Megastar of David
This game combines various strands of Jewish-themed hex variants on a large enough board to include nearly all their pieces. I would say all, but the General from Anglojewish (AJ) Chess and Flatstar is not included, as this is only a King stripped of its diagonal move on a board lacking the relevant diagonal. What it does have specifically from those variants is the Finch and Cohen. The latter also occurs in the Proto Prelates Jewish army and one version of Star of David 2 Level Chess while another piece used here, the Sling, appears in the other version. The Fortnight from the Armies of Faith 2 and Proto Prelates Jewish armies is also included, although the latter's Levite is not as it would require at least 3 levels and this variant has only 2. Other pieces are common to all the 3d variants. As several Sinojewish Chess pieces - Duchess, Cannon[ade], Unicorn, and of course its royally-restricted Grandduke - are neither Jewish-themed themselves nor common to many variants that are, I do not include such pieces. This variant can be played using the same 2 large and 2 small FIDE sets that Sling Star of David can, but with fewer pieces left over.
Inherited from Star of David is the form of the board, which is two triangular levels pointing in opposite directions, the central hexagonal areas overlapping to form a 2-level version of the AOF2 Drum. Moves switching level must occur entirely within this latter area, so that Knights and Fortnights - and by dint of where promotion happens, unpromoted Pawns - are confined to it. The two overlaid form a Star of David shape, especially if you notice the edges of one level through the other, and the David in question was of course a King, a piece available in 3d but not 2d hex variants.
In order to accommodate the wider range of pieces the triangles are enlarged compared to the original Star of David variants. This is an increase by nearly two-thirds, The smallest increase preserving both the equal sizes of the triangles and the hex-prism geometry from side 10 (55 cells each) to side 13 (91 cells each) - hence the title. Triangles of side 11 or 12 with a common centre would not line up and would give a Tetrahedral Chess geometry, which would be a greater change from the original Star of David variants than I would wish for. The hex-prism geometry could be preserved with one triangle of side 11 and one of side 12, but this would detract from the star shape. This reduces piece density to just below 50%, in contrast to the denser occupation of the 110-cell Star of David.
SetupIn the following diagrams the areas marked
indicate groups of cells only on the other level. The two triangles are put in a Glinski orientation but overlap only partly: from White's viewpoint the empty part of the upper one points left and that of the lower one right. This gives 26 files - 6 initially empty ones bordering others only horizontally, and 14 in 7 two-level filestacks with pieces at each end.
The upper level has the Kings, the Finches, and most of the non-Pawns on the equivalent of FIDE Kingside.
The lower level has the Cohens, the Fortnights, and most of the non-Pawns on the equivalent of FIDE Queenside.
PiecesPieces constant in the Occidental game, represented by themselves from the large sets:
|The KING moves one step in any of the 6 horizontal orthogonal (one column but on the same level), 2 vertical orthogonal (one level but on the same column), and 12 root-2 diagonal (one level and one column) directions. When moving diagonally it must do so between opposite corners of a vertical block of 2x2 cells, whose other 2 cells may be empty or occupied but must not be missing. It must be kept out of Check. There is 1 King aside, starting on the upper level but able to reach the lower one within the Drum.|
|The ROOK moves any distance through empty intermediate cells in any of the 6 horizontal, and 2 vertical, orthogonal directions. There are 4 Rooks aside, 2 starting on each level and able to reach the other within the Drum.|
|The KNIGHT makes 2:1 leaps, that is, between opposite corners of any vertical block of 3x2 cells whose other 4 cells may be empty or occupied but must not be missing. On this board it always moves 2 columns and 1 level within the Drum. On a hex-prism board of three or more hex boards a Knight can reach any cell in a convex area and return to a cell in an odd number of moves, but here it is bound to 1 in 4 columns and always moves from the upper to the lower level or vice versa. There are 4 Knights aside, one for each binding, 2 starting on each level and able to reach the other within the Drum.|
|The PAWN moves one step forward, which here means along its filestack to which it is bound until promotion. It moves orthogonally along the file except when capturing, which it does on the root-2 diagonal to the filestack's other file. There are 16 Pawns aside, 8 on each level.|
|The COHEN or KOHEN makes up to 4 steps along orthogonals or hex diagonals, but never both in the same move, through empty cells, turning either 60Â° left at each intermediate cell or 60Â° right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose inspiring this kind of piece, a move never mixes left and right turns either. If there are no 60Â° turns to make, in this case with a move starting with a vertical step, the move must consist of just that step. There is 1 Cohen aside, represented by small Queens, starting on the lower level but able to reach the upper one within the Drum. Its name is a rank in the historic Jewish priesthood. The former spelling is the more familar, but the latter is sometimes used for the ancient priest to distinguish from the surname widespread in modern Jewish society. For knowledge of the ancient meaning I am indebted to Leo Rosten's books on language.|
|The FINCH makes up to 4 orthogonal steps through empty cells, turning either 60Â° left at each intermediate cell or 60Â° right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose of square-cell variants, a move never mixes left and right turns. If there are no 60Â° turns to make, in this case with a move starting with a vertical step, the move must consist of just that step. There are 2 Finches aside, represented by small Rooks, starting on the upper level but able to reach the lower one within the Drum. The Finch is named in honour of Finchley, a major locality within the Barnet borough where AJ Chess is set, as well as being a bird by analogy with Rook.|
|The FORTNIGHT makes r13:1 leaps. This defintion works on both cubic and hex-prism boards, but on a cubic board the r13 coordinate is a Zebra one further expressible as 3:2, whereas here it is an Aurochs one. This means that while a cubic Fortnight can actually triangulate, a hex-prism one always switches between odd and even levels and so cannot return to a cell in an odd number of moves. Again unlike the cubic one, a hex-prism Fortnight is unbound. The cells immediately below the higher, and above the lower, ends of its move may be empty or occupied but must not be missing. On a hex-level board a Fortnight alternates between odd and even levels, in this case always moving from the upper to the lower level or vice versa. There are two Fortnight aside, represented by small Kings, both starting on the lower level but able to reach the upper within the drum. The name is after a period of two 7-day weeks (see the Jewish-specific Sennight below). Its use for root-14 leapers puns on 14 and the more familiar Knight piece.|
|The RABBI makes up to 4 steps along hex diagonals through empty cells, turning either 60Â° left at each intermediate cell or 60Â° right at each intermediate cell. As with the Rose inspiring this kind of piece, a move never mixes left and right turns. Each Rabbi is bound to a third of its level, and can reach no other level. There are 6 Rabbis aside, represented by large and small Bishops, to cover all 3 bindings on each level. The name is after the most widely-known Jewish religious title.|
|The SENNIGHT is the root-7 oblique leaper. It moves to the closest cells on the same level that cannot be reached from the same start in a single Rook or Rabbi move, and having reached such a cell goes no further. It cannot be blocked. It is bound to all of its level and like all pure-hex leapers can triangulate. There are 2 Sennights aside, reprented by small Knights, 1 for each level. The name means a seven-day week, which Jews were first to give a major religious significance. Until Christianity became the Roman Empire's official religion, ethnic Jews were the main group observing such a week in Europe. Its use for a root-7 leaper puns on the 7 and the more familiar Knight piece.|
|The SLING moves any distance straight along root-3, in this case hex, diagonals. All intermediate cells must be empty except when capturing, which requires exactly one intervening piece, which may be of either army and is not itself captured. Each Sling is bound to a third of its level, and can reach no other level. There are 6 Slings aside, represented by small Pawns, to cover all 3 bindings on each level. The name is after a weapon usually weak compared to the Arrow as that compared to the Cannon, those being its root-2 diagonal and orthogonal counterparts. I say usually as according to the Bible it proved sufficient for the David of the variant title to defeat Goliath with.|
RulesA Pawn has an optional double-step noncapturing move from its own or another Pawn's starting cell. Suitably placed enemy Pawns can immediately capture it En Passant as if it had made only the single step.
There is no Castling.
Pawns with no further move within the Drum, even if they would otherwise be able to leave it by a noncapturing move, must be promoted to any other capturable piece.
Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as in FIDE Chess.
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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2009-10-31. Web page last updated: 2016-03-15