The Chess Variant Pages

Hexchess

I am trying something new and something that is old. The 'new' being writing something and adding pictures to it for descriptive purposes. The 'old' being a chess game that I learned while in college. Perhaps you have seen this style before, so if the rules seem diferent, they might just be, since I am trying to recall something over 25 years ago.

The name of the chess game is Hexchess. No, it isn't to put a hex on you, but is played with 'squares' that are hexagons instead. Here is the board and set up:

(Hum, a little more convoluted then is first seemed, but there is now a picture.)

As you can see there is very little diference in the two games. Oh an exra Bishop on each side, and a back row sorta bent out of shape, but there is still 1 Queen and King, 2@ of the Rooks and Knights. Since there are now three colors, there is third Bishop. These three Bishops are located on the centerline of your end of the board vertically. The back row waves abit, but the pawns manage to surround all but the eager Bishops.

To describe the pgn of the board, first see that the white side has the yellow Bishop closest to the edge of the board. Yes there are red Pawns on each end, but so exsists the Black side. Starting with the lowest leftmost Pawn as A, the Rook is B, the Knight is C, etc., the rightmost, lowest Pawn works out to being I. For the vertical ranks, the left Pawn file has ranks 1 through 7, the Rook file has ranks 1-8, Knights and Royalty are like their similar aforementioned Pawn or Rook. The Bishop file, on which all the Bishops start is 1-9. See? Sounds familiar doesn't it!

Rook

Let's examine the movement of a Rook. In the very square game of chess there are merely four sides out of which a rook can flee his attacker. To make it sound complex, they call the movements vertical along a file or horizontal along a rank. Well Hexchess is much more simple! Just go out anyside and you are moving legally, assuming the hexs are clear and excluding a revealed check, after all we really don't want our regal King to expire untimely! Picturequesily (dat means with da pticher!):

See? Just a couple of extra hexes in which to flee or attack!

Bishop

The regular old Chess Bishop moves out the points, (they call them diagonals! Go figure! I use diagonals to cut wires.) Well our three Bishops can move out six points. 'Course we have to stay on color, but we can't have everything.

Queen

As you probably have guessed, the Queen wants to throw her weight around if she is in the center of the board, since she can move out a twelve points and sides. And His Royal Majesty seems to have several options when it comes to being corraled and removed from the throne. Since this file will probably end up being a big enough file on its own, you can make your own picture of the Queen's and King's options!

Pawn

The Pawn can be played two different ways. If we examine a regular chess pawn move, we see it can move out a side that advances to the opposing side's rear. On its first move it can move one or two squares, but forever after it trugs along one square at a time. If we look a a Hex Pawn we see three sides that advance a Pawn's position, therefore its first move can be one of six diferent hexs. A regular old Pawn captures (HAH! If it every gets a chance!) by going out the diagonals, or points, that also advance the Pawn. It can control only two squares. But so can the HexPawn, as there are only two points that advance the Pawn. This style allows alittle lateral movement with a Hex Pawn you don't often see in regular chess. The Pawn can upgrade itself upon reaching a square (hex) that originally was occupied by a primary piece of the opposing color. In HexChess, one should always keep in mind the original starting hex of the Bishops! That lead Bishop's home seems mighty tempting to a Pawn desirous of being God- like so close to the enemy camp.

A simpler, less purist game, limits a Pawn's lateral movement, and allows upgrades only on the last Rank of each File (including the File formerly held by a Pawn). At the right is a picture of the simpler HexPawn's movement.

Knight

The Knight's move is sorta confusing in regular chess. Well we like to keep the games similar, so we have managed to do the same thing here! Yeppers, the Knight can move out one side then move straight any of four sides that are not parallel to the original move for two hexs. OR, the Knight can move out any of six sides for two hexs, finishing with single hex twist at the end. How's that for confusing?! It is much easier to say the Knight can move out any point, stay there or continue on to either of the two farthest sides one hex. Okay maybe that really isn't very clear so...

Now that really isn't too confusing when we put it like this!

Castling

Castling is almost impossible to stop. As the HexKing and HexRook merely exchange places. The HexKing cannot be in, or pass through, nor end up in check. A HexKing's Rook can nearly always castle with the King, Even a Rook or Queen cannot control a hex directly between the two pieces. The HexKing is actually moving out a point and cannot be threatened by a file tending piece. (Really! How can a Rook take the King between the two hexs? The King is never in a hex directly controlled by the Rook!) On the Queen side there is a hex that is vulneralble and so a Queen or Bishop can stop the castling if it controls that hex.

En Passant

That En Passant move of the regular Pawn, keeps me confused. Although I have been a victim to it several times, I have never used it in a game. The HexPawn moves in behind the advanced escaping Pawn. 'Course it can only react thus to a Pawn that it could have attacked if it had stayed put. So in HexChess the victim Pawn is in the file beside the attacking Pawn. The out the point movement puts it on the victim Pawn's original hex, not the one directly behind the Pawn! From there the HexPawn can ascend itself to nobler heights on any of three hexs on its next turn, in the 'purist' version. On the limited version, the HexPawn could actually En Passant itself into a Queening hex (the outside opponent's Pawns), or perhaps move into position on its next move.

Conclusion

Like in regular chess, this game requires diligence, study, and most of all, some pieces let after several turns have passed!

Note

There are more games with this name, e.g., there is a commercial variant called HEXchess. (Note added by Hans Bodlaender.)
Written by Bill LaVanway. HTML conversion and minor editing by David Howe. Thanks to Alfred Pfeiffer for noting an error.
WWW page created: May 22, 1998. Last modified: June 3, 1998.