The Chess Variant Pages




The Seeping Switchers

An Experimental Army for Chess with Different Armies

By Jörg Knappen

Introduction

This is a new army for Ralph Betza's Chess with Different Armies. The theme of this army is given by the Knight: pieces, which are forced to change the colour with every move. They have a specific weakness as they cannot keep control over a certain square when moving.

The Pieces

The Pieces, by equivalent FIDE pieces:

The Rooks: The Panda (Slip Rook)

This piece moves like a Rook, but only to squares of different colour than the starting square. Thus, starting from a1 it can reach a2, a4, a6, a8, b1, d1, f1, and h1. It can be blocked on the fields it can reach, but jumps over pieces on the fields of the same colour as the starting field.

I estimate it to be about as strong as a Knight. Two of them plus a King can mate a bare King, but the are less mobile in the opening.

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:::| * |:::|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:::| * |:::|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |:::| * |Pan| * |:::| * |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:::| * |:::|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:::| * |:::|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+

The Knights: The Marquis (NW)

This piece combines the moves of the Knight and the Wazir. It is considered to be as strong as a Rook. It requires two Marquis' and a King to mate a bare King.

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::| * |:::| * |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::| * |:::| * |:::| * |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::| * |Mar| * |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::| * |:::| * |:::| * |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::| * |:::| * |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+

The Bishops: The Unicorn

This piece was inspired by the Unicorn of Grande Acedrex. However, the original Unicorn turns out to be too strong to give a balanced army. It therefore becomes half lame: The long moves can be blocked, but not the short Knight's move. It starts with a Mao move (one square straight, then one square diagonally) which is blocked if the first square is not empty, and than continues like a Bishop in the same direction diagonally. It makes at least a Knight's move. In addition it can make a single Knight's move which cannot be blocked.

I estimate its value to be about 1.5 bishops.

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |:::|   |:::|   |:::| * |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::| * |:::|   |:::| * |:::| * |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |:::| X |:::| X |:::| * |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::| X |:::|   |:::| X |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |Uni|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::| X |:::|   |:::| X |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |:::| X |:::| X |:::| * |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::| * |:::|   |:::| * |:::| * |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+

The Queen: The Erl Queen (German: Erlkoenigin, Slip Queen)

Just as the Panda only reaches the 1st, 3rd, 5th ... square in straight directions, one can define the Slip Bishop to reach the 1st, 3rd, ... square in diagonal direction. The Erl Queen combines the movements of the Panda and the Slip Bishop. It is a Queen weakened enough to complete the team and make it roughly as strong as the usual FIDE army, I hope.

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:*:|   |:::| * |:::|   |:*:|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:*:| * |:*:|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| * |:::| * |Erl| * |:::| * |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:::|   |:*:| * |:*:|   |:::|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|:*:|   |:::| * |:::|   |:*:|   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+

On the empty board all of the new pieces can return with the next move to its starting place. But they travel a different path. Therefore in practical playing it is often the case that one cannot retreat a move just made. This feature is quite unusual.

Historical Notes

Colour switching pieces seem to be rare, much more rare than colourbound ones. Besides the Knight there is the Wazir, of course. Grande Acedrex has the Unicorn (slightly more powerful than the version above) and the Giraffe, a (1,4)-jumper. Fairy pieces include the Zebra aka J, a (3,2)-jumper and the Antelope, a (3,4)-jumper. A knight extended by a (3,0)-jump (NH in funny notation) is known as Warlord in Mad Chess, the name Marquis is from Scirocco, it is also known as Stoneking in Mad Chess.

The Panda (Slip Rook), Slip Bishop, and Slip Queen are mentioned in G. P. Jelliss's A Guide to Variant Chess (thanks to Peter Aronson for pointing this out). The name Erl Queen (german: Erlkoenigin, alluding to Erlkoenig (erl king)) is my choice because I don't like the name Slip Queen.

Computer Play

A Rules File for Zillions of Games. that pits the Seeping Switchers vs the standard armies for Chess with Different Armies, as well as the Avian Airforce, the Spacious Cannoneers, and the Fighting Fizzies. You can download it here:


Written by Jörg Knappen. HTML Conversion by Peter Aronson
WWW page created: January 7th, 2002.