The Chess Variant Pages




Nahbi Chess

Some chess variants are named for a feature that distinguishes them from standard chess. Likewise, this variant is named for a particular piece - Nabi. The Nabi in this game is a shorter range version of a piece that was originally devised for Ackanomic Party Chess. While I was writing the original rules for that one, and through later amendments, a player, whose nickname in Ackanomic was Mohammed, made significant contributions. I decided it would be appropriate to name a piece in honor of this player. I called the piece il-Nabi - Arabic for "the Prophet". Later I considered that a similar piece could be used in a more "traditional" variant as well, and I came up with this one. I mark the piece with the letter M. Pronunciation note - Nahbi is pronouces with an emphasis on the first syllable. Nah as in the na in manna, bi as in bee, but shorter.

The Board

The board is a 10x10 board. The 5th and 6th ranks are seperated by the Equator.

Initial Position:

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| R | C | M | B | K | Q | B | M | C | R |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+================equator================+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| R | C | M | B | Q | K | B | M | C | R |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+

Pieces

  • King (K) - same as chess King
    
    
    	
  • Queen (Q) - same as chess queen, with the exception, that in order to cross the Equator, either the starting square, or the ending square of the move must be adjacent to to the Equator, that is on the 5th or 6th rank.
    
    
    	
  • Bishop (B) - same as chess bishop
    
    
    	
  • Rook (R) - same as chess rook
    
    
    	
  • Camel (C) - a slightly longer knight. moves 3 squares in any orthogonal direction + 1 square in a direction perpendicular to the direction. It can skip over any intervening pieces.
    
    
    	
  • Nahbi (M) - Nahbi moves two squares diagonally, and then one square orthogonally, in that order. On an empty board, this gives the Nahbi 16 possible moves. A piece on e5, for instance,would partially, block a Nahbi on d4, because it would be unable to make the diagonal move in that direction.

    In addition the Nahbi has a non-capturing move. A Nahbi can leap over an occupied orthogonally adjacent square, to the next square, regardless of the color of the piece in the adjacent square, however, it cannot skip over a vacant square. This allows a Nahbi in the initial position to leap from c1 to c3, over the pawn.

    
    
    	
  • Alfil (F) - Same as Chaturnaga Alfil. Jumps two diagonally, regardless of intervening pieces. With the exception that it can't cross the Equator (like the Chinese Chess elephant). Initially, each player has two Alfils in-hand. An Alfil may be placed on any vacant square in a player's first two ranks, instead of a move. A captured Alfil is removed from the game like any other piece, and cannot be placed again.
    
    
    	
  • Archer (A) - This piece is also a shorter range version of a similar piece originally devised for Ackanomic Party Chess. The Archer has a non-capturing move, first it moves n squares in any orthogonal direction, where n is either 1,2, or 3, and then it moves n-3 moves in a direction perpendicular to the first direction. An Archer can't cross the Equator. The Archer captures from a distance. That is, it captures without moving. It can capture a piece in any orthogonal direction which is up to 3 squares away, provided all intervening squares are vacant, and both the Archer and the captured piece are on the same side of the Equator. In any turn, an Archer may either move or capture, but not do both. Like the Alfil, initially the Archer is not on the board. An Archer can be placed on any vacant square in a player's first two ranks, instead of a move. A captured Archer is removed from the game, like any other piece can cannot be placed again.
    
    
    	
  • Pawn (P) - Similar to the standard chess pawn, including the initial two-square move. Moves straight, captures digonally. After the pawn crosses the Equator, it gains the additional power of moving one square horizontally, like the move forward, this is a non-capturing move, and such a pawn still captures diagonally. A pawn that reaches the opponent's first rank, may promote to Q,R,B,C,M.
    
    
    

Additional rules

Castling and en-passant are the same as in standard chess. A player left with only King, Archers and Alfils, while the opponent's King is on the other side of the Equator, loses the game. Since neither Archers no Alfils can cross the Equator, it is impossible for this player to even check the opposing King. All other rules are the same as FIDE chess.

A few notes:

Ackanomic Party Chess, and also Ben Good's Four Play Chess, provided a fertile ground for creating new pieces. Due to the nature of those games, not all pieces are suitable to other boards, but some seemed interesting enough to try out on smaller boards. Nahbi was a piece I just had to try on a 2-player game, even with a slightly smaller range an 8x8 board seemed a bit small for it, so I went for 10x10.

The Party Chess Archer originally had the moved described above all over the board. When I adapted the Archer to Four Play Chess, I considered that the distance capture is quite powerful, and perhaps should be conceived as more defensive play. Unlike Ackanomic Party Chess, Four Play Chess retains the concept of players home territories, so the Four Play Archer is limited to its home quadrant. Just before Game 2 of Ackanomic Party Chess, the consensus was that Archers are too powerful, and some players wanted to repeal them entirely, a compromise was reached by adapting the "defensive position" concept, and the distance capture is only allowed now when the Archer is near its King. The Archer in this variant is likewise, potentially a powerful piece, in its own territory.

This variant is obviously influenced by Chinese Chess. The Equator is in some ways similar to the Chinese river, restricting some pieces to be defensive pieces, pawns gain additional power when they cross it. I also use it to restrict the Queen, a standard Queen seemed a bit too powerful in this variant. The restriction doesn't clip its wings entirely, but rather puts it on a par other long range pieces.

Altogether, I think this makes for an enjoyable and balanced game.



Written by Uri Bruck. HTML conversion by David Howe.
This variant is an entry in the 1999 Large Variant contest.


WWW page created: February 12, 1999. Last modified: May 8, 1999.