The Chess Variant Pages




Jai-Alai

By Roberto Lavieri

Introduction

Jai-Alai is the name of a sport played with a ball that rebounds on a wall. Also is a Chess variant, where there are three new pieces: the Superball, the Ball and the Diagball. 

Balls and Diagballs can capture enemy pieces when they REBOUND on a FRIENDLY piece and continue their path perpendicularly to their main path. The Ball moves without capturing as a Rook and the Diagball as a Bishop. The Diagball can change its color square with a one-step non-capturing movement. The Superball moves like the Ball, but it can rebound on enemy pieces too, and it has an additional one-step diagonal non-capturing movement.

There are two ways of winning the game: checkmating the enemy King or reducing enemy pieces to only two.

There is a piece in this game that can´t capture: THE REDUCER, a 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. If the Reducer is adjacent to a REDUCED friendly piece, this piece recovers its abilities, but it can´t take the adjacent enemy REDUCER. A REDUCER CAN be CAPTURED by the enemy King, by the Guard, or by the Mage-Apprentice, but only if the Mage-Apprentice is not adjacent. 

The BOY promotes to SUPERBALL. The SUPERBALL, one for each team when the game begins, is immune to the Reducer and can capture it. SUPERBALLS are strong pieces. 

The BALL, the DIAGBALL and the DEER can´t capture the Reducer.

There is no castling or en-passant movement.

A BOY promotes to a SUPERBALL when it reaches the last file. Kings and Guards are cannibal pieces in this game, they can take friendly pieces.

STATUES are droppable pieces. They can´t move. They can´t capture. Statues can be captured by an enemy piece, except by the King. The King can not take enemy STATUES. Do they seem almost useless pieces? They are not! Play the game and see.

 

Movement and General Rules

WIN CONDITIONS: checkmate the opposite King, or reduce the number of enemy pieces to only two.

 

Board and Set Up

 

 The Board is 9x8, with the initial set-up shown in the graphic. For White, the pieces in the three lines that you can see are:

Boy

G Boy Boy Boy S Boy Boy Boy G

A M B D K B D M R

G= Guard, Boy=Boy; S=Superball, A=Deer (Advancer), B=Ball, K=King, D=Diagball, M=Mage Apprentice, R=Reducer.

There are 4 STATUES per band, in the boxes to the sides of the main board. They can be dropped on the board everywhere and when you want to do it.

Pieces

Boy

 

 

 

BOY moves without capturing one step orthogonally or diagonally forward, or one step sideways. It captures like FIDE pawns, one step diagonally forward.

In the third rank (white) or sixth (black), it can move two steps forward. When a BOY reaches the last rank, it promotes to Superball.

 Guard

 

 

 

A Guard can move to any adjacent square. The Guard can capture an enemy piece on the square its moving to. It can take the Reducer. It can also take friendly pieces.

Deer

 

 

This is inspired by the Advancer, a ROCOCO piece. The Deer can slide any number of squares in any direction. If the Deer ends adjacent to an enemy piece in a straight line with its direction of movement, the Deer has the option of capturing the enemy piece. A Deer can´t take the Reducer. If Reduced, it moves only one step, preserving its capturing ability.

 Ball

 

 

 

The Ball moves without capturing as a Rook, or it can REBOUND if it finds a FRIENDLY piece in its path, turning perpendicularly to the initial direction. It can stop in any free square in the new direction, but if at the end of the perpendicular path it encounters an enemy piece other than the Reducer, it can capture the piece. Balls can only capture rebounding on a friendly piece.

 Superball

 

 

 

The Superball is a strong piece, it moves without capturing as a Rook, or it can REBOUND if it finds a piece, friend or enemy, in its path, turning perpendicularly to the initial direction. It can stop in any free square in the new direction, but if at the end of the perpendicular path it encounters an enemy piece, it can capture the piece.

A Superball can move one step diagonally without capturing. Superballs are immune to the Reducer and can capture it. A BOY promotes to SUPERBALL in the last rank.

 Diagball

 

 

 

The Diagball moves without capturing as a Bishop, or it can REBOUND if it finds a FRIENDLY piece in its path, turning perpendicularly to the initial direction. It can stop in any free square in the new direction, but if at the end of the perpendicular path it encounters an enemy piece other than the Reducer, it can capture the piece. Diagballs can only capture rebounding on a friendly piece. It has an additional non-capturing movement of one step orthogonally that allows the Diagball change to a square of the other color.

 King

 

 

 

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.

 Reducer

 

 

 

A Reducer moves always without capturing with FIDE-QUEEN movement.

Reducer can be captured by the King or the Guard, and by the Mage-Apprentice when not adjacent. Reducer has the ability to reduce the movement of any enemy ADJACENT piece to only the one-step movement allowed to the piece according to its movement

 Mage-

Apprentice

 

 

 

Mage-Apprentice: Moves like an up to 3-Range Mage (Gryphon) (3-Range Mage: one square diagonally, or one diagonally + a 45 degree turn followed by an orthogonal slide of up to two squares). If reduced, it only moves 1 diagonally. It can capture the Reducer if it is not adjacent.

 Statue

 

 

 

Statue: can be dropped to any empty square. It can´t move, it is a defensive piece, or can be used as wall for the balls or Diagballs.

 

Rules

Win condition: Checkmate the opposite King, or reduce enemy pieces to only TWO.

 

Playing Tips

Open positions are very dynamic. The Superball is the strongest attacking piece in the game. Use well the Reducer, it is an important piece in this game. The Deer may hurt your forces, so try to limit its movement; it is a powerful attacking piece in the game. The Ball and Diagball need friendly pieces to rebound and capture. The ball needs a friend in the orthogonal line, and the Diagball need one in the diagonal line with it. In the end game, TWO rebounding pieces with the help of some Statues in hand, King and Reducer, can win the game in many instances against the King, Reducer and one Statue in hand, but it is not easy. In the end game, Guards, Advancers and Mage-apprentices are more suitable pieces to checkmate the enemy King.

In the early stages of the game, the Guards are defensive pieces, but they can help in attack, acting also as walls for the rebounding pieces. In the end game, they are valuable pieces; you can win the game with only one Guard and King and Reducer against King, Reducer and some Statues in hand.

STATUES can be used as defensive pieces, for blocking the King, Reducer, the Advancer, Balls or Diagballs. They can be used too as WALLS for your rebounding pieces. Try to promote your BOYS; they promote to SUPERBALL in the last rank

 

Computer Play

Now you can play Jai-Alai if you have installed on your computer a registered version of ZILLIONS OF GAMES. You can Download the Jai-Alai ZRF and graphics at the link below. (Author: Roberto Lavieri)