`In the earliest [trick-taking card] games the king was highest and the ace (or one) was in its logical position next to the two -- promotion above the king came later'.
-- John McLeod, `Card Games: Whist Group'
`Check! check! and two good pawns!'
-- Punch line of old anecdote about card players trying to sound as though they were playing chess
It helps if the board is chequered and the two palaces and the line between ranks 4 and 5 are highlighted, though none of this is essential.
Each cards can in principle be dealt (that is, belong) to either player. The Shôgi approach (flat wedge-shaped tokens turned with their sharp ends towards the opponent) appears optimal for a physical set. (The other side can be blank or inscribed with the rank of the card only, for suit-shuffling purposes.) Or the cards could have the shape and size of dominoes, with rank and suit indicated on the two sides on backgrounds of two different colours.
Clubs and Spades should be inscribed in black (or other dark colours), Diamonds and Hearts in (shades of) red.
Chess variants typically abhor randomness, but there is hardly a card game that does not involve it (in the form of shuffling and dealing), though in the best among them (such as Bridge) care is taken that the game remain one of skill rather than luck. Cardmate tries to be both, so it allows the players to let chance play a lesser or greater part as they choose. There is a predefined setup, which is as follows:
(Rearhand) 9 XD 8C 9S QC KS KD QS 9D 8S XH 8 7H -- 6C JH 5C 5S JC 6H == 7D 7 4D 2C 3H 1S -- == 4S 3D 2H 1C (four empty rows) 2 1D 2S 3C 4H == -- 1H 3S 2D 4C 1 7C == 6S JD 5H 5D JS 6D -- 7S 0 XS 8H 9C QH KC KH QD 9H 8D XC (Forehand)Several notable properties:
|The cards ranking from One to Seven only move to, and capture on, orthogonally or diagonally adjacent squares. They have no initial double move. (Neither have the pawns in most chess-like games, whether they are as weak as the Fuhei in Shôgi, which controls one square, or as strong as the Panthan in Jetan, which controls seven.)|
|The One||moves and captures||straight forwards||and moves, but does not capture, straight backwards.|
|As a One it is confined to its native file; having caterpillared its way onto the opponent's half of the board, however, it butterflies into an Ace of the same suit, on whose considerably greater mobility anon. (This is essentially what is described in the first epigraph, only the word promotion has a slightly different meaning. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.) Promotion is optional; there are situations in which it makes sense for a One to cross the middle of the board without promoting. A One that has declined promotion to Acehood on entering the opponent's half of the board does not promote when moving within it or on retreating from it; it can, however, promote upon reentry.|
|The Deuce||moves and captures||diagonally forwards||and moves, but does not capture, straight backwards.|
|The Trey||diagonally forwards||or straight forwards|
|The Four||diagonally forwards or sideways|
|The Five||diagonally forwards, sideways||or straight forwards|
|The Six||diagonally forwards, sideways or diagonally backwards|
|The Seven||diagonally forwards, sideways, diagonally backwards||or straight forwards|
|Here is a coloured ASCII diagram to show how these seven work, assuming that forwards is upwards (red copyright sign: can move and capture, green vertical bar: can move but not capture):||
-©- ©-© ©©© ©-© ©©© ©-© ©©© -1- -2- -3- ©4© ©5© ©6© ©7© -|- -|- -|- -|- -|- ©|© ©|©
|The Eight||moves and captures||as the Knight in Chess||and moves, but does not capture, one square straight backwards.|
|The Nine||as the Bishop in Chess, -- any distance (up to 9 squares, given the size of the board) on the diagonals|
|The right of quiet retreat implies that Deuces and Nines are not colourbound, unlike their close kin in other games.|
|The cards from Ten to Ace (also called honours) capture exactly as they move, and move in the same way forwards and backwards.|
|The Ten||moves and captures||as the Rook in Chess, in the shape of the Chinese character shi2 `10'.|
|(Originally that shape stood for `all cardinal directions and the centre', that is, `everywhere'; it was associated with the number 10 because that number symbolised completeness and perfection. The Rook is the only piece whose move has remained the same in the entire history of Chess, and is the same everywhere, from the Maghreb through India to Japan; it is also the only piece that controls the same number of squares from everywhere on the board.)|
|The Jack||moves and captures||as a Knight, or as a Queen to one or two squares. He is a little less mobile than the Centurion in Francesco Piacenza's ArchChess or the Lioness in Adrian King's Scirocco, since he can only get to the squares a Dabbâba's or an Alfîl's move away if the intervening square is vacant.|
|(The Jack ranks below the Queen in Whist and most other card games, but in some games Jacks have an exceptional status -- in Skat, for example, they are the highest trumps. In recognition of this I gave my Jack a move that is similar to the Ace's whilst being weaker than the Queen's.)|
|The Queen||moves and captures||as her namesake in Chess.|
|The King||as his namesake in Chess. There is no castling.|
|The Ace||as an Amazon, that is, as a Knight or a Queen.|
It doesn't matter what the suits of the two cards are, only whether they are the same or not.
This last rule is optional. I introduced it at a time during the playtesting when it seemed to me that Zillions of Games was inclined to repetition-draw games against itself way too often. Human players probably won't need it.
As in all games where a player has more than one royal piece, the question of whether you can afford to exchange one of your Kings for material or positional advantage can be very interesting. When a King has been captured, the situation of the other one becomes more chess-like, though still with some peculiarities: for example, he can safely move to a square attacked by an enemy card of a different suit in a position where the opponent can make a same-suit capture somewhere else. And endgames of the type `King+Card vs King' are of two radically different kinds, depending on whether the non-royal card is of a suit different from the enemy King (and then it must capture him in the usual way, with help from its own King) or of the same one (and then it is used to draw him onto a square next to his rival, who dispatches him).
Games usually last around 80 moves, give or take 40 or so.
Forehand: Zillions of Games.
Rearhand: Zillions of Games.
1. 4Ci3 4Db6 2. 8Dj2 8Ca7 3. 8Dh3 8Cc6 4. 7Cb1 7Di8. Note that so far Rearhand replicated Forehand's moves. 5. 3Cd3 3Di6 6. 8Hc2 4Dc5 7. JSf3 9Sa7 8. 9H:c5 9S:c5 9. 2Sa3 9S:a3 10. 1D:a3 8Sh7 11. 3Cd4 8C:d4 12. 8H:d4 8Sg5 13. JS:g5 3Hc6 14. JS:g7 6H:g7 15. 8H:c6 JH:c6 16. 1Da4 QSh8 17. 8Di5 QS:h2 18. 8D:j7?? 7Dh8! The Eight is an unlikely card to get itself drawn into a sequence of forced captures, but this is exactly what has happened here. The continuation should have been 18. 7Si1 QS:i1 19. XC:j7 XH:j7 20. 6D:i1 or 19. ... QS~ 20. XC:j9, in either case leaving Forehand with very good chances. 19. 8D:h8 QS:f0+ 20. 8D:i6 QS:e0×.
Forehand: Zillions of Games.
Rearhand: Zillions of Games.
1. 4Ci3 4Db6 2. 3Sg3 8Ca7 3. 8Dh2 8Cc6 4. 7Cb1 7Di8 5. 3Cc3 4Sf6 6. 8Hc2 4Dc5 7. 4He3. The Treys, Fours, Sevens and Eights are ZoG's favourite cards in the opening. 7. ... 9Sa7 8. 8Df3 4Se5 9. 3Sf4 4S:f4 10. 4H:f4 7Hb8 11. 3Cd4 8C:d4 12. 8D:d4 4Dc6 13. 8D:c6 2C:c6 14. 6Sd2 3Hb6 15. JSe3 5Cf7 16. JDf3 1Sd6 17. 9Ce2 1Sd5 18. JS:d5 2C:d5 19. 9H:b6 JH:b6 20. QDg1 KSe8 21. 7Si1 2Ce4 22. XC:j7 2C:f3 23. 9C:f3 8S:j7. This was Rearhand's last freely chosen move in this game. 24. 8Hd4 JH:d4 25. 6Se3 JH:f4 26. QH:d9 JH:g2 27. 5D:g2. An unnecessary act of hostility, strictly speaking -- 27. QH:e8+ 9S:e3 28. QH:f9× would have been more efficient, but Forehand is not in a hurry. 27. ... 9S:e3 28. QD:e3 XD:a2 29. QD:e8+ KD:e8 30. QH:e8×.
Two variants are included. One, `Predefined setup', starts the game from the initial position shown above. The other, `Random setup', performs suit-shuffling: it preserves the rank content and setup of both hands, but the suit content and setup are determined by chance. The game starts with the four kings on an otherwise empty board; click on the green light to have the rest of the pack dealt.