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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-04-22
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender and Antoine  Fourrière. Marseillais Chess. Move twice per turn. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Anonymous wrote on 2002-11-15 UTC
<blockquote> The second art that I acquired in Pentonville [prison] was so-called 'Marseilles chess.' It was invented by an elderly Frenchman, with a red scarf around his neck, who taught it to me during exercise hours. In this game, each player in turn makes two moves instead of one—the only restriction being that the first of the two moves should not be a check to the King. To the chess-addict is this a nerve-racking experience which shatters his outlook and upsets all his values. Hitler and the Gestapo have faded into the past, but the memory of Marseilles chess in Pentonville still makes me shudder. </blockquote> Arthur Koestler<br> Introduction to <i>The Scum of the Earth</i> (1954) <br><br> Contributed by <br> Thane Plambeck<br> <a href=''></a>

Andreas Kaufmann wrote on 2003-01-30 UTC
When I was in school, we played Marseillais Chess with the following variation: if you are given a check, you should move the King from the check and you move only once this turn. This gives attacking side a big advantage: you can move one of your pieces, then give a check - the opponent must move the King and can't do the second move. The games were very tactical, once you gain an initiative, you usually try to keep it at any cost, sacrificing pieces to get the enemy King into open space, where you can keep checking it.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-25 UTCGood ★★★★
This looks like an interesting game, but I don't wonder why no Zillions file is listed for it. This one would seem to be a difficult game to implement. The rule against checking on the first move may be difficult to implement, unless it's just impossible. I haven't analyzed the matter far enough to know whether it's possible. For each possible move, Zillions would have to check whether the enemy King would be in check. There is no query function for this, and even if there was one, it might be very costly. One might note the enemy King's location, then keep checking whether it is defended. But I'm not sure that this will work.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-25 UTC
Zillions of Games comes with a game called 'Double-Move Chess (Checkmate),' whose description says, 'Checking the opponent is only allowed on the second move.' To test whether it enforced this rule, I played both sides. After moving all four center Pawns forward, I captured the Black King with two moves from the light-squared White Bishop. The game went like this: e2-e4, d2-d4; d7-d5, e7-d5; B f1-b5, B b5-e8. Although the rule was stated in the description, the ZRF did not enforce it.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-02-26 UTC
Mike, How about creating a neutral player who only has a dummy piece. The neutral player's move would go between the two same-color moves. That should cause Zillions to evaluate check after the first move. The neutral player should not be detectable in actual play, the moves list, etc.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-26 UTC
I'm thinking the two moves should be of different move-types. The second move can first check whether the enemy King is in check. For example, preceed each move of the second move-type with (no-check?). Link all spaces on board with next direction. (define no-check? mark a1 (while (or (not-piece? King) (not-enemy?)) next) (verify not-defended) back) This searches for the enemy King's position, verifies whether its position is defended, which means the current player is threatening that space, then returns to the position of the piece moving.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-26 UTC
I just reread your message. My idea was for something you already know how to do. But the principle behind it might be re-employed for making the King move out of check on the first move. Use two move-types. On the second move-type, check whether your King is in check. Search for the King's position, then check whether its position is attacked. I think you can just replace 'not-enemy?' with 'not-friend?' and 'defended?' with 'not-attacked?'. This will allow a second move only when the King is not in check. Thus, it will have to get out of check on the first move to get out of check at all.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-26 UTC
I expect these two ideas could be combined together for greater efficiency. Search for a King. When one is found, verify that it's either an undefended enemy King or an unattacked friend King. If that verification succeeds, continue searching for the other King. Check whether it's either an undefended enemy King or an unattacked friend King. If that verification succeeds, the move can proceed. So, it works like this. A second move is allowed only if neither King is in check. So, this ends a turn when the first move is a check, and it forces a player to get out of check on the first move.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-26 UTC
I've had an additional thought on how to make a Marseillais Chess ZRF more optimized. Between each player's first and second move, have a dummy player check whether either King is in check, placing a piece on a specified location if either King is in check, and clearing the same space if no King is in check. Then on the second move, each piece just verifies that this space is empty before moving. This will eliminate a whole lot of overhead caused by multiple checks of whether any King is in check. It might also be useful to use two spaces instead of one. Checking both spaces could be done with an or. Doing this would reduce a bit of overhead. There could be two dummy players, a white dummy and a black dummy. Each could first check for a marker indicating that it's side is in check. If so, it would check whether it's still in check. If it was empty, it would not have to check whether it's in check. In either case, it would check whether it's side has placed the other side in check. Another advantage of this would be the presence of visible check indicators for each side. Zillions does not normally tell you when you're in check. This would be a nice side effect of implementing the game in this way.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-02-26 UTC
The marker could simply be the same King piece image with some kind of change, such as a red outline, or some such, illustrating that the King is under attack. Adds an element of drama to the game....

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-27 UTC
Okay, I'll see what I can do. I believe it's doable, though some things might work out differently in the details.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-28 UTC
I have completed Zillions implementation of a simplified version of Marseillais Chess, which I call Simple Marseillais Chess. Implementing the rules for en passant would have been very tricky, and there seems to be nothing I can do about getting it to accept checkmate as a goal. So I just let myself create a new version of the game, then implemented that. The simplified version is played like Chess with these differences: 1. Each Player normally has two moves per turn. 2. The second move of a turn is allowed only when no Kings are in check. 3. Although a Pawn may move twice in a turn, it may not make the two-step initial move available in Chess. 4. Pawns may not capture each other by en passant. 5. The object is to capture the enemy King. 6. 3-times repetition is a loss. 7. A player who cannot move must pass.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2003-02-28 UTC
My ZRF for Simple Marseillais Chess is now improved. I previously had it check for check with extra moves by each King. This had the disadvantage of giving the human player extra work to do on some occasions. The game would be stalled until the human clicked on the space for the check marker. Checking for check is now taken care of by a third player. But it is still done with the same moves. The third player checks for check by making moves with the Kings belonging to each side. This is done by including items in the turn-order like (bot White check-move) and (bot Black check-move). As it happens, attacked? works with the player who owns the piece, not the player who moves the piece. So when bot moves the White King, it can use attacked? to check whether the White King is attacked. And when bot moves the Black King, it can use attacked? to check whether the Black King is attacked. The advantage of doing these checks with a third player is that human players no longer have to attend to the check marker. One disadvantage, though it's questionable how much of a disadvantage this is, is that Zillions now plays a weaker game. It played an even weaker game when I used ?bot instead of bot. But this may at least give human players a better chance of appreciating the game without being quickly beaten by the computer. I hope that increasing the thinking time will provide challenging enough play. If it's just not challenging enough, one can always remove bot from the turn-order and just attend to the check marker when necessary.

Andreas Kaufmann wrote on 2003-11-07 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Can anybody create a game courier preset for Marseillais Chess (Balanced variant)? Thanks!

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-12-02 UTCGood ★★★★
This game is not so easy to play in the opening!, tactics are enterely different than in FIDE-Chess, and it is very easy lose material if you try to develop fast your pieces looking for suposed 'positional advantage' that, in the majority of the cases, it is not advantage of any class, much times you fall in exposed positions, it seems better play it in a somewhat conservative way, being very careful with the support to all your major pieces in play. If you take not care, you can be checkmated very soon. The average number of moves to finish a game can be of no more than 20 moves. this game is extremely dynamic, and it must be balanced with the usual rule: in the first move, White plays only one move. If not, White advantage is notorious in the opening. Surprisingly, e2-e4 does not seem to be the best first move in this game.

Greg Strong wrote on 2004-12-02 UTC
Let me make sure I understand the rules of this game correctly ... Since my two consecutive moves may move the same piece twice, then essentially any piece (except the pawn) can perform a rifle capture by taking the piece, and then returning to the original square... Assuming this is true, games must be pretty short since pieces will be constantly falling.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-12-02 UTCGood ★★★★
Greg, you are right, all pieces have rifle capture capabilities, but much more than this, power of pieces is not only extraordinary, it is augmented by the fact that you can move not only the same piece twice, but two consecutive moves with different pieces too. On an empty board, Queen and Rooks can reach ALL the rest of the squares (63!) from any initial position. Ends are a madness, and for this reason the games finish very soon, in very rare cases you can play a game which finishes in more than 25 moves!

Antoine Fourrière wrote on 2004-12-17 UTC
If a player advances a Pawn by two squares, then plays a piece on the intermediary square, e.g. c2-c4; N b1-c3, can/must an enemy Pawn take both the piece and the Pawn en passant, e.g. d4xc3xc3?

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-12-17 UTC
I don't know much about Marsellais, I have tried it a few times with a novice status, but I have not analyzed rare situations and fine details. I think this move can NOT be done, en passant movement is a Pawn move in which you capture an enemy Pawn moved INMEDIATELY before the en-passant capture. In your example, after the Pawn move you moved other piece in the second part of the turn. I think it is the same if you move the Pawn twice letting it in a position in which en-passant is permissed, you can't take the Pawn because the last move was not a two-steps move in the same PART of the turn, you moved one square in the second part of your turn, and this is the last move to the effects of the game. This is an interesant discussion, and it must be clarified by experienced players. If we are rigurous with the Chess rules that I suppose are translated to Marsellais, if you move a Pawn two squares and it lands in a position in which it can be captured en-passant, and after that you move other piece, this is the last move, so the Pawn can't be captured en-passant, but if you move first the other piece and after that the Pawn, it is vulnerable to en-passant capture, so order can be important to the effects of the application of this rule. Has someone an 'official' response?.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-12-17 UTC
My interpretation of the 'two moves per turn' is simple: after you move the first move of your turn, the other player is forced to 'pass', as a permissed (and obligatory) 'move' in this game, and after completing the turn with your second move, the two-moves turn is to the other player.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2004-12-17 UTC
I've understood the interpretation of en passant capture to mean the capturing player makes the en passant move 'as soon as legally available'. For example, if the initial double-step pawn move results in a discovered check, the check must be dealt with, then, on the next turn, if the player is not again in check, the pawn may be taken en passant, if that move is still available. A series of checks would 'push' the en passant capture along with it. The checks could even be ended by the double capture move originally suggested. If that move, the en passant capture ameliorating check, was available, then it would have to be taken then, or the en passant opportunity would be lost. This could theoretically occur in a FIDE game, no? Anyway, the en passant capture would then be available to the other player during his next move, which would have to be the one-move capture, and not the two-move non-capture. In which case, the situation described would be a serious blunder, or a brilliant sacrifice. This does not hold if Roberto is strictly right, and there is a voluntary pass by the opponent, for, theoretically, the opponent could have, instead, made a voluntary en passant capture between the non-capturing moves.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-12-17 UTC
No, I'm wrong about en-passant rule. It states: 'A pawn that is moved two squares in one move (half a turn) can be taken en-passant, even if the pawn moved in the first half of the turn. The en-passant taking should be done on the first move of the turn. However, when two pawns can be taken en-passant, this is allowed.' I have to see the comment that is going to be displayed in a few hours, because I'm now a bit confused with Antoine's question. Some clarifications are needed about rare cases, I expect that an experienced player can give detailed explanations about it.

Anonymous wrote on 2004-12-18 UTC
Antoine Fourrière asks: 'If a player advances a Pawn by two squares, then plays a piece on the intermediary square, e.g. c2-c4; N b1-c3, can/must an enemy Pawn take both the piece and the Pawn en passant, e.g. d4xc3xc3?'

Interesting question! I always take 'en passant' by pushing my opponent's Pawn back to the third rank and then capturing it in a normal fashion. The result is the same as if I forced my opponent to retract his two-step Pawn move and then make a different move with the same Pawn. Marseillais Chess rules lead to considerable confusion here. I would be tempted to say that Black may capture the N(c3) in Antoine's example, but may not perform an en passant capture of the P(c4). We may find out that this question has been dealt with before.

Doug Chatham wrote on 2004-12-18 UTC
On page 21 of his book Popular Chess Variants, D. B. Pritchard writes, 'The en passant rule has seen change. Modern players allow it only when the pawn advance formed the second move of a turn.'

This implies that the opponent cannot capture two men with one en passant move.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2004-12-19 UTC
Thanks to Doug, it answers Antoine's question, and it swhows that my initial interpretation was not wrong as I though: 'My interpretation of the 'two moves per turn' is simple: after you move the first move of your turn, the other player is forced to 'pass', as a permissed (and obligatory) 'move' in this game, and after completing the turn with your second move, the two-moves turn is available for the other player.'

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