The Chess Variant Pages


Charles Gilman

As the year 2005 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of the British actor Peter Sellers, my first new variant of the year is intended as a tribute to him. It fits in well with the existing film-themed variants Captain Spalding Chess and Duck Soup Chess, as Sellers counted Julius "Groucho" Marx among his own comedy heroes and it showed through, perhaps more obviously off screen than on. Sellers seems to have given his character in the film series, Inspector Clouseau, an implicit rôle-model of his own in General DeGaulle, whose title features below among the pieces.

The array derives from Bachelor Chess, but with a few differences. There is an extra rank to accommodate the Pink Panther diamond, not a piece as such but an enhancer for any piece carrying it (represented here by a lion, which after all belongs to the genus panthera). The pieces on file d are also different. In place of the King's Pawn is a PRINCESS (after the jewel's owner in the original film), which moves like a Queen but forward only. In place of the King itself is a Xiang Qi GENERAL, which moves (and is represented) as a Wazir but must be kept out of check. The "fool's mate" d2-c3xc6 can be averted with c6-c5 or b7-a5. I do not use my Thief piece as it is rather weak, especially on a small board, and the professional thief in the film is covered anyway by the Knight, which rank he holds. I may eventually add a Grand Pink Panther Chess on a 9x9 board with some "common" Thieves in time. That size board would certainly go with the Shogi character of pieces carrying the Pink Panther (PP).

An piece not carrying the PP may not move directly onto it. It can however pass over it, possessing it at the end of move. The first move of this kind will be over an unclaimed PP, but thereafter it will always be over a piece already carrying it, either an ally or an enemy. The move does not capture the jumped piece, but does reduce it to an unenhanced one, and captures any enemy on the cell where the move ends. Princesses cannot carry the PP (they "have someone to do it for them"). Bishops and Rooks use their normal move to acquire the PP. Other pieces acquire it by making their move twice in the same direction, the jumped piece being at the halfway point. In the Pawn's case this means a double move ORTHOGONALLY forward to an empty cell, or a double move DIAGONALLY forward to an ENEMY-OCCUPIED one. Note that a piece carrying the PP cannot be captured, but losing it usually results in an immediate threat.

General King As the PP is a jewel, a GENERAL acquiring it becomes a "Jewelled General", in other words a KING. The King can be left in apparent check, as the worst that the enemy piece can do is reduce it back to a General and THEN leave it in check. If it does, the General MUST move, as usual. A King in a corner is invincible until such a time as it is forced out by lack of other, or at least better, moves.

Rook Chatelaine A ROOK acquiring the PP gains the same extra moves to become a CHATELAINE. There will be cases where it is worth having a Chatelaine en vol (under threat of robbery, by analogy with en prise) to an enemy General as the robbery wil often be immediately reversible and may result in a better placed Chatelaine!

Bishop Primate A BISHOP acquiring the PP gains the General's standard moves to become a PRIMATE. This allows it to move to a cell of the opposite colour, but if it is subsequently robbed a player may end up with both Bishops bound to one colour.

Knight Gnu As the KNIGHT moves obliquely, its enhancement is also oblique. It gains the CAMEL moves to become a GNU. Like the General's enhancement to King, this allows triangulation - returning to the same cell in 3 moves forming an isoceles right triangle.

Pawn Silvergeneral A PAWN acquiring the PP becomes a SILVERGENERAL, because Silver is the substance associated with 25th anniversaries. A Silvergeneral created by a noncapturing move is only piece not immediately threatening the piece that it has unenhanced.

As well as for acquiring the PP, jumping moves can be used for passing it on to an ally. A piece doing this must make the same kind of move as it would make to acquire it. Thus a Chatelaine cannot pass on the PP with a diagonal move because it ends up a Rook. An enhanced piece moving as far as an enemy-ocupied cell captures the enemy and ends the move there as usual, retaining the PP.

Certain pieces must be promoted on reaching the end rank. A Pawn is promoted to Rook, Bishop, or Knight. A Silvergeneral is promoted to Chatelaine, Primate, or Gnu. A Princess is promoted to QUEEN. This means that a player can end up with a King and Queen, even though neither piece exists at the start. The "win by marriage" of Bachelor Chess is therefore allowed at the image of the King presenting a jewel to his Queen makes it even more fitting. A difference in PP Chess is that marriage cannot be achieved by promoting a Pawn (or any FIDE piece) next to a King already in the enemy camp, but it can by so promoting a Princess. Other extra methods include moving a General over an enhanced piece to land as a King beside an existing Queen, and moving an enhanced piece over a General already next to the Queen. The question of "Medinese marriage" (whether it counts if the enemy's next move can end the marriage) is twofold as the King could be en vol (see above) as well as the Queen en prise.

Author: Charles Gilman
Inventor: Charles Gilman
WWW page created: January 30, 2005.