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Marmara

Introduction

This variant has been inspired by Gary Gifford's recent Shatranj of Troy. It occurred to me that the name Troy suggests the same part of the world as does Byzantine Chess, suggesting a version of the latter replacing the Knights with Gary Gifford's Trojan Horses. I decided to also throw in simplified Turn Qi Rivers, representing the straits at either end of the Sea of Marmara.

Setup

As in Byzantine Chess, except that:
(a) the Knights are actually Trojan Horses, containing other pieces;
(b) the borders between the fourth and fifth ranks in both directions cannot be crossed by a King, or by a non-empty Trojan Horse.

Pieces

Array Pieces
Pawn PAWN: moves as in Byzantine Chess, but is promoted as in Shatranj of Troy.
Rook ROOK: The orthogonal linepiece, the same piece that has occupied corner squares throughout mainland Eurasia since Chaturanga as we know it was invented. Of course on the Byzantine board corner squares become something quite different.
Trojan Horse TROJAN HORSE: Moves like a Knight, but can leave behind one each of four non-array pieces. Cannot cross a River until it is empty, when it becomes a normal Knight. Note that it can leave behind its last piece and cross a River empty on the same move.
Elephant ELEPHANT or ALFIL: The 2:2 leaper, replaced with a stronger piece in most modern standard variants. As in Byzantine Chess they are bound to the same two 8-square zigzags for both armies so that Elephant can capture (but still not defend) Elephant. It is the reverse of Xiang Qi, whose Elephants can defend but not capture each other.
Ferz FERZ: Moves one square diagonally, and is bound to half the board.
King KING: Moves one square orthogonally or diagonally, covering every move on the 1st perimeter, and needing to be kept out of check.

Trojan Horse contents
Except for the Wazir these pieces are bound to parts of the board once they are dropped, but which parts can be determined by where they are dropped.
Bishop BISHOP: The diagonal linepiece, colourbound couterpart of the Rook. It is quite weak on this board, which limits its move to 3 diagonal steps. If it proves too weak, I may consider instead having the Billiard Bishop (bounces off the edges) or Boyscout (turns a right angle between steps).
Camel CAMEL: The 3:1 oblique leaper, the Knight's colourbound counterpart.
Dabbaba DABBABA: The 2:0 leaper, the Elephant's orthogonal counterpart.
Wazir WAZIR: Moves one square orthogonally, the Ferz' orthogonal counterpart.

Rules

There is no initial double-step move, En Passant, or Castling.

Pieces captured from the enemy are kept in hand but because of the high initial piece density (including TH contents) they cannot simply be dropped. Instead a player can optionally promote a Pawn crossing the relevant River to any piece they have in hand - including a Trojan Horse complete with whatever contents it had when captured. If the player has no pieces in hand, or simply chooses not to promote, the Pawn continues toward the enemy camp as a Pawn. If an unpromoted Pawn crosses the middle of the enemy camp the player takes that Pawn in hand and can refill one or more completely empty Trojan Horses with up to four pieces in hand of any kind - original TH contents, array pieces, Pawns, even the Pawn actually triggering the refilling!

Notes

As I stated under the Bishop, variants with a different kind of Bishop may be better, although perhaps restricting the total strength of pieces is quite enough with the standard one for a FIDE-size board.

I considered doing something with the phrases "wine-dark sea" and "Drunken Elephant" (a Shogi-variant piece), and a Camel version of the Trojan Horse based on a British beer advertisement, but decided that that made things too complicated.



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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2005-11-24. Web page last updated: 2005-11-24