Inspired by several old chess variants, Jean-Louis Cazaux from Toulouse (France) invented this variant. The name Shako means Chess in Esperanto, `another kind of non-conformism and utopia', in the words of the inventor. The idea of this variant is to make a new game without directly disposing the large heritage of the classical game. All rules of orthodox chess are kept, and the way the pieces are placed in the opening setup allow players to follow practical all the openings used for orthodox chess. The new pieces are taken from Xiangqi (Chinese Chess), with the intention to bring back together the two branches of the game that went of from India either east to the Orient, and west to the Arabs.
King f2; Queen e2; Rook b2, i2; Knight c2, h2; Bishop d2, g2; Elephant a2, j2; Cannon a1, j1, Pawn a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f3, g3, h3, i3, j3, k3, l3.
King f9; Queen e9; Rook b9, i9; Knight c9, h9; Bishop d9, g9; Elephant a9, j9; Cannon a10, j10; Pawn a8, b8, c8, d8, e8, f8, g8, h8, i8, j8, k8, l8.
Elephants move one or two squares diagonally. When an elephant moves two squares, it is allowed to jump, i.e., the intervening square does not have to be empty.
Cannons move without taking like rooks, and they move with taking by going in a straight horizontal and vertical line and jumping over exactly one piece: when a cannon takes a piece, there must be exactly one piece between the original and final square of the cannons move - this piece may be of either color. (This is identical to the move of the cannon in Xiangqi.)
All other pieces move like in orthodox chess; also castling is as in usual chess. Pawns promote on the tenth row of the board to Queen, Rook, Knight, Bishop, Elephant, or Cannon, to the owning players choice.
Other rules are as in orthodox chess.
Cazaux adds with his submission to the contest the following comments.
In this contest, Shako belongs to a sub-category of Decimal Chess which is very popular probably because the board is easily available from International Draughts. I consider that its strongest points are: