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Insect Chess

By Tim Bostick

This is the second chess variant I have created for Zillions of Games. The other one was Kung Fu Chess. In this version, the two sides consist of vicious insects clashing for supremacy on a 12 X 12 board. This game is not for the squeamish. Unlike my previous game, none of the pieces move like normal chess pieces, however they all have this in common - since they are multi-legged creatures, they can all move to and attack the eight squares immediately surrounding them. There are eleven different bugs:

  • Praying Mantis - This is the king of the game. It moves one square in any direction or hops to any square two steps away.

  • Tarantula - This is the horror of the insect world. This sucker can move one square in any direction, or hope to any square two or three steps away. This is easily the most powerful piece.

  • Locust - The Locust moves like a Praying Mantis or like a chess queen.

  • Hornet - This piece moves diagonally one square and then continues horizontally outward in eight different directions. It can also, of course, move one square in any direction. This piece cannot hop over pieces.

  • Wasp - The Wasp is the complement to the Hornet. It moves one square orthogonally and then continues diagonally outward in eight different directions. It may move one square in any direction as well.

  • Horsefly - This piece moves one square in any direction or like a chess rook. It moves exactly like a Shogi dragon-king.

  • Mosquito - The mosquito moves one square in any direction or like a chess bishop. It moves like a Shogi dragon-horse.

  • Waterbug - This piece moves exactly like a Praying Mantis, except it can be left en prise, meaning it doesn't have to move out of danger.

  • Cockroach - Here's where it gets interesting. The cockroach moves one square in any direction or like a chess knight. Since cockroaches are the hardiest bugs on earth, they cannot be eradicated from the game. Once a player loses a roach, it returns to him, and he can re-enter it on the board anywhere on his first three ranks. This drop counts as a turn. This makes cockroaches very dangerous, because they have no sense of danger. They're picky about which bugs they eat though - only Maggots, Cockroaches, and Praying Mantises.

  • Black Widow - The Black Widow moves one square in any direction or hops straight to the next square. It also can move like a Chu Shogi lion, meaning that it may make a one-step move, and then continue for another step. The difference is that it can only move along the same line it started out on. If it moves north, it must continue one step north or return one step south. This movement allows it to take two adjacent pieces, move out and then back (skip a turn), or take a piece and move away.

  • Maggot - This piece is the weakest. It can only move one square in any direction. However, once it reaches the back rank, it may pupate, or promote, to any other bug except a Praying Mantis.

* Note that all flying insects in this game have sliding powers - like rooks, bishops, and queens - and the land-bound insects usually have hopping powers. Only the Locust, which can fly and jump quite well, has both abilities.

In order to succeed in this game, you have to keep the pieces next to each other for their mutual protection. Abuse your cockroaches. They are quite mobile, yet they are worth nothing, so you can eat away your enemy's pawn structure at no cost to yourself. Don't put your Praying Mantis in a corner. That's the quickest way to get it smothered by a Waterbug, Locust, or Tarantula. It is quite mobile, you know! The flying insects don't jump much, but they're very fast. They can get from one end of the board to the other much more quickly than the other bugs. At all costs, try to get your Maggots to the end of the board. Nothing makes an enemy Praying Mantis squeal more than seeing two or three Tarantulas coming after it. In fact, once the board opens up, the Tarantulas pretty much dominate the game.

OPENING SETUP:
		      BLACK
 _______________________________________________
|Wsp|   |Hnt|   |Man|   |   |Tar|   |Hnt|   |Wsp|_ <----- White's promotion rank.
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___| \
|   |Hsf|   |Mos|   |Loc|Loc|   |Mos|   |Hsf|   |__\_____ Black's Cockroach re-entry ranks.
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|  /
|Blk|   |Ckr|   |Wat|   |   |Wat|   |Ckr|   |Blk|_/
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|Mag|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Blk|   |Ckr|   |Wat|   |   |Wat|   |Ckr|   |Blk|_
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___| \
|   |Hsf|   |Mos|   |Loc|Loc|   |Mos|   |Hsf|   |__\______ White's Cockroach re-entry ranks.
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|  /
|Wsp|   |Hnt|   |Tar|   |   |Man|   |Hnt|   |Wsp|_/
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|   <----- Black's promotion rank.

		      WHITE

I wish you the best as you play this unique game! If someone out there can design pieces that look like bugs and look good, let me know. I'll put your design in the game and give you credit for it.

Tim Bostick

Zillions of Games

There is an implementation of Insect Chess for Zillions of games. You can download it here:


Written by Tim Bostick.
WWW page created: 30 August 2001. Updated: 10 Oct 2001.