The Chess Variant Pages

Mad Chess

 

 

Jason D. Wittman

E-mail: @

13126 Murdock Terrace

Eden Prairie, MN 55347

Mad Chess, an entry in the 100 Squares Contest, is played on a board of 10 x 10 squares. Each side has 20 pieces, including a royal piece that the other side must checkmate in order to win the game. But in addition to all this, there is the fact that the pieces of each side are governed by completely different rules of movement.

 

History And Inspiration

It started when I was reading a book called The Copper Crown, written by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, a science fiction novel with the premise that the ancient Celts developed space technology and established their own interstellar empire (itís better than it sounds). Within the text of the book was mentioned a game called "fidchell," which the glossary described as "a chess-style game." Being a chess enthusiast, I looked around for the rules, hoping the author had included them in the book as Edgar Rice Burroughs had done with his chess variant in The Chessmen of Mars, but I found none. Needless to say, I was irked. So I came up with the idea of making up the rules to "fidchell" myself, and sending them to the author in the hopes that she would publish them. But I soon realized that the odds of this happening were minimal. Also, I am an aspiring writer myself, and I thought that going through with this would be unethicalóit would be sort of like writing a book using her characters. So I decided to make my game part of a novel of my own writing that will hopefully be published in the future.

Also, I read in the book The Even More Complete Chess Addict, by Mike Fox and Richard James, that some people criticized chess as being "sexist" because "the king, not the queen, is the pivotal piece." While my reply to this would be, "Itís only a game!" I have no problem with equal representation. So my chess variant, instead of being king versus king, became queen versus king, each royal piece moving in slightly different ways. And then I thought, why stop there? Why not have the pieces on each side move in ways completely at odds with the other side?

Hence, this game.

 

Rules

Starting the game: One player tosses a coin while the other calls heads or tails. The winner of the coin toss may make one of two decisions: play the white or black pieces, or move first or second. After that player has made his or her decision, the opponent makes the other choice (in other words, if the coin toss winner decided to move first, the coin toss loser would have the choice of White or Black. When I playtested Mad Chess on Zillions of Games, I simply wrote up two separate games, one where White starts, the other with Black starting.) Players then move alternately, one piece at a time. There is no castling, or promotion.

Each side has twenty pieces, arranged on the first two rows of their side of the board, which is checkered and positioned so that each player has a white square at the right hand. We will describe the White pieces first. (Initial positions will be described using algebraic notation, a-j, 1-10.)

White Pieces

QUEEN (Q) (positioned on square f1 in the initial array): moves and captures like a knight or one space diagonally. Rules regarding check, checkmate, and stalemate that apply to the King in normal chess apply to the White Queen in Mad Chess. Black wins the game by checkmating or stalemating the White Queen.

JESTER (J) (starts on e1): moves and captures like a knight or a rook.

GENERAL (G) (two of these, starting on d1 and g1): moves and captures like a knight or by leaping (in other words, it can jump over other pieces) two spaces in any orthogonal or diagonal direction.

VALKYRIE (V) (two, starting on c1 and h1): moves like a bishop, but captures like a normal chess queen.

UNICORN (U) (two, starting on b1 and i1): moves and captures like a knight, or by sliding like a rook forward or backward.

DRAGON (D) (two, starting on a1 and j1): moves and captures like a normal chess queen or by leaping three squares orthogonally.

CRAZY FOOTSOLDIER (C) (ten of these, occupying the entire second rank): moves like a rook, but can only capture one space diagonally. They do not promote.

Now, for the other sideÖ

Black Pieces

KING (K) (starts on position e10ónote that the royal pieces do no occupy the same file!): moves like a knight or one space orthogonally. Rules regarding check, checkmate, and stalemate that apply to the King in normal chess apply to the Black King in Mad Chess. White wins the game by checkmating or stalemating the Black King.

FOOL (F) (starts on f10): moves and captures like a knight or a bishop.

WARLORD (W) (two of them, starting on d10 and g10): moves and captures like a knight or by leaping three squares orthogonally.

BERSERKER (B) (two, starting on c10 and h10): moves like a rook, but captures like a normal chess queen.

RHINOCEROS (R) (two, starting on b10 and i10): moves and captures like a knight, or by sliding like a rook left or right.

SPECTRE (S) (two, starting on a10 and j10): moves and captures like a normal chess queen, but also leaps three squares diagonally.

MAD INFANTRYMAN (M) (ten of them, occupying the entire ninth rank): moves like a bishop, but can only capture one space orthogonally. They do not promote.

For ease of reference, the board looks like this:

S

R

B

W

K

F

W

B

R

S

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

C

D

U

V

G

J

Q

G

V

U

D

As per the requirements of the contest, Mad Chess has been playtested using Zillions of Games. Both sides have a reasonably even chance of winning the game. And since the royal pieces on each side move differently, each royal piece can deliver check to the other without itself moving into check. In fact, there have been some cases where the checkmating move was delivered by the royal piece!

Download

You may download the ZRF for playing Mad Chess here:


Written by Jason D. Wittman.
WWW page created: July 3, 2000.