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This page is written by the game's inventor, Ralph Betza.

Outrigger Chess; the Outrigger Chessboard

David Paulowich has come up with a clever chess variation on a 10x8 chessboard that features the normal setup of FIDE-chess on the normal 8x8 board of FIDE-chess, but adds one file to the left and one file to the right. Behind the Pawns on the new files are a Chancellor (Rook plus Knight) and an Archbishop (Bishop plus Knight). This is a fascinating game because you can play many moves from well-known FIDE-chess opening theory in the 8x8 central area, and finish up with a position whose evaluation is completely different than normal because of the powerful pieces on the far flanks.

It was my suggestion that the notation for this game be changed so that the new file to the left of the a-file would be called the @-file, and the new file to the right of the h-file would be the i-file; the point being that now I can read the game score and follow it blindfold!

Treating the new files specially soon inspired a new idea of my own.

Think of a Polynesian canoe, with outriggers: the outriggers are different from the main body of the boat. Similarly, on the Outrigger board, the rules may be a bit different on the new files than they are on the "main board" (the 8x8 central area).

For example, suppose that the central 8x8 board is a Cylindrical Chess board. A Rook moving to the right from h1 goes to a1 (which is adjacent to h1 because the board wraps around) instead of being stopped by the edge of the board.

Using a Cylindrical Outrigger board, the Rook moving rightwards from h1 would have the choice of either wrapping around to a1, or going to i1 and being stopped by the edge of the board.

Digression: Of course, one could also posit a different type of Rook, one that would not have such a choice. If forced to wrap, it would be unable to attack an enemy King that had escaped to the outrigger area. This could be a charming feature of the game.

Outrigger Torus Chess

In normal Cylindrical Chess, pieces wrap only at the sides of the board; they cannot wrap at top and bottom because the two Kings would immediately be in check to each other. Imagine a board whose central area is a 6x6 double-cylinder (this is actually a torus, shaped like an automobile tire's "inner tube"; an object that was obsolete before radial tires brought it back to life), and whose outer area is a square outrigger, as it were.

The Ke1 cannot move to the rear and capture the Ke8, so the game is possible to play. This is a great improvement over old-fashioned Toroidal Chess.

The Ke1 can move to e2 (after the Pawn leaves e2, of course); then it can get to e7 by moving South.

Similarly, when the Knight from g1 goes to f3, it has 12 moves available to it: from f3 to e1, using its choice not to wrap around, or from f3 to e7, moving in exactly the same direction but taking advantage of the opportunity to wrap around the edge.

Outrigger Alice Chess

When a piece moves from one outrigger square to another, it stays on the same side of the looking glass. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the position.

Outrigger Billiards Chess

I have another page on Billiards Chess, and so I must mention the obvious compatibility of Billiards with the outrigger board.

Infinite Outrigger Chess

This is silly, isn't it? On the other hand, a piece on the outrigger can only be attack or be attacked by pieces that are in the area enclosed by the outrigger, and so the idea is not meaningless at all. (When you are on an outrigger square, you are sheltered against the "infinite" part of the board.)

Even stranger is the realization that there must be an "infinite" square in the same location as each "outrigger" square. You could picture tha outrigger squares as raised up n 3D from the infinite two-dimensional board, and if you picture their inner edges as tilted down to touch the normal board, you get a good idea of how the rules should work.

Concentric Outrigger Torus Chess

Expanding on the idea of Outrigger Torus Chess, imagine a board on which not only does a Rook moving South from e2 get to choose whether e1 or e7 is the next square, but in addition, a Rook moving South from e3 can choose between e2 or e6, and a Rook moving South from e4 can choose either e3 or e5!

Note that the Bishops in Concentric Outrigger Four-Cushion Billiards:00 Chess (do I win the prize for the game with the longest name?) would be remarkably powerful in an open position.

Inverse Outrigger Variations

I will give just one simple example of an Inverse Outrigger game; I'm sure you can think of a better one.

Imagine a game withe the standard 8x8 board, and the FIDE-chess pieces, but in addition there are two extra files on the board; these files are empty at the start of the game.

These files are conveyer belts that move one square per ply; from White's viewpoint, the lefthand one moves forward, the right-hand one moves backwards. When a piece is moved onto one of these files, the conveyer belt automatically changes the position of the piece, one square after White's move, one square after Black's move. If the piece does not get off of the conveyer belt in time, it falls off the end and is gone for good.

You must make a complete legal move, you may not depend on the conveyer belt to get you out of check; and so a Bishop may have the opportunity to give check on the opposite-colored squares, but can never actually move to them!

Ridiculous Complexity

Sometimes it's more fun to make up the rules than to play the game.

How about a game with concentric outriggers, a special rule for the main board, and a different special rule for each outrigger?

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