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David Paulowich wrote on 2004-08-01 UTC

Unicorn Great Chess: Inventor's Comments

I am pleased to see the PBM Preset for Unicorn Great Chess is still available on this website. I had been planning to post a rules page with a Zillions game file several years ago, but did not get around to it before my hard drive crashed. Anyway, here are some brief notes on this variant.

Unicorn Great Chess adds four 'Lions' to the board - on the second and ninth ranks. The Lion is identical to Ralph Betza's 'Half-Duck' (HFD, a piece that can move one square diagonally or jump two or three squares orthogonally), from the Remarkable Rookies army. It was designed to be at least as strong as the Rook on the 8x8 board, but it will be weaker on larger boards. I chose the name Lion as a reminder of the 3-square leaper in Grande Acedrex (1283). That game also has a piece called the Unicorn (or Rhinoceros). The remaining ten White pieces are arranged CRNBUKBNRQ on the first rank. Placing the Chancellors and Queens in the corners (with the Pawns in front of them also defended by the Knights) is an opening setup I have used on 64, 80, and 100 squares.

My somewhat rusty memory tells me that a King and Lion can force checkmate against a lone King. 'A Pawn promotes to a Chancellor, Queen, or Unicorn of the same colour upon reaching the player's tenth rank.' Perhaps I should amend that rule to also allow promotion to a Lion, if desired. Note that the Lion has the longest 'single leap' of any piece on this board, which makes it capable of delivering a Fool's Mate: 1. Lion f2-f5, Lion f9-f6 2. Pawn e3-e4, Lion f6-f4 (mate)

My suggested game values (allowing for Pawns being a little weaker on the 10x10 board) are as follows: Pawn 100, Knight 300, Bishop 350, Lion 450, Rook 550, Chancellor 900, Queen 1000, Unicorn 1000. [EDIT] I decided to bump the Lion up to 500, see the Rules section on my Unicorn Great Chess page.

I firmly believe that Q = R+B+P and Q+P = R+R on 64 or 100 squares. My (limited) playing experience on 64 squares leads me to conclude that a Chancellor is worth a Rook and Knight and half a Pawn. So I used that formula to calculate a 900 point value in this game. WARNING: the Lion and Unicorn values are mostly based on guesswork. It certainly would be convenient if the Chancellor was worth exactly two Lions (or a Rook and a Bishop). Other, more experienced, chess variant players may come up with different values. --- David Paulowich


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