The Chess Variant Pages

Bedlam

by Fergus Duniho

Bedlam, whose longer name is Metamorphin' Fusion Chessgi, is a hybrid of Metamorphin' Fusion Chess and Chessgi. It is called Bedlam, because the pieces in this game can undergo many changes of identity, creating an atmosphere of chaos and confusion. The name is in the same tradition as Bughouse, Crazyhouse, and Madhouse, which all mean insane asylum. Of these three, it is most similar to Crazyhouse. In Bedlam, pieces change into other pieces, merge together and split apart, and change sides. It is basically Metamorphin' Fusion Chess with the rules for drops used in Chessgi.

Equipment

It's might be best to play this game with a computer interface, such as with Zillions of Games, but if you like, you may play it with a regular 8x8 Chess board and two or more sets of Chess pieces. You can represent compound pieces with pairs of pieces. However, if you do it this way, you will have to divide up your in-hand area, so that you can clearly tell which are compound pieces, and which are simple pieces being held in hand. It may be better to at least have specially made Marshall and Paladin pieces. You can make these by affixing small rooks and bishops to larger knights, or vice-versa. I recommend using Friendly Plastic for this. Or you could just buy some sets for Gothic Chess.

Setup

The initial setup for Bedlam is exactly the same as for regular Chess. So there is no need for a diagram.

Rules

Fusion Chess is played like FIDE Chess with the following exceptions:

Unlike Shogi, to which the game is similar, promoted pieces do not demote when they are captured, and Pawn drops are not as restricted as they are in Shogi.

Pieces


King
The King moves one space in any direction, but may not move into check. The King is one of four possible royal pieces which a player may have. A King may merge with a Bishop to form a Pope, with a Rook to form a Dragon King, or with a Knight to form an Eques Rex. If any one of these pieces gets checkmated, you lose.

Pope
The Pope moves as a King or Bishop, but may not move into check. The Pope is a royal piece and is formed when a King merges with a neighboring Bishop. When the Pope is on the board, it is the player's only royal piece, and the game is lost if it is checkmated. The Pope may split into its components by making a non-capturing move with one of them. If the Pope captures a piece, it turns into a King.

Dragon King
The Dragon King moves as a King or Rook, but may not move into check. The Dragon King is a royal piece and is formed when a King merges with a neighboring Rook. When the Dragon King is on the board, it is the player's only royal piece, and the game is lost if it is checkmated. The Dragon King may split into its components by making a non-capturing move with one of them. If the Dragon King captures a piece, it turns into a King. The name for this piece is borrowed from Shogi.

Eques Rex
The Eques Rex moves as a King or Knight, but may not move into check. The Eques Rex is a royal piece and is formed when a King merges with a neighboring Knight. When the Eques Rex is on the board, it is the player's only royal piece, and the game is lost if it is checkmated. The Eques Rex may split into its components by making a non-capturing move with one of them. If the Eques Rex captures a piece, it turns into a King. The name is Latin for Cavalier King.

Knight
The Knight moves as the Knight in Chess, jumping in an L shape, two spaces forward and one to the side. A Knight may merge with a Rook to form a Marshall or with a Bishop to form a Paladin.

Rook
The Rook moves as the Rook in Chess, any number of spaces orthogonally. A Rook may merge with a Knight to form a Marshall or with a Bishop to form a Queen.

Bishop
The Bishop moves as the Bishop in Chess, any number of spaces diagonally. A Bishop may merge with a Knight to form a Paladin or with a Rook to form a Queen.

Queen
The Queen moves as the Queen in Chess, any number of spaces in any single direction. The Queen is a combination of Rook and Bishop. It may separate into its components by moving one of them to an empty space.

Marshall
The Marshall moves as a Rook or Knight. The Marshall is a combination of Rook and Knight, and it may separate into its components by moving one of them to an empty space.

Paladin
The Paladin moves as a Bishop or Knight. The Paladin is a combination of Bishop and Knight, and it may separate into its components by moving one of them to an empty space.

Pawn
The Pawn moves as the Pawn in Chess. It moves forward one space, but is allowed a double move on its first move. A Pawn captures by moving one space diagonally forward. If a Pawn makes a double move to a space alongside an enemy Pawn on its fifth rank, the enemy Pawn may capture it by en passant. Upon reaching the last rank, a Pawn may promote to a Rook, Bishop, or Knight. It may not promote to a Queen, Marshall, or Paladin.

Notation

Use algebraic notation as you would for Chess. Use P to denote Paladin and M to denote Marshall. Denote Pawn moves without the use of any letter to identify it. When a piece merges with another piece, follow the move with = and the abbreviation for the new piece. For example, R a4 - d4 = M indicates that a Rook moved from a4 to d4 and merged with a Knight on d4 to form a Marshall. When a piece separates from a compound piece, identify the move as belonging to the piece which moves away from the compound piece. Follow its move with a semicolon and identify what piece is left behind. For example, R a4 - d4; a4 = N indicates that a Rook moved to d4, separated from a Marshall at a4, and left a Knight behind at a4. For drops, use an asterisk in place of the coordinate for the square it is moving from. For example, P*e4 means a Paladin was dropped on e4, and *d7 means a Pawn was dropped on d7.

Software

I developed Bedlam with Zillions of Games, an AI program for playing different board games, and you may download my Zillions Rules File for playing Bedlam from chessvariants.com.

Because of all the things it has to keep track of, Zillions plays Bedlam rather slowly and needs a lot of thinking time to make good moves. With one minute of thinking time per move, Zillions played a very strong game and beat me in only 18 moves.


Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: Tue Nov 30, 1999; Last Updated: Tue Nov 30, 1999