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goChess

Introduction

"Go, morphed into chess.
Play a game of Go. As you put your stones down, mark them with either an 'X' for ferz or a '+' for wazir. A stone gets an X if it is not connected to any friendly stones when it is placed. It gets a + if it is connected to one or more friendly stones. When the Go game is over, the chess game starts. White moves one piece either along a line to the next intersection [wazir] or diagonally across a square to the opposite corner intersection [ferz]. A friendly piece may move onto and combine with another friendly piece, the knight a wazir-then-ferz mover, for example. Combos of ferzes build such things as alfils, elephants, and bishops; combos of wazirs, dabbabahs and rooks. Make a single king, then start playing chess."
- "Big Board CV's" - 2006-05-09 - CVPages Comments

Setup

Board

Click on above picture to get preset.

The board is 19x19. Unfortunately, because the Go presets don't allow the full range of pieces yet, the Go board has also morphed into a chess board. The game could be started on the 19x19 Go preset, using the king icon for a wazir and the rook icon for a ferz, as the icons look like a "+" and an "X". At the end of the pure Go segment, the resulting wazirs and ferzes could be transferred to their corresponding places on the 19x19 chess board, and the game continued from there. But, that is a lot of trouble, so...

Pieces

There are two basic pieces in the game, from which all others are built up. These two pieces are the ferz and the wazir.
A brief note on notation: In the alphabetical shorthand for piece descriptions [A = alfil; B = bishop...], I use 3 symbols to characterize the movement types of the pieces. They are the "/", "+", and "+/-". The slash [/] between 2 letters means a piece moves as either 1 or the other of the 2 pieces. The plus[+] between 2 letters means the piece may move as [either or] both of the letter-indicated pieces, in either order, but linearly. The plus/minus [+/-] indicates the piece may move as [either or] both of the letter-indicated pieces, in either order, and may change directions between the first and second steps of its move.

Piece Building Blocks

  • Ferz - Moves 1 square in any diagonal direction, is colorbound, and captures by replacement.
  • Wazir - Moves 1 square in any orthogonal direction, alternates colors, and captures by replacement.

    Piece Listing

  • F+F - Alfil
  • 3F - modern Elephant [A/F] or 3-square Bishop
  • 4F - Shaman [A+F] or FIDE Bishop
  • 5F - bent Shaman [A+/-F] or Oliphant [A/F+A/F]
  • 6F - Twisted knight [A/F+/-A/F]
  • 2W - Dabbabah
  • 3W - modern Dabbabah/Warmachine [D/W] or 3-square Rook
  • 4W - Hero [D+W] or FIDE Rook
  • 5W - bent Hero [D+/-W] or Lightningwarmachine [D/W+D/W]
  • 6W - Flexible knight [D/W+/-D/W]
  • W+F - Pawn or Horse [forward N]
  • 2W+F - lame knight moving as wazir first, then ferz
  • W+2F - lame knight moving first as ferz then as wazir
  • 2W+2F - FIDE kNight or Guard
  • 2W+3F - Archbishop [B/N] or High priestess [F/A/N] or War Elephant [F/A/D]
  • 3W+2F - Minister [D/N/W] or Chancellor [R/N]
  • 3W+3F - Queen [B/R] or Jumping General [D/W/A/F]
  • 4W+4F - King or Amazon [Q/N]
  • 5W+4F or 4W+5F - Double-Jumping/Parallel General [D/W/A/F+D/W/A/F]
  • 5W+5F - Zigzag General [D/W/A/F+/-D/W/A/F]

Piece Descriptions


Alfil - The alfil moves in a two-square diagonal jump, leaping over any intervening piece. This piece can only reach one-eighth of the board.
modern Elephant - The Elephant moves as either an alfil or a ferz.
3-square bishop - This piece moves as a FIDE bishop, but only up to 3 squares.
Shaman - It may move either 1 or 2 steps each turn. If moving two steps, it uses both parts of its move. The two parts of its move are a 1 square diagonal slide and a 2 square diagonal leap. When activated, 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.
FIDE bishop - This bishop is the standard orthochess bishop, moving any number of empty squares diagonally.
bent Shaman - This piece is a combination of alfil and ferz. It may step 1 square diagonally and/or jump 2 squares diagonally, for a maximum of 3 squares moved per turn. It may: step 1 square; or jump 2 squares; or step 1 and jump 2 squares; or jump 2 squares then step 1 more square, always diagonally. It may change direction during its move. It captures by landing directly on an opposing piece and ending its turn. This is a colorbound piece.
Oliphant - The Oliphant is a double elephantrider, moving twice as an alfil or ferz. It slides 1 or jumps 2 squares diagonally, and then may do either again. Thus it may move 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares. It must move in a straight line.
Twisted kNight - The Twisted kNight is a bent 2-step elephantrider, moving twice as an alfil or ferz. It slides 1 or jumps 2 squares diagonally, and then may do either again. It moves 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares in a turn. It may change directions between steps. Null moves are not allowed.
Dabbabah - The Dabbabah leaps 2 squares orthogonally, jumping over any piece that may be on the first square
modern Dabbabah/Warmachine - This piece combines the moves of the historic dabbabah and wazir. It may step one square or leap two squares orthogonally. When leaping, it may jump over any piece on the first square.
3-square Rook - This piece moves as a FIDE rook, but only up to 3 squares.
Hero - It may move either 1 or 2 steps each turn. If moving two steps, it uses both parts of its move. The two parts of its move are a 1 square orthogonal slide and a 2 square orthogonal leap. When activated, 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.
FIDE Rook - The rook is the standard orthochess rook, moving any number of empty squares orthogonally.
bent Hero - This piece is a combination of dabbabah and wazir. It steps 1 square orthogonally and or jumps 2 squares orthogonally, for a maximum of 3 squares per turn. It may: step 1 square; or jump 2 squares; or step 1 and jump 2 squares; or jump 2 squares then step 1 more square, always orthogonally. It may change direction during its move. It captures by landing directly on an opposing piece and ending its turn.
Lightningwarmachine - The Lightningwarmachine is a double dababbarider, moving twice as a dabbabah or wazir. It slides 1 or jumps 2 squares orthogonally, then may do either again. It moves 1, 2, 3 or 4 squares. It must move in a straight line.
Flexible knight - This piece is a bent, two-step, modern dabbabahrider. It may step one square, or leap 2 squares orthogonally, jumping over any piece on the first square, and then it may make either move again. It may change direction during its move.
Pawn - This is the standard Shatranj pawn, moving 1 square orthogonally forward and capturing 1 square diagonally forward.
Horse [forward narrow knight] - This piece is a limited knight, able to move to [at most] two squares. It must move in a forward direction only. It moves one square orthogonally forward, then one square diagonally forward. This is the piece used in shogi.
lame kNight [W,F] - This is a non-jumping knight. It moves first as a wazir to an empty square, then diagonally outward 1 square, where it may capture.
lame kNight [F,W] - This is a non-jumping knight. It moves first as a ferz to an empty square, then orthogonally outward 1 square, where it may capture.

FIDE kNight - The knight is the standard orthochess knight. It moves one square orthogonally, then one more square diagonally outwards. It jumps any and all pieces between its starting and ending squares. [Note that this knight move may also be considered as a one square diagonal move, followed by moving one square orthogonally outward.]
Guard - This is a non-royal king, or man. It moves 1 square in any direction.
Archbishop - The Archbishop may move like an orthodox chess Bishop, or like an orthodox chess Knight.
High Priestess - The High priestess moves like the knight, alfil, or ferz. It slides 1 or jumps 2 squares diagonally, or jumps in the standard knight's "L".
War elephant - This is a combination of ferz, alfil, and dabbabah. It may move 1 square diagonally; or jump 2 squares either orthogonally or diagonally. It captures by landing directly on an opposing piece and ending its turn. This is a colorbound piece.
Minister - The Minister moves like the knight, dababbah, or wazir. It slides 1 or jumps 2 squares orthogonally, or jumps in the standard knight's "L".
Chancellor - The Chancellor may move like a orthodox chess rook, or like a orthodox chess knight.
Queen - This is the standard modern chess queen, sliding any number of squares in an orthogonal or diagonal direction.
Jumping General - This piece may step 1 square or leap 2 squares, in any [orthogonal or diagonal] direction. It may jumpover any adjacent piece.
King - The king is the standard royal piece, moving 1 square to any of the adjacent 8 squares. Checkmating the opponent's king is the goal of the game. A king may neither move into nor remain in check.
Amazon - The Amazon is a compound piece that can moves as a Knight, Rook, or Bishop.
Parallel General - The Parallel general is a linear 2-step rider, moving twice as the jumping general. It may move 1 square or leap 2 squares orthogonally or diagonally, then may do any of the 4 possible move types again. Thus it may move 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares in a turn. It may not change directions between its first and second step
Zigzag General - The Zigzag general is a bent 2-step rider, moving twice as the jumping general. It may move 1 square or leap 2 squares orthogonally or diagonally, then may do any of the 4 possible move types again. Thus it may move 1, 2, 3, or 4 squares in a turn. It may change directions between its first and second step. Null moves are not allowed.

Rules

The game is played in 3 phases: the Go, or Drop Phase; the Combination Phase; and the Movement, or Chess Phase. These phases may be kept rigorously separate, merge gradually from one phase to the next, or take place all at the same time. Options will be given.

Drop Phase:

Free Drop

Stones are dropped 1 at a time alternately by the 2 players anywhere on the board - playing standard Go rules; or

Restricted Drop

Stones are dropped in pairs by each player in turn - one stone *must* be dropped in "Home Territory": within 5 spaces of "your" edge of the board; and the other may be dropped anywhere. This speeds the game and balances Go skills. A further restriction would prevent the placement of stones in the opponent's home territory.

Marking the Stones

As you put your stones down [on the Go board], mark them with either an 'X' for ferz or a '+' for wazir. A stone gets an X if it is not connected to any friendly stones when it is placed. It gets a + if it is connected to one or more friendly stones. When you use the preset, place a ferz on the 19x19 chessboard if it will be placed so that no friendly [? maybe enemy, too, at players option] stones are orthogonally adjacent to it; ie: a wazir's move away. If there is a friendly stone orthogonally adjacent to the square of placement, a wazir is placed.

End of Drop Phase

The drop phase ends in one of two ways: after an agreed number of turns has passed, or after an agreed number of stones has been dropped. A reasonable number for a first game would seem to be about 120.

Combination Phase:

Normally this would occur between the Go and Chess phases, but it could merge with one or both. One good variation alows combinations throughout the Chess phase. [Another allows both fission and fusion of pieces, either only during the Combination Phase, or also in the Chess phase.] The duration of this phase is problematical; you'd probably want around 50% more turns here than in the drop phase, to allow for pieces to stack together.
The very first piece that is made must be the king. Only 1 king can be made per side. Once the king is made, it [and the wazirs and ferzes that make it up] may no longer participate in the combination phase. This should include acting as a catalyst.

Mechanics of Combination

There are 2 obvious, simple ways to build chess pieces. Either stack all the "atoms" [wazirs and/or ferzes] in the same spot, in which spot the combo piece appears. Or allow the atoms to combine when all of them are touching and form a chain that includes all the atoms to be combined. This, call it "adjacency", is easier and speeds the game up. The combo piece would appear on any one of the squares the atoms occupied when they joined. Use of adjacency will drastically reduce the time required for the combo phase.
Fusion: The process by which pieces are built up from smaller, weaker pieces. There are 3 types of fusion: combinations of 2 or more individual wazirs and/or ferzes; combinations of 1 or more wazir and or ferz with an already-built combo piece; combinations of 2 pieces. The second and 3rd cases may result in fission.
Players may restrict the kinds and numbers of pieces that are built by prior agreement.
Fission: The breakdown of one piece into 2 or more smaller pieces. Fission may be: freely allowed; allowed with 1 or more restrictions; or disallowed completely.
Restrictions on fission: Two pieces may join even if they don't exactly form 1 more powerful piece. They must, however, form exactly 2 pieces. Or more than 2 pieces may join to form more than 2 resulting pieces. In this case, a piece between other pieces that connects them may be used as a "catalyst' to form new pieces without itself being changed. Or you can form a piece and just let it spit out individual wazirs and ferzes that are extra. Finally, you may or may not allow a large piece to break down into 2 or more smaller pieces.

Other Considerations

It's probable that Ws and Fs shouldn't be allowed in the chess game. That'll force a reduction in pieces; otherwise, a player may just make a king and have a hundred Ws & Fs to swarm over the opponent. [That's not as satisfying as the complete morph to chess.] Possibly, requiring certain [types or levels/"sizes" of] pieces to be built before others can be built is a good idea, but it's a bit early to tell. [The game needs to be played to get this kind of information.]

Movement Phase

Once pieces are formed, the chess game may begin. Standard chess rules would apply, although some things, like castling or specific pawn movement rules, may either not be used or be modified to reflect the somewhat unusual nature of the game. For example, pawns may get a 3-step move or several 2-step ones, or there may be no pawns built in the game. Pawns within the 1st 5 rows may get extra steps, but pawns built in row 6 or out farther may not.
One suggested restriction on pawn promotion: a pawn may not promote to any piece that was not present in that pawn's army at the beginning of the chess [movement] phase.

Notes

The [original] rules discuss a problem with the Ws and Fs being used exclusively, no other chesspieces built except for the mandatory king, to swarm the opponent. While both sides may use this tactic, it doesn't really give the feel of chess. A simple and effective counter to this tactic is to make the W and F non-capturing pieces.
However, one may, depending on the rules the players are using, make the W's and F's not non-capturing, but merely non-aggressive. A wazir or ferz in a position to immediately re-take an enemy piece that has just taken a friendly wazir or ferz, only, may do so. If the piece is not re-taken immediately, the option is lost.

This game arose from a discussion with Gary Gifford on the nature of chess and chess pieces. It's my contribution to the discussion, and another of my design attempts that ended in a game system rather than a discrete game.
Should anyone be interested in making suggestions for pieces, or commenting on what's already been done, please feel free. My complete lack of background prevents me from adapting this to shogi, for example, but I don't see why a shogi version wouldn't work well. Anyone interested in doing a shogi piece build chart? [Was that too obvious?]
It is very tempting to play all 3 phases at once in this game, but I suspect that, certainly for inexperienced players, the game would seem too chaotic to be actually playable. I would encourage first-timers to keep the phases well-seperated.
There are a lot of things in this game that are still fuzzy, and a lot of things to discover. It needs playtesting; the first, very limited playtest showed the need for the "Home Territory" rules, as it never got past the Go stage, where 1 player got wiped out. Now, while it's perfectly valid for 1 player to lose in the opening, I find it pushing the situation when the player loses during setup, basically. So, the double drop and home rules. I've also been speculating about range 9 bishops and rooks, which would be medium-range pieces on this board. They'd be easy to incorporate: make the 4-atom bishop or rook be the 9-square one, and require a 5-atom piece for the unlimited-range pieces.
Questions, comments, suggestions and criticisms are welcomed. Enjoy!



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By Joe Joyce.
Web page created: 2007-02-22. Web page last updated: 2007-02-22