The Chess Variant Pages

Mamra Chess

By George Tsavdaris

Mamra Chess is just like Chess with the addition of Mamra, an invincible piece! This creates not just a slightly modified game but a whole new game and completely new strategies. Yet, if someone knows Chess, it can learn to play this in 7 seconds.... What follows are the complete rules for the game and the starting position diagram.

Diagram 1 -- Starting Position

The rules for this game are simple:

  1. The game is played on a 8x8 normal Chess board, but with 2 extra squares. One next and right to h1 (we called it i1) and one next and right to h8 (we called it i8) «Diagram 1».
  2. All squares are available for all pieces to be placed on. (Except of course from a1 to i1 and a8 to i8 for the Pawns)
  3. The starting position in the 8x8 board is like in Chess, but on the i1 and i8 squares it is placed a new piece, the "Mamra". On i1 it is placed a white one and on i8 a black one.
  4. All pieces except Mamra (notation letter M) have the normal Chess type moves. Mamra moves exactly like a King. But it has the extra-property that no other piece can capture it except Pawns. So Mamra is nearly invincible and it can be captured by Pawns only (not even by another Mamra).
  5. The squares a8,b8,...,h8,i8 are the promotion line for white and the a1,b1,...,h1,i1 is the promotion line for Black. That means if a Pawn of the appropriate color reaches any of the aforementioned squares, it can and it should (it can't stay there as a Pawn) "promote" to a Queen or Bishop or Knight or Rook or Mamra.
  6. All rules for the drawn-game, the en-passant move, the 2 square starting-move of Pawns, the castle, the checkmate are the same as Chess, keep in mind the new conditions, though, for the drawn-game.

The addition of this strange new piece creates many amazing combinations that often are not so easy to see. Playing with Zillions-of-Games®(Z.O.G®) this game I noticed that it's very very very..... weak at it. The reason is that it totally underestimates the power of Mamra and the "horizon effect" makes it not see upcoming attacks from Mamra, via Pawn holes to the defenseless King. And this should be general. Computers can't play this game well, since it has the same difficulties like Chess and one huge addition: There can be 2-3 piece sacrifices (even Queens and Rooks at the same time!) in order to create a Pawn hole for letting the Mamra invade and kill the King. And the Mamra doesn't need to be close to the King. This could take 17-18 moves to complete, so we are speaking of searching 34-36 plies ahead, and computers are helpless for that kind of search. Of course with clever algorithms this could be improved, but I doubt it can be successful enough.

Here are some examples: "Me vs. Z.O.G®"

Diagram 2

In the above Diagram 2, Z.O.G® played a good tactical move if we were in Chess 1...Nxe5, believing that it would win a piece after 2.Nxe5 of mine and 2...Qxe5, since if I capture it's Queen it will capture mine too with the Rook, winning a piece in the end. And that exactly happened.... Here is the position after all captures:

Diagram 3

Here I am with a Bishop down, but I have a won position by giving a Rook! After Rxf5!! white has a forced win by moving the Mamra closer to the black King. Nothing can't prevent this. So it's a mate in X position.

Diagram 4

In the above Diagram 4, I played the bishop sacrifice Bxf7! and after Rxf7 there is the nice Mg3! winning by force, since there is no good defense for black.

Diagram 5

In the above Diagram 5, Z.O.G® just played Nec5 and it seemingly has a better position. But there is a startling move that makes the day: Bxh6!! And after Bxd3 there is the Bxg7! and then when the white Mamra goes out it is extremely difficult to find a saving defense for black.

By clicking on the below link you can get the ZIP file, that contains the ZRF files needed to run Mamra Chess with Zillions-of-Games®.

This is just a game that I have created to play with some friends and Zillions-of-Games®. Have fun! Cheers.........

Credit: diagrams created with Zillions-of-Games®.