game can take friendly pieces. This characteristic may be used in some situations, it is especially important when a Soldier captures a friendly piece, because there is a rule that allows the cannibal Soldier to PROMOTE by COMPENSATION; the Soldier can promote to a SPECIAL PIECE in this way. A SOLDIER promotes to a SPECIAL PIECE also when it reaches the last file. The final reason the MAGE-APPRENTICE and P32 are special is because they can capture a piece called the REDUCER.

You can win the game in three ways:

1. If you CHECKMATE the opposite King.

2. If two of your pieces simultaneously occupy the two adjacent squares in the enemy GOAL squares, marked with the RED rectangle in the opposite side.

3. If you reduce the enemy pieces to only TWO.

In this game, three times repetition is a loss condition.

There is a piece in this game that can't capture: THE REDUCER, an interesting and nice piece that can REDUCE the abilities of adjacent pieces to only ONE-STEP movement according to the piece movement or method of capture. A friendly REDUCER can LIBERATE a friendly reduced special piece (BUT IT CAN'T LIBERATE A STAR OR A PUSHER). If the Reducer is adjacent to a REDUCED friendly special piece (Mage-Apprentice or P32), this piece recovers its abilities, but it can't take the adjacent enemy REDUCER. A REDUCER CAN be CAPTURED by the enemy King, or by special pieces with its 3 (exact)-slide movements: a Mage-Apprentice with its 3-slide typical movement, or by the P32 with its 3-slide movement. A REDUCER can be pushed by the PUSHER, reduced or not. 

If the Pusher threatens to push the enemy King, the King is considered to be in CHECK in this game. (This is a wide Check concept: your King is considered in Check if it can be captured, or if its royal dignity is injured, for example, if it is can be pushed by someone. 

There is no castling or en-passant movement.

In the VARIANT, the Star is substituted by the Super-Star")

 

Board and Set Up

Mage-A

P32

Star

Pusher

King

Reducer

Star

P32

Mage-A

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

                 
                 
                 
                 

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Soldier

Mage-A

P32

Star

Reducer

King

Pusher

Star

P32

Mage-A

 

The Board is 9x8, there are nine SOLDIERS, two MAGE-APPRENTICES, two STARS, two P32, one PUSHER, one REDUCER and a KING per side. Positions (D1, E1, F1) and (D8, E8, F8) are the GOALS.

Pieces

 

 SO

 

 

 

 

 

The SOLDIER moves without capturing one square orthogonally forward, one horizontally or one diagonally forward. It captures one diagonally forward. If Reduced, it retains only its one-square capabilities. If in the THIRD (White) or SIXTH (Black) RANKS, it can move two squares forward. In the last File, it can promote to P32 or Mage-Apprentice. When a Soldier captures a friendly piece, the Soldier can promote by COMPENSATION to Mage-Apprentice or P32.

 

 

ST

SS

 

STAR: It moves orthogonally without capturing to any unoccupied square at a distance of three squares or less, or as King without capture capabilities. It takes by jumping (like a piece of draughts, but in all directions). When it jumps orthogonally, it can take successive pieces, enemies and/or friends, with successive orthogonal jumps. After the last orthogonal jump, it can make another and final STAR move, or a diagonal capturing jump, all in its turn. When reduced, it moves as King without capture, or it can do a stationary change. Star can always be changed to Mage-Apprentice or P32 with a stationary move, but it can't be changed again to a Star. A REDUCED STAR CAN'T BE LIBERATED BY THE FRIENDLY REDUCER.

A SUPER-STAR is a strong version of the Star, it has the same abilities than Star, but it can take pieces with successive jumps IN ALL DIRECTIONS.

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

PUSHER: A Pusher can move in all directions without capturing up to three squares to an unoccupied square. It can't capture, but it can slide one or two squares in any direction in a pushing movement; if there is a piece on the landing square, it is moved too, pushing the piece to the next square in that direction. Any piece in the next square is also pushed, and so on, the last piece pushed to an empty square on board or off the board. Any pieces pushed off the board are destroyed. When reduced, it retains only its one-step capabilities. A Pusher can't be liberated by the friendly Reducer. It can't take the Reducer, but The Pusher can push this piece.

 

 

MA

 

 

 

Mage-Apprentice: It moves like an up-to-3-range Mage (Gryphon). (Definition of Range-3 Mage: one square diagonally, or one diagonally + turning 45 degrees and followed with a slide orthogonal movement of up to two squares. If reduced, only 1 square diagonally.)

P32

 

This piece with a robotic name is another special piece. The P32 slides 3 squares, leaps 2, or leaps 1 orthogonally. If reduced, only it leaps only 1 square orthogonally. If a friendly Reducer is adjacent, it recovers its abilities. 

 

 Rd

 

A REDUCER moves as a FIDE Queen. It can't capture any piece. Instead of this, it has the ability of REDUCE the movement and capture abilities of adjacent enemy pieces. An enemy piece adjacent to the Reducer can only move or capture with ONE-STEP movement according to the piece capabilities. A Reducer can only be captured by the King. It can't be captured by another piece. If the Reducer is adjacent to a reduced SPECIAL PIECE of the same side, the piece recovers its abilities. It is a nice piece, and it is an important piece in the game.

 

K

 

The King is the royal piece. The King moves and capture with a single step in all eight directions with FIDE-KING movement. The King can capture and it is immune to the REDUCER. If the Pusher can push the enemy King, directly or indirectly (cascade), the King is in CHECK.

 

 

 

Rules

WIN CONDITIONS: Checkmate the opposite King, Move two of your pieces to occupy simultaneously adjacent enemy GOAL squares (Royal Palace invasion), or reduce the number of enemy pieces to only two. Three times repetition is a loss condition in this game.

 

Playing Tips

Canopus and Super-Star Canopus are beautiful and aggressive games. You should try to quickly develop an attack position against the enemy King and Goals, but be careful, all pieces in this game can cause serious damage to your forces. Although the mobility of many pieces is relatively limited, CANOPUS can be considered a fast game. Good games are intense and finished in on average after 30-50 moves. SUPER-STAR CANOPUS is a little more aggressive and faster than CANOPUS.

Use the Reducer well, it is a great piece although it can't capture. Special pieces are very strong when they are near the enemy King or Goal squares. The Reducer is a valuable piece in Canopus. The rest of the major pieces in this game have approximately the same value, but it depends strongly on position. The STAR is a very dangerous piece when the opposite piece positions are more or less dispersed, but relatively close one of each other. The Star can change to a P32 or Mage-Apprentice with an stationary move, it is valuable in some situations and in the end game.

It may also be useful in many positions to take a Soldier with another one, to promote by compensation the cannibal Soldier. 

The Pusher may be powerful when there are blocked positions, or when it attacks pieces and the enemy King near the board.

Remember that you can Check the enemy King if you can push it directly by the Pusher or indirectly, in pushing-cascade. This is the definition of CHECK here, if you attack the King, it is in CHECK. Pushing the enemy King is ignominious, it is an offense, and here is considered a CHECK, if you can push it. Tricks and threats in this game are really cool in the middle and in the end game. Enjoy!

 

Computer Play

Now you can play CANOPUS if you have installed on your Computer a Registered version of ZILLIONS OF GAMES. You can Download the ZRF and graphics at the link below. (Author: Roberto Lavieri)