Cavalry Chess (also known as Magician's Chess) is a variant of Orthochess designed by Frank Maus in 1921. Cavalry Chess adds some sort of jumping move to all of the Orthochess pieces, resulting in a game with a great deal of power on the board. According to Pritchard, the game enjoyed a fair bit of popularity in the US at one time, with tournaments and matches played. Today, it seems almost unknown.
The rules of Cavalry Chess are identical to those of Orthochess, except when noted below. The board and setup are as usual, and so are not shown here.
The Movement of Pieces
In general, each piece in Cavalry has jumping moves added to their basic Orthochess moves, and the King is additionally enhanced.
The King's move is extended to two squares in any direction (including through, but not into check), and additionally, the King may also jump like a Knight.
The Cavalry Chess Pawn combines the usual moves of the Orthochess Pawn, including double-move and en-passant capture, with the forward leaps of a Knight. From the second rank it can move like so:
The following game played as part of a tournament in 1924. I. Denton played white, black was played by a player simply identified as Professional.
White Black 1. ee3 ee5 2. Nge2 Nge7 3. dd3 dd5 4. Nd4 Nd7 5. g3 g6 6. b3 Qe6 7. dc5! b:c5 8. b:c5 N:c5 9. Ne:c5+ (resigns)At which point black would have been down a Queen at best. The final position:
Early on, Fianchetto (flank) openings were common. Later, the Gruer Attack (1. dd4, 2Qe2), named after the Californian Chess Champion, and the Denton opening (see the sample game above) were used. The principle endgames were analysed as well, the outcome the same as in Orthochess -- the ending K+R vs K being one of the hardest.
In 1925, Maus game up with a variant of Cavalry Chess which he called Magic Chess. The only difference was in the Pawn's forward Knight's moves, which were noncapturing when wide (one square forward and two to the side), and capturing only when narrow (two squares forward and one to the side). Maus apparently didn't like his new creation much, saying that Magic Chess was "deadly dull, lacking all the vivacity of Cavalry Chess."
The pieces in this game have an incredible amount of power for a game on an eight by eight board. In particular, the King, Queen and Knight would be very powerful pieces even on a ten by ten board or larger. This is an extreme game, and almost certainly not to everyone's taste.
And yet, this game obviously received a lot of attention at one time. Was it because there weren't as many competing Chess variants at the time, or did it have some other appeal? And what happened to it? Marseillias Chess originated around the same time, and is still played. Did its players exhaust Cavalry Chess' potential, or simply gravitate to newer games? It does seem like many Chess variants go through a period of popularity, then fade away.
Ed Friedlander has also implemented this game as an applet.
This information is based on the description in Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants.
Zillions of Games
There is an implementation of Cavalry Chess (including Magic Chess) for Zillions of games. You can download it here:Abstract Chess Pieces to represent movement capabilities of the Cavalry Chess pieces as best as possible.
Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: June 25th, 2001.