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ArchCourier Chess


Hi! This is a modernized version of Courier and Courier-spiel chess. There is a good balance of pieces and enough firepower to make all stages of the game interesting w/o being too sharp.


r  h  a  b  d  q  k  s  b  c  h  r |   8
  p  p  p  p  p  p  g  p  p  p  p  p |   7  
                    p                |   6
                                     |   5
                                     |   4
                    P                |   3 
  P  P  P  P  P  P  G  P  P  P  P  P |   2
  R  H  A  B  D  Q  K  S  B  C  H  R |   1
  a  b  c  d  e  f  g  h  i  j  k  l


R = Rook   as modern
 H = Horse  as modern
 B = Bishop as modern
 Q = Queen  as modern
 K = King   as modern
 P = Pawn   as modern

 G = Guard         1 square any direction
 D = Duke          As guard or Horse
 S = Squirrel      As Horse; or leaps to the second square any direction
 A = ArchCourier   As Bishop; or 1 square horizontally or vertically
 C = Crowned Rook  As Rook; or 1 square diagonally


En Passant allowed
 Pawns promote to any lost piece
 No Castling  (if both players agree, castling may be allowed-King leaps to the Horse square and rook overleaps to the next square [C or A]. Standard castling rules would apply)


I've designed this game to be solid in the center and encourage more flank play-certainly, the initial King position is very solid, and moving him to the side (e.g. optional castling move) might not be as safe as leaving him in the center! I prefer the "no Castling" rule for that reason. However, the game is very flexible, and players might wish to experiment w/ the usual chess strategy of center advancement first, and king to the side for safety. Therefore, the optional "castling" move. However, in keeping with the Courier Chess spirit, it will be more to the player's advantage to develop first to either side (or both sides) and develop the center later in the game.

Beware advancing the i-pawns--the ArchCourier would LOVE to gobble up your Crowned Rook! I placed the Squirrel so it could recapture the ArchCourier in the event of that happening, so that the C won't be lost for nothing. I would have preferred the S to be on the other side, next to the Queen, but losing the C w/o any possibility of recapture would be, In My Opinion, a serious game flaw.

I tried the game w/ the standard Cardinal/Marshall pieces before settling on the ArchCourier/Crowned Rook pieces. The A/C combo fit the spirit and the nature of the game MUCH better, so i went with them.

I also tried the game w/o the Guard, and the g-pawns at g2 and g7. Having the Guard there in front of the king helps, as it is a handy defensive piece. it can cause much trouble when gotten into enemy territory. The Guard is also strong enough to mate a lone enemy king (K + G vs K is a win).

And of course, i tried the game in Standard Courier mode: A, G, and L pawns on the 4th and 5th rank, and the Guard on the 3rd and 6th rank. It makes for an interesting game, and might be a great variant in its own right, but I wanted to not tie player's hands too much into one idea or way of playing (same reason for the optional castling move). However, i am more than willing to give the "courier" setup playing time, if someone wants to do a preset. (hint, hint :> )

Why are the A/c on the Flanks and the D/S next to the Royal Family? I wanted all pawns covered at the Beginning-and Switching pieces would leave pawns uncovered on the Squirrel side.

These are a lot of notes! But my purpose is to give budding game designers insight into what i did, and why i did it the way i did. It took a lot of time to develop this game the way it is, and a LOT of different pieces and setups were tried before i got the right "blend" of ideas that make ArchCourier Chess a great game. I wanted the game to function in certain ways, and it took time and effort to get it right, as opposed to throwing a game together and hoping it was ok. I wanted to keep the Courier Chess "flavor" without forcing the gameplay down certain paths, and i didn't want too much "firepower" to take away the game's "charm". However, i did NOT want useless pieces (like in Courier and shatranj), and i wanted something different from the usual "expansion" games. I believe i have succeeded, and so now i leave the judgement of quality and worth to all those who play the game!

P.S. I think highly enough of this game that i considered not publishing it until an appropriate Design tournament came along, but decided to share w/ my Chess Variant Brethren now. After all, who knows what might happen tomorrow?

Special thanks to Ed for his Exotic Chess Applet-it allowed a much faster method of switching out pieces and setups than my usual method of doing it "by hand".

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By Eric V. Greenwood.
Web page created: 2006-05-05. Web page last updated: 2006-05-05