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Ministers Chess

Introduction

Ministers Chess is a commercial variant invented in 1975 by Professor Michael Corinthios and sold by Corinthian Games, a Canadian company which has since been disolved. The web site, http://corinthiangames.com was online until 2016. A snapshot of the website is available through archive.org here.

Setup

  White:
King e1; Minister d1, f1; Rook a1, i1; Knight b1, h1; Bishop c1, g1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2.

Black:
King e9; Minister d9, f9; Rook a9, i9; Knight b9, h9; Bishop c9, g9; Pawn a8, b8, c8, d8, e8, f8, g8, h8, i8.

Standard orthodox Chess is expanded to a 9-by-9 board in the variant which each side getting an extra Queen and Pawn, although in this game the Queens are referred to as Ministers. Dark squares are in the corners. The Ministers stand to either side of the King, making the board symmetrical, but resulting in all Bishops being on dark squares. Dr. Corinthios explained that "White squares are squares of peace and refuge."

Pieces

In this game, the Queen is called a Minister, and there are two of them, but otherwise all pieces are as in orthodox Chess.

Rules

Pawns: may make a double move from the second rank subject to capture En Passant. Promote on the last rank to Minister, Rook, Bishop, or Knight.

Castling: the King castles by sliding three squares in either direction, subject to the usual restrictions.

Notes

The inventor felt the game improved Chess in the following ways:

  • With Ministers guarding both sides of the King, the King's bishop-side weakness is eliminated
  • The two Bishops, being on the same square color, are able to protect each other
  • The player can line up two Bishops and two Ministers along a diagonal or two Rooks and two Ministers along a rank or file, allowing more power to be aligned than in Chess
  • The extra rank means Pawns cannot be attacked immediately after moving. Instead, a player has more room to optimize his position before attacking.
  • The two castling moves are now the same, whereas the inventor felt the Queen-side castling of Chess was inferior
  • The larger board allows more elaborate manoeuvres and sophisticated strategies, and reduces the first-move advantage of White
  • The additional power on the board increases the ability of a player to recover from a material deficit
  • The opening moves of Chess have been so throughly studied that it is desirable to change the game

Of course, these points are all debatable.

Ministers Chess was awarded a Seal of Excellence by the Quebec Consumers Association in 1990.

Purchase: The commercial set is still available for sale here.

Computer Play: Ed Friedlander has a Java applet that plays Ministers Chess here.



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Author: Greg Strong. Inventor: Michael Corinthios.
Web page created: 2019-05-23. Web page last updated: 2019-05-23