The Chess Variant Pages



A Visit to Nemoroth

Scriven By Ralph Betza

I was frightened, perhaps more than frightened, by my dream of Nemoroth, and I put all thought and memory of it aside for weeks. In the end, however, my curiosity proved too great; and so I sat down before a chessboard and attempted the game, playing both sides myself, to see what it might be like.

Soon I was under the spell of its fascination, and I sat there for hours while my aching hands moved the pieces to and fro, my empty stomach rumbled, and my eyelids grew heavier and heavier. Finally, as my music system warned "Beware! Beware! Beware!", my weariness overcame me and I fell into a deep sleep and a dream of Nemoroth.

I found myself on a road outside the city, but near it; and so I saw the countryside of the unfinished world. Here and there were a few plants or rocks of crude appearance, which I suppose were failed attempts; but for the most part the landscape was -- how can I describe it? it was there but it was not there, it was void but it was substantial, there are no words and when I try to focus on the memory of how it looked my head begins to hurt and my attention wanders elsewhere.

A jumble of statues by the roadside, and coming towards me from what could only be the Basilisk pens was one of those frightful creatures itself! It was blindfolded, and it was being led by a rope, and at the other end of the rope was an invisible creature which, judging by the depth of the talon prints that approached me, was rather large.

An invisible creature need not fear if the Basilisk's blindfold slips; I glanced at the statues and hurried down the road, entering the city via the Gate of Frozen Fire.

I found Azgorov at a cafe by the wharf, just sitting down to defeat another challenger. The challenger used a wand to move a piece in the sky, but Azgorov merely looked up at the vast chessboard suspended in the incomplete sky, and made a gesture with rings of power glowing on its digits, and the game began.

In surprisingly few moves, the challenger was defeated and was forced to hand over a large sum of money to Azgorov; and I awoke.

Stiff in muscle and hungry of stomach, I knocked over the pieces lest they draw me once again into their spell. I toddled off for some restorative, and later on reconstructed the moves of the game which I had seen, which follows complete with comments that I overheard in the cafe.

1. Be1-d3 (petrify c2 and e2)      Gd8-b6
2. Gd1-b3                          g7-g6
The foresight of 2...g7-g6 is remarkable. Later on, the White Basilisk goes to f4, and the statue prevents it from advancing to g6. Instead, 2...Lf8:g7 would prevent Bd3-e5 entirely -- but Azgorov shows that there is no reason to fear that move.

The idea of 2...g7-g6 is that the Leaf Pile could develop more quickly by capturing it, but that it is more convenient to have a petrified Human on g6 than a Mummified one on g7.

      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 8 |  w   |  a   |  l   |      |  b   |  l   |  a   |  w   | 8
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 7 |  h   |  h   |  h   |  h   |  h   |  h   |      |  h   | 7
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 6 |      |  g   |      |      |      |      |  h   |      | 6
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 5 |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      | 5
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
 4 |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      | 4
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 3 |      |  G   |      |  B   |      |      |      |      | 3
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 2 |  H   |  H   |  pH  |  H   |  pH  |  H   |  H   |  H   | 2
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 1 |  W   |  A   |  L   |      |      |  L   |  A   |  W   | 1
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h

3. Bd3-e5 (petrify d7 and f7)      Lf8-g7
4. Be5-f4 (petrify g6)             Lg7-f6
The rapid raid of the Basilisk has petrified a few Humans, but after all, what is the worth of a Human life in Nemoroth, or even in its game?

      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 8 |  w   |  a   |  l   |      |  b   |      |  a   |  w   | 8
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 7 |  h   |  h   |  h   | ph   |  h   | ph   |      |  h   | 7
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 6 |      |  g   |      |      |      |  l   | ph   |      | 6
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 5 |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      | 5
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
 4 |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      | 4
   |      |      |      |      |      |  B   |      |      |
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 3 |      |  G   |      |      |      |      |      |      | 3
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 2 |  H   |  H   |  pH  |  H   |  pH  |  H   |  H   |  H   | 2
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 1 |  W   |  A   |  L   |      |      |  L   |  A   |  W   | 1
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h

5. Lf1xg2                          Lf6-e5
6. Lg2-f3 (Mummy appears on g2)    Be8-f6 (petrify e7)

      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 8 |  w   |  a   |  l   |      |      |      |  a   |  w   | 8
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 7 |  h   |  h   |  h   | ph   | ph   | ph   |      |  h   | 7
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 6 |      |  g   |      |      |      |  b   | ph   |      | 6
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 5 |      |      |      |      |  l   |      |      |      | 5
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
 4 |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      | 4
   |      |      |      |      |      |  B   |      |      |
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 3 |      |  G   |      |      |      |  L   |      |      | 3
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 2 |  H   |  H   |  pH  |  H   |  pH  |  H   |  *   |  H   | 2
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |mummy |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 1 |  W   |  A   |  L   |      |      |      |  A   |  W   | 1
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h

7. Ag1-e1                          Ag8-e8
8. Ae1**  (d2-c3, e2-e3, f2-g3, petrify g3)
8. ....                            Ae8** (d7-c6, e7-e6, f7-g6)

      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 8 |  w   |  a   |  l   |      |  a   |      |      |  w   | 8
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 7 |  h   |  h   |  h   |      |      |      |      |  h   | 7
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 6 |      |  g   | ph   |      | ph   |  b   | phx2 |      | 6
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 5 |      |      |      |      |  l   |      |      |      | 5
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
 4 |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      | 4
   |      |      |      |      |      |  B   |      |      |
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 3 |      |  G   |   H  |      |  pH  |  L   |  pH  |      | 3
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 2 |  H   |  H   |  pH  |      |      |      |  *   |  H   | 2
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |mummy |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
 1 |  W   |  A   |  L   |      |   A  |      |      |  W   | 1
   |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |      |
   +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+
      a      b      c      d      e      f      g      h
In response to 9. Ae1-f2, Bf6-e4 petrifies f2 and gains a clear advantage. Therefore Azgorov will be able to push a petrified piece to d5, blocking Gb3-d5; and the fatal followup Gb6-d8-f6-h4 is unstoppable.

Already at this moment some of those who had wagered on the challenger were offering to settle at half the stake.

This position is worthy of study. It can teach many things about the game, not the least of which is the futility of an attack with an unsupported Basilisk.

9. Lc1-d1                          Ae8-f7
10. Ld1-e2                         Af7** (e6-d5, f6-f5, g6-h5)
11. Bf4-g6 (petrify f5 and g6 and h8)
Taking the bait, but did it matter by now?
11. ...                            Gb6-d8!
12. Ae1-f2                         Gd8-f6 (threat Gf6-h4, and h2 has no flight)
13. Af2** (e3-d4, f3-f4, g3-h4, e2-d2, g2-h2)
13. ...                            Le5xf4
14. h2-g2                          Lf4-f3
And the challenger resigns without even trying Gb3-d1.
Written by Ralph Betza.
WWW page created: May 13th, 2002.