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Kung Fu Chess

This is a large chess variant, played on a 14 X 10 board called Kung Fu Chess. Chess and its many variants are all combat related games, so it surprised me that none of them had anything to do with the martial arts! This game uses Chinese kung fu as its backdrop. Each piece represents a practitioner of a style of kung fu. The Disciple is the pawn, who has no style until he makes it to the end of the board and gets promoted. The Shaolin Master is the leader of his army and is in this game the king. The styles are Monkey, Panther, Crab, Snake, Tiger, Crane, Dragon, and Praying Mantis. As pieces, this the order of their relative strength as well. The remaining pieces are famous practitioners. Ng Mui was a Shaolin nun who invented a famous style of kung fu. Wing Chun was her first disciple, and the aforementioned style was named after her. Bruce Lee should be obvious. All I've developed is the game for Zillions. It would be interesting to see an actual chess set designed after this motif.

Game-wise, all the original pieces in chess are here minus the queen. Ng Mui, the closest equivalent, moves like a queen and a knight (amazon). Monkey represents the knight, Panther represents the bishop, and Crab represents the rook. The previously mentioned Disciple and Shaolin Master (pawn and king respectively) have the same moves as regular chess except there is no castling The sheer volume of pieces in front of each Shaolin Master, and the blank spaces on the back rank serve well enough as defense to render castling useless. Since the rival disciples are the same distance from each other, the double move and en-passant rules are exactly the same.

There are several variant pieces as well. The Snake moves like a king* or jumps to the second square in any direction. The Tiger moves like a king* or a knight. The Crane moves like a bishop or knight (archbishop). The Dragon moves like a rook or knight (chancellor). The Praying Mantis moves like a lion in Chu Shogi, namely one or two squares in any direction or combination of directions, with the ability to capture twice, capture and move one more space, or 'pass a turn' by moving out and back to the original square. It's move is less complicated than it sounds. None of the special capturing rules that deal with lions in Chu Shogi exist here. Play the game to understand it better. Ng Mui is explained above. Wing Chun moves one space orthogonally with the option of continuing any number of spaces diagonally outward along eight different paths. Bruce Lee's move is complementary - one space diagonally with the option of continuing any number orthogonally outward along eight different paths. In addition, when they reach the center two squares of the enemy's back rank, they promote. Wing Chun adds the bishop's move, and Bruce Lee adds the Rook's move. On the board, the promoted varieties can cover a diagonal or orthogonal swath three squares wide! Watch out!

*non-royal king

Three pieces can checkmate the Shaolin Master by themselves: the Praying Mantis, Ng Mui, and the promoted Bruce Lee. Disciple promotion is easier in this game because there are so many of them, so this can make the game more volatile. Also, since so many pieces can move like a knight, the Disciple structure can be quickly bypassed. Use Snakes, Tigers, and Praying Mantises to form a second line of defense, while the Cranes, Dragons, and Ng Mui strike deep into enemy territory.

Praying Mantises can be devastating among pawns and non-jumping pieces stuck in a pawn cluster, but they have a hard time getting near enough to the jumping pieces to take them out. Also, the linear-moving pieces get more powerful as the game progresses, adding further complications. Still, the praying mantis is very powerful through all phases of the game.

This is Zillions' opinion of relative piece value. The number for Mantis I feel is inaccurate, especially since it's value depends on the situation, but use this as a starting point:

	Disciple = 1
	Monkey = 2.25
	Panther = 3 (increases as the pieces dwindle)
	Crab = 4.5 (increases as the pieces dwindle)
	Snake = 4.75
	Tiger = 4.75
	Crane = 5 (increases as the pieces dwindle)
	Dragon = 6.75 (increases as the pieces dwindle)
	Mantis = 9.25 (probably a few points higher; also changes throughout the game)
	Ng Mui = 9.5
	Wing Chun = 10.25
	Super Wing Chun 10.25 (obviously should be much higher - try 12.25)
	Bruce Lee = 11.75
	Super Lee = 13.75

Although Ng Mui is much lower than Bruce Lee, she can checkmate by herself, and Bruce Lee cannot until promoted. In a game between the Mantis and a normal Bruce Lee, the Mantis will win. An ending with a Mantis and a promoted Bruce Lee is a draw with the Mantis side completely on the defensive, but add a couple of connected Disciples to each side, and the side with the Mantis will win. A lone Ng Mui does very well against a lone Mantis. Ironically, add a few Disciples to each side, and the side with Ng Mui trounces the side with the Mantis! Suffice it to say, the four most powerful pieces should probably only be traded with their counterparts. Otherwise you might get a paper-rock-scissors effect in the end. This is the opening setup:

 _______________________________________________________
|Man|   |   |WCh|   |   |NgM|ShM|   |   |BrL|   |   |Man|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|_*_|_*_|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Crb|Drg|Mon|Tgr|Pan|Crn|Snk|Snk|Crn|Pan|Tgr|Mon|Drg|Crb|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|Dis|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Crb|Drg|Mon|Tgr|Pan|Crn|Snk|Snk|Crn|Pan|Tgr|Mon|Drg|Crb|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|___|
|Man|   |   |WCh|   |   |NgM|ShM|   |   |BrL|   |   |Man|
|___|___|___|___|___|___|_*_|_*_|___|___|___|___|___|___|

	* Promotion squares for Bruce Lee and Wing Chun.

Download an implementation of this game for Zillions of Games:

kungfu.zip

Enjoy the game! I find it very playable and not as complex as this convoluted description makes it out to be.

Game invented and designed by Tim Bostick from Jan - April 2001.


Written by Tim Bostick.
WWW page created: 21 April 2001.