The Chess Variant Pages



Gast's Chess

by John Ayer

Introduction

John W. Gast, of Worthington, Ohio created this variation in 1969.

Setup

The board is twelve squares by twelve, checkered, with a white square on each player's right. White's first rank is as follows, from left to right: rook, knight, guard, archer, bishop, queen, king, bishop, archer, guard, knight, rook. The second rank is full of pawns. Black's setup mirrors white's.

Pieces

  • The knight has an ordinary knight's leap, but to keep the piece from being reduced to insignificance by the size of the board, the knight is also given a longer leap, to the opposite corner of a rectangle either four squares by two or three by three.
  • The guard can move either as bishop or as (enhanced) knight
  • the archer as rook or (enhanced) knight.
  • The pawn's reach has also been extended. A pawn's first move can be one, two, three, or four squares. If the first move is one square, the second can be three. Thereafter a pawn may move one or two squares forward, and may capture one or two squares diagonally forward. Capture  en passant  is only possible on the last step of a four-square move.
  • The king can castle with an archer, moving two squares toward the archer and the archer being shifted to the square overleapt. Thereafter the king may castle again, with the rook on that same side of the board, moving two squares toward the rook and the rook being shifted to the square overleapt. Neither piece may have moved, except the king in a previous castling move. The castling king may not move into, out of, or through check. If no piece intervenes between the king and a rook, the king may castle directly with the rook, moving four squares toward the rook and the rook leaping to the square just inboard of the king. If no piece intervenes between the king and a rook except the archer (none of them having moved), the king may castle with both at once, the king moving four squares toward the rook, the rook leaping to the third of those squares, and the archer being shifted two squares toward the centerline, as if the king had castled with it.

Rules

The rules are those of standard Chess, except for the above setup and pieces.

Notes

Mr. Gast seems to have exhausted the possibilities of his first invention pretty quickly, because he soon followed it up with a second. This one had a board fourteen squares wide by (preferably) twelve across (Mr. Gast and his friends tried a board fourteen squares across, but found that less satisfactory).

My notes are a little too spare, but I believe there was again a white square at each player's right, white's first rank being rook, knight, guard, archer, bishop, queen, king, pope, queen, bishop, archer, guard, knight, rook. The pope moves as rook, bishop, or knight.

Computer Play

You can also play this game by email, using the web-based Play by Mail system on this site using this Preset

Credits

The setup graphic was created using the Play by Mail  system.