The Chess Variant Pages


By Roberto Lavieri

Game Description

Toccata is a Maxima variant played on a 76-square hexagonal board, with new elements inspired by other games such as Fugue, Ultima, Ultimatum, Xiang-Qi, Rook Mania and some hexagonal variants. In this game, all the pieces can move in the six directions of a Rook in a hexagonal board, some of them in different ways, but none of them can use other directions, and most of them capture in different manners. This is inspired by Rook Mania, but on a hexagonal board. The winning conditions are inspired from Maxima: You can win the game in two ways: 1.- Capturing the enemy King, or 2.- Moving two of your pieces to adjacent squares in the enemy Palace, formed by the three hexagons on the top of the Board, seen from your side. Your Palace is formed by the three cells at the bottom of your side, and you can not put two of your own pieces into your Palace, or you lose. You can move one piece to your Palace for defensive purposes if you want.

The Pieces

The pieces in this game are the King, the Pawn, the Rook, the Immobilizer, the Jumper, the Cannon, the Long-Leaper, the Archer and the Shielded-Guard. All the pieces move in the six orthogonal directions, although they don't always move the same number of squares. The King can move and capture only one step in the six adjacent squares. The Pawns can slide in the six directions, capturing by custodian capture: if a Pawn lands on a square adjacent to an enemy piece, and there is a friendly piece adjacent to the enemy piece and in line with Pawn and the enemy piece in any of the six rook-wise directions, the enemy piece is captured. Thus the Pawns in Toccata are more powerful than the Pawns in Ultima, which is why five Pawns per team is enough. The Rook is the Rook from Glinski's Hexagonal Chess. It can slide any number of empty squares and can capture by replacement at the end of its path. The Immobilizer can freeze adjacent enemies, like in Ultima, but there is no suicide capture. The Jumper and the Archer are pieces from Ultimatum, translated to the hexagonal board. Their movement is also limited to the six orthogonal directions. The Jumper may not only move like a Rook, but it may also move or capture by jumping over any piece and landing over the next square (again, in any of the six Rook-wise directions). The Archer can move orthogonally, but can capture any adjacent enemy - except the Shielded-Guard or the Immobilizer - without moving. The Cannon is the Xiang-Qi Cannon on a hexagonal Board: It moves like a Rook, but it can capture an enemy piece only if there is exactly one intermediate piece - a screen - in an orthogonal path. The Cannon is allowed to jump over a screen only in order to capture ane enemy piece, exactly like in Xiang-Qi. The Shielded-Guards are immune to the Archers. They can slide neutrally any number of squares on the four orthogonal, but non-vertical, directions. They can capture adjacent pieces in these four directions. They are only allowed to step one square vertically, without capturing.  

Board and Setup


 The Toccata Board is hexagonal with 76 squares, the same number as in Maxima. It includes six squares which defines the Palaces: Three at the top and three at the bottom of the board. The pieces you can see at the bottom are the White pieces: Archer, Jumper, Rook, King, Immobilizer, Cannon and Long-Leaper, and over these pieces you can see: Shielded-Guard, five Pawns and Shielded-Guard. On the top are the Black pieces, with rotational symmetry.

Playing Tips

This game is very strategic, but usually with complex and beautiful tactics. Like a Toccata, the ability of the performer using the instruments (pieces), in a somewhat complex rhythm and complex construction of the game, is essential for playing it with harmony, force and beauty. Once you aquire some virtuosity, you can play incredible instances. Use well the Immobilizer. Be careful on your Palace. Material is not as important as position, but it helps. Pawns are strong defensive pieces. Be careful. Try it and enjoy, you may be nicely surprised.  

Computer Play

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