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Nietzsche Chess


As the description of this variant suggests, it is based on the maxim of the much-misunderstood philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that "that which does not kill us makes us stronger". It certainly applies to my contributions to the website. Robust criticism did indeed kill off my short-range round variant Voyager, but led to improvements for which I am very grateful in other variants of mine, and in my piece naming scheme. It has also applied to my personal health, and so I began wondering how it could be applied in Chess.

My first decision was to specify it for the FIDE array, but define options to encompass other arrays. If a piece standing its ground when En Prise - under threat from another piece - or putting itself under such a threat is not captured it should grow stronger than it was before the threat was made. This meant some kind of promotion, which as well as fitting the theme would deter frivolous threats. I ruled out Pawns becoming the piece type threatening them, and other pieces gaining the threatening piece's move. Firstly compound pieces would proliferate too soon, precipitating a premature endgame, and secondly a piece threatening its own type or a compound thereof would not promote at all. I therefore settled on the idea of a Promotion Sequence from Alternate Promotion Chess - although a Pawn promoted in the normal way when it can go no further would still have the usual options. Once promoted, a piece would in turn promote those enemy pieces threatened (and not captured) by it as promoted, but not those threatened by it only as before promotion. Each sequence must contain every capturable piece type in the array, but not necessarily just those types. Only the last type in the sequence would survive a threat with no further promotion.

When trying out the game's workings in practice, I found that it was easier to keep track of which piece to promote, and of which would be a threat itself once promoted, if they were promoted as soon as they had stayed in, or moved into, danger. This does not reflect the theme quite as well but as a rule it is identical to promotion after non-capture.


As FIDE Chess, but can be applied to most square-cell arrays. All sequences listed can be used with the FIDE array.


The KING is outside the sequence. It cannot be promoted, as it must escape any threat. Nor can anything be promoted to a King. The King's only involvement in promotion is that it can promote - but it promotes only unprotected pieces as it is no genuine threat to protected ones. All sequences below are based on variants with a King.

The basic variant has just the FIDE pieces, in the promotion sequence PAWN-KNIGHT-BISHOP-ROOK-QUEEN. This I term the Fast Sequence. I have tried this out the most thoroughly.

If you want a longer game it might be best to go for a slower promotion. The Crowned Sequence adds in an extra piece between each pair. This gives Pawn-CAMEL-Knight-PRINCE-Bishop-PRIMATE-Rook-CHATELAINE-Queen. It is of course from Crowned-sequence APC.

The Timur Sequence also adds in a extra piece between each pair. This gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-PICKET-Bishop-POCKET-Rook-FAGIN-Queen. It is of course from Timur-sequence APC.

The Eurasian Sequence also adds in an extra piece between each pair. This gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-ARROW-Bishop-CANNON-Rook-TANK-Queen. It is of course from Eurasian-sequence APC, and can be used with a Eurasian or Yang Qi array.

The Mixed-compound Timur Sequence gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-Picket-Bishop-Pocket-Rook-Fagin-INQUION-INFANON-Queen, where Inquion is Bishop+Pocket and Infanon Rook+Picket. It is of course from APC.

The Mixed-compound Eurasian Sequence gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-Arrow-Bishop-Cannon-Rook-Tank-SAINT-SPARROW-Queen, where Saint is Bishop+Cannon and Sparrow Rook+Arrow. It is of course from APC, but can also be used with a Eurasian or Yang Qi array.

The Knighted Sequence promotes at an intermediate rate using all compounds of FIDE pieces. This gives Pawn-Knight-Bishop-CARDINAL-Rook-MARSHAL-Queen-ACE - the same range of pieces that adding the threatening piece's move would have generated but avoiding the quantity of Aces that would make Doc Holliday blush! It can be used for the usual suspects among Knighted-piece variants.

The Long-haul Crowned Sequence brings in Camel compounds. This gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-Prince-Bishop-Primate-CALIPH-Cardinal-Rook-Chatelaine-CANVASSER-Marshal-Queen-ACME-Ace. The Acme is the compound of Queen and Camel. It is of course from APC, but can also be used with a Duke of Rutland's array.

The Long-haul Timur Sequence gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-Picket-Bishop-Pocket-Caliph-Cardinal-Rook-Fagin-Canvasser-Marshal-Queen-Acme-Ace. It is of course from APC.

The Long-haul Eurasian Sequence gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-Arrow-Bishop-Cannon-Caliph-Cardinal-Rook-Tank-Canvasser-Marshal-Queen-Acme-Ace. It is of course from APC, but can also be used with a Eurasian or Yang Qi array.

The Ecumenical Sequence dispenses with Crowned pieces but adds a triangulating leaper. This gives Pawn-Camel-Knight-Bishop-Caliph-GNU-Cardinal-Rook-Canvasser-Marshal-Queen. As well as an Ecumenical or FIDE array it can be used with a Wildebeest one.

The Wildeurasian Sequence inserts Gnu between Bishop and Cannon in the Eurasian sequence. As well as a Wildeurasian Qi or FIDE array it can be used for a Eurasian, Wildebeest, or Yang Qi one.

The Shogi-inclusive Sequence substitutes Shogi pieces for Camel, and omits Prince, in the Crowned Sequence - Pawn-HELM-WING-SILVER-GOLD-Knight-Bishop-Primate-Rook-Chatelaine-Queen. With an actual Shogi array it would start with POINTS instead of Pawns.

The Courier-inclusive Sequence inserts Courier Kamil pieces before Knight in the Fast Sequence - Pawn-ELEPHANT-DABBABA-FERZ-WAZIR-Camel-Knight-Prince-Bishop-Rook-Queen. As well as CK and FIDE arrays it can be used with the Courier array itself and the Chaturanga one. With a Courier Ashtaranga array, both Pawns and YEOMEN resisting a threat become Elephants.


Initial double-step moves, En Passant, Castling, and other game-specific moves are the same as the non-Nietzsche game on which the array is based.

At the end of each move, it is identified which pieces of the player who has just moved are eligible for promotion, either because En Prise or by normal means. Those eligible by normal means obey usual non-Nietzsche rules except that, if also En Prise, any choice between usual promotion and staying unpromoted becomes choice between usual promotion and promotion just to the next in the series. Having been promoted normally they are not further promoted because En Prise. If they are eligible only because En Prise they are promoted to whatever the next piece is in the series, no matter how many pieces threaten them.

Check is as usual, with the result that a protected piece is never considered En Prise to a King. Checkmate and Stalemate are also as usual.


One way to illustrate this variant more explicitly is to consider its effect on a typical FIDE opening, under the Fast Sequence. For multiple threats I list the same promotion by all enemies.
1  Pe2-e4 - no effect           Pe7-e5 - no effect
2  Ng1-f3 - no effect           Nb8-c6 - Nf3 promotes Pe5-N
3  Bf1-b5 - Ne5 promotes Nf3-B  Ng8-f6 - Bb5 promotes Nc6-B
4  Nb1-c3 - Bc6 promotes Bb5-R  Bf8-b4 - Ne4 promotes Nf6-B
                         Pe4-N           Rb5 promotes Bb4-R
            Ne5 promotes Bf3-R                        Pb7-N
            Nf6 promotes Pe4-N           Rf3 promotes Nf6-B
5  O-O      Bc6 promotes Ne4-B  O-O      Be4 promotes Bc6-R
                         Rb5-Q                        Ph7-N
            Ne5 promotes Rf3-Q           Qb5 promotes Bc6-R
            Rb4 promotes Ne4-B                        Ne5-B
                         Pb2-N                        Nb7-B
                         Rb5-Q                        Rb4-Q
                                         Qf3 promotes Bf6-R
So in just five moves White has 3 Queens, and Black has 2 Queens and 4 Rooks. A real game would not of course proceed so far without some exchange of pieces, or more likely more cautious moves to prevent promotion in the first place.

This page does not deal with geometries other than the square-cell one. 3d variants generally (though not always) cover a wider range of pieces, and hex 2d ones have a completely different set of pieces. Nor does it deal with the Xiang Qi array, which has a different royally-restricted piece and a stepping Knight which I would prefer not to mix with the leaping one. If the variation outlined here has any success I will consider applying it to such arrays on separate pages.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-09-08. Web page last updated: 2018-07-15