The Chess Variant Pages

Pocket pieces thematic al tourney C 30.4.2002


The Chess Variant Pages ( and Chess Composition Microweb ( announce a formal thematic al tourney for fairy problems using some variant of pocket pieces chess. For more precise restrictions on the variant employed see below. Any stipulation (direct mate, helpmate, selfmate, stalemate, proof game...) allowed.

Judge: Juraj Lörinc (Slovakia) - International judge of FIDE for fairies.

Prize: 1st Prize US$ 50; 2nd Prize US$30, 3rd Prize: US$ 20.

Entries should be sent by email to (email removed contact us for address) before April 30th 2002 (or possibly by snail mail to Hans Bodlaender, Nedercamp 26, 3992 RP Houten, the Netherlands, but e-mail is preferred). The award and submitted problems will be published at the Chess Variant Pages and Chess Composition Microweb.


Restrictions on used variant

Read about the Pocket knights chess variant at However, in our tourney we allow composers of problems a wider scope of possible rules.

Every player may take an extra unit, not necessarily his own and not necessarily orthodox, and put this aside the board. Both players can have different pocket piece, e.g. white could have a pocket knight and black a pocket grasshopper.

These units name the variant in the following way:
a) if both players have the same unit X of their own, the variant is called "Pocket Xs", Pocket knights is the special case of this.
b) in other cases, if white have unit Y and black unit Z, the name of variant can be fairly complicated, in the above given example "White pocket: knight, Black pocket: grasshopper".

Once during the game, a player may put this extra unit on any free square on the board, instead of making a normal move. After this, this unit moves as is usual for this unit. All other rules are as in the orthodox chess game.

Note that there are generally no restrictions to the square where the pocket unit is placed, as long as this square is empty. Hence, e.g., it is allowed to put the unit on such a square, that check is given, mate is given, or, when a player is in check, between the checking piece and the king to remove the check.

However, the problems should conform to the following:
a) a pocket pawn cannot be put to the 1st or 8th rank,
b) a pocket rook put to a corner on its own side can castle,
c) in any case of potentially ambiguous rules for some situation the author of the problem should state the resolution of ambiguity (we don't expect troubles though, but authors should think about possible hazards while creating their problems). We will contact the author if we discover some difficulty.


Ronald Turnbull
3rd HM The Problemist November 1994
dedicated to Cedric Lytton

1.Sxc5! (threats 2.Se6#, Sxb3#) - note the double threat, the defending pocket S can counter a single threat in so many different ways that a double-threat will often be the most serviceable,
1...Qd3 2.pSe6#
1...Qe2 2.pSf5#
1...Qxg6 2.pSf3#
1...Qf5 2.pSe2#
1...Qg4 2.pSc2#
1...Sxc5 2.pSb3#
1...pSc4 2.pSb5#
1...Rxc5 2.pSc6#
1...pSb5 2.Qa5#

Judge of competition, Gerhard Schoen from Germany, wrote in judgement: "A 2-mover in the Good Companions style with a perfect economical setting. Worth a second look!"

#2 (8+8)
Pocket knights

Ronald Turnbull
from "Scottish fairies"
The Problemist November 1996

a) Retract Ka7 (+R). Now if that bR just arrived as a pocket one, Black can still castle. Otherwise not. 1...Kb6 2.0-0-0 pRa8 (mate as Black has *already deployed* his pR).

b) Retract Kb7 (+R). Again, if Black just moved (rather than just deployed pR) then he can't castle. 1...Kc6 2.0-0-0 pRa8 (mate as Black has already deployed his pR).

c) Retract Ka7 (no uncapture). 1... Kb6 2.pRd7 pRa8.

Note the fact that in a) and b) in initial position there are two possibilities - black could have used his pocket rook or not. And the act of castling proves that he really already used it - just in last move reaching respective initial positions.

white retracts for h#1,5 (1+2)
Pocket rooks
b) -Bd7
c) = b) + e8 -» c8


Some readers commented that the above description is hard to understand for those, not familiar with conventions of (fairy) chess problem compositions. Juraj Lörinc wrote an explanation, which can be seen by following this link.
Written by Juraj Lörinc, and Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: July 3, 2001. Last modified: August 7, 2001.