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Fimbriation Chess


The idea of this variant arose from the shortcomings of traditional cruciform four-player variants. Some put extra strips of 8 squares around the board, preserving the FIDE camps complete with Castling, but with inordinately long Pawn treks. They are really analogues to 12- or 14-rank 2-player variants. Others reshuffle each player's pieces into either a corner or, as in my own Fivequarters and its offshoots, in square blocks surrounding another square block smaller a good deal smaler than 8x8. This keeps the Pawn trek short, but loses Castling.

The 8x8 board with an extra block on each side can indeed provide a FIDE-length Pawn trek, but achieving this requires having the camps not each on one extra block, but with the Kings actually on the corners of the "original" 8x8 board and other back-rank pieces in lines along two extra blocks per player. To further preserve FIDE asymmetry and ensure each combination of player and binding a Bishop, one Knight is moved to the intersection of the two lines of Pawns. This looks a little odd initially, but it works surprisingly well there. As the 160 cells that three-row extra blocks give the board make for a rather low piece density - another shortcoming of that board's traditional variant, I make use of the way confrontation between adjacent, rather than opposite, armies to clear out a 4x4 block in the middle. This reduces the board to four overlapping 8x5 blocks totalling 144 squares - still above the 128 that might ideally suit four FIDE armies but perhaps necessary given the narrow connections through the camps.

The name derives from the heraldic term for the use of a border of a third colour between a charge and its background, touching both. The most commonly fimbriated charge is the cross, and to my eyes the camps suggested the fimbriation around this charge. Note the difference from cotising, which is the addition of a border some distance from, and usually the same colour as, the charge.



As in FIDE Chess. "Forward" for Pawns is toward the nearest enemy camp.


The One Foot in the Grave rule applies. This means that each Knight leap, and each step of a diagonal move, must be within an 8x5 block. A multi-step diagonal can however start with steps in one such block and move with steps in another.

Pawn double-step initial moves, En Passant, and promotion are as in FIDE Chess. Promotion is required when a Pawn has moved forward six steps, whether in six actual moves or only five.

Castling always involves both King and Rook moving 2 steps. Otherwise it is as in FIDE Chess.

A player is Checkmated when their King is threatened by the player about to move. That player's King is removed and their other pieces recruited by the Checkmating player, and play continues with that player's move. The last player not Checkmated wins.

Applying this method of 4-player play to other FIDE-army games requires additional rules. Thus for Anglis Qi there are four Rivers, one in between each pair of camps. In Bishogi Pawns, and in Frontofhouse pieces in general, must not be reintroduced on the King's starting square or the diagonally adjoining Knight's one, or on or beyond those of the two adjoining players.


Games on non-FIDE boards can be Fimbriated, but in general they would use different-size cruciform boards. Fimbriated Shogi, for example, would use a 15x15 board with five 3x3 blocks missing - from the four corners and the centre, as follows:

Paradoxically a Fimbriation version of even larger Yang Qi could be accommodated, with a certain amount of closiong-up, on the same board as this page'smain variant:

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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2011-10-22. Web page last updated: 2016-03-10