EasterhouseI postponed posting this variant until now on account of its name, although the choice of that name has little to do with the season. I selected it as a pre-existing place name combining "east", as in East Asian forms of Chess, and "house", as in Bughouse. In fact the "Easter" of the place name actually means east, as in many Scottish place names - it is in the east end of Glasgow. The name is really the only connection between the place and the game, but this in itself is in keeping with Shogi-related variants: Annan Shogi has equally little to do with the river Annan in southern Scotland.
In Easterhouse, the Bughouse concept of captured pieces returning to a different board is applied to boards for two different games, and East Asian games at that. I decided that a piece changing boards would not retain its character from its original board, but become the piece with the most closely corresponding array position on the other board. This seemed sensible in order to retain the character of the game on each board (apart from adding Shogi reintroductions to the Xiang Qi board, as Bughouse does to the FIDE Chess one).
SetupOne Xiang Qi array and one Shogi one, placed side by side but not joining. You may however wish use Shogi physical pieces to represent both sets. This will ease promotion on the Shogi board of pieces starting on the Xiang Qi one, and differentiating the left and right Cannons.
PiecesPieces on the Xiang Qi board move as in Xiang Qi, and pieces on the Shogi board as in Shogi. Note that the Rook appears in both variants, but is promotable only on the Shogi board, and one board's Rook can never become the other's.
RulesTwo players play on the Xiang Qi board and two on the Shogi board. Each player is the partner of the player at the same end of the other board. Play starts with two moves, one on each board and by players from opposite teams, each of the two completing the move before their partner can reply to the other. The game then proceeds at its own pace on each board, except that a player may not make more than three moves between two successive moves by their partner.
Rules on the Xiang Qi board are those of Xiang Qi, and rules on the Shogi board those of Shogi.
I emphasise the second "on" because rules relating to returning from capture are taken from Bughouse and developed for boards with different pieces. A player capturing a piece on one board hands it to their partner, who can reintroduce it on their board, in most cases as a different type of piece. A back-rank piece becomes the back-rank piece starting on the same file on its new board - Gold becomes Ferz and vice versa, Silver becomes Elephant and vice versa, et cetera. The Cannon starting on the left from its own player's viewpoint becomes a Bishop, and the one starting on the right a (promotable) Rook, on the Shogi board. The Rook and Bishop from the Shogi board both become Cannons on the Xiang Qi one, returning to their original identities when placed back to the Shogi board. Only the Point (Pawn-Oriental) remains essentially unchanged on both boards, at least as regards their unpromoted moves.
Placing a piece from Reserve counts as a move for all purposes, including relative game speed on the two boards. Placing pieces on the Shogi board has the usual Shogi restrictions. Placing them on the Xiang Qi board must be done on the reintroducing player's side of the River, and in the case of the Ferz within the Fortress. The limit on one unpromoted Point per file is also extended to the XQ board, although both they and Elephants can be placed on even as well as odd files.
Winning can be in either of the two ways specified for Bughouse. Personally I veer toward the rule that as soon as there is a Checkmate or Stalemate on eiter board, the result of that applies to the whole game.
NotesNote that the changing nature of the pieces has an effect on decisions during play. In Bughouse, a player may have the choice of capturing a Queen or a Knight. The former will always combine the advantages of depriving their opponent of the stronger piece and giving their partner the stronger piece. Easterhouse gives a quite new choice. Xiang Qi has the strongest back-rank pieces on the four outermost files, Shogi has them on the four files nearest the middle one. Capturing the stronger of two enemy pieces could give the partner the weaker of two Reserve pieces! Subvariants of existing variants could be devised with similar properties - say a "dual-return" one in which captured Rooks return as Bishops and vice versa. As far as I know, though, only my own Bishogi has had such a subvariant specified.
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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-04-08. Web page last updated: 2007-04-08