Certain "fairy pieces" combine the moves of standard pieces. So, I thought, why not have a game where those pieces could be made by combining pieces on the board during play?
Setup is the same as for standard Chess, including using a standard 8x8 board.
However, some extra pieces should be kept on hand: two spare Queens, two Chancellors, two Archbishops, and two Amazons. (If possible, the spare Queens should be visually distinct in some way from the one that starts on the board.) These will come into play during the game.
Optionally, each player may also have one each Nightrider, Raven, Unicorn, and Centauride.
The standard Chess pieces all move as in standard Chess.
The Archbishop combines the moves of the Bishop and Knight.
The Chancellor combines the moves of the Rook and Knight.
The Amazon combines the moves of the Bishop, Rook, and Knight (or, if you prefer, the Queen and Knight).
For the most part, the standard rules of chess are in play. The exceptions:
The Bishops, Knights, and Rooks are able to Merge with each other, and subsequently Separate.
To merge, one piece "captures" the other, and the two become the piece that combines their moves. For example, one possible opening move is for a Rook to Merge with the Knight next to it, becoming a Chancellor. (Later in the game, the Knight could Merge with the Rook, with the same result.)
The other possibilities for lower-tier Merges are Rook and Bishop (or Bishop and Rook) to a new Queen, and Knight and Bishop (or Bishop and Knight) to an Archbishop.
Two compound pieces cannot Merge with each other (unless it's to form a Centauride, below). Instead, to make an Amazon, a basic piece Joins ("captures") a compound piece -- Knight to Queen, Bishop to Chancellor, or Rook to Archbishop. (The compound does not "capture" the new component.)
To Separate, a Merged piece simply sends the piece to separate away, leaving the rest behind. For example, a Chancellor can Separate the Knight component to move away, leaving the Rook behind. When the Amazon Separates, it doesn't have to release the same piece that last Merged into it; any of the three components can separate out, leaving a two-part Merge behind (but not vice versa).
Upon reaching the far row, Pawns may promote to any piece that has been captured by the opponent. If the Pawn promotes to a compound piece, then it can subsequently Separate into its components; however, it can only promote to a compound piece if that piece was captured that way. For example, if the opponent has captured both a Bishop and a Knight individually, the player cannot get both back by Promoting to an Archbishop. Similarly, if a compound piece was captured, the Pawn cannot promote to one of its components.
The Original Queen
The reason that the original Queen is to be visually distinct from those from Merging Rooks and Bishops is that the original Queen cannot Merge (with a Knight, to become an Amazon) or Separate (into Bishop and Rook). This includes a Pawn that has taken a promotion to Queen, if the only Queen available at the time of promotion is the original.
The King and Pawns
In any event (including in the various Expansions below), the King and Pawns are exempt from all Merges.
Expansion #1: Mega-Blender
For this expansion, each player also starts with four additional pieces on hand: a Nightrider, a Raven, a Unicorn, and a Centauride.
The Nightrider moves like a Knight, but can continue to move in a straight line.
The Raven combines the moves of the Rook and Nightrider.
The Unicorn combines the moves of the Bishop and Nightrider.
The Centauride (see Notes) combines the moves of the Queen and Nightrider.
In this version, a player may merge the two Knights into a Nightrider. The Nightrider can then continue to Merge: a Bishop to a Nightrider becomes a Unicorn, while a Rook to a Knightrider becomes a Raven.
A Centauride can then be formed in many ways: Rook to Unicorn, Bishop to Raven, or Knight to Amazon are unidirectional (smaller to larger only). Bidirectional Merges for this (where either can enter the other) are the Nightrider and Queen, or Archbishop and Chancellor. When Separating, the Centauride simjply does the reverse, releasing any single component or two-part compound.
Expansion #2: Blender 100
For an expanded version, the game may be played on a 10x10 chessboard, adding two more Pawns along with an "original" Archbishop next to the Queen and "original" Chancellor next to the King. These two pieces have the same restrictions as the original Queen: they cannot Merge or Separate, and are considered distinct pieces from the other two.
Expansion #3: Cuisinart
For "fairy piece superfans," the Bishop can separate into two Ferzes, the Rook into two Wazirs, and the Knight into one of each.
This can allow for some interesting transformations. For example, in four moves, a Bishop and a Rook can each separate and their parts recombine into two Knights. Similarly, in six moves, a Queen could separate into Rook and Bishop, which then separate and recombine into two Knights, which merge into a Nightrider.
Even the simple combination of two "atom pieces" can yield different results. Two Ferzes make a Bishop, but could also become an Alfil. Two Wazirs can make a Rook, but could also become a Dababa. One of each makes a Knight, but could also be a Man. And combining two of any of these makes for a "rider" version (Alfilrider, Dababarider, or Queen, respectively).
How three of those "atom pieces" work together would depend on how they're brought together. Two Ferzes and a Wazir can join together with the Wazir joining a Bishop, making a Dragon Horse; or a Ferz can join a Knight, making either a Manticore or a Zebra (player's choice). By similar principle, Two Wazirs and a Ferz can become either a Dragon King (Ferz to Rook), or a choice of Griffon or Camel (Wazir to Knight).
For this Expansion, the "Original Queen" rule is suspended; a Queen can split into Rook and Bishop, two Men, Wazir and Dragon Horse, or Ferz and Dragon King.
Things can expand from there, subject to what's available. Players can make Giraffes, Squirrels, Gnus, Centaurs, Carpenters, Canvassers, and more, including Riders for all of the above. This is, after all, for "fairy piece superfans."
Expansion #4: Cuisinart 100
This version is merely a combination of the first three.
Expansion #5: Ultimate Cuisinart
This goes yet one step further. The board is 12x12, and each player gets two Chancellors (on either side of the King and Queen) and two Archbishops (just beyond the Chancellors).
The 12 Pawns are set up on the third row. The second consists of Ferzes and Wazirs, with Wazirs directly in front of the King and Queen, alternating with Ferzes going outward.
This may, at first, simply seem tantamount to giving each player six extra Knights, but the vast possibility of combinations really makes the lineup quite unpredictable.
Have lots and lots of spare fairy pieces on hand to drop into this one!
(If you try this version, let me know how it works out. I don't want to try it myself. It frankly scares me!)
With this game, the balance of power between the two players can shift abruptly, both from Merges and from Promotions, and often in unexpected ways.
The Centauride, for example, is an incredibly powerful piece, but it comes from Merging a Rook, a Bishop, and both Knights, so those are taken off the board. While it can move to a great number of spaces and cannot be attacked by anything that it can't attack back, losing it means losing all four pieces that were used to create it. Also, if it looks like a player is working to create a Centauride, the opponent may put extra effort into preventing it.
That said, if a Pawn subsequently reaches the far row, it can Promote to that lost Centauride, with all of the moving and Separating that it can do.
In other variants, the Centauride is called an Amazonrider, Queen of the Night, or even Elephant. For varying reasons, none of those seemed right for this game, nor do any of them seem to be a "standard," so I opted for Centauride.
To explain: In the broader scope of chess pieces, female names are often given to infinite-move versions of pieces with male names. For example, where the King can only to an adjacent space, the Queen goes on indefinitely; the Princess (as another name for the Archbishop in this game) has a Bishop's move as well as a Knight's, whereas a Prince's diagonal move is limited to one space; the Empress (as another name for the Chancellor in this game) has a Rook's and Knight's move, while the Emperor's orthogonal move is limited to one space. Setting aside the fact that the Prince and Emperor are rarely seen in actual games, it seemed logical that a piece that "rides" the moves of a Centaur, which has the moves of a King and a Knight, would be a female centaur, and the word for that is Centauride (unless you're Filipino, in which case it's Anggitay).
(As an aside, another name I used briefly was Virtuoso.)
While this uses a nearly identical concept as Fusion Chess, there are a few significant differences. For example, Fusion Chess allows the King to combine with other pieces (more precisely, vice versa), and does not use the Amazon; these are, in my opinion, enough to treat this as a separate variant. In particular, extending the rules to allow the Nightrider and its relatives make this variant very different. The rules on promoting Pawns are also somewhat different. (Other differences are mostly cosmetic).
Another very similar chess variant is Fluid Chess, which offers different rules regarding castling, allows the King to merge, and has some subtle differences in how the Queen is handled. Most of these are related to a difference in how merged pieces are viewed: rather than truly merged, they're merely sharing a space, and each other's powers.
A very different fusion game is Scheherazade, which uses a 10x10 board, doesn't start with the standard pieces, and has many very unusual pieces available.
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By Bob Greenwade.
Last revised by Bob Greenwade.
Web page created: 2023-06-13. Web page last updated: 2023-08-28