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This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.

3 Strikes Chess

The idea behind this variant came about when I was wondering how to dampen down the strength of, of all pieces, the Rabbit, although the variant did not ultimately use that piece. It occurred to me (for reasons relating to its name) that a Rabbit might be more manageable in a variant where it took two attacks to remove an enemy piece from the board but other pieces only one. Then I wondered about a variant in which pieces generally take more than one attack to be removed from the board. The generalisation evolved to take three stages rather than two, inspired by the slogan "three strikes and you're out" as well as by video games in which the player gets three lives. I further imagined that each piece should have its movement reduced by each strike on it.

One question requiring an answer from the initial Rabbit idea was what form attacks - the term for generalisations of capture that I use in Blunderbuss Chess - were to take. Displacement was not entirely satisfactory, at least in its basic form. I considered three possible methods: Rifle (enemy removed as if by displacement but with attacker not moving), Overtaking (attacker goes to enemy cell and then makes further move in same direction), and Escapable Displacement (attacker moves to enemy cell, enemy either makes own move injured immediately or dies). Ultimately I ruled out Overtaking, as I could not find a satisfactory rule for captures by both uninjured and injured Knights. That left Rifle and Escapable Displacement.


As in FIDE Chess


All pieces start uninjured, moving as in FIDE Chess.

Attacking an uninjured piece makes it once-injured. Once-injured linepieces can move only 4 steps. Once-injured Knights move as a MOO, that is, the compound of the Mao and Moa. In other words they make one step either orthogonally or diagonally, turns through 45?, and make the other kind of step. This can also be expressed as moving as a DOUBLE RHINO restricted to exactly two steps. Moves by once-injured Kings and Pawns (until promotion) are unaffected.

Attacking a once-injured piece makes it twice-injured. Twice-injured linepieces can move only 2 steps. Twice-injured Knights move as a GIRLSCOUT restricted to exactly three steps. In other words both pass-through squares must be vacant. Moves by twice-injured Kings and Pawns (until promotion) are unaffected, but twice-injured Kings must avoid Check.

When a twice-injured piece is attacked it is captured in the normal way.


Initial double-step Pawn moves are as in FIDE Chess.

Pieces attack an enemy that is their FIDE capturing move away (one step diagonally forward if the attacker is a Pawn), and Pawns can attack enemy Pawns En Passant. In Rifle 3 Strikes Chess they do not themselves move, but in ED 3 Strikes Chess, where they move as usual, the attacked piece, if not a Pawn being attacked En Passant, must immediately move to an unoccupied square or it is captured in one go. That move is in place of another piece moving, not as well.

A Pawn reaching the far rank must be either promoted or removed. Promotion is to an equally-injured Queen, Rook, Bishop, or Knight. If a Pawn is removed its allies recover to a degree depending on its injuries. Removing a twice-injured Pawn reduces one injured ally's injuries by one. Removing a once-injured Pawn can reduce those of one (necessarily twice-injured) by two or two by one each. Removing an uninjured Pawn can reduce those of one by one and another (necessarily twice-injured) by two, or three by one each.

Castling differs from FIDE Chess in that only if the King is twice-injured is there a total ban on any of its path being in Check - although in ED 3 Strikes Chess an injured King must have moved and therefore cannot Castle at all. Otherwise if a King Castles out of or through Check, the Checking piece may attack the King En Passant and increase its injuries by one.

If a player can make a move not exposing their King to attack (including by Castling), they must make such a move. Otherwise of course they must end the move with the King threatened. If a player starts a move with an uninjured or once-injured King not threatened but ends it with the King threatened, an immediate attack on that King increases both Kings' injuries by one, and is not allowed if the attacker's King is twice-injured - the partial-attack equivalent of Stalemate.

Usual Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate rules apply to twice-injured Kings.


Each uninjured piece can be represented by a FIDE piece stacked on two Draughts piecs, with one of the latter removed to mark each stage of injury.

How could the 3 Strikes principles be extended to a wider range of variants? Dealing first with boards having a different number of ranks and/or files I would suggest restricting the once-injured Rook to half, and the twice-injured one to a quarter, the number of ranks rounded up when moving forward or backward, and of files when moving sideways. The Bishop would move the same fraction of whichever are fewer. The Queen would of course be the compound of the two. For a variant with Camels, these could leap two squares orthogonally and then step one diagonally, or vice versa, when once-injured and move like a Boyscout restricted to exactly three steps when twice-injured. A Dabbaba could be restricted to reaching its destination as a Rook or Boyscout restricted to exactly two steps when once-injured and just the Rook so restricted when once injured, likewise the Elephant as a Bishop or Dabbadueller so restricted. The Marshal, Cardinal, Ace, Canvasser, Caliph, Alibaba, and many other such compounds would clearly combine their components in the relevant form. The Trebuchet, Tripper, and Trilby could leap either intervening square but not both when once-injured, or have to step through both when twice-injured. Cannons, Arrows, and Tanks would be restricted to the same ranges as their non-Hopping counterparts. Nightriders could be restricted to moves neither of whose coordinates exceeded the range of equally-injured radial linepieces, and Roses to first four and then two leaps. In 3d, 2d pieces would be treated as if the plane in which they were moving were a 2d board, while once-injured Unicorns would move half, and twice-injured ones a quarter, of the board's shortest dimension rounded up. Duchesses, Governors, and Empresses would folow suit in the obvious way.

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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2008-02-17. Web page last updated: 2018-07-22