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The Chess Variant Pages

Crooked Chess

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All the St- pieces in this game were inspired by Carlos Cetina's Sissa.

Lately, I've been thinking about the Crooked Rook (girlscout) and the Crooked Bishop (boyscout). The so-called Crooked Bishop moves much like a rook in its orthogonal trajectory and might very well be thought of as a Crooked Rook were it not for its colorboundness. Meanwhile the Crooked Rook is like a sluggish but very powerful version of what one might think a Crooked Bishop would move like. Indeed, the "Super-Bishop" Harvester piece from Ralph Betza's Tripunch covers the exact same squares the Crooked Rook does! In trying to create something more like my mind's eye's version of a Crooked Bishop, I stumbled on a Lame Alfil rider that moves over one alfil square after every TWO moves. Then I thought it would be fun if the piece could be slightly more flexible and move first either as Alfil or Ferz and then continue in the same way EACH was initialized. Lately, I've been playing around with Joe's Strange Notation and Joe Joyce's iconography and I'm not sure I've adequately represented it with the two parallel prongs on the back. Nor am I sure how to describe this piece using Joe's iconography. I've created a piece that is somewhere in between the AND linear and the AND two step linear and tried to apply it to an infinite slider. To create a slightly more rigid (less flexible) piece and accompanying icon would be difficult and I may have to revamp what I've done at some point.

Meanwhile, in Carlos Cetina's Mutatis Mutandis, he has created a piece that changes from Crooked Rook to Crooked Bishop every time it moves. Even though the Crooked Bishop encompasses less domain, it has greater forward mobility. So the Crooked Rook turns into a more powerful piece by having a weaker changeling component. For my updated version of Crooked Chess, I was going to match the Hornet from Jörg Knappen's Seenschach with the Reaper from Ralph Betza's Tripunch because they overlook the same domain (can potentially get to all the same places). But the Reaper isn't thematic here, has little crookedness to its overall movement. So instead Dr. Frankenstein was called in to combine the Crooked Rook with the Crooked Bishop to create a new compound girlscout/boyscout piece.

A while ago, I was a bit confounded by the fact that a berolina pawn has more mobility than its "FIDE Pawn" counterpart and created piece icons for left- and right-leaning berolina pawns that could only non-capturingly move in one direction. But I didn't think they were very practical and I'm not sure I've ever used them until now. Making them changeling pieces solves the impracticality and makes them perfect for the crooked theme here. Now the right-leaning berolinas turn into left-leaning berolinas and vice versa every time they move. If they capture, then naturally, they will be taken off their initial trajectories.


8 squares long, 15 squares wide, with 15 pawns on the second row and a back rank filled with crooked pieces.

See "Pieces" section for specifics.

The setup was designed with an eye towards both playability (with pieces like the hornet that seemed to belong in the center and others, like the North American Elephant, that seemed to belong in the wings) and didacticism (there are new pieces needing to be explained).


Pawns are left leaning alternated by right-leaning berolina pawns but with one full-fledged Berolina Pawn in the middle.

If the Berolina Pawn should ever get to the eighth rank, it can become a royal piece, which in this game is a non-capturing sliding guard.

Each time one of these right-or left-leaning pawns moves, it turns into its opposite, i.e., right-leaning berolinas turn into left-leaning berolinas and vice versa.

In other words, these pawns are changeling pieces; they change every time they move, including when they capture.

It is possible, therefore that when a pawn captures on the edge, it might seem to get stuck there since a left leaning berolina pawn on the left edge of the board would become a dummy piece.

I can't do that to these lopsided pawns. Therefore, any berolina pawn stuck on the left or right side of the board will be able to make a cylindrical movement on to the other side of the board to continue its journey.

All pawns capture the same way a normal Berolina pawn does, one orthogonally forward.

Again, the normal Berolina pawn (a "pawn of pawns" as it were) can promote to a royal sliding guard. All other pawns reaching the eighth rank may promote to which any other starting piece from Crooked Chess other than the royal one.

On a1/a8


1. Is this game playable?

2. Is it fun (pleasurable? enjoyable? interesting?)

3. Does it contain variant novelty?

4. Does it please, aesthetically?

These are at least five of my evolving criteria for "chess variants worth posting."

These 4 questions are my main criteria I can't answer questions one or two but definitely I can say yes to 3 (with this game I introduce no fewer than 9 "new" pieces).

And I can say yes to 4 (4 is partly subjective - not everyone will be pleased with the look of this game).

In the past, I have published a number of games on chess variants in the past without testing them or deriving any pleasure from them and this one is no exception. I've tried to make it fun and playable, but I'm not sure if it will be...

Even some variants I've posted and then play quite a bit and found fun to play, I'm not convinced are more than gimmicky and will last much longer meeting the first two criteria. Two Queen Rocky Horror Lycanthropic Chess (2QRHLC) may fall in this category. It evolved from three other games which were fun at first but turned out later to be merely gimmicky and probably have simple solutions (Mamra Chess, Wuss Chess and Mamra Chess with Wuss). On the upside, however, 2QRHLC continues to evolve into even more fun versions (like 2QRHLC - Cetina Variation and the yet unpublished, tentatively titled "Monsters Panorama").

Perhaps Crooked Chess too will continue to evolve or branch off into other versions more fun to play. Maybe the Mad Hornet piece, combining Girlscout with Hornet will make it into one of these newer versions.

Given my new, "more conservative" approach to publishing games (with some restraint, I have yet to publish a new game since coming back to Chess Variants in 2014), how do I justify publishing this one?

Because I'm not publishing it. I'm merely updating a variant I already submitted. Besides, the discussion above, of 2QRHLC, suggests that gimmick games may be legitimate ways of introducing new pieces, leading to games that are progressively more interesting to play. This is something I'm doing with Cupid Chess (which was never meant to be published) and it's a process I will continue to do with regard to at least some of my older, published games.

In the course of updating this game, I have replaced some of the pieces with newly invented ones and at least slightly re-named all but the Mare Unicorn, Stag Unicorn and Sissa. A couple of pieces that were in the original but are missing from this one are: then-called "S-Knight" (moorider = maorider + moarider) and "S-Amazon" (moorider + St-Queen). I was never pleased with these pieces and their presence may have prevented me from being motivated to play this game in the past.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Jeremy Gabriel Good.
Web page created: 2009-07-29. Web page last updated: 2009-07-29