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Chess on Two Boards

Introduction

This is one game of chess, with one set of pieces, played simultaneously on two overlapping but independent chessboards, with pieces able to move freely and independently on each board.

Addendum, 2009: While this is an excellent idea in theory, unfortunately, this game is "broken". The optimism I displayed in the original notes below was unfounded, and the misgivings I expressed were not strong enough. It does not play properly; while initial playtesting showed that the game played, the current piece mix gives a really jammed up game, with too many pieces that are too weak. This game needs work. JJ 2009

Setup


The pieces are set up as shown in the above picture.
You may click on the picture to get the preset.

Boards

Concept:

The game is played on two ideal boards, one of which has been mapped onto the other for playing purposes. Both ideal boards, the Big Board and the Little Board, have 16 squares arranged in a 4x4 square pattern. All the pieces are simultaneously in 1 square on the Little Board and 1 square on the Big Board. Pieces may be in the same square on the Little Board as long as they are on different Big Board squares. Pieces may be in the same square on the Big Board as long as they are on different Little Board squares.

The Game Board

The actual gameboard played on is a mapping of the Little Board onto each square of the Big Board. It contains 256 playable squares laid out in a 16x16 pattern. This basic board is subdivided, by coloring and/or spacing, depending on preset, into a pattern of 16 Big squares in a 4x4 square - the 16 Big squares of the Big Board. Each of these 16 Big squares contains 16 Little squares in a 4x4 pattern. This gives us 16 copies of the Little Board for the pieces to play on. The 16 Little squares in each Big square are the mapping of the 4x4 Little Board onto the Big Board. This makes it obvious that all the Little Board squares are contained in each Big Board square. But it is also true that each Little square "contains" all of the Big Board, because each and every one of those 16 Little Board squares has a position on the gameboard that includes each and every Big Board square.

Movement

When a piece moves on the Little Board, it stays in the same Big Board square.
When a piece moves on the Big Board, it stays in the same Little Board square.
A piece may move only on the Big Board or only on the Little Board in one turn.
Each piece moves exactly the same way on the Big Board and on the Little Board[s].

Pieces

King - The king is the royal piece. It may move one square in any direction. It may move to any one of the (up to) 8 adjacent Little Board squares in its starting Big Board square. Or it may move to the same Little Board square in any of the (up to) 8 adjacent Big Board squares. Kings may neither move into nor be left in check. It captures by replacement.

Sliding General - This piece moves like the king, to any adjacent square, from which it may make another kinglike move. It slides 1 or 2 squares. It may not jump. It may change direction during its move. It may not make a null move [move off and then back onto its starting position]. It captures by replacement.

Guard - The guard moves one square in any direction, like the king, but is a non-royal piece. It captures by replacement.

Hero - The hero has a 2 part [step] move, a 1 square orthogonal slide [Wazir move] and a 2 square orthogonal leap [Dabbabah move], jumping anything next to it. It may use either or both parts of its move each turn. So, it may slide 1; or jump 2; or slide 1 and jump 2; or jump 2 and slide 1. This piece is a linear mover. It may not change directions during its move. If moving two steps, it must use both parts of its move; it cannot make 2 wazir or 2 dabbabah moves. It captures by replacement.

Shaman - The shaman, the diagonal counterpart of the hero, may slide 1 square and/or jump 2 squares in a diagonal line. So it may move 1, 2 or 3 squares diagonally, making its range the diagonal of a board. This piece is a colorbound linear mover. It may not change direction during its move. It captures by replacement.

War Elephant - The FAD. This piece may move like a ferz or an alfil or a dabbabah. So it slides 1 square diagonally; or jumps 2 squares either orthogonally or diagonally, leaping over anything next to it. It captures by replacement. The piece is colorbound.

Wazir - This piece steps 1 square orthogonally. While it is a replacement for the pawn, it does not promote. It captures by replacement.

Rules

White moves first and Black moves second in each turn.
Each player may move 1 piece in a turn.
A piece may move on either the Big Board Board or the Little Board, never both, during its move.
Each piece moves in exactly the same ways on the Big Board Board and the Little Board.
Capture is by replacement, with the capturing piece moving into the same square on both the Big Board and Little Boards as the captured piece, and ending its move there.
Victory is by checkmate or by baring the opponent's king without your king becoming bared on the immediately following move of the opponent, in which case it's a draw. If you stalemate your opponent, you win.

The King Hold Rule:
A king may hold the other player's king in one Big Board square. When a player moves the friendly king into the same Big Board square as the opposing player's king, the opposing player's king is "held". The opposing player's king keeps its moves on the 16 Little Board squares, but may not move out of the Big Board square both kings are in. Only the opposing player's king is held. The player who created the hold may freely move the friendly king out of the Big Board square the enemy king is held in, even to get out of check, or to give a discovered check. This breaks the hold. Otherwise, both kings stay in the same Big Board board square until one of them is checkmated. The held king only needs to be checkmated in the Big Board board square it's in, it can't leave. The holding king, to be mated, must have all its 16 possible destinations guarded also. Finally, the formerly held king may immediately follow the other king from the original Big Board board square into the Big square the other king fled into, reversing the hold.

Sibahi Variation: Abdul-Rahman Sibahi suggested adding a Little Board King Hold Rule:
A king may hold the other player's king in one Little Board square. When a player moves the friendly king into the same Little Board square as the opposing player's king, the opposing player's king is "held". The opposing player's king keeps its moves on the 16 Big Board squares, but may not move out of the Little Board square both kings are in. Only the opposing player's king is held. The player who created the hold may freely move the friendly king out of the Little Board square the enemy king is held in, even to get out of check, or to give a discovered check. This breaks the hold. Otherwise, both kings stay in the same Little Board square until one of them is checkmated. The held king only needs to be checkmated in the Little Board square it's in, it can't leave that Little square, though both kings may freely move from Big Board square to Big Board square. The holding king, to be mated, must have all its 16 possible destinations guarded also. Finally, the formerly held king may immediately follow the other king from the original Little Board gameboard square into the Little square where the other king fled, reversing the hold. This rule is normally used in addition to the original king hold rule.

Notes

I'm not entirely sure what to say about this game. It can be seen as a two-, three-, or four-dimensional game, depending on just how you want to look at it. But it's no more three-dimensional than any game played on a flat board where you pick up pieces to move them. And it's only four-dimensional in the sense that 2D + 2D = 4D. The game is *flat*. It's meant to be as easy as possible to play. No piece moves more than 2 squares; and, though most jump, there are no tricky or difficult moves to see. While it's completely playable, I consider it a work in progress because I'm not fully satisfied with it; but it is the first of several designs that has actually given what I wanted, one game played simultaneously on two totally separate boards. Special thanks to Mike Nelson, who helped test some versions that were less than satisfactory before we liked this one. And also to Jeremy Good, who made the Hyperchess preset which I ripped off for this game.

Credits:

Game design: Joe Joyce
Playtesting: Mike Nelson
Original Preset design: Jeremy Good


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By Joe Joyce.
Web page created: 2007-02-06. Web page last updated: 2007-02-06