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Hafts

Introduction

This is barely complex enough to qualify among Chess variants, but it does have an element of the Chess Pawn about the pieces in that they capture at 45° to their usual move. The use of all 64 cells of the board, and consequent piece density, is also more akin to Chess with an extra rank filled than to Draughts. The variant name is a fusion of half and Draughts - meaning that the pieces are only half as "Pawned" as in Draughts. By happy chance it also means a part of many weapons, such as a short-range fighter might use. Anyhow, I believe that it's something that hasn't been thought of before, and deserves exposure somewhere. Furthermore, my variants on one or two FIDE boards include the first to which I have been challenged.

Setup

A FIDE board with three ranks full of identical White pieces, followed by two empty ranks, and finally three ranks full of identical Black pieces.

Pieces

The array pieces are OVERTAKING ESQUIRES, which on reaching the far rank are promoted to OVERTAKING STEVEDORES. The Esquire is a piece that moves without capturing like a Cross, one step along either forward diagonal, but captures like a Dabchick, two steps along the forward orthogonal. The Stevedore moves without capturing like a Ferz, one step along any diagonal, but captures like a Dabbaba, two steps along any orthogonal. The Esquire and Stevedore are Pawned vesions of the Cross and Ferz, that is, differ from the unqualified piece in having a capturing move root-2 times as long and turned through 45°. If the basic piece is forward-only, this is interpreted independently for the two kinds of move. An Esquire or Stevedore can be further qualified as Leaping (no restriction on the halfway square), Stepping (halfway square must be empty), Hopping (halfway square must be occupied by piece surviving move), Multiple Displacer (halfway square and destination must not contain ally, enemy on either captured), or - as in this case - Overtaking. This means that the destination must be empty and the halfway square occupied by an enemy which gets captured. The standard piece of Draughts is in contrast an Overtaking TWICE-PAWNED Cross and the promotee a twice-Pawned Ferz.

A French-style subvariant substitutes promotion to a MULTIPLE-OVERTAKING CONTRASTEWARDESS. A Contrastewardess moves as a Bishop when not capturing and a Rook when capturing (the reverse of the Stewardess). It is a Yeomanned form of the Bishop, differing from the unqualified piece in having a capturing move root-½ times as long and turned through 45°. Multiple-Overtaking pieces require an empty destination, cannot have intervening allies, and capture any intervening enemy. Like Hopping long-range pieces (such as the Cannon), MO ones cannot make a single-step capture. This piece again corresponds to the MO Bishop that is the French Draughts promotee.

More info on Pawned, Yeomanned, and Overtaking (Multiple or otherwise) pieces can be found in my piece article Man and Beast 16: Diverging Further.

Rules

The game proceeds as Draughts, except that captures are orthogonal. As in Draughts, a player who can make a capture must make one, and if that particular piece is placed to capture again must continue doing so until it cannot.

The variant can end in two ways. One player can lose by running out of pieces, in which case the winner scores 4 and the loser 0 in a series of games. Alternatively the game can end by no further captures being possible - or at least none likely given the players' skill. The first scenario arises as soon as all both players' pieces are bound to a single colour, but note that the Contrastewardesses of the French-style subvariant are not bound at all. Different ways of dealing with this give rise to several Endgame subvariants.

One is to simply declare the game a draw, both players scoring 2.

Another is to say that the player with the larger number of pieces achieves a lesser win and scores 3, and the other player scores 1. If the number of pieces is equal both score 2.

A third is to revert to Draughts rules once the last piece of a given binding is captured. The game then continues as a conventional Draughts with either of the two above rules when an impasse is reached again.

Notes

This variant has no connection, save for the name, with the piece named Haft in MAB 06: The Heavy Brigade, which was not so named until 2012.


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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2006-06-08. Web page last updated: 2018-07-21