The Chess Variant Pages



This page is written by the game's inventor, Glenn Nicholls.

Springboard

                                                                                               

                                                                                                       The Current Spring pertains to Steps along the way of Chess

                                                                                                              The Preceding Spring pertains to Tiger's-eye Games

 

 

Current Spring: 

A convening of Steps from web page Stepping-stones Chess

 

 

Boardroom

                                                                                                                              A Springboard to Games on Merridonia

 

                                                                                                                                                                   Agenda

                                                                                                                                              The Steps Handicap System

                                                                                                                                                  Prepared by SAE Nicholls

 

Items:

Prelim

Games List

Table

Ratings, Handicaps, Games, Piece values

Games Skyline

A Run-through of Templates

The Storm Force Handicap

Western chess and LancerChess

Storm Force 8x8 with Western chess & LancerChess templates

The Cannon-fire Handicap

Chinese (Eastern) chess and RiverQi - Soldier variation

The Plateau Handicap

Plateau - Chinese variation

The Storm Variations

Western storm & LancerStorm

Storm Force 8x8 with Western storm & LancerStorm templates

Eastern storm and RiverQi - Hawk variation

Plateau – Korean variation

Ratings-only Games

League & Tournament Formats

Further Notes

 

The Boardroom of Merridonia

 

 

Prelim:

Storm Force 8x8 games would seem to be well suited to be included in a wider handicapped chess system (with perhaps a handicapped group TBD – but more likely and definitely possible is a Handicapped League, also possible is a Level League and Handicapped and Level Knockout Tournaments) where more experienced and stronger players with higher ratings would be handicapped to spend less or commence with less pieces, and also included in the system would be the handicapping method described earlier in Cannon-fire for Plateau where the handicap is in placement and not material value – see QiPlacements in A Chess Set for a description of Plateau and its handicapping

The system then currently includes the standard games of Western chess, LancerChess and the said Storm Force on 8x8 boards (the Storm level is from Force 5 to Force 10, but see the earlier note regarding the possible immediate Checkmating abilities of the Forest prince*1) but the system may eventually be adapted to related games on 10x8 and 10x10 boards TBD - to these are added the standard games of Chinese chess, RiverQi and the aforementioned Plateau, and then to these standard games there are further added variations of them that are considered beneficial including games considered suitable as ratings-only games (these may feature considerably in determining ratings)*2

Players are registered and issued with a membership number (membership is free and open to all Persons of Merridonia and would include eligibility for the above mentioned leagues and tournaments – note that official Steps games require players to be registered) and given handicaps based on their ELO Rating*3 where each unit for handicap purposes is the value of a Western chess Pawn (Pikeman or Forester)

Ratings would be based only on games played level, i.e. without handicaps or differences due to these and where games commence with their standard complement and usual deployment of pieces or, where appropriate, of equal valued pieces

The Two Towers, described earlier and later mentioned here, would also feature but only for ratings purposes (where templates are played level), as would QiPlacements (where placements are played level)

Players would be required to play an adequate number and mix of games eligible for ratings

There is much incentive for players to improve their ratings even though their handicap would reduce since the higher the rating the more lucrative are the opportunities, and only players with the highest of ratings are eligible to enter the most lucrative tournaments and matches or group play etc.

The player with the lower handicap would usually play south and so move first - for games with the same handicaps or without them the usual Steps methods are used to decide this e.g. roll of dice or coin etc.

*1The idea in the further asterisked note to this would be taken up (subject to testing TBD)

*2This seems a suitable set of games to include in the system and to base players ratings and therefore handicaps on – Western chess and Chinese chess are currently by far the most widely played games of Chess, and the Steps games here are much based on them…..the idea then is for players to play and to have their ELO ratings based on the most widely played of Chess games together with some Steps Chess games and variations based on these but that test for players chess abilities in situations that may not feature much, if at all, in the basic games of Western and Chinese chess – then from this inclusive rating to issue three handicaps: a Storm Force Handicap for application in games of and games based on Western chess, a Cannon-fire Handicap for application in games of and games based on Chinese chess and in addition a Plateau Handicap for application in variations of games of Plateau

*3 For Western chess the highest title a player can achieve other than World Champion is that of a Grandmaster who has an ELO rating of 2500 upwards, and so a Storm Force handicap of 0 would be issued for players of this level and as each handicap band would cover a span of ELO 200 so a handicap of 0 would be for players of ELO 2401–2600 and handicaps would extend downwards to +12 for players with ELO 1-200 (Grandmasters were once beginners)…..players of ELO 2601–2800 would therefore have a minus handicap of -1 (Steps recognises the highest achieved player ratings as being around ELO 2750 and so a minus handicap of -2 is still awaited)…..Cannon-fire handicaps are derived as equivalents of Storm Force handicaps as, in broad terms, are Plateau handicaps – there is of course some amount of subjectivity involved in this

 

 

 

Games List:

The Steps Handicap System currently consists of the following games – the order does not indicate any form of precedence

 

Standard games

Western chess

LancerChess

Storm Force 8x8 – Western chess template

Storm Force 8x8 – LancerChess template

Chinese (Eastern) chess

RiverQi – Soldier variation

Plateau – Chinese variation

(English Draughts)

 

Storm variations

Western storm

LancerStorm

Storm Force 8x8 – Western storm template

Storm Force 8x8 – LancerStorm template

Eastern storm*

RiverQi – Hawk variation

Plateau – Korean variation

(Royal Draughts)

 

Ratings-only games

The Two Towers – Western chess template

The Two Towers – LancerChess template

The Two Towers – Western storm template

The Two Towers – LancerStorm template

QiPlacements – Accelerated placement*

QiPlacements – Encounter placement

(Sovereign)

 

*It might be more appropriate for these two games to change places - in this case Eastern storm would have an alternative name (perhaps Eastern clearway or QiPlacements – Clearway placement), TBD

 

Notes

All Steps games are part of the Boardroom’s considerations and all players are registered here with their ratings and other relevant details – but not all Steps games are part of this handicap system, though it is hoped that some Steps Draughts games can be included at some stage TBD – the possible Draughts games are shown above in parenthesis

The games and players of Lace (registration applies as with players of Steps) are also part of the considerations of the Boardroom but perhaps would not be part of this handicap system

Ratings-only games would likely be played in the parallel format – there is asymmetry in most all of these games that may give players extra winning opportunities (as intended – this may assist in a clearer resolution of ratings), and if played parallel this would be evened out between the players

The Promotion to First Queen rule may be brought in for certain games or situations, but TBD – if so it would be likely that this game-winning event would be for the first Queen to reach the commencement square of the opposing Queen…..there should be something representational for this, e.g. an item(s) of royal regalia (Queens’ Sceptres, even Thrones perhaps) could be placed on the borders next to the relevant squares

 

 

 

Table:

Below is a table of the system that sets out the games involved, and then the workings of the system are described…..in the table ratings, handicaps and piece values may need to be referred to while the colour scheme shows the games that the three handicaps are applied to and ratings-only games…..though there are currently twenty games in all (excluding possibles) these are much related and the colour scheme and the simplified games skyline hopefully make it easier to visualise the system overall

 

 

 

 

A Run-through of Templates:

Template here means a particular starting line-up of Minor pieces – the Royal piece and the Major pieces (including the Pre-eminent piece) and also the Pikemen/Foresters are placed as usual for 8x8 boards, and they are listed below for reference

 

The Western chess Template

This is the usual line-up of Minor pieces for Western chess where the Towers occupy the two outside home rank squares with Knights placed next to them and the Baron (kingside) and the Baroness (queenside) placed next to these – this template is also applied in Storm Force 24 for 10x8 and 10x10 boards where it is called the Western Template (see Storm Force 24 for more regarding this)

 

The LancerChess Template

This is the same as the Western chess template except that the Knights are replaced with the King’s Lancer (kingside) and the Queen’s Lancer (queenside)

 

The Western storm Template

This is as the Western chess template except that the Knights change places with the Baron and Baroness – the Baron and Baroness stay on the same side of the board though they now move on the opposite sets of diagonals to those of the Western chess template – this template is also applied in Storm Force 24 for 10x8 and 10x10 boards where it is called the Storm Template (see Storm Force 24 for more regarding this)

 

The LancerStorm Template

This, as might be expected, is as the LancerChess template except that the Lancers change places with the Baron and Baroness – the Baron and Baroness and the Lancers all stay on the same side of the board though the Baron, Baroness and Queen’s Lancer all now move on the opposite sets of diagonals to those of the LancerChess template

 

The Capablanca Template

This template is from Storm Force 24 (where it is applied to 10x8 and 10x10 boards) and is noted here for completeness: the Towers are placed on the two outside home rank squares with the Knights placed next to them, but the Service-maidens (who move as Barons/Baronesses) are not next to these but placed one square further away - consequently an 8x8 board is not suitable for this template

 

Notes

The names of the templates have been modified (except for the Capablanca Template) from those of Storm Force 24 to distinguish the additional Lancer templates, and here the templates are applied to 8x8 boards whereas in Storm Force 24 they are applied to 10x8 or 10x10 boards

Depending on the game the Barons and Baronesses may be named Service-maidens and Pikemen may be named Foresters (in Storm Force 24 they are named Service-maidens and Foresters) - the names above are those mostly used in their basic games in Steps i.e. Western chess, LancerChess and Storm/Crossfire/Capablanca chess

 

 

 

The Storm Force Handicap:

Western chess and LancerChess

For the games of Western chess and LancerChess the application of the system is straightforward at all levels of handicaps in that the difference between the players’ handicaps means that the player with the lower handicap (the stronger player) simply commences the game with this value of piece(s) less…..

…..for example: if one player has a handicap of +4 and his opponent has a handicap of +7 (a difference of 3) then the +4 player must commence with a (Minor) piece worth 3 less i.e. a Baron/Baroness or Knight or Lancer, and if a player of -1 handicap played one of +12 the difference of 13 would mean the -1 player commencing with a King, a Minor piece and a Pikeman less*

If players have the same handicap they commence with all the pieces as in a usual game i.e. they would be playing standard Western chess or LancerChess and the game would count for ratings purposes

*To decide what pieces to start without: firstly removed (by the lower handicapped player) is the highest value piece not exceeding the handicap difference, if this is not enough then next it is the highest value remaining piece not exceeding the remaining difference, and so on until the difference is cleared – where more than one piece can suffice the player can make a choice of what to start without…..this procedure can be seen in the above example of players with handicaps of -1 and +12 where the piece values of: King = 9, Minor piece (choice) = 3 and Pikeman (choice) = 1 add up to the handicap difference of 13…..in this case the choice of being without one of four Minor pieces and one of eight Pikemen means that the lower handicapped player can choose between one of 4 x 8 = 32 commencing arrays,+ and where a player has these choices in a game he would be allowed say 15 minutes to decide his commencing array – the lower handicapped player has then a (perhaps small) advantage to partially compensate for less material in that he (but not his opponent) may know in advance what the commencing array will be, and he may be able to utilise this advantage and gain the initiative by preparing some extra-fast opening lines by opening files and/or diagonals when (if) one or two Pikemen of his choice are removed - he also moves first…..in some games there may then be scope for the lower handicapped player for a faster development, though of lesser piece power – this could lead to some sharp and interesting positions in the opening and middle game; and if only pieces other than Pikemen are removed then Protecting the Queen may in some cases be speeded up, and there may be less moves for the lower handicapped player to consider earlier on perhaps enabling a more selective search of lines and so a further looking ahead, also less pieces may lead to less blocking of their ways thereby increasing manoeuvrability…..and the lower handicapped player may look for opening lines that bring about early tactical opportunities, while conversely the higher handicapped player may look not to risk his material advantage early on but to keep this into the endgame where it may become a clear winning advantage - players may find this an interesting comparison to the Two Towers variations in this system

+The total number of commencing arrays over handicap differences from 0 to 13 inclusive is 340 for Western chess and also 340 for LancerChess, though I would like this checked

 

This method as applied here to Western chess and LancerChess can be called the single-span application of the system, as in the table, since it can be used for whatever handicap level the two players are, but when applied to Storm Force 8x8 it is called the multi-span application - see the reasons set out next in the Storm Force 8x8 games

 

 

Storm Force 8x8 with Western chess & LancerChess templates

For these games of Storm Force 8x8 the system is not quite so straightforward, but once understood should not be too difficult:

But first a point on names and promotion

The game of Storm has Service-maidens and Foresters as names instead of Barons/Baronesses and Pikemen (they move the same) but here I think, initially at least, all the Storm Force 8x8 games will have Barons/Baronesses and Pikemen for consistency, and also for consistency for all the games they appear in here Pikemen promotion choices (they must promote) are to their Pre-eminent piece or other piece of the game (except the Royal piece) i.e. the same principle as described in LancerChess (in A Chess Set) or Western chess – the game of Storm differs from this so perhaps for Storm Force 8x8 TBD*…..note that for the side with the Towers in The Two Towers (North usually) Pikemen can here promote to a King

*On second thoughts It may be preferable to instead keep the Storm Force 8x8 games more consistent with the games of Storm and Crossfire and have Service-maidens and Foresters together with some at least of the representational aspects of these games (these can be found in Storm in A Chess Set) – promotion of Foresters would then follow that set out in Storm though Foresters could only free their Pre-eminent piece

 The setups for these two templates do not have a King to commence with (e1 is an empty square awaiting one of the Eminent pieces) but otherwise are the same respectively as usual for Western chess and LancerChess

With Storm Force 8x8 the players’ handicap difference is not applied by having fewer pieces for the lower handicapped player but in the different value of the pieces they choose to be their Pre-eminent piece - the procedure is as follows:

To start with the Storm Force level is set – this is from 5 to 10 and corresponds to the lowest and highest value of the Eminent pieces in the table

The amount that the higher handicapped player can spend up to is the Storm Force level that is set – he can spend less (he may have a particular preference for a piece of lower value) but not more

The amount that the lower handicapped player can spend is the difference in handicaps less than the higher handicapped player can spend, and he can also spend less (perhaps for the reason mentioned above) but not more

For example: if the Storm level is set at Force 8 and the players’ handicaps are +7 and +5 (a difference of 2) then the +7 player can spend up to the Storm level of 8 whilst the +5 player only up to 8 – 2 = 6

Since the Eminent piece values span 5 it follows that this is the maximum difference in handicaps that can be applied* though no player is precluded here but is restricted to possible opponents with handicaps of not more than or less than 5 of his own (a span of up to 10 for players in the middle ratings bands) depending on the Storm level set - the Force must be set at a level that will accommodate the handicap difference in piece values, e.g. if the handicap difference were 4 then the level must be at least Force 9 as 8 would only allow for a piece value difference of 8 - 5 = 3, where 5 is the lowest Eminent piece value

If the handicaps are the same then both players can spend up to the Storm Force level set and the game would be eligible for ratings purposes, and if the Storm level is Force 9 (or 10) and both players choose Kings as their Pre-eminent piece with the Western chess or LancerChess template then the game would be one of standard Western chess or LancerChess

*More could be applied by the lower handicapped player also having less pieces as described before, but initially this would not be allowed for these games and the maximum difference is set at 5, but TBD

The total number of possible commencing deployments across all Storm levels are 12 x 12 = 144 for each of the templates, where 12 is the number of Eminent pieces

Players declare to the Referee/Arbiter what their choice of Pre-eminent piece is (a written note would be usual) and so they do not know what piece their opponent has chosen until the game commences – players would be allowed say 5 minutes or so to make their choice

 

 

 

The Cannon-fire Handicap:

Chinese (Eastern) chess and RiverQi - Soldier variation

For the games of Chinese chess and RiverQi – Soldier variation, the application of the system is very similar to that for Western and LancerChess and much of this also applies here – again the player with the lower handicap commences the game with pieces less in value that add up to the difference in handicaps, and again they are removed in descending value in much the same way as explained for Western chess and LancerChess…..

…..for example: if the stronger player has a handicap of +3 and the other player has a handicap of +5 then the difference of 2 means that the lower handicapped player must commence with two defensive pieces (of his choice) less, these being valued at 1 each; and if the handicaps are -1 and +7 then to meet the difference of 8 the lower handicapped player must firstly remove a Chariot (value 5) of his choice and then a Cannon (value 3) of his choice or alternately, if RiverQi – Soldier variation, a Warrior Knight (value 3) of his choice

Perhaps the main difference to be aware of is that the suffix of ‘s’ after a handicap is effectively a ½ but is valued as the Central Soldier, for example: if the handicaps were +1s and +6 (a difference of 4s) the lower handicapped player would first have to remove a Cannon (value 3) of his choice or alternately, if RiverQi – Soldier variation, a Warrior Knight (value 3) of his choice and then a defensive piece of his choice (value 1) and then his Central Soldier (valued at s); or if the lower handicapped player’s handicap were +3 and the higher +5s making a difference of 2s he would have to commence with a Horse (value 2s) of his choice less;…..and if the handicaps were +5s and +3s the difference is 2 and so two defensive pieces of choice would be removed, and if the handicaps were +1 and +1s then only the Central Soldier would be removed to meet the difference of s

As with the Storm Handicap where there are these choices a player would be allowed perhaps 15 minutes or so to decide what pieces to remove

If players have the same handicap they commence with all the pieces as in a usual game i.e. they would be playing standard Chinese chess or RiverQi – Soldier variation and the game would count for ratings purposes

The total number of commencing arrays over handicap differences from 0 to 8 inclusive (except 7s is currently not possible) is 92 for Chinese chess and 126 for RiverQi – Soldier variation (there is much symmetry however), though I would like this checked

 

 

 

The Plateau Handicap:

Plateau - Chinese variation

 

 

 

The Storm Variations:

Western storm and LancerStorm

The apparently small change of the Minor pieces changing places has a large effect on the game – perhaps it is worth looking at some opening moves from Western chess that have occurred many times (shown in Steps format):

1. Pikeman d4, Pikeman d5 2. Knight c3, Knight f6 3. Baroness g5, Knight c6 4. Queen b1 (Safeguarding the Queen), Pikeman e6 (North often plays 4… Knight x Pikeman d4 here, but after 5. Siege Tower d1 he cannot keep the Pikeman) - below is the position

 

 

There are two features here that are very common in Western chess, particularly at master level: firstly, the early generally considered best safeguarding of the Queen, i.e. on her own side with the three Pikeman in front of her initially unmoved; and secondly the early pinning of a Knight (here on f6), and North may soon himself pin a Knight in similar fashion (on c3) with Baron b4, and he will probably soon safeguard his own Queen after moving his Baroness – thus in many Western chess games at master level the royal piece is in safety early on in the game and there are frequent early exchanges of pinned Knights (Lancers would not usually be exchanged quite in this way)…..but these features may be much less common or may not occur at all in the Storm variation:

 

 

Western storm*

 

*This is a very basic variation of Western chess that players must have thought of over the years, but it has not been tested much that I know of – a brief testing shows the position as about equal but full of potential complexities

In order to safeguard the Queen the Minor pieces have to be moved, at least on one side of the board, and as can be seen here the Barons/Baronesses cannot be moved without moving one of the three Pikemen that are generally preferred to stay initially unmoved, and if a central Pikeman is first moved this also delays possible safeguarding as compared to the opening moves shown above in Western chess - the Queen may have difficulty in being safeguarded, but if this is a priority then a player may forego immediate occupation of the centre by Pikemen and, for example, aim to start with (from the southern side) Pikeman c3, Baroness c2, Knight b3 and then safeguard the Queen, but the opponent may take early occupation of the centre…..

…..the Pikemen on the b and g files are unprotected…..

…..there may be wild positions - a stormy game may be ahead…..

 

 

 

Storm Force 8x8 with Western storm & LancerStorm templates

 

 

 

Eastern storm and RiverQi - Hawk variation

Eastern storm is simply Chinese (Eastern) chess where South has the usual Traditional placement and where North has the following changes to this placement:

The five Soldiers are on b7, d7, e7 (as usual), f7 and h7

The two Cannons are on d8 and f8

One way of remembering this from the Traditional placement is that North moves his four outside Soldiers one square towards the centre and his Cannons two squares towards the centre, and this may be the preferred procedure (perhaps made by the Referee/Arbiter) before South makes his first move – brief testing suggests chances are reasonably equal - North’s position is perhaps slightly advantageous, but then South moves first

 

Eastern Storm

This is not a Steps board and pieces but a traditional board with westernised symbols - apologies

 

 

…..the outside Soldiers do not block each other’s paths - either side may storm forward…..

 

 

 

Plateau – Korean variation

 

 

 

Ratings-only Games:

 

 

 

 

Steps Leagues & Tournaments:

 

Handicapped league

There are three types of games played in the handicapped league and they are treated differently as follows

 

1. Standard & Storm games where players have different handicaps – games (linear) are not played level

The results of these games count in handicapped league scores and so positions thereof

The results of these games do not count for players’ ratings*

 

2. Standard & Storm games where players have the same handicap – games (linear) are played level

The results of these games count in handicapped league scores and so positions thereof

The results of these games count for players’ ratings*

 

3. Ratings-only games – games (parallel) are played level

The results of these games do not count in handicapped league scores and so not positions thereof

The results of these games count for players’ ratings

 

*Exceptionally if, in Storm Force 8x8 games, 1. players with different handicaps were to spend the same amount the result would usually still not count for ratings purposes; and 2. were players with the same handicaps to spend different amounts the result would usually still count for ratings purposes…..players sometimes sacrifice material during a game for various reasons and there may be valid reasons for doing so before the start of a Storm Force game (one such reason mentioned earlier is that a player may have a particular preference for a lower-valued Eminent piece - and he may value this, and others, differently to the table; surprising the opponent may be another reason, or perhaps some openings preparation has been made…..)

 

 

Level league

Level league scores and positions would be drawn up from the results of games played in 1. below:

 

1. Standard & Storm games (linear) further to those of the handicapped league and played level

The results of these games count in level league scores and so positions thereof

The results of these games count for players’ ratings

 

2. Ratings-only games (parallel) played in 3. above

The results of these games do not count in level league scores either and so not positions thereof

As stated in 3. above the results of these games count for players’ ratings

 

 

Notes

The league(s) overall might, but TBD, simply be called The Steps League and suffixed as level or handicapped

Games (including Ratings-only games) would be arranged to ensure all players play each other both handicapped and level and across all the games

 All results and game details would be entered into a database – results and tables for specific games could be drawn up from this

There would of course be much to sort out in organising the overall Steps league and there may be divisions to the leagues if preferable (with promotion/relegation)

Players’ ratings & so handicaps may change - ratings also take into account rateable games played elsewhere

 

 

 

Knockout Tournaments

 

 

 

 

Further Notes:

A scoring system is eventually TBD and possibly all games when played in this system will score the same

It must be emphasised that the purpose of this handicap system is to increase the chances for players against higher rated opposition in challenging and hopefully interesting ways for both players with many situations arising that might not do so in a standard game, but the standard games are also included as are players of equal rating playing one another – and no one is left out whether beginner or champion; but whatever happens in these games the system makes no claims regarding the likelihood of equalling out results between players of different levels.

 

E&OE

 

 

SAE Nicholls

Boardroom of Merridonia - Founder Member

Saturday, 15th January 2022

 

 

 

To be Continued

 

Steps resumes on web page Stepping-stones of Chess

 

 

 

Current Spring

Page finishes

 

 

Setup

 

Preceding Spring:

Springboard - an introductory set of Tiger's-eye Games variants

 © copyright G. Nicholls 2011-2016

 

 

It is all too often difficult or almost impossible to persuade Chess and Xiangqi players to try out a game variation which involves much in the way of change from their favourite standard game (and any change is too much for some). The following therefore have very few changes to these two standard games though the changes can produce some interesting play and features:

A. ChessTitles

B. Touchstone

C. Touchpaper

D. QiPlacements

E. The King's Lancer's Tour - Beginner's and Mini puzzles

 

A. ChessTitles:

This is a “toned down queen” game of Western Chess and could also be useful as a training or tie-break game.

1. The object of the game is to Checkmate the opposing Duchess and this wins the game.

2. The Sides (Pieces) are called South (White) & North (Black). South moves first and moves are then played alternately.

3. The Players are not named.

4. The Board can be the “Touchstone board” (shown) or a standard 8 x 8 Chess board. Piece colours are not set but should be of suitable contrast.

5. The clocks are single countdown and when used for tie-breaking the suggested time is sixty minutes for each Player.

6. Squares are called Squares and not Positions as in some games. The designations are those of standard Western Chess algebraic designations.

7. Points are a nominal one for a win and a nominal half for a draw.

8. Initial deployment of the Pieces with their names and Western Chess comparisons for their moving/capturing powers is as follows:

a) E1/E8: Dukes – his powers are those combined of a (non-royal) Western Chess King and a Western Chess Rook

b) D1/D8: Duchess – her powers and vulnerabilities are identical to Western Chess Kings except that castling “short” and “long” (called “Protecting the Duchess”) are reversed from Western Chess.

c) A1/A8 & H1/H8: Aristocrats – his powers are identical to Rooks. Note that the correct name initially are Equerries and not Aristocrats as shown on the board, and that once one has been or can no longer be used to Protect a Duchess, he is then called an Aristocrat. This transformation situation arises in other games and is mentioned in e.g. my Stepping-stones of Chess page, Touchstone, see Towers & Siege-towers.

d) B1/B8 & G1/G8: Knights – his powers are identical to Knights.

e) C1/C8 & F1/F8: Nobles – his powers are identical to Bishops.

f) A2 through H2 and A7 through H7: Squires – his powers are identical to pawns except when promoting – see below.

g) Earl – he does not appear at the commencement of the game. His powers are those combined of a (non-royal) Western Chess King and a Western Chess Knight.

h) Viscount – he does not appear at the commencement of the game. His powers are those combined of a (non-royal) Western Chess King and a Western Chess Bishop.

i) Squires promote on reaching their eighth (end) rank, either by way of moving or capturing, and can choose to promote only as follows: i) To promote to an Earl. ii) To promote to a Viscount. iii) A Squire is not allowed to stay as a Squire nor allowed to be exchanged for any captured Pieces.

9. A Player should state “Check” if the opposing Duchess is in Check but this is not compulsory.

10. Draws include Stalemate and threefold repetition of moves/position.

 

 

B. Touchstone:

Touchstone is virtually identical to Western Chess and the intention of the game is mostly to have embellishments to bring about a “makeover” to Western Chess: Background: “The Touchstone” is the name that has been given to the Stone that “The Sword Excalibur” is set in and many have tried to draw this Sword from the stone as legend tells that he who does so will become King over the entire Realm and not just one of a number of Kings or others of the Nobility who rule over particular regions as is the current situation. Though none have so far succeeded in drawing the Sword from the stone there are rivals who seek to acquire The Touchstone with Excalibur still undrawn – perhaps to safekeep them – and disputes have broken out and escalated and have now led to Battle being about to break out between the two main rivals.....

1. The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Queen and this wins the Battle (game) and the winning King will acquire The Touchstone and the undrawn Excalibur - for a while at least.

2. The Sides (Pieces) are called South (White) & North (Black). South moves first and moves are then played alternately.

3. The Players are named “The Southern Lookout” who plays South and “The Northern Lookout” who plays North.

4. The Board is a standard or standard type 8 x 8 Chess board and one possibility called the “Touchstone board” is shown below. Usual colours for Pieces are brick-red & yellow for South and blue & dark-green for North.

5. Clocks are single countdown with suggested tournament/match times of sixty minutes for each player.

6. The roles of the King and Queen and so Castling (called “Protecting the Queen”) are reversed from Western Chess.

7. Squares are called Squares and not Positions as in some games, and are designated as per Western Chess algebraic designations.

8. Initial deployment of the pieces is the same as for Western Chess and together with their names and moving/capturing powers (per Western Chess comparisons) are as follows:

a) E1/E8 – Kings – his powers are identical to Queens

b) D1/D8 – Queens – her powers and vulnerabilities are identical to Kings

c) A1/A8 – Queens’ Towers – its powers are identical to Rooks

d) H1/H8 – Kings’ Towers – its powers are identical to Rooks

e) B1/B8 – Queens’ Knights – his powers are identical to Knights

f) G1/G8 – Kings’ Knights – his powers are identical to Knights

g) C1/C8 – Baronesses – her powers are identical to Bishops

h) F1/F8 – Barons – his powers are identical to Bishops

i) A2 through H2 and A7 through H7 – Pikemen – his powers are identical to Pawns except when promoting – see below.

j) Duke – he does not appear on the board during the Battle (game) – his powers are those combined of a (non-royal) Western Chess King and a Western Chess Rook but his powers are not called upon during the Battle (game).

k) Earl – he does not appear at the commencement of the Battle (game) - his powers are those combined of a (non-royal) Western Chess King and a Western Chess Knight.

l) Viscount – he does not appear at the commencement of the Battle (game) – his powers are those combined of a (non-royal) Western Chess King and a Western Chess Bishop.

m) Names in under-promotion – if a Pikeman under-promotes then his name is not distinguished between e.g. a King’s or Queen’s Knight etc. but he is simply called as follows (moving/capturing powers in brackets): Aristocrat (Rook), Noble (Bishop) or Knight (Knight).

9. Pikemen can promote/under-promote or rescue their King upon reaching their end (eighth) rank. If his King is captured then the Pikeman has the choice of rescuing him and, if he does so, the Pikeman is then held as a prisoner in his King’s place and the King then occupies the Pikeman’s Square. As a reward this now imprisoned Pikeman is promoted to a Duke though he is not himself available for rescue by further Pikemen reaching their end rank. If the rescued King is further captured and rescued then there are further promotion(s) of Pikeman(men) to Duke(s).

10. The rescue/promotion/under-promotion choices for a Pikeman are summarised as follows:

a) To rescue his King, if captured.

b) To promote to an Earl.

c) To promote to a Viscount

d) To under-promote to an Aristocrat.

e) To under-promote to a Noble.

f) To under-promote to a Knight.

g) Pikemen are not allowed to remain as Pikemen when reaching their end rank and they cannot rescue a Duke.

11. Game Points scored are one for a win by Checkmate and a half each for a draw.

12. Players should state “Check” if their opposing Queen is in Check but this is not compulsory.

13. Draws include Stalemate and threefold repetition of moves/position.

14. There can be ornamental pieces placed alongside the board – e.g. The Touchstone with Excalibur set in, also any Dukes held prisoner can be placed with other prisoners (captured Pieces).

15. After the Battle, the winning King’s Knight and Queen’s Knight are promoted to the newly created class of ranks of, respectively, King’s Lancer and Queen’s Lancer.

 

 

C. Touchpaper:

Touchpaper is very similar to Xiangqi and the intention of the game is mostly as a “makeover” with slight changes to Xiangqi: Background: Though the reasons for the Battle are long in the past and are unclear and are little known, two Empresses and their armies have, after many minor skirmishes, finally confronted each other across the stream that divides their territories. A cannon is trained on and, most unusually to commence a Battle with, is about to fire on an opposing horse; but as the touchpaper is lit and the canon is fired there is not the expected result of a cannon-ball hurtling through the air but, perhaps due to something magical in the powder or (as lore later speaks of) The Touchpaper, there are several transformations that take place: The stream dries out, the cannons move ground and are no longer trained on the horses and the potential for soldiers to enhance their powers when crossing the (now) streambed is increased. Though these transformations initially transfix both armies this soon passes and the Battle will shortly commence.....

1. The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Empress and this wins the Battle (game).

2. The Sides (Pieces) are 3D and called & coloured Red (South) & Blue (North). Red moves first and moves are then played alternately.

3. The Players are named “The Red General” who plays the Red (South) Pieces and “The Blue General” who plays the Blue (North) Pieces.

4. The Board is a modified “River Territories board” (from "Wing and RiverQi") and called the “Touchpaper board” as shown below and has the usual two Palaces (Fortresses) and also the dried out streambed as a line across the middle. Pieces move on Squares and not on intersections. Effectively the board is the same as the standard Xiangqi board.

5. Clocks are single countdown with suggested tournament/match times of sixty minutes for each player.

6. As with Xiangqi Generals, Empresses may not face each other along an otherwise unoccupied file.

7. Squares are called Squares and not Positions as in some games, and files are designated A to I (west to east) and ranks are designated 1 to 10 (south to north).

8. Initial deployment of the pieces and their names and moving/capturing powers (per Xiangqi comparisons) are as follows:

a) E1/E10: Empresses – her powers, limitations and vulnerabilities are identical to Generals

b) D1/F1 & D10/F10: Guards – his powers and limitations are identical to Guards

c) C1/G1 & C10/G10: Defenders – his powers and limitations are identical to Elephants

d) B1/H1 & B10/H10: Horses – his powers are identical to Horses

e) A1/I1 & A10/I10: Siege Engines – its powers are identical to Chariots

f) D4/F4 & D7/F7 (Different to Xiangqi): Cannons – its powers are identical to Cannons.

g) A4/C4/E4/G4/I4 & A7/C7/E7/G7/I7: Soldiers – his powers are identical to Soldiers except that his sixth rank promotion powers are different from Xiangqi as explained below:

h) Soldiers promote to Senior Soldiers with enhanced powers upon reaching their sixth rank either by way of moving or capturing. A Senior Soldier’s enhanced powers are that he can move to or capture on one square vertically forwards or one square diagonally forwards or one square horizontally i.e. a maximum of five squares. The promotion is automatic and so they cannot stay as Soldiers.

9. Game Points scored are one for a win by Checkmate and a half each for a draw.

10. Players should state “Check” when their opposing Empress is in Check but this is not compulsory.

11. The “chasing rules” of Xiangqi do not apply and perpetual check is allowed.

12. Draws include Stalemate and threefold repetition of moves/position.

13. After the Battle the transformations start to fade and the stream starts to flow again and eventually becomes a large river.

D. QiPlacements:

This is Xiangqi where the Cannons have a largely free deployment and it is possible to get to the standard set up when deploying the Cannons. This game could be useful for tie-breaking.

1. The object of the game is to Checkmate the opposing Princess and this wins the game.

2. The Sides (3D Pieces) are called and usually coloured Red (South) and Blue (North). Red moves first in both Phases of the game – see below. Moves are played alternately in both Phases of the game.

3. The Players are not named.

4. The Board is the “Touchpaper board” (shown) with a few cosmetic changes: the Stream separating the Red & Blue Territories is flowing; the Palaces are not as decorated, also “the Forbidden Squares” are marked – see below.

5. The clocks are single countdown and when used for tie-breaking the suggested time is sixty minutes for each Player.

6. Squares are called Squares and not Positions as in some games. The algebraic designations are those as stated in Touchpaper.

7. Princesses, like Generals in Xiangqi, are forbidden to face each other along an otherwise unoccupied file.

8. Points are a nominal one for a win and a nominal half for a draw.

9. The chasing rules of Xiangqi do not apply & perpetual Check is allowed.

10. Initial deployment (on Squares and not Intersections) of the Pieces with their names and Xiangqi comparisons for their moving/capturing powers is as follows:

a) E1/E10: Princesses – her powers, limitations and vulnerabilities are identical to Generals.

b) D1/F1 & D10/F10: Attendants – her powers and limitations are identical to Guards.

c) C1/G1 & C10/G10: Protectors – his powers and limitations are identical to Elephants.

d) B1/H1 & B10/H10: Horses – his powers are identical to Horses.

e) A1/I1 & A10/I10: Siege Engines – its powers are identical to Chariots.

f) Awaiting Deployment – see below: Cannons – its powers are identical to Cannons.

g) A4/C4/E4/G4/I4 & A7/C7/E7/G7/I7: Soldiers – his powers are identical to Soldiers and he automatically (compulsorily) promotes to a “promoted Soldier” on his sixth rank, either by way of moving or capturing, and the promoted Soldier is identical to that of Xiangqi.

11. Order of Play :

a) First there is a deployment of Cannons to unoccupied Squares within their own Territory, other than the Forbidden Squares – see below. The first Red Cannon is deployed then followed by the first Blue Cannon; then the second and last Red Cannon is deployed followed by the second and last Blue Cannon. This is called the “Deployment Phase”.

b) After the deployment of Cannons there follows the “Engagement Phase” where Red moves first and moves are then played alternately.

c) It is forbidden, when deploying them in the Deployment Phase, to train a Cannon on a Princess, a Protector or a Siege Engine – all are initially undefended – and so the Forbidden Squares as shown on the board are not permitted to have a Cannon deployed to any of them. It is permitted, however, to train a Cannon on a Soldier. During the Engagement Phase the Forbidden Squares (which are also the Soldiers’ promotion Squares) are the same as ordinary Squares and have no different effect (other than promotions) than any other ordinary Square, also Cannons are now free to attack any Piece, whether defended or not, in the same way as any other Piece is free to.

12. Players should state “Check” when the opposing Princess is in Check though this is not compulsory.

13. Draws include Stalemate and threefold repetition of moves/position.

14. In chronological terms QiPlacements precedes Touchpaper which itself precedes RiverQi and ChessTitles precedes Touchstone which itself precedes LancerChess. Qi in QiPlacements is pronounced as in the English word key.

E. The King's Lancer's tour (2D version) - A Beginner's puzzle:

This is much simpler than the Knight’s tour and once the principle is seen for the smallest boards with odd and even numbered ranks and files then it should be straightforward to make a successful tour on any sized board:

1. The King’s Lancer, who features in several Tiger’-Eye Games, can move or capture by moving one or jumping two squares horizontally or vertically. His maximum possible number of moves is therefore eight. Interestingly he covers more squares from the edge (usually six) and corner (four) of the board than the Knight (usually four and two), also with the help of the Western Chess King he can deliver Checkmate within a reasonable number of moves on the standard 8 x 8 board.

2. The object of the King’s Lancer’s tour is to land on every square of the board once only and to return to his starting position which is the A1 square. The usual Western Chess algebraic notation is used.

3. On a 3 x 3 board the King’s Lancer could move as follows: Move 1: A1 to B1 Move 2: B1 to C1 Move 3: C1 to C2 Move 4: C2 to C3 Move 5: C3 to B3 Move6: B3 to B2! B3 to A3? and the tour fails Move 7: B2 to A2 Move 8: A2 to A3 Move 9: A3 to A1 and the tour succeeds with a jump

4. On a 4 x 4 board the King’s Lancer could move as follows. This is very straightforward: Move 1: A1 to B1 Move 2: B1 to C1 Move 3: C1 to D1 Move 4: D1 to D2 Move 5: D2 to D3 Move 6: D3 to D4 Move 7: D4 to C4 Move 8: C4 to C3 Move 9: C3 to C2 Move 10: C2 to B2 Move 11: B2 to B3 Move 12: B3 to B4 Move 13: B4 to A4 Move 14: A4 to A3 Move 15: A3 to A2 Move 16: A2 to A1 and the tour succeeds

 

The King's Lancer's tour (3D version) - A Mini puzzle

The principle for the 2D version of the tour also applies to the 3D version and examples are shown visually as follows: The numbers show the order of moves.

 

1. On a 3 x 3 x 3 cube the King's Lancer could move as follows:

 

 

 

 

2. On a 4 x 4 x 4 cube the King's Lancer could move as follows:

 

Scores: One Game Point (two for the 3D version) is awarded as a once off only (but see scores section in Jewel Facet 2: Ambush in the Forest) to a Beginner if he/she can demonstrate how to succeed with The King's Lancer's tour on basic board (cube) sizes within fifteen minutes of being set the puzzle. The Beginner can choose to attempt either the 2D or the 3D version but not both.

 

 

Preceding Spring

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By Glenn Nicholls.

Last revised by Glenn Nicholls.


Web page created: 2011-10-24. Web page last updated: 2011-10-24