The Chess Variant Pages




Joust Chess

Introduction

Joust Chess is a variant based on the theme of rotating pieces, inspired by Ploy, Rotary, and Tournoy, with the design goal that all pieces but the king follow a consistent set of rules, differentiated only by the pattern of directions available to each piece.

Setup

Joust Chess initial setup

Pieces

'Line' or 'Pawn': These have two arrows in opposite directions. As a consequence of the rules (see below, likewise for all other pieces), the pawns are incapable of long-range captures, and serve the purpose of defending or obstructing specific squares. Each player has 8 pawns filling either the 2nd or 7th rank, with arrows initially pointing forward.

'Wedge' or 'Knight': These have two arrows at a 90 degree angle. This allows long-range capturing by making a long-range move in one direction followed by an adjacent capture in the other direction. It also allows short-range double-captures. Each Player has 4 of these. 2 adjacent to the king and queen, with the arrows initially in the two diagonally forward directions, and 2 on the squares 2 steps from the king and queen, with one arrow directly forward and the other pointed inward toward the king and queen.

'T' or 'Rook': These have 3 arrows in a T pattern, enabling long-range double-captures and short-range triple-captures. Each player has 2, one in each corner, with the central arrow directly forward.

'Cross' or 'Queen': These have 4 arrows in a cross pattern, eliminating the Rook's blind spot. Each player has 1 adjacent to the king, with the arrows initially in the orthogonal directions.

'King': Same as the Queen, but restricted to short-range movement except for the first time the king is used, and of course the loss of the king means the loss of the game.

Rules

As in traditional chess, the goal is to checkmate the opponent's king, with 'check' defined by a piece's normal capturing capabilities. Alternatively, the goal may be to capture the opponent's king. There is little difference, as it is always possible to make a legal move, since one may simply rotate a piece in place.

All pieces but the king follow the same rules and are distinguished only by their available arrows, and even the king follows nearly the same rules. On each turn, the player to move selects a piece and performs one or more actions with that piece. Multiple actions may be performed with a single piece on a single turn as long as the criteria for each action are met. Each individual action is optional, but the player must perform at least one action on his or her turn. The actions available to a piece are as follows.

1. A piece may move without capturing, any number of squares in the direction of any available arrow, as long as no other piece obstructs the movement. This may only be done as the first action on a given turn.

2. A piece may capture an adjacent enemy piece by replacement, as long as the capturing piece has an arrow pointed at the captured piece, and that arrow has not been previously used for any captures or movement during the turn.

3. A piece may rotate to a new orientation if it has not performed any captures that turn. Rotating immediately ends the turn, and thus may only be performed as the final action of the turn. It is permitted for a turn to consist solely of a rotation, but only if that rotation changes the set of directions of arrows available to the piece in question. That is, a player may not effectively pass his or her turn by making a meaningless rotation (such as rotating a pawn by 180 degrees). A valid orientation is one in which each arrow is pointing in one of the 8 queen-like directions.

The king follows the same rules listed above if the king has performed no actions yet in the game. As soon as the king moves, captures, or rotates, he is thereafter restricted to short-range movement. That is, he still follows the same rules, but option 1, dealing with non-capturing movement, becomes restricted to adjacent squares when the king is moving.

Given the rules above and the pieces available, there are 8 different combinations of actions that can comprise a turn.

1. A piece may move without capturing, any number of unobstructed spaces along any available arrow.
2. A piece may capture an adjacent enemy piece in the direction of any available arrow.
3. A piece may rotate in place.
4. A piece may move as in case (1), then rotate.
5. A piece may use one arrow to move as in case (1), then use a separate arrow to capture as in case (2).
6. A piece may use one arrow to capture as in case (2), then use a separate arrow to capture a second time.
7. A piece may use two distinct arrows to move and capture as in case (5), then use a third arrow to capture a second time.
8. A piece may use two distinct arrows to make two captures as in case (6), then use a third arrow to capture a third time.

In principle, the rules allow for even longer chains of captures, but none of the available pieces have a combination of arrows that would make such a move possible. But a piece with arrows in all 8 directions, for example, would be capable of performing up to 7 captures in a single turn, in contrived positions. The possibility of longer chains of captures should be kept in mind if designing a modest variant of this game with different pieces, but for the pieces in this game, the 8 possibilities given above are all that can be done.

Notes

Since a long-range capture is performed by making a long-range move with one arrow, followed by an adjacent capture with a different arrow, pawns are incapable of long-range captures. The enemy piece would have to be back in the direction the pawn just came from.

Since it is always legal to rotate your king in place if he's not in check, stalemate is impossible.

A king and knight (or any other back-row piece) can force checkmate against a lone king.

Because of how long-range captures are performed, it's possible for one piece to obstruct another without being in danger. This is crucial to the tactics of the game.

The king's ability to make a long-range move if he hasn't been used yet in the game serves as the equivalent of a castling rule, allowing the king to quickly retreat to safety.

This submission is posted by the inventor. The set shown is made from a standard chess board, $8 in quarters, black and blue dry erase markers, and scotch tape to seal the ink. Special thanks to my brother for play testing the game and suggesting refinements



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By Jeff Cornell.
Web page created: 2017-12-18. Web page last updated: 2017-12-18