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Mastodon Chess (8x10). Standard pieces plus two Mastodons per side. A strategical big-board variant.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
M Winther wrote on 2009-12-11 UTC
Mirari, the bishops would otherwise point at a very important development square of the Mastodon, namely b3/b6, h3/h6. Placing the Mastodon two squares away from the knight also makes them not compete about development squares. I think it's an ideal initial setup. The fact that the bishop points at the rook is of little consequence. The Mastodon, or the Pasha as Paulovits called it (c. 1890), is an attractive piece.

mirari wrote on 2009-12-11 UTCGood ★★★★
We played this the other day, and found it quite an enjoyable variant.  The Mastodont reminded me a lot of the Dragon from Parker's Dragon Chess - a piece that is slow to deploy, yet quite powerful in offence or defence within it's limited range.  The jumping ability of the Mastodont meant initial development was easier than for the Dragon, but being limited to two steps vis-a-vis three for the Dragon meant even more time was required to change its area of operations.  A Mastodont supported by a Queen proved a very potential attacking combination.

I do question the placement of the Knights on the inside of the Bishops - it felt as if this made development of the centre rather awkward.  It also means that the Bishops have a direct line of attack on the opposing Rooks from their starting positions - I think I would have preferred seeing the Bishops one step closer to the centre.

M Winther wrote on 2008-05-19 UTC
The bishop and knight on black's queen wing had changed place. I have fixed it now. Thanks!

Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-05-19 UTC
Why is the setup of the Knights and Bishops different from White to Black?

White has both Knights next to the King and Queen, Black doesn't.

This position is not symmetrical. 

Is there not a one sided advantage with this setup?

M Winther wrote on 2007-05-08 UTC
I have found an earlier reference to this piece in Paulovits's Game, c.1890, where it is called Pasha (cf. The Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, 2007).

M Winther wrote on 2007-04-23 UTC
To my Mastodon 10x10 I have added 'Donkeys' instead of knights, in a variant. A Donkey moves and captures like a knight but can make an additional jump move in the same direction provided that the destination square and the intermediate square are both empty. Unlike the knight it can compete with a bishop on this big board. I don't know if it's good that knights have a clearly lower value than bishops on 10x10 boards. The fact that the Donkey is equally valuable as a bishop on this board means that a bishop can be exchanged with a Donkey without loss. This is not so with knights on the board.

M Winther wrote on 2007-04-23 UTC
Earlier we had a long discussion of the Mastodon's value, but I don't remember what we concluded. Anyway, the 10x10 board changes things. The bishop is suddenly worth a pawn more than a knight and the rook is worth 6, or two knights. So the Mastodon seems to be worth 6 on all boards, but as the rook is stronger on a 10x10 board it seems equally valuable as a Mastodon on a 10x10 board. It takes four moves for the Mastodon to move across the board, while it takes only one move for the rook. With this piece I have not tested the approach of staging Mastodons against rooks, but it's a good idea. I think I'll do that.

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-04-22 UTC

[FA] + [vertical only WD] describes the Onko (Treacherous Fox), which lacks the horizontal moves of your Mastodon. The Onko comes from Wa Shogi, an ancient 11x11 shogi variant, thought to have been played without drops.

On the 10x10 board, I find a pair of Bishops more valuable than a Rook and a Pawn. A single Mastodon should fit somewhere between those two values.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-04-22 UTC
I like your 10x10 variant. It's a nice setup, and clearly provides a different game than most 10x10's. I do think you undervalue the Mastodon, though, by a fair bit. Have you run any CwDA games, with FIDE vs the FIDE army with Mastodons substituted for rooks?

M Winther wrote on 2007-04-22 UTC
My Mastodon Zillions programs are now much improved: Mastodon 8x10 and Mastodon 10x10. Also my Mammoth programs, which are drop variants, have been much improved. I say this because I am very fond of the Mastodon, the earliest appearance of which I know is Greenwood's Renniassance Chess (1980), where it is called Squire. Does anybody know of an earlier history? It is a very attractive piece with very special tactical capabilities, lethal in the king attack. It is perfect on big boards because it is equal to the rook, which simplifies matters, and which is just right strength. On an 8x8 board it is worth 6, it seems, which is rook + pawn.

M Winther wrote on 2007-04-22 UTC

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