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This item is a game information page,
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It is a 2 player game.
It was last modified on: 2001-09-29
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Courier Chess. A large historic variant from Medieval Europe. (12x8, Cells: 96) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
bob wrote on 2003-03-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
it is great!
Charles Gilman wrote on 2003-06-14 UTCGood ★★★★
The array in this game must be of fairly similar total strength to standard modern Chess, as it differs in lacking a Queen usually valued at 9 Pawns, but has 9 extra short-range pieces, including Pawns. However the relative power as the game progresses depends on the promotion rule. If it is as thought most likely Courier will start to lag behind the modern game. On the other hand allowing promotion to any piece would mean that each quarter of all Pawns to be promoted could generate 3 Rooks, a good parallel to 2 Queens. Of course a variant with the Bachelor Chess rules (see small variants) of promotion to modern Queen and win by marriage would be interestingly different.
Nuno Cruz wrote on 2003-12-29 UTCGood ★★★★
This is not publicity 'cause I really don't earn any money with it.. but you can try out my courier chess variant COURIER DE LA DAMA presented on this pages, or even the MODERN COURIER CHESS by Paul Byway, on the british chess variant pages... Try them out an tell me what you think! :-)
Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-04-01 UTCGood ★★★★
The most famous of all military couriers was Phidippides, who ran with a message from the battle of Marathon. It is his achievement that is honoured and mimicked in the sporting Marathon. If these details were added to this page it might help get it into the Themed Variants list.
h.g.muller wrote on 2006-02-16 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Could it be that this game is on the direct line of the evolution from Shatranj to orthodox FIDE Chess? It seems a nice 'missing link', with all Shatranj pieces still present, but introducing a modern piece in the form of the Couriers. Especially if this game was popular it might have spread the fame of the modern Bishop, so that people that did not happen to have the clumsy 8x12 board around but just the old fashioned 8x8 might have decided on playing a more exciting game of 'mini-Courier' rather than that slow and boring Shatranj, throwing out the weakest pieces of Courier Chess: the Alfils and Wazir (Sleich). I can even imagine that they sacrificed the weaker Ferz for the Commoner (Man), using the latter as Queen. After all, the Man was already standing next to the King (at the correct side!). This would have provided the first step of the evolution of the Queen to her modern form, adding orthogonal directions to here move repertoire. Replacing one piece by another in a popular game is quite a big step, since conservatism will bias people against the relatively unknown newcomer. But if one shrinks a popular game to a smaller board out of necessity, a concious decision has to be made which piece to keep, and the pieces compete on an equal footing!
George Duke wrote on 2008-01-24 UTC
From the 13th Century and the 1995/1996 interface, Courier's on 8x12, already having the modern Bishop, has thirteen(13) bounces possible, when overlaying the Billiards Mutator from mid-20th Century. For convenience, put the Courier on c2. Then c2-b1-(bounce)a2-(bounce)-b3-c4-d5-e6-f7-g8- (bounce)-h7-i6-j5-k4-l3-(bounce)k2-j1-(bounce)i2-h3-g4-f5-e6-d7-c8-(bounce) b7-a6-(bounce)b5-c4-d3-e2-f1-(bounce)g2-h3-i4-j5-k6-l7-(bounce)k8-(bounce) j7-i6-h5-g4-f3-e2-d1-(bounce)c2-b3-a4-(bounce)b5-c6-d7-e8-(bounce)f7-g6-h5- i4-j3-k2-l1. Someone can easily systematize this formulaically -- provided of course that Leonhard Euler has not already so much as looked at the problem.
Nuno Cruz wrote on 2008-06-24 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I love this game! It is by itself a very interesting and entertaining game. Some people have proposed modifications to it in order to become a more modern game. The only modifications I would make it would be to change the Alfil to Alibaba, to increase this almost 'stupid' piece to one with a slight wider range. It could now hit 1/4 of the board, with Couriers 1/2 and rooks the hole! ;)
David Paulowich wrote on 2008-06-24 UTC

The Alfil is a very weak piece indeed. I substituted an Elephant in my 10x10 variant Shatranj Kamil X, moving exactly like the Chained Padwar in JETAN (Martian Chess). This nonleaping piece moves to the same squares as an Alibaba.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-10-15 UTC
Standard Staunton-style piece set for this game:

Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-12-20 UTC
New Game Courier Preset for 'Courier Chess':
Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-12-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I love H. G. Muller's missing link theory! Actually makes sense! Even if it's not the case, makes for a nice little story to tell about this game.

This story goes well with the 1508 painting.
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-12-20 UTC
I agree. Muller's theory makes sense.
Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-12-22 UTC
H.G. Muller,

I so much liked your 'missing link' theory that I quoted it in my Courier Chess Moderno CV page on my latest variation of Courier Chess.

Hope you don't mind.
Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-12-28 UTC
I also want to add to Muller's theory that Courier Chess' initial forced 2-step pawn moves might have inspired the same move for all the pawns in Orthodox Chess.

John Ayer wrote on 2008-12-29 UTC
Splendid thought about the two-square pawn move. I wish it were mine!
H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-12-29 UTC
Indeed, very good observation! There are just so many details in Courier that reek of modern Chess (or its known precurser with a 'sane Queen', moving as a Commoner) that it can hardly be dismissed as just coincidence.
Alexander Krutikov wrote on 2009-01-05 UTC
What's interesting is that in the standard setup the Rooks are able to move to the 3rd rank the first turn and be quite active that way.
Yu Ren Dong wrote on 2009-07-07 UTC
Anonymous wrote on 2010-03-30 UTC
Good game. From our century it looks like hybrid of modern and ancient chess, altrough it's not. By the way, when this game was invented? Move of modern already was in game Grande Acedrex (this piece's name was crocdile), and they already was adjecent to king and piece, wich replaced queen (griffon). So which game used this piece first?
John Ayer wrote on 2010-03-31 UTC
This game is documented from 1202, Grande Acedrex only from 1283, so this is earlier.
Joseph Ruhf wrote on 2015-04-28 UTC
I can imagine that a "square Courier" assize did ultimately arise out of this game, but not such as H. G. Muller proposes, due to the influence of the free-sliding Courier piece and the perceived clumsiness of the 12x8 board and the statutory opening moves. One way I imagine that this arose is that first the Elephants and their files were dropped from the game, but their move was compounded with that of the Commoner, Schleich and Queen. Very soon subsequently, the statutory opening moves changed into optional initial moves of the same pieces. Now made mostly redundant by her new natural double step, the Queen's optional first move quietly fell into disuse and the restriction on which three Pawns were initially permitted a double step option fell into disuse along with it. Finally, the redundant Queen and Schleich and their files were removed and the Queen's name transferred to the Commoner. The other way is that first it was the redundant Queen and Schleich and their files which were removed and the Queen's name was transferred to the Commoner. As in the first progression, the statutory opening moves very soon changed into optional initial moves of the same pieces. Next, the Elephants and their files were dropped from the game, but their move was compounded with that of the Queen. Finally, now made mostly redundant by her new natural double step, the Queen's optional first move quietly fell into disuse and the restriction on which three Pawns were initially permitted a double step option fell into disuse along with it.
Zombienomicon Eisege wrote on 2016-07-30 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

We play that the pawn is "elevated" ie ennobled, and becomes the "courtier" or "man".

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