IntroductionBishops Chess is played on a 9x9 board. The arrangement of the pieces is almost the same as in Orthodox Chess, but with 9 Pawns on the second rank instead of 8. Instead of adding one more Queen as in Ministers Chess, the Queen piece is removed and replaced with two other Bishops.
PiecesThe addition of 2 extra Bishops means that there is a pair of dark-squares and light-squares Bishops each, reminiscent of the Advisor/Elephant symmetry in Xiangqi. If they are counted as separate pieces, this gives a total of four pairs of major attacking pieces in the beginning setup of Bishops Chess (see figure). All the pieces move as in orthodox chess, except the rules on Pawn promotion, which are discussed below.
Pawn promotionA Pawn in Bishops Chess promotes on the 9th rank, one more than in orthodox chess. The Pawn becomes a Maharaja/Amazon piece upon promotion. The Maharaja has the combined moves of Rook, Bishop, and Knight (or Queen+Knight).
CastlingThe castling move in Bishops Chess is similar to those in orthodox chess - the King and Rook must not have moved, the King is not in check, and the King must not be put in check while cascading to its final position. In Bishops Chess, the King always jumps three squares to the left or right, with the Rook directly next to it, two squares from the corner. This position is exactly the same as the end result of Kingside castling in Orthodox Chess.
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NotesThis chess variant manifested out of an idea inspired by WWII Chess, pitting Shogi against Orthodox Chess. I thought there should be a symmetrical 9x9 Western/European style chess to play against Shogi in this chess variant. I came across Ministers Chess, but found that with two Queens, the Western side becomes too strong. Since the all-powerful Queen is sometimes criticised as a shortcoming of Orthodox Chess, I decided to just remove the Queen. This lead to the idea of Bishops Chess. I think the removal of the Queen and the extra move the Pawn has to make to get promoted should be compensated somehow, so the Pawn becomes Maharaja/Amazon upon promotion. (Note: Modern Chess is played on a 9x9 board, but it is not symmetrical.) You're welcome to play against Shogi with a Bishops Chess army if you want!
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By Albert Lee.
Web page created: 2017-10-03. Web page last updated: 2020-04-23