The Chess Variant Pages


Charles Gilman

This game is basically FIDE Chess with the Xiang Qi RIVER, drawing on links with pieces' short-range ancestors through their Russian names. It takes the River across Eurasia much as Yang Qi takes the Cannon across the Pacific, the two games perhaps illustrating the different perspectives of those looking east and west towards China! The name is a pun on the Russian word for English, as it was invented in England, relative to where (as to much of Europe) Xiang Qi's Chinese home is just beyond Russia. It is also a pun on Anglemover, literal translation of the Shogi name for the Bishop occupying a comparable place in the FIDE array to the stepping Elephant (Xiang) and the Gold and Silver Generals (Kinsho, Ginsho) that give Xiang Qi and Shogi their names. Making this all the more appropriate is the connotation of someone giving a moving sermon to Anglicans of Anglo-Saxon descent at a cathedral in England!

King Queen The King and Queen cannot cross the river, a toning down of the more extreme restriction of the corresponding XQ pieces. The correspondence is clear as the Queen is still called a Ferz in Russian while the Chinese for the old Ferz, Shi, sounds like the English pronoun she! Toning down is necessary for the Queen to be recognisable as such. As it is only the sideways move can exceed three squares. Note that a King may be adjacent to the enemy King, or in an interrupted line with the enemy Queen, without being in check, as the River blocks the threat.

Bishop The Bishop is still called an Elephant in Russian, but has a longer range than its southern namesakes. Therefore it can move (and check) across the River, but only by doing something that short-range Elephants cannot. It must take a running jump, neither starting nor ending on the Banks, the middle two ranks. Note that:
1 jumping just means over the River, so intermediate squares on both Banks (and anywhere else) must be vacant;
2 the restriction applies going backward as well as forward;
3 it can still move between a Bank and the rest of the same side of the River;
4 the running jump concept seems equally appropriate to the Dutch/German/Hungarian interpretation of the piece as a message runner taking a running jump.

Knight The Knight is unaffected by the River, except that limitations on the taller pieces enhance its usefulness. Its leap cannot be blocked.

Rook The Rook requires a bridge to cross the River, and these connect orthogonally adjacent squares. This is consistent with XQ Rook and Cannon moves. However a Bishop on a Bank, being an especially strong Elephant, can lift the nearest bridge, preventing an enemy Rook from capturing it across the River, although it always puts the bridge back when it leaves a square, so that a Rook can cross the River to or beyond a square vacated by a Bishop. Again this applies both forward and backward. Its usefulness is also enhanced by the Queen's limitations. Castling is exactly as in FIDE Chess, as its absence in Xiang Qi can be associated with the restriction of that game's General to the middle 3 files.

Pawn The Pawn's strength compared to its XQ counterpart is in numbers rather than individually. It is promoted as soon as it crosses the River, but as everything else is less restricted than in XQ, promotion is to a full Wazir, able to move one square in any orthogonal direction. This is consistent with the view on promotion expressed in my article Man and Beast 02: Shield Bearers. As promotion is so swift there is no initial double move. Promoted Pawns remain Wazirs as long as they remain in the game, even after retreating to their own Bank or further. There is no further promotion.

Possible subvariants include:
1 Pawn promotion to a Steward (again see MAB 02: Shield Bearers) or one of the Shogi generals, to preserve all Pawn moves.
2 Further promotion to captured pieces on either end rank, as in my Wildeurasian Qi.
3 A partially Multiple Displacer Bishop, a long-range version of the compromise MD Elephant of my Cannonless Xiang Qi Variants, but with a bar on intermediate captures (as on destination ones) on Banks.

A further idea of mine is a variant based on Hungarian piece names. They call the Queen Vezer, cognate with the Wazir that is the capturable form of the XQ General. It could have the Bachelor Chess array but with the King's move extended to that of a Queen confined to a 21-square half board. This piece could be either one can move neither through nor into check, as in Superking, or a capturable Queen in a Spinster Kinglet: Pawns are promoted to Kings that can cross the River, and winning is by getting a King and the Queen together or by capturing all enemy unpromoted and promoted Pawns. Bishops would remain restricted but unable to block their own capture by Rooks.

I now have several themed offshoots with their own pages, with the Rook and Knight combined and the River restrictions lessened (though never completely removed). The theme is that the River (after which each variant is named) is one going through an English city with a university dating from the Cold War or earlier: Isis (Oxford), Cam (Cambridge), Avon (Bath and Bristol), Kennet (Reading), Wey (Guildford), and further north Irwell (Manchester and Salford). The last uses the Stewards of subvariant 1, both as Pawn promotee and as an array piece.

Anglis Qi Modified... is a combination of combinations, adding in Cannons and Arrows as well as the River, but still (in contrast to Fergus Duniho's Eurasian Chess) on an 8x8 board. A further combination of that mixture with Wayne Schmittberger's Wildebeest Chess gives my large variant Wildeurasian Qi, which has since been extended to larger Wildeurasian variants.