The Chess Variant Pages

Great Herd

By Charles Gilman


This variant combines the Bird's (sic) and the beasts. As its name suggests, it builds on Sergey Sirotkin's variant Herd in which all pieces are short-range and all but King and Pawn oblique. Great means that the board is larger than in that of the original variant or indeed than the FIDE one. Its 10 files and 8 ranks are consistent with two variants enhancing the FIDE armies, Bird's Chess and the original form of Capablanca's Chess

In the above variants and FIDE Chess itself the Rook is the corner piece, with its colourbound dual the Bishop two files in. Great Herd inherits the KNIGHT as corner piece from Herd, and has the Knight's dual, the 3:1 CAMEL two files in. The use of an even number of files binds the two Camels to different colours. There is no castling. In the FIDE-based games the Knight, which has the next shortest coprime leap after the two radial leaps (the SHORTEST moves of the Rook and Bishop), is between the radial pieces. In great Herd the piece between Knight and Camel is the next shortest-range leaper after them, the 3:2 ZEBRA.

FIDE Chess has just the King and Queen between the elemental pieces, but the variants have four, the King and the three compounds of the elementals. Great Herd therefore has, at each end of files d to g respectively: BISON (Camel+Zebra), GNU (Knight+Camel), KING (which for the record is Xiang Qi General+Ferz!), GAZELLE (Knight+Zebra). At the time of writing there is no page for the Gazelle.

In front of the these pieces the 2nd ranks filled with PAWNS. These inherit the FIDE features of initial double move, en-passant capture, and 10th-rank promotion to any other capturable array piece (in this case Knight, Camel, Zebra, Gnu, Gazelle, Bison).

A further variation is to have 10 ranks. This might involve inserting empty files between the camps, or just behind the Pawns, or have a duplicate Pawn rank or an almost-duplicate back rank, or even both duplicates and only two empty ranks in the middle. By almost-duplicate I mean replacing the second King with a Knight+Camel+Zebra compound, which I seem to remember seeing called a BUFFALO but cannot recall where. The terms Bison and Buffalo mean the same New-World ungulate, but two distinct Old-World ones, and so are not exact synonyms such as Count=Earl and Gnu=Wildebeest.