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Dragonchess. A three-dimensional fantasy variant. (12x8x3, Cells: 288) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Victor Amuro wrote on 2010-01-07 UTC
The problem with the Dragon in the opening phase of Dragonchess is well
known. The Sylphs at 1a2 and 1a7 are sitting ducks and also the future of
the Oliphants at the a-row is looking bleak. In fact an unleashed Dragon
can be a devastating force and can whip out the entire left side of the
upper and middle board. 

Several solutions are given by different players ranging from minimizing
the ability of capture from afar (CAF)to the square directly below the
Dragon, reducing the maneuverability to a bishop in normal chess, to
changing the starting position of the Dragon or the Sylphs or a combination
of these solutions (see also Comments on this website). 
Although minimizing the CAFabilty will reduce the power of the Dragon it is
still possible to capture the undefended Sylphs at the a-row with the first
move. The Oliphants are also still in danger as are most of its neighbors.

Changing the starting position of the Sylphs to one square to the right,
keeps the Sylphs a little saver but postpone the problem for the pieces on
the left flank at the middle board. After 1. 1Sf2-g3, the Dragon can still
get to the undefendable square 1a7 and threat to roll up most of the pieces
on the back row of the middle board. 

In normal chess all the major pieces start safe behind the pawns. All the
pawns are defended by one or more pieces. Even the pawns on the relative
weak squares f2 and f7 are defended. Not so in Dragonchess, the undefended
squares 1a2 and 1a7 can form a stronghold from which a Dragon can capture
or at least threat to capture several enemy pieces right from the opening.

I think I found a simple and elegant solution. To defend the squares 1a2
and 1a7 just swap the starting position of the Hero and the Unicorn on the
middle board. From the squares  2b1, 2b8, 2k1 and 2k8 the Hero defends the
squares diagonally on the upper and lower board.  It doesn’t change the
nature of the game, nor minimize or reduce the power of the Dragon. Somehow
it feels right, a hero defending a helpless sylph against a powerful
Dragon.