The Chess Variant Pages



This page is written by the game's inventor, Andrew L Smith.

Reservists' doublechess

Each side has two rows of pieces, instead of one. I was inspired by Capablanca Chess, which expands the game onto a larger board while introducing two new pieces. However, I do not like how Capablanca chess has almost as many Queen-strength pieces as it has minor pieces, which makes the game too tactically sharp while de-emphasising the more strategic role of the minor pieces. So, I have created this variant, which adds two new minor pieces and one new major piece to restore the distribution of material found in orthodox chess.

Equipment

This game may be played using an 8x10 board and two standard sets of chessmen, though these sets must have distinct designs (for example: a wooden set and a plastic set; or a traditionally designed set and a novelty set) The first chess set represents the orthodox chess pieces while the second set represents the new pieces.

The pieces in the second set are used to represent the following new pieces:

Setup

Pieces

Pawns

Pawn: Moves one space orthogonally forwards, but captures one space diagonally forwards. When on the first three ranks, it may also move without capturing twice, but it is susceptible to en passant if it does so.

Minor pieces

Cannon: Moves like a Rook, but captures the second piece on its path instead of the first.

Knight: Moves to the 8 closest squares which cannot be reached by the Queen in one move, like in orthodox chess. The knight moves directly to its destination without going through any of the intervening squares, so it can leap over a solid wall of pieces 1 square wide. 

Bishop: Moves any distance diagonally, like in orthodox chess.

Commoner: Moves as a King, but is not subject to check and can be captured.

5-point heavy pieces

Rook: Moves any distance orthogonally, like in orthodox chess.

Nightrider: Makes any number of consecutive Knight moves in a single direction. The Nightrider is to the Knight what the Queen is to the King. Note: although individual Knight moves cannot be blocked, the Nightrider cannot do a second Knight move if the first one would result in it landing on a piece of either colour.

9-point heavy pieces

Paladin: Moves as a Knight or a Bishop.

Marshall: Moves as a Rook or a Knight.

Queen: Moves any distance orthogonally or diagonally, like in orthodox chess.

The King

King: Moves one space orthogonally or diagonally, like in orthodox chess. Additionally, the King is subject to check.

Rules

This game follows the rules of Chess except for the following differences:

There is no castling, instead the Kings start away from the centre of the board. Note that the Kings do not start on the same file as each-other.

When a heavy piece* is captured, a pawn of the same colour as the captured piece is placed on the first empty square in the same file as the captured piece, as shown below:

after dxc5:

If the only empty square on the file is the last one, the pawn promotes immediately. In the rare case that there are no empty squares on a file, capturing a heavy piece on that file is illegal (as there is nowhere for the pawn to go)
*"Heavy piece" means Rook, Nightrider, Paladin, Marshall or Queen. The King is not a heavy piece.

Pawns on the first three ranks may make a double move. This means a pawn starting on the first rank may make two double moves. En passant works in the same way as Torpedo Chess.

Pawns may promote to any of the four minor and five heavy pieces.

When notating moves, the five new piece types use the following letters: A=Cannon, C=Commoner, I=Nightrider, P=Paladin, M=Marshall.

Notes

In total, each player has 15 pawns (of which 7 are locked behind heavy piece trades), 8 minor pieces, 4 5-point pieces, 3 9-point pieces and one King.

The rule of heavy pieces dropping pawns upon being captured is to make sure there are always enough pawns to keep the endgame interesting after the heavy pieces are traded off. These pawns are not present in the opening position, as they would cause the position to be too closed.

The extra pawns produced by captured major pieces effectively reduce the exchange value of all heavy pieces by 1 pawn. This means a 5-point piece for a minor piece and a pawn is usually a fair trade for both sides; as is a 9-point piece for two 5-point pieces.

The Paladin is about a pawn weaker than the Queen, with the Marshall's strength lying somewhere between the two other 9-point peices.

The four types of minor piece all have roughly the same value, except the bishop pair. However, the piece values vary as the game goes on. In the opening, Cannons are stronger than Knights, which are stronger than Bishops, which are stronger than Commonners. However, in the endgame, this order is reversed.

The Commoner is the only minor piece that can checkmate a bare king on its own, while the nightrider is the only heavy piece that can't. That said, there are some rare positions where King and Nightrider VS King is a win for the side with the Nightrider as the enemy King is forced to capture the Nightrider and enter a losing King and Pawn ending. One such position is shown below:

White to move. White wins by playing Kh3, forcing black to play Kxg1. This will make a new pawn on g2 which cannot be stopped.

As the opening position is three rows deep and all four of the pieces stronger than a Nightrider start on the back rank, there are no Nightrider reated opening tactics unless the opponent makes a bad pawn move.



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By Andrew L Smith.

Last revised by Andrew L Smith.


Web page created: 2021-11-27. Web page last updated: 2022-01-01