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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-11-07
 Author: Peter  Aronson. Inventor: Frank  Maus. Cavalry Chess. A once popular variant from the 1920's where every piece has additional jumping moves. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-07-20 UTCPoor ★

I'm moving a comment I previously posted on the page before the commenting system was up-and-running to the comments. This comment is basically my review of the game, which I wrote in 2001.

Conceptually, this game is very similar to my own game Cavalier Chess, though it is completely unrelated, as I was ignorant of it when I created Cavalier Chess. Both games increase the power of the pieces mainly with additional Knight moves, hence the very similar names. Yet they are also radically different from each other. Cavalry Chess just soups up the power of each piece, whereas in Cavalier Chess I didn't make the pieces as powerful as I could have, because I determined through playtesting that really powerful pieces would hurt the game. For example, I originally replaced the Queen with an Amazon (as Maus did in Cavalry Chess), but I judged that it was too powerful. I also tried replacing the Pawns with Chess Knights, but they merely wiped each other out, clearing the way between the other pieces. I found Chinese Chess Knights much more interesting as Pawn replacements, because they could block each other, something like Pawns do, and unblocking them would sometimes create extra threats. In contrast, I find the Pawns in Cavalry Chess much too powerful. They make forward movement very difficult, because a row of Pawns covers the entire two ranks in front of them. Considering that Pawns are the soul of Chess, as I think Philidor once said, I had to replace them with just the right pieces. I think I succeeded with Chinese Chess Knights, though I don't think Maus succeeded with these super Pawns. I also tried to keep the same balance of power in Cavalier Chess as there is in Chess. Maus has not done this with Cavalry Chess. I replaced the Knight with a Nightrider, which remains less powerful than the pieces replacing the Rook and Bishop, and all new pieces remained less powerful than the Queen (which I didn't change). Maus changed the Rook and Bishop into the same pieces as I did, but he replaced the Knight with a terribly powerful piece that throws off the whole balance of the game. Once it has the opportunity to safely check the enemy King, there is little the King can do to get away from it. Checkmate, and maybe some heavy piece loss along the way, will soon follow. Still, Cavalry Chess may have some appeal if approached from a different perspective. If you approach it like a game of Chess or even Cavalier Chess, you will easily be frustrated. But if you approach it with the strategy of safely checking the enemy King with your Knight before he can do the same, it might be an interesting challenge for awhile.


George Duke wrote on 2008-11-03 UTC
Creative for its time, still the over-powerful pieces make not so good a CV to play. These Pawns from 1920's move like jumping Knight also some cases, not Xiangqi's non-jumping and blockable. In variations of Frank Maus there are distinctions as to forwardness, or not, and capturing or not. However, Maus' Knight-Pawns in Knight mode cannot be blocked like Duniho's Cavalier in Cavalier (8x8) and Grand Cavalier(10x10). Here is found at the end in postcript Duniho's comparison and contrast of origin and dynamics of the pair with the nearly century-older Cavalry(8x8).

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-10-08 UTC
I haven't playtested that, but I think what you say makes sense: the massacre performed by the Bison was due for a large part to them attacking pieces that were still trapped on the back rank (and in particular a trapped King). So perhaps shifting the Pawns in the opening array one step forward would solve the problem: no pieces will be trapped, and the Bions cannot attack any piece in its starting location without being exposed to Pawn fire. The only problem the side defending against the Bisons has to worry about would be to maintain control over every square on second and third rank, which does not sound too difficult.

Perhaps I should test the Bison from this setup to get a better idea of its middle-game value.

Note that a Falcon, which has the same target squares as the Bison, but does not jump (athough due to its multi-path nature it cannot be blocked very easily) has the same value as a Rook, and the Bison will certainly be stronger. And the Cavalry Knight will be about a Knight stronger than that, plus possibly some synergy because of highly increased manouevrability. (The Bison is really an awkward piece, with all its moves being quite distant.)

Anonymous wrote on 2008-10-07 UTC
I guess I failed to take into consideration that this piece can capture pieces in their initial positions without being captured itself. Perhaps that is due to there being poor defense in the Capablanca set-up. Perhaps this is not the reason why, but I think the value of them would probably be greatly decreased by changing the set-up. Do you agree?

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-10-06 UTC
I think Fergus is right, and calculating piece values the way you do simply does not work. I once play-tested the Bison, which is even weaker than the Cavalry Knight, because it lacks the orthodox Knight move. I did this by starting from the Capablanca setup, and replacing A and C for one side by Bisons. When I let Fairy-Max play itself from this setup, the side without Bisons is utterly slaughtered. After about 5 moves or so its score has typically dropped to around -8 (in Pawns), after 10 moves to -16.

Anonymous wrote on 2008-10-06 UTCAverage ★★★
I disagree with Fergus Duniho's comments on the power of the Knight in Cavalry Chess. According to my calculations, it is worth 7.88 Pawns or less, given a regular Knight is worth 3 Pawns, its value is 3 for a Knight + 3/5 * 3 for a Camel, derived from analogy of a Bishop and Rook to Camel and Knight, + 3/5 * 3/5 * 3 for a Zebra, which is a bit of a guess, but its value is certainly less than a Camel and Knight, because of its awkwardness, though it is not colorbound as a Camel. For the ease of mating comment, one can compare that to the ease of mating a cornered King with Fergus' Paladin. I think the King also is not able to be mated so easily due to its new mobility.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2005-06-24 UTC
Sorry, I meant Gigachess. I had remembered that it was a metric prefix. By the time I invented Great Herd I had forgotten the name entirely, but rediscovered it later. I will shortly be updating Great Herd and the Buffalo entry to add details of Gigachess on the former and this variant on both.

David Paulowich wrote on 2004-09-30 UTCGood ★★★★
Around the same time later Hugo Legler invented a simpler variant with knight-bishop and knight-rook pieces. Alexander Alekhine lost a game to E. W. Gruer in a San Francisco simul (1929). <p>The 'Chancellor' in Sidney LeVasseur's Kings Court (1997) moves like the King in Cavalry Chess, while the 'Buffalo' in Jean-Louis Cazaux's Gigachess (2001) moves like the Knight.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-04-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
The enhanced Knight is called a Buffalo in Megachess. Other possible enhanced Knights include the Gazelle (just Knight+Zebra), Sleipnir (Knight+Antelope, i.e. adding to the root 5 leap a leap of root 5 TIMES THAT), and Nightrider.

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