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Xiang Courier


The idea for this variant struck me very suddenly. If early Occidental Chess can be enhanced to Courier, why should not Xiang Qi be similarly enhanced? The only question was what to take from each game, and here's what I came up with.
* From Xiang Qi: 10 ranks, River between middle ranks, capturable pieces, none of them leaping and none numbering less than two aside, gaps in front rank in front of those pieces, square Fortress with same pieces' files marking its edge.
* from Courier: 12 files, addition of Bishops just inside Elephant files, King and capturable Wazir.

This gave a variant with a 120-square board, a larger and more populous Fortress, the preservation of the XQ front-rank's 4 regularly-spaced gaps but increased from every 2 files to every 3, and the XQ initial threats and protections.

I decided against adding the Arrow as that would overlap too much with Yang Qi and the obvious position would leave pieces threatened but unprotected.



Pieces common to XQ and Courier:
The ROOK moves any distance orthogonally through empty intermediate squares. As in both original games it is the corner piece.
The FERZ moves one step diagonally. As it started single in Chaturanga, and remained single in Courier, but was doubled in XQ, it remains double here.
XQ-specific pieces:
The stepping KNIGHT (Mao) makes an orthogonal step to an empty square followed by a diagonal step. It cannot make just one step, and can be blocked. As in XQ it starts one file inward of the Rook - also the position of Courier's leaping Knight.
The stepping ELEPHANT (Xiang) moves 2 steps diagonally. The halfway square must be empty. It cannot make just one step, and can be blocked. As in XQ it starts one file inward of the Knight - also the position of Courier's leaping Elephant (Alfil).
The CANNON differs from the Rook in that a capturing move requires exactly one intervening piece, which may be of either army and is not itself captured. As in XQ it starts two cells in front of the Knight.
The POINT is the Xiang Qi replacement for the Pawn, and until promoted it always moves one step orthogonally forward. As in XQ there is one on the fourth square of each file except Knight and Ferz ones.
Courier-specific pieces:
The KING moves one square in any orthogonal or, unlike the XQ General, diagonal direction. It must be kept out of check.
The WAZIR moves one step orthogonally but, unlike the XQ General, is capturable.
Replacing the General with the two pieces above is an attempt to most closely mirror Courier's addition of a Wazir and Prince, both capturable. It seemed more logical than having a Prince alongside the original General.
The BISHOP moves any distance diagonally through empty intermediate squares. As in Courier it is one file inward from the Elephant.


There is no initial double-step move, En Passant, or Castling.

The border between the middle ranks is a River. Points crossing it are promoted by adding the ability to move one step sideways. Elephants cannot cross it and Bishops, as in Anglis Qi, can do so only by a move neither starting nor ending on the middle two ranks.

The middle third of the camp, from one Ferz file to the other, forms a 4x4 Fortress which the King, Wazir, and Ferzes cannot leave. Enemy Kings cannot share a file without an intervening piece. As the Fortress is large enough for both Kings to reach the two diagonals through the centre of the board, a fact to which my attention was drawn in a comment below, they cannot share those without an intervening piece either.

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as in Xiang Qi.

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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-02-25. Web page last updated: 2016-03-07