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Little Great Chess v.0.91

by Terry H Jones

  1. Introduction
  2. Turn Order
  3. Movement and Capture
  4. Class
  5. Honor Promotion
  6. Ascending the Throne
  7. Field Promotion
  8. Ensconcing Move
  1. Demotion
  2. Prisoner Exchanges
  3. Prisoner Ransom
  4. Reinforcements
  5. Winning
  6. Starting Setup Table
  7. Making Sets
  8. Piece Description Table


INTRODUCTION

I wanted to make a game that combined what I liked best about Great Chess (piece re-entry, king replacement), dropping what I didn't (lots of odd. slow extra pieces and a non-8*8 board), adding a bit of wargaming, and throwing in other, semi-role-playing elements (the lowliest pawn on the board, by skill and verve, can rise through the ranks, have a career in the military or clergy, ascend the throne, and lead his people to victory).

The rules go on for several sections and several screens, but I try to be very specific, I add examples, and the tables are full of white space.

The game is played on a standard 8*8 board, and a set of pieces can be made using a standard chess set and some checkers. Extra pieces from a second set are handy. See the section on making a set


TURN ORDER

Several events may occur during a player's turn. There are restrictions on the order in which some may occur. The following lists the phases that make up a complete turn.

  1. Regent Ascends Throne (if needed)
  2. Prisoner Exchange (optional)
  3. Move and Capture or Reinforcement Entry
  4. Field Promotion (optional)
  5. Honor Promotion (optional)
  6. Prisoner Ransom (optional)


MOVEMENT and CAPTURE

The game begins with six (6) types of men:

one (1) King which moves and captures one space in any direction; there is no castling move; unlike an FIDE king, this one may be placed en prise or captured; pieces are lined up the same on each side of the board, so unlike FIDE chess, the kings do not face each other; a white King begins where you think it would, but the black King starts on the square normally occupied by an FIDE Queen

two (2) Bishops which move, capture, and begin on the same squares as FIDE bishops

two (2) Knights which move, capture, and begin on the same squares as FIDE knights

two (2) Cannon which move and capture one (1) or two (2) spaces as a time either horizontally or vertically, in effect, like an abbreviated rook's move; if a Cannon wishes to move two spaces and the first is occupied, the Cannon may leap over the first space as a knight would; Cannon begin on the corner squares occupied by FIDE rooks

one (1) Guard which moves and captures one space in any direction, just like the King; it begins next to and to the left of the King; the white Guard starts on the space occupied by an FIDE Queen; the black Guard begins on the FIDE black King's space

eight (8) Spears lined up as pawns; they move one space at a time forward, either straight or to one of the front diagonals (\|/); they capture only straight ahead; there is no opening double step; there is no en passant capture

To simply this, I've include a small table that compactly shows this for table-capable browsers.

During the course of the game, pieces may be promoted to forms not available at the start.

a Duke moves as either a Knight or a Guard

a Sheriff moves as either a Knight, Guard or FIDE Rook

an Archbishop moves as either a Bishop or a Guard

a Cardinal moves as a FIDE Queen


CLASS

Men are divided into four (4) Classes. It's an arbitrary thing that I like, and it helps sort out the Promotions.

The Commons consists of Spears, Guards and Cannon.

The Chivalrous Class is made of Knights, Earls and Sheriffs.

The Clerical Class is Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals.

The Royal Class is the King.


HONOR PROMOTION

Most pieces may be promoted from their starting status to higher, move powerful forms. There are several ways for a piece to merit promotion through his own actions; these are known as Honor Promotions. You may consider it "gaining experience," or the sudden acquisition of material. Or you can just consider it an abstract rule that's simply part of the game. The rules are summarized in the Piece Description Table in this article. There's also a section explaining Field Promotion.

Spears are promoted to Guards. Promotion is earned by

  • capturing any another piece,
  • reaching the back rank (like FIDE chess),
  • putting the opposing King in check, or
  • Field Promotion.

Guards are promoted to either Knights or Bishops. The decision sets the piece on it's future course for promotions: Knights become Earls become Sheriffs; Bishops become Archbishops become Cardinals. Guards gain promotion by

  • capturing any piece except a Spear,
  • putting the opposing King in check, or
  • Field Promotion.

Note: Guards can, and should when needed, capture Spears; they just do not gain promotion experience from it.

Knights promote to Earls, and gain promotion by the capture of any piece of the Chivalrous, Clerical or Royal class, that is, anything other than Spear, Guard or Cannon; or by Field Promotion.

Earls promote to Sheriffs, and gain promotion by the capture of a piece of the Chivalrous, Clerical or Royal class, that is, anything other than Spear, Guard or Cannon; or by Field Promotion.

Bishops promote to Archbishops, and gain promotion by the capture of a piece of the Chivalrous, Clerical or Royal class, that is, anything other than Spear, Guard or Cannon; or by Field Promotion.

Archbishops promote to Cardinals, and gain promotion by the capture of a piece of the Chivalrous, Clerical or Royal class, that is, anything other than Spear, Guard or Cannon; or by Field Promotion.

Sheriffs and Cardinals can become Kings; see Ascending to the Throne.

Neither Kings nor Cannon may not be promoted. (No surprise,huh?)

Promotions are optional, but the option may only exercised when first available.

Example: Your Guard makes a capture on move 5 that entitles it to promotion. You decide not to promote. On turn 10, you decide to promote the Guard even though he's done nothing in the meanwhile to earn it. Result: no promotion. Either promote on turn 5 as soon as he makes the capture or forego the promotion.

Passing on one promotion have no effect on later opportunities.

Example: A Guard makes a capture on move 5 that entitles it to promotion. You decide not to promote. On turn 10 the Guard makes another capture that entitles it to promotion. This time you decide to promote the Guard. Result: the Guard can be promoted.

There is no limit to the number of Earls, Sheriffs, Knights, Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, Guards or Spears a player can have on the board at any time.

A player can have only one (1) King in play at a time, and no more than two (2) Cannon.

Promotion qualifications may not be "stacked." For example, a Spear captures an opposing Knight; the Knight was on the back row; and the capture puts the opposing King in check. The Spear is still only eligible for one (1) promotion step, not three (3).

A piece may not receive both an Honor Promotion and a Field Promotion in the same turn. However, if a piece warrants an Honor Promotion on the same turn as a new King Ascends to the Throne, the piece earning the Honor Promotion may receive it, and the Field Promotion may be bestowed on a second piece. No piece may receive two (2) promotions in one turn, but in this case, a player may have two (2) pieces be promoted in the same turn.

A piece may be promoted on successive turns. It is possible that a Spear may become a Sheriff or Cardinal in four (4) successive moves, and may Ascend to the Throne on a 5th turn, if everything falls just right.


ASCENDING TO THE THRONE

Unlike FIDE chess, but like many ancient variants, the King may legally be placed en prise, moved to or through check, or captured.

If a player's King is captured, he may, as at any other time in the game, surrender.

If a player's King is captured, and he has one or more Sheriffs or Cardinals (known collectively as Regents), he may promote a Regent to King and continue the game. This promotion is called Ascending to the Throne.

To make the promotion, swap the captured King's piece for the promoted Regent. The promoted Regent stays in the same location, even if the Regent was Ensconced. Ascension occurs before any other actions of the player during the turn; thus the newly promoted King must make his move, if any, using the rules of a King, not as the Regent he had been. The piece swapped for, either Cardinal or Sheriff, is immediately Demoted. See also Turn Order.

Following the player's Ascension and his move (and capture, if any), he has the option of making a Field Promotion. If the option is waived during this turn, it may NOT be exercised later.

If a player has more than one Regent piece available to Ascend the Throne, the player may choose which one ascends. There is no difference in the King's powers whether he was an Sheriff or Cardinal to start.


FIELD PROMOTION

A player may make a Field Promotion following the move/capture phase of a turn in which a Regent Ascends to the Throne.

To make a Field Promotion, the player picks any one of his pieces, except a Cannon or King, and immediately promotes it to the next level in the progression. (Promoting a Duke or Archbishop to Regent level can be good insurance.)

Field Promoted Guards must still choose the Chivalrous or Clerical class.

If the Field Promotion option is waived during the turn in which a Regent Ascends to the Throne, the new King has lost his only opportunity to use it. However, if that King is captured and a new Regent Ascends to the Throne, another opportunity for Field Promotion is available.

Note that this option comes after moves, captures and reinforcements are made. The newly promoted piece must wait until his next turn to exercise his new skills. However, if captured before he can move, he counts at his new rank for the capturing piece's promotion needs.


ENSCONCING

Ensconcing is an optional (though recommended) rule. Players should assume it is in use unless they agree before the game to prohibit it.

When a piece is ensconced, it is traveling with (inside) the Cannon piece. The ensconced piece sits on the same square with the Cannon. The Cannon continues to move and capture as always, but transports the ensconced piece. This is a way to transport slower or blockaded pieces further and faster.

Note that the Cannon's move is used, no matter what the move of the ensconced piece may be when on it's own. For example, a Cannon and a Cardinal together move as a Cannon and cannot move as a Cardinal.

To ensconce a piece,

  • it must end it's move by landing on the Cannon's space, or
  • the Cannon must move into the piece's space.

This will look like one is capturing the other, but the man is simply boarding the Cannon. The moving playing should announce the ensconcement.

For a piece to disembark, either have it make a legal move away from the Cannon, or legally move the Cannon and leave the piece behind.

A Cannon cannot be ensconced, that is, you may not ensconce one Cannon within another Cannon.

A Cannon may carry no more than one (1) piece.

Note the restriction on a Spear being promoted in the 8th rank: it must enter the 8th rank by its own move. A Cannon may carry a Spear into the back rank, but that does not promote it. However, the Spear may be carried to the 7th rank and then enter the 8th under its own power by leaving the Cannon.

If a Cannon is captured while carrying a piece, that piece is captured, as well. Thus a King may be placed in check, captured, etc. while ensconced.

For promotion purposes, a capturing piece may count either the Cannon or the Ensconced piece, which ever the capturing player prefers.


DEMOTION

Demotion is an optional (though recommended) rule. Players should assume the Demotion rule is in effect unless they agree before the game to prohibit it. Note: Demotions serve no purpose unless the Prisoner Exchange, Ransom, and Reinforcement rules are used.

When a piece is captured, it is immediately demoted within its class:

Spears and Guards become Spears;
Knights, Dukes and Sheriffs become Knights;
Bishops. Archbishops and Cardinals become Bishops.

A captured King either ends the game or is immediately returned to the board in exchange for a Regent. Exchanged Sheriffs become Knights, Cardinals become Bishops.

Note that Spears and Guards that have risen through the ranks to Chivalrous or Clerical Class remain in those classes as Knights or Bishops; they are not Demoted back to Commoner status.

Cannon remain Cannon.


PRISONER EXCHANGE

Prisoner Exchange is an optional (though recommended) rule. Players should assume exchanges are allowed unless they agree before the game to prohibit it. Note: there is nothing to do with exchanged prisoners unless the Reinforcements rule is used.

At the start of a player's turn, he may ask for a prisoner exchange. If his opponent agrees, the players swap captured pieces. Exchanged pieces become eligible to reenter the game as Reinforcements. Since an exchange occurs before move and capture, an recovered piece may re-enter on the same turn in which it is exchanged. See also the sections on Turn Order and Reinforcements.

A player is never required to agree to a prisoner exchange. If he feels it will not be in his interest to do so, he should refuse. However, a forced exchange, at a high cost, can be made; see the Prisoner Ransom rule.

There is an economy involved in prisoner exchanges:

Knight = Bishop = Cannon
Spear = Spear
Knight = 3 Spears
Bishop = 3 Spears
Cannon = 3 Spears

As captured pieces are immediately Demoted, there will no Dukes, Sheriffs, Archbishops or Cardinals available for exchange. Since a captured King either ends the game or re-enters when a Regent Ascends, there will be no Kings available, either.

Multiple pieces may be exchanged in one move, and in any combination. For example, 2 Knights and a Bishop may be exchanged for 2 Cannon and 3 Spears, if both agree.

All exchanges must be agreed to by both parties, including the mixture of pieces being exchanged. Example:

You have captured 3 Spears and a Bishop. You wish to reclaim one of your Knights that has been captured. Your opponent requires the return of his Bishop. To make the Exchange, you must return the Bishop, not decide it is better for you to give up the Spears and return them instead.

Exchanged pieces may be retained off-board as long as the owning player wishes. There is no requirement to re-enter pieces as reinforcements. (Neither is there any reason to reclaim them unless you're going to re-enter them.)


PRISONER RANSOM

Prisoner Ransom is an optional (though recommended) rule. Players should assume ransoms are allowed unless they agree before the game to prohibit it. Note: there is nothing to do with ransomed prisoners unless the Reinforcements rule is used.

Ransom is a sort of "forced" prisoner exchange. A player who wishes to ransom back his pieces demands the exchange, and pays double for them. Examples: to get back one Knight, he gives up two Knights (or six Spears, or one Cannon and one Knight, or two Bishops, etc.) The player receiving the ransom is required to go along with it (his own people were bribed!).

Ransoming occurs at the end of a player's turn. Thus units ransomed may not re-enter as reinforcements on the turn they are ransomed back.

Ransomed pieces, and those given in ransom, are like exchanged prisoners - they may be retained off-board as long as the owning player wishes. There is no requirement to re-enter ransomed pieces as reinforcements. (Neither is there any reason to ransom them unless you're going to re-enter them.)

Any "change" due in a ransom must be lost to the player who demands the ransom. Example:

a player wishes to ransom back 2 Spears, which requires 4 Spears, or a Knight and a Spear, etc. However, the player has only 2 captured Bishops to exchange. If he really wants the Spears back, he must give up both Bishops and lose the "change" due.

A player is never forced to demand ransom, but a player may not refuse when his opponent offers a ransom.


REINFORCEMENTS

Reinforcements is an optional (though recommended) rule. Players should assume reinforcements are allowed unless they agree before the game to prohibit it. Note: for Reinforcements to be available, the Prisoner Exchange and/or Prisoner Ransom rules must be used.

Through the processes of Prisoner Exchanges and Ransoms, a player may reclaim pieces that have been captured. These reclaimed pieces may be re-entered in the game as Reinforcements.

Reinforcement pieces, including Spears, reenter the game on the rank closest to the entering player. They may enter on any space on the rank that is unoccupied; if there are no open spaces on the rank, no reinforcements may enter.

Only one piece may be entered at a time or during one turn.

Entering is the piece's complete move for the turn.

Entering a reinforcement is the player's move and capture for the turn.

If a Spear's entry puts the opposing King in check, the Spear is credited with an immediate Honor Promotion. (Shipped to the front and covered in glory, all in one day!)

There is no need for Bishops to be on opposite colors.

There is no limit to the number of any type of piece that may be in play at once. Five (5) Bishops, six (6) Knights, etc. are perfectly acceptable.


WINNING

Winning is better defined in terms of losing. You lose when surrender, or your King is captured and you have no Regent to promote.

A bared king may fight on. Since he may be placed en prise, he could still fight, and with Prisoner Exchanges and Ransoms, he could rebuild his shattered army.

Stalemate is draw, though I doubt it would happen.


STARTING SETUP

BLACK
M N B K G B N M
S S S S S S S S
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . .
S S S S S S S S
M N B G K B N M
WHITE

S = Spear, G = Guard, B = Bishop, N = Knight, M = Cannon, K = King


MAKING SETS

Perhaps one day I'll win the lottery and hire a master craftsman to carve a custom set with the maximum number of Dukes, Cardinals, et. al. Until then, however, I find that chessmen standing on pedestals of checkers works well to distinguish promoted pieces.

HOMEMADE SET CREATION

PIECE PIECE IS FORMED BY...
Spear Pawn
Guard Pawn on one (1) Checker
Cannon Rook
Knight Knight
Duke Knight on one (1) Checker
Sheriff Knight on two (2) Checkers
Bishop Bishop
Archbishop Bishop on one (1) Checker
Cardinal Bishop on two (2) Checkers (or use Queen)
King King

It is possible to have 3 or more Knights, Bishops or promoted pieces in play at once. Luckily, like most variant players, I have multiple cheap chess sets in the closet, and it's easy to mix and match as needed.


PIECE DESCRIPTION TABLE

CLASS LEVEL SYMBOL NAME MOVE PROMOTED TO PROMOTION REQUIREMENTS DEMOTED TO EXCHANGE VALUE
Commons 1 S Spear one space forward, either straight or diagonally; no double step on first move, and thus no en passant capture Guard capture any piece or reach the 8th rank by it's own move, or place opposition King in check, or Field Promotion Spear 1
2 G Guard one space in any direction; as FIDE King without restrictions Knight or Bishop capture any piece except a Spear or place opposition King in check or Field Promotion Spear 1
x M Cannon 1 or 2 spaces horizontally or vertically; if making a 2 space move, can leap over the first space if occupied; may transport other pieces (see Ensconced N/A Cannon 3
Chivalrous 3 N Knight as FIDE Knight Earl capture any piece of the Knight, Bishop or Royal class or Field Promotion Knight 3
4 E Earl as FIDE Knight or Guard Duke capture any piece of the Knight, Bishop or Royal class or Field Promotion Knight 3
5 D Sheriff as FIDE Rook or FIDE Knight or Guard King Regent; may ascend to throne if King captured Knight 3
Clerical 3 B Bishop as FIDE Bishop Archbishop capture any piece of the Knight, Bishop or Royal class or Field Promotion Bishop 3
4 A Archbishop as FIDE Bishop or Guard Cardinal capture any piece of the Knight, Bishop or Royal class or Field Promotion Bishop 3
5 C Cardinal as FIDE Queen King Regent; may ascend to throne if King captured Bishop 3
Royal 6 K King one space in any direction; as FIDE King but may be placed en prise or captured; there is no castling move N/A removed


Index of Terry H. Jones website | email: (email removed contact us for address) .com | © 1997 by Terry H Jones
Written by Terry H. Jones. Copied from Terry Jones original site with his permission.
WWW page (copy) made September 8, 1997.