Check out Cylindrical Chess, our featured variant for March, 2023.

# Hopper-Elk Chess

This page contains one or more presets for playing a game online with Game Courier, an online server for playing Chess variants by correspondence.

The hopper move functions as follows. Any piece (not pawn) situated in front of any friendly piece (including pawns) can use the latter as a springboard for hopping over an enemy pawn standing on the same file, provided that there are no pieces in between. The piece lands immediately behind the enemy pawn. Note that the King can also make such jumps. This piece movement is logical as the pawn chain functions similarly as a palisade. How to overcome such hindrances has always been a tactical problem in wartime, and is a notorious problem in chess. This chess variant introduces a new technique of solving this problem. The hop move will often be used to create threats that must be warded off. It opens up new and interesting tactical possibilities during all phases of the game. One such possibilty is to temporarily hinder the opponent's castle. Pieces that fulfil the requirements for making a hop are referred to as "hoppers", e.g., "a knight-hopper at f3". In the endgame the King can often become very active thanks to the new hop move. It's not easy to shut the enemy King out by closing the position. Another curious detail is that the King can give check to the enemy King by long distance. But this works fine.

Here the white bishop can jump and capture
the black bishop behind the black pawn.

In Hopper-Elk Chess "Elks" take the place of the rooks. The Elk moves differently depending on the colour of the square. If positioned on a black square it moves like a Rook. If positioned on a white square it moves like a Knight. Castling is performed with an Elk instead of a Rook. The Elk's value is 4, that is, Knight + pawn, or Bishop + pawn. In regular chess the Rooks play a passive role in the first half of the game. The new Elk piece has part of the Rook's power, which can now be utilized early in the game. It is powerful enough to give mate to a lonely King.

The elk (amer. 'moose') has actually been trained for battle service, in the cavalry of Charles XII of Sweden (1682-1718). Elks are much faster and more powerful than horses. However, it proved a time-consuming and costly task to train elks so the project was abandoned. The Elk is a very interesting piece for the tactician. Positionally, too, it could be quite dangerous because one can often sacrifice an Elk for a light piece (Knight or Bishop) to achieve positional ends.

As the Elk alters between Rook moves and Knight moves the piece image in the preset will be different depending on square colour. This will make it easier. If the Elk stands on a black square, it is denoted by ER (that is, Elk-Rook). If the Elk stands on a white square, it is denoted by EN (that is, Elk-Knight). Use small characters for black.

The following preset makes a reasonably good validity check of Elk moves, etc. Moves are automated, including castling and the 'en passant' move. Pieces can be moved by pointing and clicking. When promoting a pawn, it will automatically turn into a Queen. Should you prefer another piece then you must type it manually (e.g., add N a8; capture a7). Use small piece-letters for black. E-mails to your opponent are generated, but you can play online by intermittently pressing the browser's update button. You must watch out for hopper checks because they are easy to miss for the inexperienced. For instance, in an early stage, with pawns still on e2 and e7, if white moves his bishop to e3, this means that black's king is in check.

Hopper-Elk Chess