The Chess Variant Pages




Divergent Chess

A large and somewhat schizophrenic chess variant

Introduction

This chess variant was inspired by Michael Howe’s Asymmetric Chess. It features a new piece called the Guard. All of the pieces move differently than they capture. All pieces can also be promoted upon reaching the last rank. There is a Zillions of Games rules file available for anyone who would like to play this game.

Setup of the Board

This game is played on a 10x10 board.

White: Rook (R) a1, j1; Knight (N) b1, i1; Guard (G) c1, h1; Bishop (B) d1, g1; Queen (Q) e1; King (K) f1; Pawn (P) a2 - j2;

Black: Rook (R) a10, j10; Knight (N) b10, i10; Guard (G) c10, h10; Bishop (B) d10, g10; Queen (Q) e10; King (K) f10; Pawn (P) a9 - j9;

Rules of the Game

All rules of orthodox chess apply unless otherwise stated. All pieces, even the King, are promoted upon reaching the last rank. Until they are promoted, all pieces capture differently than they move. There is no castling in this game.

Movement of the Pieces

Pawn: A Pawn moves just like an orthodox Pawn except that it can also move 3 squares on its first move and it promotes differently. On rare occasions Pawns can also execute a move called `En Passant`, or `in passing`. This allows a Pawn to take an enemy Pawn that has just moved two or three squares. Once promoted, a Pawn is able to move like an orthodox King. A promoted Pawn loses the ability to capture En Passant, however.

Knight: A Knight moves without capturing one square orthogonally then optionally one square diagonally outward. It does not capture when moving in this way. A Knight captures by moving one square diagonally then optionally one square orthogonally outward. It may only capture when moving in this way. It may not jump over pieces along the way. Once promoted on the last row, it is able to leap like an orthodox Knight and move like an orthodox King.

Guard: A Guard moves without capturing one square diagonally then optionally one square orthogonally outward. It does not capture when moving in this way. A Guard captures by moving one square orthogonally then optionally one square diagonally outward. It may only capture when moving in this way. It may not jump over pieces along the way. Once promoted on the last row, it is able to leap like an orthodox Knight and move like an orthodox King. In the two diagrams below, the movements of the Knight and the Guard are compared. The blue circles represent the squares the black Knight or Guard may move to without capturing. The red circles represent the squares the black Knight or Guard can make a capture on.

              

Bishop: A Bishop moves without capturing as an orthodox Bishop. It captures by moving as an orthodox Rook. It may not leap over other pieces. Once promoted on the last row, it may move and capture like an orthodox Queen.

Rook: A Rook moves without capturing as an orthodox Rook. It captures by moving as an orthodox Bishop. It may not leap over other pieces. Once promoted on the last row, it may move and capture like an orthodox Queen.

Queen: A Queen moves without capturing as an orthodox Queen. It captures by moving as an orthodox King. It may not leap over other pieces. Once promoted on the last row, it may move and capture like an orthodox Queen.

King: A King can move without capturing as an orthodox King. It captures like an orthodox Queen. Once promoted on the last row, it may move and capture like an orthodox Queen. It may briefly pass through check, as long as the move made ends in a safe square. The King is the only piece subject to the rules of check. Other pieces that have the movement capabilities of a King cannot be put in check. The King cannot castle in this game.

Additional Notes

I tried to create a variant in which all pieces were like pawns, in that they must capture differently than they move. I wanted there to be a strong sense of balance among the pieces, however. Every piece but the Pawn has its own complementary piece. Bishops and Rooks are still opposites as they are in chess, but I felt that the Knight needed its own opposite. I made the Knight a sliding piece, and I created the Guard piece as its opposite. They obviously have their origins in the Xiangqi Knight. I also felt that the King and Queen should be more of opposites than one merely being an extension of the other.

I felt that there was no need for castling, since the King was much more powerful. And With the Queen weakened, the King is bound to have a more active role in helping to protect developing pieces. Not to mention that castling would seem even more awkward on this 10x10 board. Also, it is likely that the King will be brought out into play with the hopes of getting to the last rank. The King can be very hard to catch if it ever promotes. Checkmating a King that can zoom across the board in one move is no easy task. In most cases, if a losing player is able to promote the King, this guarantees at least a draw.


This variant is an entry in the 1999 Large Variant contest.


Written by A.J. Winkelspecht. HTML conversion by David Howe.
WWW page created: April 16, 1999. Last modified: May 8, 1999.