The Chess Variant Pages

Chess on Steroids

By David Cannon

 

Introduction

This variant uses the normal chessboard and normal pieces. But it differs from standard Chess in one vital respect : pieces that capture other pieces "eat" their victims and absorb their powers. That's the basic rule; there are one or two exceptions, as you'll see.

These rule changes are fairly simple to remember and follow, but transform totally the strategy of the game. Not least among the changes is that the idea of exchanging a "minor" piece for a "major" one is now redundant.

I am aware that I am not the first to think of creating hybrid pieces by means of capturing. On the Chess Variants website, I found several similar games, including Fusion Chess. My variant, Stealth Bomber Chess, differs from these chiefly in not allowing the King and Pawns to merge with other pieces, and in the introduction of a special group of pieces called Stealth Bombers.

Setup

Standard Chess board and initial setup.

Pieces

PAWNS and CAPTAINS
(a) Pawns and Captains (see below) convert to whatever piece they capture. For example, a Pawn or a Captain capturing a Bishop is immediately converted to a Bishop.
(b) Pawns that capture other Pawns take on new powers.  Called a Captain, this converted Pawn may move one square orthogonally in any direction (north, south, east, or west), and capture one square diagonally (NE, NW, SW, SE).
(c) The Captain loses the Pawn's power to promote to another piece on the eighth rank.  As it has gained the ability to move backwards and sideways, there is no longer any real point in allowing it to promote.
(d) A Pawn or a Captain captured by an enemy piece is simply shot -- he vanishes from the board.
(e) A Pawn reaching the eighth rank may promote only to the piece originally occupying the square on which it lands.  For example, a white pawn would promote only to Rook on a8 or h8, to Knight on b8 or g8, to Bishop on c8 or f8, and to Queen on d8.  The only problem is e8 : promotion to King cannot be allowed, so I have invented a piece called the Prince - which has the same powers as the King, but is not "royal" (i.e., cannot be checkmated and can be captured just like any other piece).  A Pawn reaching e8 would promote to Prince.

The reason why I have abolished the FIDE rule allowing promotion of Pawns to any piece of the player's choice (nearly always a Queen) is because of the formidable Hybrid pieces and Stealth Bombers described below.  To allow a mere Pawn to promote to something like an Empress or an Amazon (see below) would, in my judgment, be unfair to the opponent and would probably end the game immediately. 

KING
(a) Castling is allowed as in standard Chess.
(b) The King is not allowed to absorb the powers of any other piece. This is the only piece not allowed to do so. Any piece captured by the King is therefore killed and removed from the board.

My reason for not allowing the King to "hybridize" is simple : the object of the game of chess is the checkmate the enemy King, which would be much more difficult if we allowed the King to gain additional powers.

PRINCE : As described under PAWNS and CAPTAINS, section (e), this piece exists only through the promotion of a white Pawn reaching e8, or a black Pawn reaching e1.  Its moves are identical to those of the King, but it is not royal and can be captured just like any other piece.

HYBRID PIECES - basic rule: pieces absorb the powers of the pieces they capture, as follows. Except for the Queen, these are special pieces that do not exist at the beginning of the game, but may be acquired later on.

(a) Rook + Prince = Tank.  The Rook gains the additional ability to move one square diagonally.
(b) Bishop + Prince = Frigate: The Bishop gains the additional power to move one square orthogonally, effectively gaining the ability to move to a square of the other colour.
(c) Knight + Prince = Zebra: The FIDE Knight moves one square diagonally, then one square orthogonally, or vice versa.  The Zebra can still do that, but may also choose to make only the first part of a Knight's move - e.g., a move identical to the Prince or King.
(d) Rook + Knight = General: a very powerful piece, comparable to the Queen.
(e) Rook + Zebra = Air Marshall
(f) Bishop + Zebra = Admiral
(g) Bishop + Knight = Princess: not quite as powerful as the General, but much more powerful than a Bishop or a Knight.
(h) Rook + Bishop = Queen: I wouldn't let my opponent's Rook get anywhere near my Bishop if I were you.
(i) Queen + Knight = Field Marshall: NEVER, never allow your opponent's Queen to capture your Knight, or vice versa!!!
(j) Queen + Zebra = Field Marshall.  The effect is identical to (i)

STEALTH BOMBERS
Stealth Bombers are special hybrid pieces, which may move according to their normal rules, but which may also elect to leap over another piece (friend or foe), to move or to capture.

A piece which captures an identical piece (e.g., a Rook capturing another Rook) becomes a Stealth Bomber. The Rook, Bishop, Queen, Tank, Frigate, Empress, Princess, and Amazon can all be Stealth Bombers. A Stealth Bomber cannot be hemmed in, and can attack from behind a protective screen.

(a) Rook + Rook = Aeroplane. The Aeroplane is a cross between the FIDE Rook and the Cannon of Xiang Qi (Chinese Chess), introduced into Fairy Chess as the Mao by Dawson. The Aeroplane may move and capture like a standard Rook, but may also choose to leap over one other piece in the same file when moving or capturing. For example, an Aeroplane at a1 may leap over a Pawn or other piece at a2, a3, etc., to land on any square beyond.

(b) Bishop + Bishop = Missile. The Missile is a cross between the FIDE Bishop and the Vao, a piece invented by Dawson. The Missile may move and capture like a standard Missile, but may also leap over one other piece in the same diagonal. For example, an Missile on a1 may leap over a piece on b2, c3, etc. to any square in the diagonal beyond.

(c) Queen + Queen = Empress. This piece combines the powers of the Aeroplane and the Missile. It differs from the Empress found in some other chess variants, which combines the powers of Rook and Knight and in this variant is known as the General.

(d) Aeroplane + Missile = Empress. The effect is identical to (c).

I have given some thought to the problem of a hybrid piece capturing one of its components, or vice versa.  For example, the Queen is a hybrid; the Rook and Bishop are her components.  I have decided on two simple rules :
(a) If a "component piece" captures a hybrid, it converts to that hybrid.  For example, a Rook or Bishop capturing a Queen immediately converts to Queen.  A Rook, Bishop, or Queen capturing an Empress immediately converts to Empress.
(b) If a hybrid piece captures one of its components, the captured piece is simply shot.  If a Queen captures a Rook, for example, the Rook is killed and removed from the board.

OTHER SPECIAL PIECES
(a) Knight + Knight = Zebra.  This piece combines the powers of Knight and King.  A Zebra may move like a standard Knight (one square diagonally then one square orthogonally, or vice versa), or may choose to make only the first half of a Knight's move - one square either orthogonally or diagonally.  As stated before, Knight + Prince has exactly the same effect : it creates a Zebra.
(b) Prince + Prince = Zebra.  The effect is identical to (a).

SUPER PIECES
These pieces result from hybrid pieces capturing identical hybrids, or stealth bombers capturing identical stealth bombers.

(a) Aeroplane + Aeroplane = B52: This formidable piece may move like a standard Rook or Aeroplane.  But in the course of its move, it may capture a piece - and keep on going.  A B52 on a1, for example, may leap over a piece on a3, capture a piece on a4, make another capture on a6, and fly on to a8 - all in one move!

(b) Missile + Missile = Rocket: This piece may move like a Bishop or Missile, but, like the B52, may keep on going after making a capture.  Leaping over all friendly obstacles and capturing all enemy obstacles in its path, the Rocket can go to the very end of the diagonal in just one move.

(c) Empress + Empress = Conqueror.  The conqueror combines the moves of a B52 and Rocket.

(d) Aeroplane + Missile = Conqueror.  Identical in effect to (c).

(e) Zebra + Zebra = Pegasus.  A piece of phenomenal power.  It may indeed move like a Knight, with the Zebra enhancement of being able to make only the first half of a Knight's move if it so chooses.  But it may also extend the second half of the Knight's move as far as it wishes.  The Pegasus may move one square orthogonally and then any number of squares diagonally, or one square diagonally and then any number of squares orthogonally. In the course of its move, the Pegasus may optionally leap over pieces before it reaches the end of its move. The Pegasus, too, may "eat" other pieces to create hybrid pieces. The following are theoretically possible, but in practice would probably occur very rarely (I think).

(a) Rook + Pegasus = Stingray Aircraft.
(b) General + Pegasus = Stingray Aircraft (identical to (a)).
(c) Aeroplane + Pegasus = Space Bomber.
(d) Bishop + Pegasus = Archbishop.
(e) Princess + Pegasus = Archbishop.
(f) Missile + Pegasus = Hurricane Bomber.
(g) Queen + Pegasus = Matriarch.
(h) Empress + Pegasus = Amazon. Note that this Amazon differs from the Amazon found in a number of other chess variants, which combines the moves of Queen and Knight, known in this variant as the Field Marshall. My Amazon is much more formidable than that!

Rules

Hybrid Piece - pieces absorb the powers of the pieces they capture.

Stealth Bomber - a piece which may move according to its normal rules, but which may also elect to leap over another piece (friend or foe), to move or to capture. 

Notes

Note that the pieces listed on this page are not by any means an exhaustive listing of all possible hybrid pieces, as the potential combinations are endless. I have listed all the combinations that I consider at all likely to occur in average play - as well as some that are very unlikely. If anyone else cares to catalogue additional hybrid pieces and name them, I will gladly acknowledge him or her in all future updates.

Equipment

Standard Chess equipment is used for the initial setup. However, special pieces are required for the hybrids and Stealth Bombers.