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Ringworld Chess

Introduction

When I posted AltOrth Hex Chess Joe Joyce commented that the Fore- and Hind- prefixes reminded him of the power structures of a particular race of aliens in Larry Niven's Ringworld novels (everything in italics on this page is in the Ringworld storyline). This inspired me to consider a variant themed on that series. Well here is the result. The board is large so that I can stick a hole in it to make it a ring and still have a good geometry.

The race in question are known to humans as "Pierson's Puppeteers", because they were discovered by a man called Pierson and their eyes are in their prehensile organs (of which they have two each), which thus resemble one-eyed glove puppets. They are profoundly cowardly and so the head of their society is known as the "Hindmost" - the one notionally behind, and so defended by, all the others.

On reading another detail of their anatomy, that they move on two front legs and one back one, I was struck how all the more appropriate the theme is to directionally-specific hex pieces. By the time I felt ready to start drafting this page I had decided that "puppeteer" would be a fitting suffix (in the style of hunter and sniper) for a piece mixing one kind of move in three directions with another kind in the rest. The ones that I have selected for use here attack cells forming suitably triangular shapes.

Since posting this variant I have relised that the puppeteers are the AltOrth analogues to the back-rank pieces of Symgi. I have thereofore added notes as to what square-board piece each piece used here is the analogue of.

Setup

The following diagram shows the 198 cells of the board and the hole in the middle. In that hole I have indicated, relative to dead centre, the two groups of radial directions. As with the 3-player version of AltOrth, the directions of (for example) one player's Forerooks are those of all Forerooks.

 R i n g w o r l d . C h e s s . ___
________________________________/ . \________________________________
____________________________/ . \___/ . \____________________________
________________________/ . \___/ . \___/ . \________________________
____________________/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \____________________
________________/Dw3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Dw2\________________
____________/Rk3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Rk2\____________
________/Fr3\___/Wd3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Wd2\___/Fr2\________
____/Hr3\___/Cn3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Cn2\___/Hr2\___
/Ge3\___/Fc3\___/Tw3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Tw2\___/Fc2\___/Ge2\
\___/Hc3\___/Td3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Td2\___/Hc2\___/
/Hr3\___/Hc3\___/Wt3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Wt2\___/Hc2\___/Hr2\
\___/Fc3\___/Dt3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Dt2\___/Fc2\___/
/Fr3\___/Td3\___/Dt3\___/ . \___/ f \___/ . \___/Dt2\___/Td2\___/Fr2\
\___/Cn3\___/Wt3\___/ . \___/ . . . . . \___/ . \___/Wt2\___/Cn2\___/
/Rk3\___/Tw3\___/ . \___/ h . . . f . . . h \___/ . \___/Tw2\___/Rk2\
\___/Wd3\___/ . \___/ . \ . . h . . . h . . / . \___/ . \___/Wd2\___/
/Dw3\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . . . . * . . . . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Dw2\
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \ . . f . . . f . . / . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ f . . . h . . . f \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___. . . . . . .___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___. h .___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Dt1\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/Wt1\___/Wt1\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
____\___/ . \___/ . \___/Tw1\___/Dt1\___/Tw1\___/ . \___/ . \___/____
________\___/ . \___/Wd1\___/Td1\___/Td1\___/Wd1\___/ . \___/________
____________\___/Dw1\___/Cn1\___/Hc1\___/Cn1\___/Dw1\___/____________
________________\___/Rk1\___/Fc1\___/Fc1\___/Rk1\___/________________
____________________\___/Fr1\___/Hc1\___/Fr1\___/____________________
________________________\___/Hr1\___/Hr1\___/________________________
____________________________\___/Ge1\___/____________________________
________________________________\___/________________________________

Pieces

All pieces move along orthogonals, and never along more than one in the same move.

Xiang Qi pieces extrapolated to hex directions:
The GENERAL (Ge) moves one step along any orthogonal, like a Wazir, but unlike the latter piece and like the FIDE and Shogi King - whose AltOrth analogue it is - it must be kept out of check.
The ROOK (Rk) moves any distance through empty intermediate cells along any orthogonal. It is the Queen's AltOrth analogue.
The CANNON (Cn) moves like the Rook, except that capturing requires exactly one intervening piece, which may be of either army and is not itself captured. It is the Tank's AltOrth analogue.

Pieces first appearing in AltOrth:
The FOREROOK (Fr) moves like the Rook but only in the directions marked f. It is the AltOrth analogue to the square-board Rook.
The HINDROOK (Hr) moves like the Rook but only in the directions marked h. It is the Bishop's AltOrth analogue.

Pieces first appearing in this variant:
The FORECANNON (Fc) moves like the Cannon but only in the directions marked f. It is the AltOrth analogue to the square-board Cannon.
The HINDCANNON (Hc) moves like the Cannon but only in the directions marked h. It is the Arrow's AltOrth analogue.
The WAZIR-DABBABA PUPPETEER (Wd) moves one cell in the directions marked f or two in the directions marked h, leaping any intervening piece in the latter case. It is the Waffle's AltOrth analogue.
The WAZIR-TREBUCHET PUPPETEER (Wt) moves one cell in the directions marked f or three in the directions marked h, leaping any intervening piece in the latter case. It is the Warper's AltOrth analogue.
The DABBABA-WAZIR PUPPETEER (Dw) moves two cells in the directions marked f or one in the directions marked h, leaping any intervening piece in the former case. It is the Fezbaba's AltOrth analogue.
The DABBABA-TREBUCHET PUPPETEER (Dt) moves two cells in the directions marked f or three in the directions marked h, leaping any intervening piece in both cases. It is the Tribune's AltOrth analogue.
The TREBUCHET-WAZIR PUPPETEER (Tw) moves three cells in the directions marked f or one in the directions marked h, leaping any intervening piece in the former case. It is the Frog's AltOrth analogue.
The TREBUCHET-DABBABA PUPPETEER (Td) moves three cells in the directions marked f or two in the directions marked h, leaping any intervening piece in both cases. It is the Newt's AltOrth analogue.

Note how the Wd and Dw puppeteers' destinations suggest straight-sided triangles, those of the Wt and Tw ones concave-sided triangles, and those of the Dt and Td ones convex-sided triangles. All pieces are unbound, but the Wd and Dw have a "Switching cycle" of 3 in the same sense as their components in AltOrth with Further Piece Types do.

Rules

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

Castling involves an unmoved General and Rook of the same army moving two cells toward each other (and therefore crossing over). No part of the General's path may be threatened by either other player, although the Rook's starting cell may be.

A player is Checkmated when their General is threatened by the player about to move. The Checkmating player takes over the Checkmated one's pieces (the board being such a big one) and the remaining players then alternate moves starting with the Checkmating one.

Notes

If anyone knows a fuller list of social/occupational ranks among the Puppeteer race I would be interested to know, but I could not find one online. They might be of use as one-word shorthands for the six short-range pieces.

A 6-player version may be possible on the same board with smaller armies - perhaps armies with Wd, Dt, and Tw puppeteers alternating with armies with Wt, Dw, and Td ones. In such a variant the rule that "the directions of ... one player's Forerooks are those of all Forerooks" would apply only to alternate armies, adjacent-camp ones having opposite directions like in a 2-player variant.

The compound of a Forerook and Hindcannon would of course be a Rook-Cannon puppeteer (Rc), and so on, but I considered the components of that piece strong enough single as they are long-range.

The hex-prism geometry adds pieces whose directions are above and below the Forerook's ones, and these pieces have names such as Forebishop and Foreknight. Likewise Hindbishop and Hindknight above and below the Hindrook's directions. In this geometry the 2d Fore- and Hind- pieces can also move straight up and down. Hex-prism puppeteers include the likes of the Rook-Bishop, Rook-Knight, Knight-Bishop, Queen-Marshal, and more or less any combination of 2d symmetric-piece names. Other hex-prism pieces have directions above the Forerook's but below the Hindrook's, such as the Hemibishop which is bound to a third of the board, or abive the Hindrook's but below the Forerook's, such as the Demiknight thar shares the Hemibishop's binding. I have yet to devise a term for a compound of a Hemi- and a Demi-, but would welcome suggestions. Orthogonal pieces cannot be Hemi- or Demi-.

Square-cell boards have analogues to puppeteer pieces, moving like the piece named before the hyphen along files and that named after it along ranks. These do however have a slightly different quality as their moves are reversible and many are bound to particular ranks and/or files, and so they should perhaps have a different suffix. Any thoughts on such a name are welcome - rhombus and lenser are two possibilities, according to whether the pattern of their destinations is interpreted as a quadrilateral or a convex lens, but I would again welcome other suggestions.



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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-05-09. Web page last updated: 2014-03-05