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Stepping-stones of Chess




Steps along the way of Chess


         Stepping-stones of Chess

A Book by Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls of Merridonia

                        and a Tapestry


taken from

A Leap of Recreation™


Stepping-stones of Chess (previous version)

both also by the same author




with reference and thanks to

Tiger’s-eye Games

by Glenn Nicholls



© SAE Nicholls 2019-2021

©-® Copyright with all Rights Reserved Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls (SAE Nicholls) 2019-2021


 ©-® = Copyright of Merridonia with all Rights Reserved.

The moral right to the work herein is asserted by the author Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls (SAE Nicholls) of Merridonia.

Merridonian Copyright with Reserved Rights or Trademarks or Emblems or suchlike are without limit.

Only those of Merridonia are eligible for the aforesaid Copyright or Reserved Rights or Trademarks or Emblems or suchlike.

Those of Merridonia are those that have been accepted as such by the author and stated to be so accepted by the author.

Merridonian Copyright or Reserved Rights or Trademarks or Emblems or suchlike require acceptance by the author.

Merridonia is a private world by invitation of the author only.

The work herein is subject to change at any time and in any way as the author sees fit.

The author has full valuation and revaluation rights in all matters relevant to the work herein and has the right to decide what matters are relevant to the work.





Steps along the way of Chess takes place in


The Median-lands



More often known as Merridonia


Where one’s days can be many and where Justice and Fairness have much Regard






Indented Contents




General Introduction

General Notes


Part one: The Games

I) A Chess Set


            A Mystery Quest






II) Additional Games




III) The Jewel series games




       Northern Light with Kaleidoscope

       Crystal of Doom

       Lost Treasure



Part two: Grouping of Games

       The Rainbow group

       The Jini group

       The Chequered group

       The Meridian group

       The Forest group

       The Jewel Series group

       The Woodland parallel group

       The Realm transfer group

       Swing scoring and grouplets


Part three: Timing of Games

       Phased Countdown clocks

       Phased Increment clocks

       Phased Combination clocks

       Phased Swing clocks


Part four: Other

Further games:

        Stones of Fortune



        A Draughts Set

Circuits and Tours

Studies etc.

Author participation

Further thoughts


Inclusions and Links (Book only)

Index (Book only)





There have been many books on Chess, or rather Western chess since there are other popular forms of Chess, and if the question were asked what is the best or most popular such book there would be a number of different answers.....and amongst them Logical Chess by Irving Chernev (1957) receives mention when talking of outstanding books; but it is not the content of the book that I am thinking of here but its introduction, specifically the words “and chess is the most exciting game in the world”, for excitement is the quality I have tried most to bring into the games and ideas of what follows and though of course this quality is subjective one can but try.....




General Introduction

Steps along the way of Chess (or Steps for short) is intended to be an introduction to the possibilities of the various ideas of Chess and much of the following games are based on five well known games of Chess, namely: Western chess, Chinese chess, Arabian chess, Mongolian chess and Capablanca chess and some knowledge of these games is necessary to understand what follows, but the basic rules to these games are readily available and for those familiar with any of them the rules to the others should not take too long to learn.

There is more however to Chess than just the straightforward playing of games and some of these additional ideas are included in what follows.

The first five games of Part one of LancerChess, QiPlacements, Arabella, Meridian and Storm form the basis for most standard groups of games in Part two and are separately known as A Chess Set (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.)

The question arises of where and when Chess originated and of what form it was, and it is mostly considered to have originated in India during the 6th century CE and may well have been similar in form to the slightly later Arabian chess, but there are books on the history of Chess for those interested in this subject and it is, I find, an interesting part of Chess.

And it must be emphasised that the book is not intended just for experts but for all levels, and there are one or two games etc. for beginners.


Each game is set out as follows:

A brief introduction to the game is given.

There is a background story for each game but this can be passed over for those who only want the mechanics of the game.

There are also representational background additions such as names for players, or that pieces such as Towers have personnel or Siege-towers or Chariots etc. are manned (this is often stated to be so but some imagination may be needed in this regard), but these additions can also be passed over for those who only want the mechanics of the game.

The object of the game is stated.

A diagram of the board and pieces at commencement is shown.

The moves of the pieces, mostly by comparison to the aforementioned well known games of Chess, are described.

There is a section on further rules and notes.

A description of any of the game’s variations is given.

An Information table is shown for referring to details of the game (some are representational). The Satellite game points scored shown in these tables are those scored when the game is played as a Stand-alone game as usual, unless stated otherwise.

After the individual games have been described there is a section on how they are placed into playing groups with bonus points available.

There follows a section describing clocks including Phased clocks and these are the type of clocks that are to be used when games score points of value - see below, and clock settings would require to be authorised by myself where points are so scored.

After Clocks there is a section on Further games followed by a short section on Circuits and Tours.....after this there are a few Studies and then some Favourites of the author.....then there is a Further thoughts section and finally a Listing of items.


The Steps Tapestry - an Inclusion

This would be drawn from a database that brings together information from tables shown in the book and more besides.....the tapestry would be in the form of a high quality cloth that could be rolled up and would be etched or embroidered with the database and would be included with the book - the following image gives a very basic condensed idea of this and work on the database is ongoing.....a further possibility is for the information with headings changed round to be on the reverse of the tapestry, or another tapestry with this, or perhaps the larger Steps tables could be included e.g. the Groups landscape or the Jewel portrait - as cloaks or scarves even, but practicality needs to be taken into account here 




Introductory Notes:

Interpretation of game rules is the reserved right of the author (SAE Nicholls).

Background and representational aspects are noted or described as such or are obvious.

Were Steps along the way of Chess to be in book form the presentation would be of a professional standard and not that of an MS Word document as it is here - unfortunately one is limited by such things, but Steps along the way of Chess is very much a work in progress and subject to changes as the author sees fit, and the section on Further thoughts gives an indication of this.



General Notes

Steps refers to Chess as a Game, but for those who would rather class it as a Sport then this is quite acceptable to Steps

In general the games would be played with the best practice of Western chess at the least. There are certain rules that apply throughout the games unless stated otherwise, amongst them are:

Stalemate is a draw - stalemate can be considered as a situation where a player has no legal move available but (if there is a ‘Royal piece’ in the game) is not in check.....other terms though are sometimes used in Steps.

Threefold repetition of moves/position is a draw.

Direction pointers, where shown, point towards north.

Though not specifically stated…..where a coin is used to decide variations, sides, first move etc. the coin is flipped in the usual way preferably by the referee (or one of the players) with one player calling how it lands to decide who chooses, or the choice can be pre-decided depending on how it lands…..the traditional way to choose sides means preferably the referee (or one of the players) encloses a Pawn (or equivalent) of each side in a different hand (out of sight of the players) and one player then chooses a hand and the piece here indicates his side…..a standard dice can be used in several ways e.g. even numbers could be chosen for two equal chances, and can also be used with equal chances for three pairs of numbers or six individual numbers…..there are of course other ways e.g. by draw of card and these things can also be decided by various arrangements, but they would have to be acceptable.

The roles of the King and Queen (or equivalent) have been reversed, though they commence on the same squares unless stated otherwise, and the reason for this is best given by quoting from the game of TigerChess by Glenn Nicholls - "Kings do not shelter in castles whilst their Queens go into battle".....and those such as Pikemen willingly deploy themselves in the vanguard to give time for others such as Lancers to prepare themselves for joining in leading the line and occupying positions that are hazardous but influential and may become decisive.

Further to the above - though there is only one ‘Royal piece’ in (Western) chess requiring Checkmate, and is the Queen in Steps, in practice it could perhaps be said there is a second piece of royalty – namely the King in Steps, the capture of whom without substantial compensation would almost just as surely lead to a loss against an experienced player.....below is a game played in Vienna, 1911 showing the trapping of a Queen by Josef E. Krejcik playing white against Robert Muenz:

The following moves were played

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f6 3. Nxe5 Qe7 4. Nf3 d5 5. d3 dxe4 6. dxe4 Qxe4+ 7. Be2 Bf5 8. c3 bd6  9. Be3 Ne7 10. Nbd2 Qg4 11. Ng1 (the pursuit of the Queen is on) Qh4 with the following position


and Josef Krejcik played 12. g3 'Checkmating' (Trapping is a more apt word) the black Queen and winning the game.....the apparent flight square on g6 does not save the Queen (or the game) on move eleven since 12. Bh5 would pin her leading to her capture - another possibility instead of Qh4 is Qxg2, but 12. Bf3 still wins comfortably for white.

Another example of a pursuit, this time of the General of Chinese chess can be found in Part four: Other - Studies etc.



Deployment at commencement for games is generally Preset at a standard or traditional (but sometimes new) placement of pieces – other deployment determinations can be by Play or Random (see Further thoughts – Other possible games etc.).....elements of more than one of these determinations can be within one game.

Checkmate has been given alternate names for some games: Taking captive in Storm, Taking prisoner in Siege, Cornering in Gyroscope, Encircling in Kaleidoscope and Locking-up in Shadow.....another is Surrounding and though not currently used is reserved for possible future use.....some games have more than one way to win and some games have a different way to win than Checkmate - likely requiring sometimes very different but perhaps equally interesting use of tactics and strategies. 

Where appropriate standard Castling rules apply.

Castling has been re-named as Protecting or Safeguarding the Queen (with or in - representational, the Queen's or her Tower or the King's Tower).

Players should state ‘Check’ when the opposing Royal piece is under attack but this is not compulsory.

Captured pieces would usually be placed at the opponent's end of the board

Moves are played alternately - called the Standard moving (move turn) pattern.

All pieces move on squares and not their intersections as some games traditionally do.

Tournament Western chess boards have squares of usually two inches or so in size, but the boards for Steps games could well be very much larger or very much smaller and with decoration and ornamentation. Role-playing in its various forms is possible with the games.

Pieces for the above games are mostly representational, or sometimes symbolic, and are life-like except for LancerChess, Western chess and Clash where the standard Staunton (or Staunton type - the more life-like Gothic variation is possible as well) design pieces are used - at least sometimes and perhaps mostly; traditional Draughts pieces can be used for TwinDraughts and Role-playing includes that for pieces. For representational/background story purposes pieces are called by various names – e.g. Warriors, Inhabitants etc and sometimes they are described by a suffix such as 'of the Kingdom', and there is some leeway in their appearance, colouring etc. but see Further thoughts - Name changes etc. for a further note plus pictures regarding this.

Games should designate the variation that is being played.

Game notation can use full piece descriptions and not just algebraic descriptions.

Referees (who are often called arbiters and may have assistants) of games may offer the service of moving pieces (when players would verbally inform the referee of their moves - helpful if the board is very large), or assist with rules or the settings of clocks etc. and they can enforce the spirit of a game.

However named players and teams must be able to be identified and checked they are playing in the correct games and sides thereof.

Games sometimes have a type description, for example Gyroscope is described as a Maze game and the Jewel games are described as Convergence games.


Moves are given their own name for Steps pieces as follows:

Moving a single square can be called Switching (to an adjoining square) and some pieces can only do this, e.g. the Adjacent of Crystal of Doom

The move of pieces such as the Rook or Bishop of Western chess is called Sliding

The move of pieces such as the Lancers of LancerChess is called Jumping

The move of pieces such as the Knight of Western chess is called Leaping

The move of pieces such as the Horse of Chinese chess is called Threading

The move of pieces such as the Hawk of RiverQi is called Flying, also see mythological pieces in Further thoughts - further pieces


There are also a few other and more special moves:

Protecting the Queen (Western chess Castling renamed as mentioned above), that involves two pieces and occurs in some games e.g. LancerChess

En passant, a form of capture that occurs in Western chess and other games

(going on) A Magic carpet Ride and Boarding - that involves two pieces, and occur in Arabella

Teleportation, that involves Amulets and occurs in Arabella 

Stepping and Stepping over, that occur in Gyroscope

Compulsory and continuing captures, that occur in TwinDraughts

Promotions of various kinds, that are given different names to reflect different representational aspects of games.....the pieces are considered in Steps as being more than just pieces (more as participating characters reflecting the representational aspects of their game) and promotions can be considered the culmination of a sometimes long and perhaps dangerous journey for some of them.....sometimes there is an actual promotion - e.g. as with a Page in Kaleidoscope whilst at other times a rescue may be carried out - e.g. as with a Pikeman in Meridian, and there may be choices.....each game has its own type of and name for these moves, and it should also be said that participating characters with the same move may have different names in different games for the representational reasons said above, and sometimes additional details are given such as the arms they wield or their age and so forth.



Referencing the above games will explain the moves

There are numerous possible further descriptive terms that can be used in connection with moving and an example occurs in Promotions above with journey and another called pouncing (that also refers to Checkmating) is mentioned in Meridian, another possibility would be to use the term landing for when pieces such as Knights, Lancers, Hawks or Magic carpets move to (land on) squares.

It is emphasised that nowhere in Steps, or indeed Lace, is there à outrance and in connection with this is the further representational point that in both Steps and Lace after battles (games) most all of the participating characters are set free to return to their homes – and they return unharmed or fully recovered, and even Cannons and Catapults only stun temporarily, but this is enough to enable captures to be made.



Points scored are called Satellite game points or Satellite nominal points to distinguish games in Steps along the way of Chess from others, but this is for a future time when.....(currently as Background and Representation but definitely anticipated).....they will have an official certificate issued (with registration – returns are made from journals of tournaments etc.) that will be exchangeable with currency of Merridonia* (aka Satellite world) and with no tax liability or implications - tax on Merridonia is consumption based and not income based - and with the exchange rate for Satellite nominal points initially set at 50% of that for Satellite game points; but the issuing of official certificates for Satellite game/nominal points must be authorised by myself, the author, and it is not likely they will be so until the future and so for the present time points scored carry no meaningful value and…..Riders: Notwithstanding what is said elsewhere all points, however described, are (Satellite) Token points only and this is the case throughout Steps along the way of Chess and A Lacework of Strands, or indeed anywhere, until and unless authorised otherwise by myself - the author, Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls (SAE Nicholls), and also note that there is no right of exchange between Merridonian currency and other currencies, and no exchanges are planned…..

*All official Satellite points, even if token and carrying no value+1, are credited to players to ensure there is a proper record of points they have won, whereas if they directly received currency instead this might not be the case…..official Satellite points are those authorised as such by the author…..with further regard to the currency of Merridonia I would add that there is genuine opportunity to earn today’s equivalent of a yearly income of 100,000 GBP after tax i.e. ‘take home’ amount, indeed more - but genuine hard work would be required, and coupled to this is that Merridonian property prices all-inclusive are scarcely a tenth of those of Arda, though their quality (including settings) is of the highest+2… is then entirely possible for an individual to buy a good house outright and to have good savings+3 within one year…..there would also be small houses suitable for one individual to live in and their quality would also be of the highest as would their settings, and for these I have A New Hope - that they are included free with a person’s invitation to Merridonia

+1That Token points carry no value is said several times in Steps, but when the system is authorised to be activated it may well be that after an individual has won a certain number of these points they would be converted to a Game point – Token points would then carry a value, if small

+2It is sometimes said in Arda ‘Let the buyer beware’ - but this principle, if such it is, has no standing in Merridonia

+3A Merridonian Savings Account is shown at the end of the page together with A Further Hope.



…..But how much would a Satellite game point be worth compared to a Western chess point of today (2019).....Well.....

.....It is difficult to give any sort of answer as to the value of a typical Western chess tournament point.....But.....the 2017 Isle of Man tournament had 161 (160?) entrants for the masters category including some of the very strongest players in the world with a top prize of 50,000 GBP - considered a very high sum for a Chess tournament.....the total prize fund for this category was 110,250 GBP and there were nine rounds played.....this gives a total number of masters category games of 160 x 9 / 2 = 720 and an average value per point of 153 GBP, but this is a very blunt measure as only a few players share in the prize fund.....what then would be the (very blunt measure) average value of an official Satellite game point.....Well.....I would hope for something very much more than this (also see the above, and the note attached, regarding Merridonia’s taxation and incomes and prices) but for this to happen the presentation of the games would have to be much more interesting and colourful than Chess in its various forms is currently and Role-playing, mentioned above, may be one possibility - here there could be all sorts of things such as persons playing the role of pieces on giant boards and dressed in costumes (players could be dressed in costumes too), and introductory productions of the background to the games prior to them commencing, and many other possibilities (also game adventure holidays would be an interesting possibility).....something along these lines is in fact performed to an audience of around 3,600 several times in September of even numbered years in the town of Marostica in Italy and below is a picture of this.....the moves it seems are inspired, at least in part, by the game Adolf Anderssen v Lionel Kieseritzky, shown later in Studies etc.



Also see Further thoughts - Name changes etc. where representational sets of Western and Chinese chess pieces (as distinct from Role-played pieces) are shown and also a highly representational board design called the New-Camelot board is shown.

As well as the presentation of games there is the recording of them and the games in this book have many characters as pieces and together with the background story and representational aspects and settings for the games it is, I feel sure, possible to record an interesting game as a story along with the actual moves.....there is also commentating of games with analysis of them whilst they are in progress (and also post-play comments with analysis) and a key game at top level well commentated on and analysed whilst it is in progress can be very exciting for listeners, particularly if the game is an interesting one.   






Part one: The Games


I) A Chess Set


A Chess Set contains what might be thought of as the cornerstone of Steps along the way of Chess, and could perhaps be read as a stand-alone book and so is given a separate page on this site by this name.....



II) Additional Games


The Additional Games here have a few ideas not included in those of A Chess Set and all have features that could be considered very much as novelties and the games are now a long way from the base games of Steps and are too individualistic to be included in any group of games as set out in part two - on second thoughts though perhaps not, as is mentioned later.....this does not however mean they have any less to offer to those who may be interested in Chess games and one or two of the novelties contained in them are, so far as I am aware, unique to such games.....




The Game of RiverQi



RiverQi (one word where Qi is pronounced as in the English word key) has a few changes from Chinese chess that it is based on and of these the most significant one is the rule on crossing the River as explained in moves of pieces that follows - the effect of this change is to have a River of 18 squares that has much strategic and tactical significance in the game whereas in Chinese chess the River has no actual effect. In addition to this the Foot soldiers have influence on and around the River though they promote one square later than the Soldier of Chinese chess and Horses have been replaced by the more mobile Warrior knights. There are also two game variations described.



Spoken Legends and Myths tell of this battle in that it is known the battle takes place in the River Territories and these legends and myths also tell of the centuries-old conflict of QiPlacements.....Lore speaks of the stream of QiPlacements from centuries earlier becoming this large River over time and lore also speaks of there having been internal strife within the Blue and Green houses since the time of QiPlacements with new lines replacing them although houses and territories were renamed by the time of RiverQi without reference to colour (though many still call the territories the Rainbow territories).....the dispute over the (now) River has not diminished over time however and has increased as the River itself has grown in size and the belief in its magical healing powers has also increased as the beneficial effects of the River are becoming more apparent and once again battle is about to break out over rights to the River of many bridges as it has become known.....



The object of the Battle (Game) is to Checkmate the opposing Empress and this wins the battle and secures priority over rights to the River of many bridges.



Board at commencement




Moves of Pieces


The Rule on crossing the River referred to earlier is that no piece is allowed to cross directly from one territory to the other either by way of move or capture without first landing by way of move or capture on a River square (these eighteen squares can be called bridges). If a piece is situated on the River then there are no such restrictions. The rule has no effect on most pieces however.

Capturing and moving powers by comparison to Western chess/Chinese chess are:

An Empress – she is identical to the General of Chinese chess.

A Chariot is identical to the Chariot of Chinese chess except that the rule on crossing the river applies to it.

A Cannon is identical to the Cannon of Chinese chess except that the rule on crossing the river applies to it. Note that the rule’s application depends on the Cannon’s finishing square and not where the “screen” is – the screen could be on the River as well as in a territory.

A Warrior knight – he is identical to the Knight of Western chess and so he can now leap - unlike the Horse of Chinese chess that he replaces.

A Defender – he is identical to the Elephant of Chinese chess and so he can only use seven squares that include two on the River.

A Shieldsman – he is identical to the Guard of Chinese chess and so he is confined to his Fortress and can only use five squares.

A Foot soldier – he is identical to the Soldier of Chinese chess except that he promotes on his seventh rank to a Leading Foot soldier and not on his sixth rank. The seventh rank is after crossing the River.

A Leading Foot soldier – he is identical to the Promoted Soldier of Chinese chess except that as stated he has been promoted on his seventh rank.


Further Rules and Notes

Empresses may not face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file as the two Generals may not in Chinese chess - see QiPlacements in A Chess Set for the representational aspects of this and for ornamentation for the Empresses…..also like the General an Empress is confined to her Fortress.

Pieces are 3D and not disc-like as they are in Chinese chess.

Note that Generals in Chinese chess are piece names and not player names as they are in RiverQi.

Crossing a river would in reality most likely slow down combating forces as it actually does for Chariots and Cannons in RiverQi, but the increased mobility of the Warrior knights in RiverQi over the Horses in Chinese chess results in a more level number of moves required to cross the River for the stronger pieces and may lead to increased cohesion of pieces.

To be clear: Captures of pieces situated on the river (or moves to the River) can made by a piece situated on either territory or by a piece situated on the River itself, i.e. the whole board.

Players or sides or individual pieces are usually referred to by Yellow or Red but Northern or Southern is allowed.



The title of Empress is nominal only as neither Empress has rule over other Territories and will not do so even if their Combatants win the battle.

Shieldsmen also wield Swords as well as Shields.

Chariots and Cannons are manned.

The River does indeed have many bridges.


Game variations

The above variation of RiverQi can be considered as the core variation and would be described as the Soldier variation if a distinction with the following two variations were required. The two variations are called the Hawker variation and the Water-horse variation and are as follows:


The Hawker variation (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.)

This only differs from the Soldier variation in that Soldiers are replaced by Hawkers with Hawks and the moves of these are as follows (note that much of this is representational):

Five Hawkers are initially deployed on the same squares as Soldiers and each of them carries a Hawk.

A Hawker moves to and captures on one position vertically forwards as does a Soldier until he has reached the opposing Territory on his seventh rank when the following takes place:

Each Hawker carries with him a Hawk that is a trained attacking bird and will attack opposing Combatants situated in the opposing Territory.

Each Empress has instructed all her Hawkers to release their Hawks upon reaching the opposing Territory.

The Hawker releases his Hawk and withdraws from the battle and his Hawk is left by herself on the position that the Hawker was on.

The released Hawk can exercise her moving and capturing powers commencing on the next move.

If a Hawker is captured before releasing his Hawk, the Hawk is also captured.

A Hawk’s moving and capturing powers cannot be used before she is released.

A Hawk differs much from a Leading Foot soldier. A released Hawk is confined to the opposing Territory where she is released into and she cannot move or capture outside of this Territory (nor on the River). A Hawk can move along any path that is vertically forward, vertically backward or horizontal and land upon any unoccupied square along one of these paths regardless of any intervening Combatants, i.e. a maximum of eleven squares (if all are unoccupied) – this moving ability is called flying. When capturing, however, a Hawk can only capture on one adjacent position that is vertically forward, vertically backward or horizontal i.e. a maximum of four possible squares. She can either move or capture on a move – she cannot do both on one move.

Also see Further thoughts - Further pieces, where other flying pieces of the mythological Dragon and Winged-serpents are described.


Hawks enable the possibility of a tactical attack or counter attack that may intensify the battle for control of the River, and it may be that the Hawker variation becomes an equally or even preferred main core RiverQi variation to the Soldier variation.

Scores are the same as for the usual Soldier variation.

As a representational point Hawkers that have withdrawn from the battle after releasing their Hawks then guard any captured opposing Combatants.


The Water-horse variation (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.)

In this variation that should be considered as an experimental variation with no scoring until more is known of it the Warrior knight is replaced by a manned Land-horse and he reverts back to having the move of the Horse of Chinese chess; and in addition to this:

Each side has two large Water-horses (a very representational piece) that are confined to the River and commence on squares B6 and H6 for Yellow and B5 and H5 for Red.

A Water-horse moves as does a Land-horse except that she can additionally move (thread or swim) through her immediate diagonal squares, but these squares can still be blocked from her moving through in the same way that blocking occurs with a Land-horse and also note that her confinement to the River prevents some movement for a Water-horse.

Cannons are initially deployed on D7 and F7 for Yellow and D4 and F4 for Red.


Possible additional experimentation:

There are a number of possibilities for additional Water-horse experimentation - e.g. to upgrade the moving of the Water-horse to have no blocking (called diving and the water equivalent of leaping on land) or to downgrade to only moving through blockable immediate diagonal or horizontal squares, and further experimentation could include putting back the move of the Land-horse to that of the Warrior knight (and Soldiers could be replaced by Hawkers with Hawks) may be that these move variations give rise to one or two more preferred Water-horse variations or it may be the one above is preferred - it remains to be seen, but for the time being the one above remains as standard*

*Except that I think the Water-horse, since she is confined to the River, could only be captured by a piece situated there and this being the case the Cannons can be deployed on their traditional squares of B3 and H3 for Yellow and B8 and H8 for Red.



Some brief testing has been done for the above standard variation of Water-horse and the game seems to play OK, and so I think there can be scoring for this on a par with the Soldier and Hawk variations.

Whilst a Land-horse is manned a Water-horse is not – but this could quite possibly change TBD.

The exceptional swimming skills of the Water-horse enable her additional moving abilities.

Could the Water-horse variation be of interest to players of Japanese chess - more usually called Shogi…..perhaps, but there are significant differences between them*

*Perhaps the most significant difference is that in Japanese chess captured pieces can be brought back into the game by the player who made the capture – thus they change sides…..this rule could be brought in for many Chess games (or not included in Japanese chess), but there is no game in Steps that has this rule and there are no plans for any of them to have it.



Information Table





The Game of Siege



The idea of Siege is for a game that is somewhat the opposite of games like Storm in that it is less sudden and perhaps more contemplative and is a game of manoeuvring and consideration of different parts of the board and I think it also likely that Siege would generally run to more moves than Storm.

There are in fact one or two novelty features in this game such as the availability of receiving advice from a player’s (called Commanders) adviser (called Staff officers) once in a game, probably at a critical point, and there are two possible ways of winning.

The Game of Siege came about when I was reading comments by Joe Joyce (a long-time inventor of Chess variants) some years ago who remarked that if something was not happening on one part of the board he liked the possibility of making something happen on another part – Siege was the result, but on a smaller board than Joe envisaged.



For several years the Rocky Lands have been at war with itself over a number of major political differences and there have formed two separate groupings, with armies, known as the Northern Alliance and the Southern Alliance. There have been a number of inconclusive battles with only small parts of their armies, but now the major parts of the two armies have met at Hilltops Range (whose residents are themselves split on allegiance but do not take part in the battle - but see representational later) in what is the crucial battle of the war.



There are two ways of winning Siege:

1. To take the enemy General prisoner (same as Checkmate) that scores three points, or

2. To Capture (occupy) enemy headquarters that scores two points.



Board at commencement




Moves of Pieces


A Note on the Hilltops:

The Hilltops, shown on the board (Hilltops range), are both high and almost vertical on all sides and are insurmountable without specialised equipment and so they are unusable by either set of Army Staff or Equipment (pieces) - this is of course very representational. These two areas therefore act as an edge to the board in their effect on how pieces move. The Hilltops cannot be occupied at all and they, or any part of them, cannot be moved over or captured over. Examples of the effects of the Hilltops are given in the section on moving and capturing powers.


A Note on Headquarters:

Each Headquarters, shown on the board, has been set up by the General and are the same as any other usual positions and have no effect on the moves or captures of any of the pieces except for the Banner carriers as explained below.


Initial deployment of pieces is as shown and their moving and capturing powers by comparison to the pieces of Western chess/Chinese chess etc. are:


A General - he is similar to a General in Chinese chess except that he is not confined to his headquarters. He can move to or capture on one position vertically forwards or vertically backwards or one position horizontally. The two Generals may stand on diagonal positions next to each other as neither attacks the other in this situation, and in contrast to Chinese chess they may face each other along an otherwise (between them) empty file (or rank). Note that the two Generals are not initially on the same file.

The effect of the Hilltops is that a General can move or capture along them with moves e.g. D3 to C3.


Banner carriers – these are a group of men who carry the Banner of each army though they and their Banner only occupy one position on the board and are treated as one piece. They can move to an unoccupied position that is one position diagonally forwards or an unoccupied position that is one position vertically forwards. They have no powers to capture opposing pieces or to check the opposing General except that they can capture the opposing group of Banner carriers with one of their usual moves. Since if one carrier were captured the rest of the group would carry on the group (piece) cannot be captured except by the opposing General (who takes the entire group as prisoners) or as already stated by the opposing Banner carriers (who also take the entire group as prisoners). If the Banner carriers reach and occupy either position of the enemy Headquarters then they have Captured Enemy headquarters and this wins the battle – it makes no difference if the position they have reached and occupied is under attack, even by the opposing General, and it makes no difference if the other position in the Enemy headquarters is occupied or not. If the Banner carriers are captured then the difference to the battle is that their Army then only has checkmate as the winning objective. The Banner carriers have been given the mission of Capturing Enemy headquarters and must stay on squares that enable them to reach enemy Headquarters and these are shown on the diagram of the board in a darker green (being forested) and so the Banner carriers must not stray off these darker coloured squares that lead to their goal – it can be seen that some of these squares can only be reached by one of the groups of Banner carriers and when on these outside squares (paths) the Banner carriers can only be captured by the opposing General.

To re-state: Banner carriers can only capture the opposing Banner carriers and the only other piece that can capture Banner carriers is the General.

The effect of the Hilltops is that Banner carriers can move or capture along them with moves e.g. for the Southern Alliance Banner carriers, E4 to E5 or across the diagonal edge with moves e.g. C3 to B4.


Other than the Hilltops’ restriction only the Banner carriers are restricted in their use of the board.


A Cavalryman - he is identical to a Knight in Western chess

The effect of the Hilltops is that a Cavalryman can move or capture around the outside of them with moves e.g. C3 to E4 or to B5. The Hilltops have dotted lines to help show what moves or captures are possible and what moves or captures would not be possible for a Cavalryman e.g. G3 to H6 is not possible.

A Scout - he is identical to a Bishop in Western chess.

The effect of the Hilltops is that a Scout will have his moving and capturing path cut off short in many positions, e.g. on D3 a Scout cannot move or capture to B5 or A6 though he can move or capture across the diagonal edges to E4, F5 or G6 etc .


A Cannon - It is identical to a Cannon in Chinese chess.

The effect of the Hilltops on the move of a Cannon is to cut the move off short e.g. from E5 it can only move horizontally to F5 though it has the full range of vertical moves along the E file as it can move along the sides of the Hilltops. The height of the two Hilltops is too much for the trajectory of the Cannon to fire over and so capturing moves are cut short e.g. a Cannon on C1 can only vertically capture on C3 (if C2 is occupied) though the full horizontal 1st rank is here available for capturing. Capturing can take place along the side of a Hilltops e.g. a Cannon on D3 can capture all along the 3rd rank.


A (Moveable) Stockade - this can simply be called a Stockade and it is identical to a Chariot in Chinese chess (or Rook of Western chess without castling rights).

The effect of the Hilltops on the move of a Stockade is to cut the move or capture off short e.g. from H7 it can only move or capture vertically to H6 or H8 though it has the full range of horizontal moves and captures along the whole 7th rank and a Stockade would have the full horizontal range of moves and captures along the whole 6th rank if positioned on H6 as it can move or capture along the side of a Hilltops.


An Infantryman – he differs from the Pawns of Western chess or the Soldiers of Chinese chess. He moves or captures one position diagonally forwards except that on his first move he has the option to move, but not capture, two positions diagonally forwards to the 4th rank and the first diagonal position must also be unoccupied as he cannot jump. Upon reaching his eighth rank an Infantryman can be exchanged for one of the following of his side’s pieces that is held prisoner (captured - also see the game of Storm previously for the distinction between held and taken):

A Cavalryman or

A Scout

If a Scout then the Scout’s original diagonals must match with those of the Infantryman’s (both are “colour-bound”). If no piece of the above is available then the Infantryman is promoted to a Senior infantryman and he can move to or capture on one or two positions diagonally in any direction (eight maximum) though he cannot jump but only “slide”. Where one or more pieces are available to exchange, a Player can still choose to promote the Infantryman to a Senior infantryman, but the Infantryman is not allowed to remain as an Infantryman.

The effect of the Hilltops on the move of an Infantryman or a Senior infantryman is that they can move or capture across the diagonal edges e.g. from G3 to F4 or C2 to E4 (first move or Senior infantryman) but not over an edge such as a Senior from G3 to I5. Also some Infantryman cannot make a two position move e.g. the Infantryman shown on B2.



Each player may appoint and confer over a move with a Staff officer once during a game. This must take place away from the playing area and whilst the Player being advised has the move and so the time is then charged to his clock. The Staff officer to the Blue commander is called the Blue Staff officer and the Staff officer to the Grey commander is called the Grey Staff officer.

A Player does not have to appoint a Staff officer.

En passant type moves are not allowed (either by Infantrymen or Senior infantrymen).

The Banners in Siege are plain coloured and are the same as the basic colours of their sides (Alliances) i.e. dark blue and mid grey. The Banners are the same on both of their sides.

Game variation: For some it may be that it is more in keeping with the game for the Infantrymen not to have an optional two square first move and this could be called the Trench variation whereas having the two square option could be called the Field variation (though there is forested land further towards the middle of Hilltops range).....there is no reason why this option should not be decided between the players prior to a game by arrangement, traditional means, or by roll of dice or coin; and it is even possible for the board to be two sided with different colouring and/or markings for the second ranks to suit the variation.....object and scores and so forth are otherwise the same.

Further Game variation possibilities: It seems that both the above variations of Siege can be played where Infantrymen instead move as do Berolina pawns (this site has a page by this name describing this popular variant piece, though the pronunciation here is as in the English word 'line'). The only difference to an Infantryman (Regular infantryman as a name? or Regulars for short? - perhaps) is that a Berolina infantryman (as a name? or Berolinas for short? - probably) captures (his non-capturing move is the same as a 'Regular') one square vertically forwards and not diagonally as does a 'Regular'.....Subject to testing being OK there is again no reason why this should not be another option decided by players as described above, and games could be tagged e.g. Trench variation - Berolinas. An initial two square move (non-jumping & non-capturing & diagonal) option of a 'Berolina' would apply to the Field variation. The two types of Infantrymen would differ in appearance in order to show what option is being played.....Subject to testing being OK, object and scores and so forth would again be otherwise the same. 


Notes on Game variations

It may, I think, be better not to allow any en passant type rules for Berolinas as with Regulars; i.e. not allow this type of rule at all for Siege (some possibility remains TBD though).

With regard to the exchange for a Scout by a Berolina the Scout's original colour must be that of the "promotion" square - Berolinas are not "colour-bound" as are Regulars and it may be possible for a player to play for the exchange of a Scout that would not be possible with a Regular (perhaps a slight advantage to a Berolina over a Regular in this regard, though a Regular can attack more squares - perhaps 60% more or so as a rough average - compared to a Berolina and this greater attacking power may give Regulars the advantage overall compared to Berolinas as they may be able to better put into effect a break-through between or along the Hilltops).

Other variations are possible e.g. one side could play with Regulars and the other with Berolinas or these Infantrymen could be mixed for both sides, and a Siege group along the lines of those described in Part two: Grouping of Games might be possible, but these would require much testing and so at the moment are not considered mainstream and would score no points - the most likely group format would have the Bridge game with one side's Infantrymen all being Regulars and the other side's all being Berolinas (usually south's first move advantage is offset by north having the stronger pieces).....there may be interesting potential and in the future.....?


Further Rules and Notes

There is no castling type move.

Any points that a winning Staff Officer receives are a matter for agreement between him and his Commander.

Players or sides or individual pieces can be referred to by the Northern/Southern Alliance or North/South or Northern/Southern or by Blue/Grey.

Should the Checkmating of an opposing General and the Capturing of enemy Headquarters occur simultaneously there would still only be three points scored - for taking the opposing General prisoner (Checkmate), as such a situation would be considered incidental only.



Siege is loosely based on the battle of Gettysburg that is considered the key battle in the American civil war of the nineteenth century CE.

The game is well suited to a possible role playing re-enactment with the Commanders, Staff officers and on-board Generals perhaps taking leading roles, or possibly a 'what if' re-enactment perhaps including Commanders, Staff officers and Generals who were not actually historically at Gettysburg.

The specially marked and coloured 10x8 board and the pieces and even players etc. should be highly representational and decorative and the board probably very large - possibly the Hilltops could be 3D.

The direction pointer on the board is not intended to be reflective of army positions at the actual battle of Gettysburg.

The reason for taking the opposing General prisoner scoring more than Capturing enemy headquarters is that taking a General prisoner would likely bring the war to a fairly quick conclusion whereas the capturing of enemy Headquarters only would not likely do so as quickly, but if a player's General is the more likely to be taken prisoner then by Capturing enemy headquarters he may have changed a possible loss of three points into a win of two - a swing of five points.

Cannons are manned.

Personnel are on hand to move Stockades.

In contrast to what was said earlier in background, it may be that some of the residents of Hilltops Range do enlist as Infantrymen (on both sides) and this could form part of a wider background drama to the game.


Information Table





The Game of Gyroscope



Gyroscope uses the most short range of pieces on just a 5x5 board but despite this the uncommitted Royal piece can lead to complex and challenging situations and the game should test players far beyond the level of beginners. There are a few influences from the 1965 novel Dune by Frank Herbert - a novel that mentions a Chess variant game called Pyramid chess, though this game is much different to Gyroscope.

Gyroscope can be described as a Maze game.



The game takes place in the future when two Directors of the Board of Dune (the governing body of the desert land known as Dune) require the services of an exceptionally capable trade broker known as the Golden broker of Dune city or simply as the Golden broker, and an agreement has been reached between the three that the Golden broker will contract his services for five years to the Director who the more proves his ability at Gyroscope game play, and so a game of Gyroscope has been organised that will decide who obtains the contract.



The object of the Game is to Corner (Checkmate) the Golden Broker. The player who delivers this Checkmate move wins the game and so also wins the contract.

Unlike Western chess there is only one King here who is not on either side but can be attacked by both sides and he does not move unless he has to evade a check and then the player who would have had the move for his own pieces must instead move (or move with a capture) the Golden broker out of check or capture the checking piece with the Golden broker or the player can capture the checking piece with a piece of his own; after this move the player who made the checking move moves again. As can be seen players still move alternately in this situation. It should be noted that when the Golden broker is moved out of check he cannot move to a square attacked by a piece of either side i.e. any piece at all but he can capture a piece of either side i.e. any piece at all including of course the piece putting him in check (unless the capture puts him in check).

To restate: The Golden broker only moves (and not necessarily so then) when he is in check.

And also to restate: When a check is made to the Golden broker then any move or capturing move whatsoever must then leave him completely un-attacked by any piece of either side i.e. any piece at all.



Board at commencement


The above diagram is a 2D representation of the board and actual boards are usually 3D and shaped as a pyramid and vary considerably in size. It is possible to play on a 2D board however. The board is called the Pyramid of Dune board or the Market Pyramid of Dune board.


Moves of Pieces

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

The Golden broker is primarily coloured golden as his name suggests.

Moving on the same level of the Pyramid is called moving whilst moving up or down one level is called stepping though only the word moving will be used mostly - for simplicity. All pieces are capable of stepping or moving.


Initial deployment of the pieces is as shown on the board and together with their names and their moves are as follows:

The Golden Broker – he can move as a King of Western chess does and is Royal and must evade a Check etc.

A Guildsman – he can move as a King of Western chess does but is non-royal and so does not have to evade a check or capture etc. Guildsmen are not on the board at the commencement of a game.

A Tradesman – he moves one square vertically or horizontally. Upon reaching the top level of the Pyramid (square C3) he promotes (he must do so) to a Guildsman.

A Freeman – he moves as does the Knight of Western chess except that he is not a leaper as such and so he can only move to a square no more than one level up or down – as stated above this is known as stepping (the usual Western chess Knight could leap two levels on this board). As can be seen the Freeman cannot move to the top level of the Pyramid - his moves are however unimpeded as he can ‘Step over’ any intervening pieces.

A Bondsman – he moves one square diagonally. As can be seen the diagonal squares do not lead to the Pyramid’s top level and so no Bondsman can move to there.

As stated players move alternately, but if a player loses all his Members (pieces) he does not necessarily lose the game, but his opponent continues to move his pieces until Cornering (checkmating) occurs or if this is not possible the game is a draw, and the player with pieces can concede a draw here. The player who has lost all his pieces still moves the Golden broker if he is put into check.



Further Rules and Notes

The squares of the board consist only of what are shown on the diagram and there are no hidden squares beneath those on a higher level.



The setting (of the board) is that it is the main Trading exchange centre of Dune and situated in the capital – Dune city. This centre is shaped like a pyramid and consists of a number of fine desks set out in exceptionally well fitted offices (the squares on the board can be called offices). This Trading exchange centre is usually called the Market pyramid of Dune whereby the more senior Exchange members occupy offices that are situated higher up the pyramid. Dune does not have a great deal of resources and the management of these scarce resources is considered of great necessity and Directors (the most senior of such managers) are on the Board of Dune who, as stated, are the governing body of Dune though the main boardroom is not actually in the pyramid. There are others besides Directors though that are on the Board of Dune such as scholars of various disciplines. The populace appoint members of the Board for ten years.

Pieces are members of the Trading exchange.


Information Table





The Games


III) The Jewel series games


The ideas behind the Jewel series games (can be called Keys in Time) are, in part, influenced by two computer applications for Western chess, one being Chessmaster Grandmaster edition (2007 with a chess engine by Johan de Koning) where there are different objectives to Checkmate in the mini games section, and the other being Majestic Chess (2004 with a chess engine by Dave Kittinger) where there are numerous targets and goals set and puzzles to be solved with rewards along a journey; and the Jewel games also have different objectives to Checkmate, at least of a Royal piece but perhaps not so of a square - called the Key position, and can be described as Convergence games.....(also see Further thoughts – Other possible games etc. – Object variation from TigerChess; though this is not intended as part of the Jewel series).....and there are also extra rewards available along the way.....Majestic Chess quotes former world (Western) Chess champion Anatoly Karpov as saying “The greatest game of all time just got better!”.....and it could be that the Jewel series, or other Steps games, are suitable for such a computer software application - but this is probably for the longer term future.

Although they can be played as Stand-alone games the Jewel games are meant to be played primarily as a linked series of games in a Group of games and the workings of the group are explained in Part two: Grouping of Games. The alternate bonuses talked of in Grouping of Games are however described under each game that follows here.

Whilst it is customary (but not compulsory) to state ‘Check’ when a Royal piece is under attack this situation as such does not arise in the Jewel series and the more readily visible occupation of a Key position and its implications, or the less readily visible threat or possibility thereof, do not perhaps always suit such a statement and so there need be nothing said although possibly a statement of ‘Check’ in Northern Light or Lost Treasure may be said for attacking the appropriate pieces that are necessary to occupy a Key position in order to win (a Princess or a Leader) but again this is not compulsory and it may perhaps be better advised not to give warnings in these situations, but players must here decide for themselves.


A note on Zugzwang:

As currently with all Steps games the Jewel games do not allow voluntary passing of moves even though having to move can sometimes lead to disadvantage or loss of a game - this situation is known to Chess as zugzwang.



The Game of Duel

Introduction and Background

This practice game for the Jewel series is suitable for beginners to play so as to introduce them to the idea of Key positions.....the background is that a young Prince arrives in a castle after facing many perils battling through a forest to rescue a young Princess but is confronted by a Guard, both are armed with swords and have a duel around a staircase (the B2 square and the Key position – explained later) that leads up to the room where the Princess is held captive – if the Prince wins he will rescue the Princess whereas if the Guard wins she will remain a captive.

There are influences in the background from the mythical tale of Sleeping Beauty.



The object of the Duel (game) is to Win the Key position as explained later.


Board at commencement

Moves of Pieces

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

Both the Prince and the Guard move as the King’s lancer of LancerChess and are not impeded by the B2 square that they can jump over or land on or capture on.


As stated, the object is to Win the Key position (or simply to Win the key) as follows:

1. The Prince or Guard needs to have reached and occupied the Key position of B2.

2. The Prince or Guard must occupy the Key position for the immediate next turn of his opponent. This means that his opponent must capture him immediately or lose the game.


Players move alternately as stated above although if one side has his Prince or Guard captured then the opposing player may carry on moving until occupying the Key position and this wins.


Further Rules and Notes

Clocks would typically be Single-countdown of perhaps ten minutes for each player.

Players or Sides or pieces can be called Green/Red or North/South but usually the individual names of the Prince/Guard are preferred.


An example game is given where the Guard moves first:

1. Guard to B1 - if the Guard moved to either A1 or C3 he would be captured and the Prince would then proceed to Win the key position. Moving to C2 is effectively the same as B1.

1... Prince to A2 – any other move loses.....if the Prince moves to C3 then the Guard moves to B2 and Wins the Key position as he cannot be captured immediately as required.....if the Prince moves to A1 or B3 then the Guard captures him.

2. Guard to B3 – again any other move loses.....if the Guard moves to C1 the Prince moves to B2 and Wins the Key position as he cannot be captured immediately.....if the Guard moves to A1 or B2 then the Prince captures him.

2... Prince to C2 – once again any other move loses.....if the Prince moves to A1 the Guard moves to B2 and Wins the Key position whilst moving the Prince to B2 or A3 allows his capture.

And now both sides must jump back and forth across the Key position and the game ends by threefold repetition of moves/position. It is not possible to force a win.



The B2 square on the board are the Stairs and is called the Key position, but these do not impede the moves of either the Prince or the Guard and the board can be ornamented with Stairs.


Information Table



The Game of Skirmish

Introduction and Background

Skirmish is the first game played in the Jewel series but could also be played for practice by players who are inexperienced in the idea of Key positions.....the background is that Long Long ago somewhere in a Forest kingdom a dispute arose as to rights of way between two patrolling sets of guards and this led to a Skirmish to decide what set of guards would have priority at a main crossroads.


Object and Moves

Object: The object is to Hold the Key position B2 (the Crossroads) and this is the same as to Win they Key position as in Duel except that any piece can do so, not just one.


Board at commencement

Moves of Pieces

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

The Crossroads do not impede the move of any sliding piece - a difference to others of the Jewel games (see Further thoughts - various).

Knight – he is identical to the Knight of Western chess

Pikeman – he is identical to the Pawn of Western chess except he has no initial option of moving two squares and upon reaching his end rank he must promote to a Pike commander.

Pike commander – he can move or capture one or two squares in any direction but cannot jump i.e. he can only slide (see Further thoughts - various).


As stated, the object is to Hold the Key position of B2 and to do this:

1. A Skirmisher (piece) needs to have reached and occupied the B2 Key position.

2. He must then Hold the Key position for the next turn of his opponent. This means that his opponent must capture him immediately or lose the game. If his opponent does capture him then he would then himself have reached and occupied the Key position and would himself win the game unless he is then likewise immediately captured and this condition continues until no capture is made. As can be seen Knights cannot actually occupy the Key position.

If any Skirmisher has captured the last opposing Skirmisher but is not occupying the Key position then he (or any other Skirmisher of the same side) may carry on moving until the Key position is occupied (if this is possible or if not possible then the game is a draw) and this wins the game.


Further Rules and Notes

Clocks would typically be Single-countdown of perhaps fifteen minutes for each player.

Players or Sides or pieces can be called Green/Red or North/South or as in the Information Table below.

Against an experienced player nothing more than a draw should be expected but an inexperienced player may perhaps make the wrong move.....

An example game is given where south moves first:


1. Southern knight captures C3 - a straightforward opening move

1... Northern knight captures A1 – and a straightforward reply

2. Southern knight to B1 – attacking north’s Pikeman on A3

2... Northern knight to B3? – attacking south’s Pikeman on C1 and seemingly the position is equal.....But.....

3. Southern pikeman to C2 – attacking north’s Knight and south wins in all variations (north needed to move his Knight to C2).....And.....

a) if north’s Knight tries to escape to A1 then south’s Pikeman promotes to a Pike Commander on C3 and.....if north moves his Knight to either B3 or C2 south will capture him next move and after north’s Pikeman moves to A2 (the only move) south will move his Pike Commander to Hold the Key position.....or if north's Pikeman moves to A2 then south's Pike commander moves to B2 and immediately holds the Key position.....

b) if north’s Knight tries to escape to C1 then south’s Pikeman again promotes on C3 and.....if north moves his Knight to B3 south will capture him next move and after north's Pikeman moves to A2 (the only move) south will move his Pike Commander to Hold the Key position.....or if north moves his Knight to A2 south will capture north's Pikeman next move and (after north moves his Knight) south will then move his Pike Commander to occupy the Key position.....or if north’s Pikeman moves to A2 then south’s Pike commander moves to B2 and immediately Holds the Key position.....

c) if north replies in kind with Pikeman to A2 then south promotes his Pikeman by capturing north’s Knight and.....if north then once again replies in kind by capturing south’s knight and so promoting his own Pikeman then south captures north’s Pike commander with his own and south will then move his Pike Commander to Hold the Key position.....or if north promotes on A1 instead of capturing south’s Knight on B1 then south plays - Pike commander to C2! and north cannot avoid the capture of his Pike commander on the next move and then south will move his own Pike Commander to Hold the Key position.


Information Table



The Game of Combat


Combat is not so easy to calculate ahead as Duel and Skirmish and the first move may well give a definite advantage. It seems however that with correct play the game probably ends in a draw after fifteen or so moves but I am not certain of this and it is easy to go wrong.

There are some influences in the background of the story of the mythical Robin Hood – variations of this story are readily available on film and much is available elsewhere.



The one-time noble, but now turned outlaw, prepared to loose the arrow of his longbow, but the target was not a person but a tree in the path of a hurrying armed troop of a King’s sheriff and the rules of chivalry demanded that the bowman give fair warning of the intended attack he was about to begin. The shot, though distant, was an easy one for the bowman who was considered possibly the finest archer in the entire Realm and he had indeed won the inaugural all-Realm archery tournament held just a short time earlier.

The causes of the attack about to take place in this long ago time had their origin some years previously when the most powerful King amongst the disputing kings and nobles of the Realm took up a cause in far distant lands but found the cost of his venture way beyond even his means to pay. This King, convinced of the necessity of his cause, decided to partly finance his coming expedition by means of taxing those inhabitants who were under his rule. This heavy tax was forced into being with little support from others of the nobility and was hugely unpopular amongst those who had to pay for it as they found the tax a great burden and could scarcely raise the amounts needed to pay for it.

The tax was levied and eventually collected but there were many who resented what they saw as an unjustified tax and some, including the bowman, decided they would rebel and take action to redress matters. Thus it was that when the collected taxes (of great value and now exchanged into gold coins) were being transferred to the King’s treasury, the bowman (who had received information of this transfer) and his supporters prepared to capture the chest of gold coins for re-distribution back to those who it had been (at least in the eyes of many) taken from unfairly.



For Combat the object is also to Hold the key position as in Skirmish – square C3 and this wins the Battle (game).


Board at commencement


Moves of Pieces

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

The C3 square on the board is the Taxes chest and is the Key position but does not impede the moves of any of the combatants because they can all jump or leap.


Moves of pieces are:

The Bowman and the Sheriff move as the King’s lancers of LancerChess

Sword-hands and Guardsmen move as the Queen’s lancers of LancerChess

Staffmen and Taxmen move as the Knights of Western chess.


As stated, the object is to Hold the key position and so:

1. A combatant of a troop needs to have reached and occupied the C3 Key position.

2. He must then Hold the key position for the next turn of his opponent. This means that his opponent must capture him immediately or lose the game. If he does capture him then he would then himself have reached and occupied the Key Position and would himself win the game unless he is then likewise immediately captured and this condition continues until no capture is made. Sword-hands and Guardsmen cannot actually occupy the Key position.


If any Combatant of a troop has captured the last Combatant of an opposing troop but is not occupying the Key position then he (or any other Combatant of his troop) may carry on moving until the Key position is occupied (if this is possible or if not possible then the game is a draw) and this wins the game.


Further Rules and Notes

If the winner of Skirmish has chosen the alternate bonus of moving first in Combat then there is of course no roll of dice or coin required to decide who moves first – although the winner of Skirmish may have won the roll of dice or coin anyway the advantage of moving first in Combat may be more than other games in the series (in that the side to move second, unless experienced, may have to be careful with moves throughout the game against an experienced player) and it may be that the winner of Skirmish will decide to make sure of first move in Combat – if that is he decides to choose the alternate bonus.

Clocks would typically be Single-countdown of perhaps thirty minutes for each player.

Players or Sides or pieces can be called Green/Red or North/South or as in the Information Table below.



The board can be ornamented with a taxes chest.


Information Table




The Game of Northern Light


As with all the games of the Jewel series Northern Light does not have Checkmate as its winning objective but to Win the Key position - or simply to Win the Key - and so there is not a Royal piece as in usual Chess games though Northern Light has a Princess that could be thought of as a Semi-royal piece, and the Key position is what could be thought of as a Royal square as with other of the Jewel series games particularly in the background circumstances/story of the game. Despite these differences however a good amount of Chess is present in the game with most of the pieces of Western chess on the board and there are similar tactics and so forth, but there are also different strategies to those of usual Chess games due to the differing nature of Winning the Key position compared to Checkmating the Royal piece and this may require different piece manoeuvres that some may find an interesting change.

As with other of the Jewel series games Northern Light can be described as a Convergence game.

A variation game called Kaleidoscope is included though this game does not form part of the Jewel series.



In a future time and in a Kingdom of Magical woods the Inhabitants are at a crossroads and possibly in a crisis, for a talismanic gemstone of great size and potency has been discovered in the Kingdom. This stone has been named as the Northern light and such stones with their potential for good are so rare as to be almost unknown and have attained near mythical status. The discovery of the stone has come at a time of dispute, for there are two young Princesses who have rival claims to the Kingdom’s vacant throne, and whoever succeeds with their claim will also take possession of this stone that has in the meantime been given over to the safe-keeping of trusted inhabitants of the Kingdom.

After much debate it has been agreed that the succession dispute and possession of the Northern light will be decided by means of a game where the rules of the game must be followed and it is a duty of care not to intentionally inflict injuries on opponents in the normal course of events.

The Princesses and their supporters have been designated for the purposes of the game as Green (north) and Red (south).



For Northern light the Primary object is to Win the Key position – square D4 and this wins the Northern light gemstone (game). The winning Princess also succeeds in her succession dispute.


Board at commencement


Moves and Rules

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

The D4 square on the board is the Northern light itself and is the Key position and acts as a block to sliding pieces i.e. the Aristocrats and Nobles (described below) and these pieces cannot move over the D4 square, they can however like all pieces move to or capture on the D4 square. Knights (described below) are unimpeded in their movement by the D4 square.


Western chess comparisons for piece moves are as follows:

Princess – she moves as a King, but though of Royalty she is not vulnerable to check or checkmate and so two Princesses can occupy adjacent squares or capture each other etc. 

Aristocrat - he moves as a Rook (but being no castling, is more accurately described as a Chariot of Chinese chess)

Noble - he moves as a Bishop

Knight – he moves as a Knight


Page - he moves as do Pawns of Western chess but does not have an initial move option of moving two squares and so the en passant rules do not apply.

Upon reaching his end rank a Page must promote to an Aristocrat or a Noble/Equerry or a Knight.

An Equerry moves the same as a Noble except that his set of diagonals are not those of the Key position whereas a Noble's are and so an Equerry, not being impeded by the Key position, is relatively more free-moving and he should have some difference of appearance to a Noble.


As stated in the object, to win the game a Princess needs to Win the Key position (this can be called more simply as to Win the key) and for this to happen the following needs to occur:

A Princess needs to have reached and occupied the Key position of D4.

The Princess must occupy the Key position for the immediate next turn of her opponent. This means that her opponent must capture her immediately or lose the game. The opponent can capture the D4 occupying Princess with any of his pieces including his own Princess (who would then herself need to be captured immediately or would win the game).

The loss of a Princess does not necessarily lose the game as a draw may still be possible; however the loss of both Princesses results in a draw (by lack of material).

If one side has all his pieces captured then the opposing Player may carry on moving until Wining the Key (if possible, or the game is a draw).....note that this does not apply to Stalemate situations that can occur in Jewel games where a player has one or more pieces but, on his move, cannot move any of them - this is a draw (this could change - see Further thoughts - various, and below).....also there is no equivalent in the Jewel games of a move disallowed, as there is in games such as Western chess etc., of moving into Check.....and also a player may not voluntarily pass a move in any of the Jewel games.....the situation described above where one player has lost all his pieces could be considered as forced passing and in these situations the player with pieces can concede a draw during this - this applies to other Jewel games.

It may be worth listing these situations with one or two comments:

Stalemate is a draw and is well known and applies to all Steps games with a usual Royal piece (one that requires to be Checkmated)

Voluntary passing of moves is self explanatory and is not currently allowed in any Steps game

Forced passing:

a) If all one players pieces are captured - this can occur in the Jewel games or Gyroscope and the rules for this are given in the sections for these games - the player with pieces may be able to win

b) If a player with pieces has no move available - this is similar to Stalemate but could occur where there is no Royal piece as with the Jewel games, and it is this situation that needs some rules drawn up (see Further thoughts - various, and above)

Blockading is a term for a situation that occurs in TwinDraughts games and is explained in this section.


Further Rules and Notes

If the winner of Combat has chosen the alternate bonus then his time allowed for Northern Light is 50% more than that of his opponent - this increase would be set for the parts making up his timing, but note that swing clocks - see timing of games later, may not be suitable here.....also first move may have been decided by the winner of Skirmish choosing the alternate bonus.

The capture of a Princess does not score any additional or bonus points.

There is no significance in a piece occupying D4 other than a Princess.

The capture of the opposing Princess (perhaps following a 'Checkmate' of sorts, though this might be called an 'Encirclement' - see kaleidoscope that follows) ensures at least a draw and so can be considered a Secondary object that effectively scores a half point - as much as the player would effectively further score for subsequently Winning the Key, and so the Princess could be thought of as a Semi-royal piece.

There is no castling type move (see Further thoughts - Various).

Although there is no castling the Key position can shield a Princess from attacks by Aristocrats and Nobles, and the Nobles all move on the same diagonals as the Key position is on and so the other set of diagonals are safer from attack in a different can be seen the green coloured squares can block attacks by either Aristocrats or Nobles and they could be called shielded squares or perhaps semi-shielded since the block is either vertical/lateral or diagonal and then a shielded square could be used to describe a square such as the one the Princess commences on where it shields her vertically from Aristocrats and cannot be attacked by Nobles - she is not however shielded here from lateral attacks by Aristocrats, if a square did all this it could be termed a fully or totally shielded square; note that shielded as used here is a specific term for these type of squares and that they also occur in other Jewel games.

Giving Pages a two square initial move option could give the first side to move too much of an initiative on this size board and the en passant rules could be too influential - Pages as they are take five moves to promote, the same as Pawns do in Western chess but only when they first move two squares - they take six otherwise, on average then Pages take less moves to promote than Pawns, but on average they take more moves to cross the centre of the board and move into opposing territory - three, whereas for Pawns it is two or three depending on their first move.

Players or Sides or pieces can be called Green/Red or North/South or as in the Information Table below.



Being unimpeded by the D4 square an Equerry may be advantageous in certain situations and as a promoted and free-moving Page who is young he may be considered a dashing young officer with a bright future - should his Princess succeed that is.

The board’s D4 square should have a suitable Northern light gemstone ornament.

Unlike other Steps games the pieces of Northern Light (and Kaleidoscope next) when captured are not actually held captive and placed at their opponent's end of the board, as is usual, but are placed as observers (and not captives) at the side of the middle of the board (on their own player's right-hand side) where they observe the remainder of the game.


Information Table (as a Group game)

Differences as a Stand-alone game are:

South moves first.

Choice of sides is decided by arrangement, traditional or by roll of dice or coin.


Game variation - Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope can be played as a Stand-alone variation of Northern Light and the following differences and points apply:

The object of the game is to Encircle the opposing Duchess – Encirclement is identical to Checkmate and so players should say 'Check' when the Duchess is under attack but this is not compulsory.

The Princesses are replaced by Duchesses who are identical to the Kings of Western chess. The Duchesses are, like the Princesses, young, but not quite as young.

The board is identical except that the D4 square should have an ornamental Crown (called the Woodland crown) instead of an ornamental Northern light gemstone - the D4 square still acts as a block to sliding pieces in the same way as with Northern Light.

Stalemate applies to Kaleidoscope as in Western chess.

South moves first.

Choice of sides is decided by arrangement, traditional or by roll of dice or coin.

Scores are one Satellite game point for a win and a half each for a draw.

The background and representational points of Northern Light also apply to Kaleidoscope except that the rivals are the Duchesses instead of the Princesses.

In other respects the games are the same (but see Further thoughts - Various, regarding castling type moves).

Both Northern Light and Kaleidoscope are talked of further in Parallel chess in Part two: Grouping of Games.



The Game of Crystal of Doom


Crystal of Doom is likely to be a more tactically complex game than Northern Light and many pieces could become involved in the struggle to achieve the game’s object of Securing the Key position. There is though still much in the way of the usual tactics and objectives of Chess but there is no ‘Semi-royal’ piece as with Northern Light and the placement of pieces may have the Key position much in mind.



The talismanic Crystal of Doom lies at the centre of an overgrown and crumbled labyrinth in a jungle and two rival sets of forces have arrived and both seek to gain possession of this most powerful of talismans. The whereabouts of this crystal have long been unknown and only a legend of a far away land and time but its location has now finally been discovered. Inside the labyrinth are writings about previous adventures concerning the Cloaked Kingdom and amongst the writings is the story of the time in the far distant past when a wicked magician attempted to usurp the rule of this kingdom and in order to make himself invulnerable placed his heart at the top of a seemingly impregnable tower and so the wicked magician believed he could not be harmed and would succeed in his plans but here the story becomes less easy to read but it seems a young Prince ended his wicked ambitions (see Arabella earlier).

The discovery of the crystal has rather polarised those of the rival forces (pieces). Those of the northern forces believe that this legendary gemstone will always bring harm and disaster upon those using it whilst those of the southern forces believe that with understanding the crystal can be used to beneficial effect. Both sides now seek to secure possession of this gemstone. The northern forces will if they secure possession put an end to it whilst the southern forces may if they secure possession seek to use it.

Both sides have arrived at the labyrinth and will now battle to secure possession of the crystal.



The object of Crystal is to Secure the Key position – square E5 and this wins the Crystal of Doom (game). This is somewhat more complicated than Holding or Winning the Key position and is explained in the rules section.


Board at commencement (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.)


I have also shown Crystal princes and Seers + Orbs (page enlargement might be needed to see these on e1 and e9) - these are talked of later.


Moves of Pieces

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

The E5 square is the Crystal of Doom and is the Key position and as with Northern Light acts as a block to sliding pieces i.e. the Rollers and Attackers and these pieces cannot move over the E5 square but can however like all pieces move to or capture on the E5 square. This square has no effect on the movement of other pieces though.


Moves by (mostly) Western chess comparison are:

A Cloaked prince – he has the combined moves of a Knight of Western chess and a Queen’s lancer of LancerChess.

An Adjacent - he moves as a King of Western chess but is not vulnerable to check or checkmate etc. and so is not “Royal”.

An Attacker - he moves as a Bishop of Western chess.

A Leaper – he moves as a Knight of Western chess.

A Roller - he moves as a Rook of Western chess (or as there is no castling, rather as a Chariot of Chinese chess).

An Advancer - he moves as a Pawn of Western chess including the initial two square move and the en passant rules apply.

An Advancer must promote on his end rank to an Adjacent, an Attacker, a Leaper or a Roller. If he promotes to an Attacker on the set of diagonals that the Attackers do not cover (these are not blocked by the Key position as the Attackers' are) he is called a Raider and he should have some difference of appearance to an a representational point he may be considered as a daring auxiliary and, should his side win, perhaps further advancement awaits him.  


As stated the object is to Secure the key position and for this to happen any piece must first occupy the position but here the opponent does not need to immediately capture this occupying piece but does need to at least maintain an attack (after completing his move) on this occupying piece whilst this piece occupies the Key position or will lose the game – should the occupying piece be captured then the same conditions will then apply with regard to the now opposing occupying piece and this would continue if there were further captures.

If one side has all his pieces captured then the opposing player may carry on moving until Securing the key (if possible, or the game is a draw).


Further Rules and Notes

If the alternate bonus applies then the piece advantage means that the player with the advantage commences with two Adjacents whereas his opponent commences with only one Adjacent and he must place only one on his choice of side of the board, or alternately he can choose to have a Crystal prince, who moves as a Knight of Western chess and a King’s Lancer of LancerChess, instead of a Cloaked prince – a Crystal prince attacks more squares than does a Cloaked prince on most of the board (56 of 81 squares) - see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.

Although an additional Adjacent is a greater material advantage than a Crystal prince over a Cloaked prince the advantage of choosing a Crystal prince over an additional Adjacent is that he can be brought into the game early on and perhaps make a quick impact whereas an Adjacent is shorter ranged and may take significantly longer to make an impact.....with a Crystal and Cloaked Prince a series of attacking and counter-attacking and defending moves etc. involving them could take place and this could be termed a swordfight.

There is no castling type move.



The board can have an ornamental Crystal on the E5 square.

All Princes - all being youthful, wear swords and in a swordfight as mentioned above perhaps (being slightly talismanic) they glow - green for north and red for south.

A further background/representational possibility is that inside the Labyrinth it is gloomy and Players moves are (perhaps need to be) communicated through a Relayer (who can see through the gloom) to their forces - possibly communication is via 'seeing-orbs'.....Relayers would participate but more by way as decorative/ornamental pieces and are non-forceful  (they cannot be captured - at least during the game, but have no independent powers of movement or capture and they have no practical effect on the game).....they accompany their Princes during the game (perhaps romance has developed during the trek to the labyrinth - part of an introductory background story/adventure during the trek?) - if a Prince is captured his Relayer would stay on the square where he was captured, she would then mark the square of her Prince's capture (the capture of a Prince, or exchanges thereof, could be a significant moment in a game)..... since Relay is (currently) the name of the Jewel series tie-break game Relayers may be called Intermediaries (or Seers? - more likely, or Conveyors?).....This possibility might, I think, require the agreement of both Players - but might not TBD.


Seers and their Orbs are slightly talismanic - there could be special effects with Orbs e.g. they may glow to indicate who has the move and cast a low light (green for north, red for south).


Information Table


Although not shown on the above table as such Seers are, as stated, non-forceful pieces.



The Game of Lost Treasure


Lost Treasure is likely to have a slower build up than Crystal of Doom due to only two pieces on each side being able to win the game and the game’s object of Capturing the Key position could be thought of as a combination of those of Northern Light and Crystal of Doom.



The Lost Treasure has been more myth than reality for many centuries and supposedly was somewhere within a huge island known as the Lost World but none knew where this was.....however exploration within a permanently foggy part of one of the great oceans has indeed revealed a huge island and an initial exploratory expedition has reported that there is indeed a vast amount of treasure within caverns that are at the centre of this island. The Island appears to be uninhabited may not be.....and two rival expeditions have set sail to recover this Treasure. The voyages are long and both have set off from the Realm – one from a northern region called Forestasia and this is the Northern expedition and one from a southern region called Anglonia and this is the Southern expedition (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.).....there are a number of personnel on board the expedition ships including the Recorders. The worth of the Treasure is thought to exceed that of the rest of the world put together.

Forestasia’s expedition will, if successful, use the Treasure to assist with the natural world of life and suchlike and also education whilst Anglonia’s expedition will, if successful, use the Treasure for private purposes.



The object of Lost Treasure is to Capture the Key position – square F6, and this wins the Treasure (game) and is explained in the rules section.


Board at commencement



Moves of Pieces

Moves are made alternately, but see below.

The F6 square is the Treasure and is the Key position and as with Northern Light and Crystal of Doom acts as a block to sliding pieces i.e. the Captains and Navigators and these pieces cannot move over the F6 square but can however like all pieces move to or capture on the F6 square. This square has no effect on other pieces though.


Moves per Western chess comparisons are:


Leader – he moves as a King but is not vulnerable to check or checkmate etc. and so is not Royal.

Navigator - he moves as a Bishop

Armed escort - he moves as a Knight

Captain - he moves as a Rook (or as there is no castling rather as a Chariot of Chinese chess).


Orderlies move as the Pikemen of LancerChess but do not have the initial two square move option.

Orderlies must promote on their end (8th to 11th) ranks to either a Navigator, an Armed escort or a Captain.


As stated the object is to Capture the Key position and this is the same as Securing the Key position as explained in Crystal of Doom but to win Lost Treasure the occupying piece must be an Expeditionary leader and not any piece as in Crystal of Doom - there is no significance in any other piece occupying the Key position.

If one side has all his pieces captured then the opposing player may carry on moving until Capturing the key (if possible, or the game is a draw).


Further Rules and Notes

If the alternate bonus applies then the take back one move advantage means that the player may, before completing his current move, take back his immediately preceding move - the position on the board is adjusted accordingly and play proceeds from there, but clocks however are not usually adjusted.

There is no castling type move

Should both opposing Leaders be captured a draw at least is ensured, and if one has been captured then the capture of the remaining Leader may take on extra significance than the capture of the first one because of this and so one remaining Leader could be thought of as a Semi-royal piece and his capture a Secondary object.....this feature could be compared to that with the Princesses in Northern Light and also with the Princes in the game of Citadel - a game that includes the, probably very rare but perhaps very striking, possibility of a move called a 'Green Gem' (this game forms part of Tiger's-eye Games by Glenn Nicholls and is set out in a page on this site called Citadel - 8 & 9 rank).....a Green Gem (of sorts) could also occur in Lost Treasure though there would be no bonus points scored for this - a basic definition for a Green Gem in Lost Treasure could be (with both opposing Leaders on the board): a single move that captures one opposing Leader and leaves the remaining one unable to avoid immediate capture.  



The board can have ornamental objects as representational of items of Treasure on the Key position square of F6.


Information Table



The Game of Relay


Relay is a game of three stages where each stage is larger than the one before and could be described as a series of Race games and the use of a dice brings a fairly large element of luck into the game though it is not without skill and the game can be played by teams of up to three players. It is very broadly based on Backgammon, but perhaps more so on Ludo - the rules to both these games are readily available. There are two standard variations: the Running variation and the Obstacle variation, and the relatively few rule differences are noted - the Obstacle variation is the one used as the tie-break game for the Jewel series.

Games in A Chess Set do not use a dice during the course of play when moves are made, but sometimes a game involving the luck of a dice may make a change from Chess and with Relay even an inexperienced player has a chance of winning against a strong player.



A game in the Jewel series has finished in a draw and because games must be decided as they happen the game of Relay is played and this consists of up to three races (these can be called Legs or Race-legs if preferred) that take place in the stadium of a running club.



The object of the game of Relay is for both a player’s runners to return to their Starting/Finishing square (see Further thoughts - Various) before both the opposing runners do so – this wins a race, and the first to win two races wins the game. After players have started the Starting squares then become the Finishing squares.


Board at Commencement (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.)



Instead of being square, boards could be circular or oval or shaped as a running track, but care would be required to clearly enable diagonal sending back (explained later)


Moves and Rules


Moves are made alternately.

Each side has two runners (can be a boy and a girl) for each of their three distances as shown on the board i.e. short, middle and long.

Prior to starting each race the runners are situated as shown on the board and these are called their Waiting squares – D2/D6 and D1/D7 and D-Southern surrounds/D-Northern surrounds. The runners' corresponding Starting squares are D3/D5 and D2/D6 and D1/D7.

One standard dice or preferably a Runich dice of suitable size – see later, and a rolling cup are needed for races. For the middle and long distance races all six sides of the dice are used. For the short distance race only amounts of one to three are used to move runners and the method used is that if a four, five or six is thrown then the number on the opposite side of the dice is turned up and shown and used. Opposite sides of a standard dice add up to seven and so this method works to give equal chances to moves of one two or three squares.

Players start first with the Short distance race and these runners are then moved to their Starting squares of D3 and D5. The first player to move throws the dice and must move a runner clockwise the number of squares he has thrown on the dice and so if he has thrown a two (or a five) he would move a runner to square C4. After the first move the opponent does likewise and moves one of his runners clockwise according to the throw of the dice and were this a four (a three is opposite to this) he would move one of his runners three squares to square E3. Successive moves are simply made in this way until and unless a runner is sent back to their waiting square.

Sending back means that a runner on the track must return back to his Waiting square and so to complete his race he must start again. There are two ways to send back an opposing runner and they are what are called forward sending back and diagonal sending back. Forward sending back occurs when a runner lands on a square with a single opposing runner on it who is then sent back. Diagonal sending back occurs when the square that a runner lands on leads diagonally across clockwise to the next side of the board with a single opposing runner on it e.g. if a runner landed on C4 then a single opposing runner on D5 would be sent back; example squares from the Long distance track are A3 sending back on E7; D7 sending back on G4; G3 sending back on E1 and so forth. The central square of D4 is the Clubhouse (a representational point) and acts as a block to diagonal sending back however and so a runner landing on any corner square cannot diagonally send back an opposing runner.

As can be seen it is possible for a sending back to occur both forwards and diagonally on the same move and this is called a Double sending back.

If a square is occupied by two runners of the same side then neither may be sent back and this is called a Protected square and the runners are called Protected runners – an opposing runner may still land on such squares however. As can be seen it is possible for one runner of each side to occupy a square and this can be called a Key square (while it lasts as such) as a runner landing on it sends back the opposing runner whilst he and his fellow runner are then Protected runners. Squares can also be safe from a sending back if no possible dice roll can do so and these are called Safe squares and any runners on them are called Safe runners. Note that all these situations are only while they last as such and would constantly change.

A player may not choose to pass a move.


Running variation - for a runner that has been sent back a player must re-enter (see Further thoughts - Various) him to the race from his waiting square to his starting square on the player's next turn (the dice is not thrown) and he may not send back an opposing runner when this happens - effectively he loses a turn but re-entering back to the starting square does not constitute passing a move.

Obstacle variation - for a runner that has been sent back a player may choose when to re-enter him to the race from his (safe) waiting square to his starting square (the dice is not thrown) but he may not delay re-entering if this would mean choosing to pass a move (for example, if his fellow runner finishes his race then he must re-enter without delay) and he may not send back an opposing runner when this happens - effectively he loses a turn but as with the Running variation the re-entering does not constitute passing a move.

Runners cannot block other runners when they are moving and a runner simply overtakes any runner in front of them if the throw of the dice takes them past them.

If a race has not ended after a set number of moves have been made by each player called the cut-off point (the numbers are stated later) the rules change and now there is no more sending back at all. The player who moved second when commencing the race now moves first for this phase of the race. The two phases of the race can be described as pre cut-off (this includes the set move number) and post cut-off. The object of the race is the same and should now be reached.

Note that it is not necessary for a player to throw the exact amount on the dice to land on their starting/finishing square for a runner to complete their race but only the minimum necessary and the runner then returns to (is placed on) the Clubhouse - a runner can send back an opposing runner with this move but only if on his Finishing square and only if the exact amount on the dice is thrown to land on it.

After the completion of the short distance race players then commence the middle distance race with first move reversed from the short distance race and the winner of the short distance race receives an extra throw of the dice to start with.

After the completion of the middle distance race players then commence the long distance race if needed – one of the players may have won the required two races, with first move reversed from the middle distance race and the winner of the middle distance race receives an extra two throws of the dice to start with.


The cut-off points for each race are as follows:

Short distance – Fifteen moves by each player

Medium distance – Twenty moves by each player

Long distance – Thirty moves by each player



There are further ways of playing a sending back besides the two variations given; for example a runner could be sent back to his waiting square and re-entering to his starting square (or dice counted square) could require the highest possible roll of the dice.

There could be more runners etc. but the above is standard.

If preferred the term Flat races can be used instead of the Running variation and Jump races instead of the Obstacle variation.

Players or Sides or pieces can be called simply North/South.

A different team member may play each race.

Starting/Finishing squares may differ in appearance from other squares.

With the Obstacle variation a player has the possibility of positioning runners to give more likelihood of sending back opposing runners and so an extra element of tactics/strategy is present that is not in the Running variation and some might prefer this.


Information Table

Differences as a Stand-alone game are:

South moves first for the first (short distance) race.

Choice of sides is decided by arrangement, traditional means or by roll of dice or coin.

North colours are mainly Green, South colours are mainly Red.

The game takes place in the Relay Running stadium of Bridge Green.

The game takes place in the future.

For both variations Satellite game points for a win are one.

Different players may play the individual Races but how they share any winning point is a matter for agreement between themselves.

For both variations in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances Satellite game points might be awarded of a half to each side.



Part two: Grouping of Games


As well as being Stand-alone games some of them may suggest themselves as forming a related group and where this happens they can be played as a grouped format by individuals or by suitably named teams of small numbers – up to four or so, large numbers would not allowed – and where additional points can be scored as a group bonus for an overall win as determined by total points scored for and against. Points for each individual game and bonus points are shown below - where teams play bonus points are shared as they agree between themselves and they are free to decide who plays what game(s) and should elect a captain. Note that whilst team players may consult between games this does not mean players consulting in a single game - this does sometimes happen and a famous Western chess game with this is given below, further background and details of it are readily available:

Paul Morphy v Karl II, Duke of Brunswick and Comte Isouard de Vauvenargues in consultation.....this famous game was played in 1858 during an opera at an opera house in Paris and is sometimes called the Opera Game - Paul Morphy is regarded as the world's strongest Western chess player of his time and won the game on his 17th move with Checkmate following a Queen sacrifice – the moves were:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Bg4 4. dxe5 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 dxe5 6. Bc4 Nf6 7. Qb3 Qe7 8. Nc3 c6 9. Bg5 b5 10. Nxb5 cxb5 11. Bxb5+ Nbd7 12. O-O-O Rd8 13. Rxd7 Rxd7 14. Rd1 Qe6 15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 16. Qb8+ Nxb8 17. Rd8 Checkmate 1-0.


Of the games that follow - and as already stated in the general introduction - the basic rules of how to play Western chess and Chinese chess and Capablanca chess are readily available as they are for Arabian chess and Mongolian chess. The other games have already been described.

It is hoped that by grouping games into groups this will result in more than the sum of the parts of the individual games: A study of the workings of groups - see below, shows that tense situations can arise with many points at stake on the outcome of one game and this in turn can depend on a single move, for example if scores are level in the Meridian group at the commencement of Combination then a win in this game effectively scores seven points - two for Combination itself plus the five group bonus points that would have been secured; also the bonus points can exceed the sum of the points scored for individual games by the group winner(s), for example three points scored in the Chequered group for the individual games secures the group bonus points of four. Also see Enhanced game status designations below.

There are a number of possibilities of forming groups - one based on Siege has been mentioned and a River group based on the RiverQi variations might be possible, and a thought is for A Steps Trilogy with LancerChess and the core variations of RiverQi (Soldier variation, but the Hawker variation might not be precluded) and TwinDraughts (perhaps the Royal variation) - these three games are much based on Western chess, Chinese chess and English draughts.....and these three raise the question: are they the most played (popular?) board games ever -  who can say, but notwithstanding this the current standard groups follow and consist of:


Group tie-breaks, Parallel play, the Runich dice, Clocks and TwinDraughts are described later

A first thought on the bonus for A Steps Trilogy (the description for this type of group would be a trilogy) is that it could be the same as the points won by the group winner, thus doubling his winnings - this bonus would vary from three (meaning a tie-break was played) to six, and so spanning what is available for the standard groups.....another thought is for the first two tie-break games to be LancerChess and RiverQi played in the parallel format (with each player moving first in one of the games), with the final third game (if required to be played) to be TwinDraughts but to First win and not Decisive win as in the main trilogy game.....further thoughts are: that the order of games played could vary by being decided by rolls of the Runich dice.....clocks could be Stepped combination with possibly Stepped swing for tie-break games.....first to move in the TwinDraughts tie-break game would be the player who only moved first once in the main trilogy (first move here would reverse for each game) and a draw in this final game would give the nominal trilogy win (and the bonus points) to the second moving player.....I think that representational pieces would be used throughout - this is in keeping with the term trilogy......also if the trilogy is played by a team the TwinDraughts games could be played by two teams of two.....

.....And the workings of the trilogy's variable bonus scoring compared to that of other group's fixed bonus scoring (examples above) is worth a look I think - in the trilogy a player can win the group on the second game (the game playing order is variable - compare this to other groups) as if both games are won he will have accumulated the sufficient four points and the second game then effectively scores six points - two for the game itself plus the bonus so far of four; but in this example the winning player can increase his bonus further depending on what he scores for the third game - if a draw the third game is effectively worth another two points (one for the game itself plus another one bonus point) and for a win the third game is effectively worth another four points (two for the game itself plus another two bonus points) - winning all three games scores twelve points.....another example would be where a player had accumulated three points after the second game (a win and a draw and not sufficient to ensure any bonus points) and where he won the third game - in this example the third game is effectively worth seven points, two for the game itself plus five bonus points.....

.....A Steps Trilogy may be very likely if the game of TwinDraughts proves to be OK..... 


The Rainbow group

The Jini group

The Chequered group

The Meridian group

The Forest group

These groups consist of three games and are described as Gatherings


The Jewel series group

This group of seven games is described as a Linked series


The Woodland parallel group

The Realm transfer group

These groups consist of two games and are described as Pairings


Also an example is given of Swing scoring with a possible Grouplet

Then the Groups landscape table is shown

And Exhibition play is talked of.

Additionally the Runich dice is shown.



The overall object of playing a group is partly to maximise points scored for individual games and also to score an overall win and so win the group bonus.

Some details of the standard groups now follow - the games are in playing order and called the Group's Stepping-stones (or Steps for short) 1,2&3.....the first two games (steps) are from the same stable of matched games and the third is the appropriate bridge game


The Rainbow group

1. Chinese chess

2. QiPlacements

3. Encounter

Tie break game is Chinese chess


Chinese chess could here also be thought of as QiPlacements - Traditional placement

For 2. QiPlacements the Open or Accelerated placement must be played (but not placements and/or subsequent moves finishing with the already here preset Traditional placement of Chinese chess or an Encounter placement and if placements and/or subsequent moves did finish with such, even were the player 'with the move' reversed, this would need to be considered proper or players could well forfeit the game) Group play the only offer and acceptance allowed is that of the Accelerated placement in 2. QiPlacements and other placements do not constitute offers, counter-offers or acceptances or bind responses – refer to the QiPlacements section where details of the Accelerated and other placements that constitute offers, counter-offers and acceptances and bind responses are set out for Stand-alone play, though these do not have any further implications as does the Accelerated in group play - see below.

For Encounter south has the Traditional placement - see QiPlacements


There is only a placement phase for QiPlacements – Chinese chess and Encounter are preset

All three games score 1 point for a win and ½ each for a draw

Group bonus points are 3, however.....


.....If for 2. QiPlacements the Accelerated placement is played the point from the Chinese chess game is added to the bonus to make it 4 points and transferred from the players – from each whatever they received from the game, then if one player wins the Accelerated game, as the game is called here, he wins the increased bonus of 4 points straight away – an accelerated winning of an increased bonus by the game that brought it about, and also has whatever he scored in Chinese chess returned to him (and scores the point for winning QiPlacements as usual) but the loser does not have anything returned from Chinese chess.....if the game is a draw the bonus reverts to three points and the Chinese chess point is returned to both the players as was transferred from them and the group carries on as usual until the overall winner is decided, if necessary by tie-break games.

The total points distributed for the group if the Accelerated is played can be 7, 6½ or 6 (six if not played), but this does not mean it is always advantageous for a particular player to play it....for example if a player wins Chinese chess he may decide his chances of winning the lower bonus with the Open placement are better than winning the higher bonus with the Accelerated – in this case the player could lose the Open but still win the lower bonus – the accumulated points scored would be level at this stage, but if he lost the Accelerated he would have lost the higher bonus (and his point from Chinese chess) straight away.....then again confidence may play a part.

Players should note that the Accelerated placement is intended to be arrived at by the prescribed procedure of offer and acceptance as set out - see QiPlacements, and that to arrive at the placement position in other ways (whether or not the player with the move is reversed and whether or not subsequent moves to placement are involved) would not usually be considered proper and players doing so could well forfeit the game.


The Jini group

1. Arabian chess

2. Arabella

3. Invasion

Tie break game is Arabian chess (see Further thoughts - Various)


Players must follow the procedures set out in Arabella to decide whether the traditional or modern variation is played for each of these games including any tie-break games

For Invasion those of the Kingdom (north) have the Talismans - see Arabella

All three games score 1 point for a win and ½ each for a draw

Group bonus points are 3 unless:

If either player wins the game of Arabella and also scores an overall win (including by way of Tie-break) their bonus points are 4


The Chequered group

1. Western chess

2. LancerChess

3. Clash

Tie break game is Western chess


For Clash south has the Knights – see LancerChess

Western chess scores 1 point for a win and ½ each for a draw

LancerChess and Clash score 2 points for a win and 1 each for a draw

Group bonus points are 4

As standard the pieces are of Staunton type (can be Gothic), however a possibility at the moment (perhaps a bit ambitious, but.....) is for Touchstone - described later, to replace Western chess and for LancerChess and so Clash to have similar styled representational pieces and to also adjust to the Touchstone promotion rules (Lancers also would be taken into account with these rules) including the background thereof.....but more than this is the possibility of a linking background story (Touchstone does link to LancerChess - see these games) and role-playing etc......the group would then be known as The Chequered Saga.....the production of this could be very interesting and striking, and if so Merit prizes would be awarded accordingly (perhaps determined by Theatrical marks they score*).....points scoring is the same as for the Chequered group, but if a draw the bonus points are shared - the Chequered Saga has emphasis on the theatrical-type aspects of the games and the Merit prizes could well more than compensate a side (probably a player team plus a production team) for any bonus points possibly foregone by not having a tie-break.....the group type description of saga refers to the production of a linking background story and the game may be preferred to be said to be played Sequentially rather than as Linear or Consecutively in order to make this distinction clear.

* This is a distinct possibility, though yet TBD, whereby various Steps theatrical and/or role-played productions etc. that are eligible for (perhaps substantial) merit prizes would be scored by such marks – the marks themselves carry no intrinsic or exchangeable value as would game or nominal points, but would decide who was awarded the prize(s)…..other types of marks could be used in other situations for similar purposes, e.g. best-game marks in a tournament - marks of different types are not directly comparable however…..marks can be distinguished from tokens as token points are a substitute for game or nominal points – token points won are the same amount as these would be but carry no value, whilst marks scored can be subjective scores (as would be theatrical marks) or subsidiary scores used for various purposes (see A Lacework of Strands for some examples) – marks scored themselves are therefore memorandum only whilst token points (though of no value as stated and not exchangeable for such) are credited to the person who won them…..Steps points and marks, when in full, are prefixed by ‘Satellite’ to distinguish them from others.


The Meridian group (see Further thoughts - Various)

1. Meridian 1st core variation

2. Meridian 2nd core variation

3. Combination

Tie break game is Meridian 1st core variation (may well be modified - see Further thoughts - Various)


Core variations are Western and Eastern variations - see Meridian

1st core variation is decided by roll of dice or coin

2nd core variation is the one not played in the 1st core variation

For Combination south Guards the Queen – see Meridian

The Escape rule is not (currently) in force – see Meridian & also Further thoughts - Various

All three games score 2 points for a win and 1 each for a draw

Group bonus points are 5


The Forest group (see Further thoughts - Various)

1. Capablanca chess

2. Storm

3. Crossfire

Tie break game is Capablanca chess


For Crossfire south has the Precedent and Adviser – see Storm

Capablanca chess scores 2 points for a win and 1 each for a draw

Storm and Crossfire score 3 points for a win and 1 each for a draw

All games, including any tie-break games, are played on the 10x8 board except both sides can agree to the 10x10 for any of them - the Arbiter should enquire as to this

Both sides may also agree to use Staunton-type pieces (but not Gothic)

Group bonus points are 6


Rules and Notes

The above five detailed groups are based around the games of A Chess Set and before moving to other groups some rules and notes are given for these five groups.

Notwithstanding their basic rules, Chinese chess, Arabian chess, Western chess and Capablanca chess must all accord respectively with QiPlacements/Encounter, Arabella/Invasion, LancerChess/Clash and Storm/Crossfire with regard to their rules and piece types and piece names, role reversals and protecting Queens, boards and so forth.

In these groups players change sides for the second and third games and then for the first Tie break game but do not change sides for further Tie break games. Sides for first games are decided by arrangement or traditional means or by roll of dice or coin - sides mean north and south, however named.

Tie-break - if the scores are level after the group games are played then two games of the tie-break game are played. If the results of these are level then a third game is played and if this game is a draw then the player of north, who has moved second three times, is awarded a nominal win and the group bonus points. There are no points scored for these games themselves as they are played only to decide who wins the group bonus points. If agreed the first two tie-break games may be played with the Parallel playing format - described later but here adjusted for players playing the same side in both games (see Further thoughts – Various).....teams can choose one or two players for parallel play (possibly that is - I'm not entirely sure of two players for this and it would require the agreement of both teams, if adopted).

Statistics for Western chess show that white (south), who moves first, would have about a 40% chance of winning a Tie break such as above if of three games of Western chess, but of course this may not apply to the other tie-break games. It should also be said that though north may appear to be at an advantage in a Tie break he may, as south, be at a disadvantage in the group third games where there is preset asymmetry.

For group games clocks are mostly set at typical tournament times and are Phased Countdown, Increment or Combination (preferred) type - clocks used in tie-break games are Phased Swing, with the standard variation being preferable set at faster times (typically a third or so overall time of typical tournament times). Independent Single countdown clocks are set throughout – see Part three: Timing of Games for an explanation of clocks and example tournament times.

Standard groups score Satellite game points throughout (except for tie-break games as stated).


Enhanced game status designations

Studies of these above groups also shows games as having effects on the outcome of the group bonus points and they are then designated as follows:

“Enhanced game status: Inactive”. This is where whatever the result of the game being played there will be no difference to who wins the bonus points as they have already been secured. As an example, if playing the Rainbow group, one side wins the first two games then they will have secured the bonus points and so the third game of Encounter would be designated as Inactive.

“Enhanced game status: Influential”. This is where whatever the result of the game the bonus points will not be secured by either side but the result may have a bearing on who eventually does win the bonus. An example of this designation would be the first game of Arabian chess in the Jini group.

“Enhanced game status: Critical”. This is where it is possible for one side only, depending on the result, to win the bonus points. As an example, if playing the Chequered group, one side wins Western chess then this side can secure the bonus by then winning LancerChess and the resulting lead of 3-0 wins overall, but the other side cannot do this. The game of LancerChess would here be designated as Critical.

“Enhanced game status: Pivotal”. This is where it is possible for either side to win the bonus points, but where it is also possible that neither side wins the points depending on the result. An example would be if playing the Meridian group where each side had won one of the first two games (or drawn both) - in this situation the third game of Combination would then be designated as Pivotal since if either side won this game he/they would secure the bonus, but a draw would not secure either side the bonus.

“Enhanced game status: Decisive”. This is where, whatever the result, one side achieves the overall win and so wins the bonus points. As an example, if playing the Storm group one side wins Capablanca chess and the other side wins Storm then whatever the result in Crossfire one side will win the bonus points - in this situation the third game of Crossfire is designated as Decisive.



The above set of prefixed designations are specific to situations occurring at a distinct stage within group play and are clearly defined and so should not be confused with similarly worded descriptions of positions/situations occurring within individual games - the prefixing of the designations with "Enhanced game status" is reserved for situations occurring within groups as here stated and not positions/situations occurring within individual games and so makes this distinction clear.....this also applies to the Jewel series group that the moment other current standard groups are of two games and not, I think, suitable for the use of these designations.

For the Rainbow group and the Accelerated game (if played) the game designation is e.g. “Enhanced.....Pivotal-accelerated”  and if won accelerated is tagged to game designations thereafter to indicate the accelerating (and increasing) of the bonus, but if not won there is no tag since the bonus has not been accelerated (or increased).....this tagging though may need to be done after the game has deployed for QiPlacements....a suitable ornament could be used here (perhaps an ornamental lightning bolt) placed alongside the board for the Accelerated game and if a player wins - Taking the accelerator as it is called, the lightning bolt would be placed at the end of his board for Encounter.....If authorised (this would usually only be for a high level playing of the group) a player who Takes the accelerator receives a prize instead of the additional bonus point (though he may choose the point if he so decides - he should not be rushed to decide) - the prize would be the game's board and piece set and should be worth two or even three times that of the bonus point (though refer to General notes where an idea of the hopefully much increased value of Satellite game points over current game points is said of).

Since winning Arabella in the Jini group can also increase the bonus this game is designated as e.g. "Enhanced.....Critical-key" and Arabella is here called the Key game, and if a win does occur the player is said to have Gained the key and key is tagged to game designations thereafter indicating at least the possibility of the player winning the increased ornamental key should be placed alongside the board for Arabella and if gained this should then be placed at this player's end of the board(s) for any remaining games.....If authorised (this would usually only be for a high level playing of the group) a player who Gains the key, and there being an overall win for him, receives a prize instead of the additional bonus point (though he may choose the point if he so wishes - he should not be rushed to decide) - the prize should be representative of treasure and should be worth two or even three times that of the bonus point (see above for the Rainbow group regarding this), and though treasure usually suggests items made of precious stones/metals other exquisite items are quite possible.

The designations should be shown along with player/team names and accumulated scores and any other relevant information.

Promoted games

All the above Tie-break games are those played first in their group and it is not possible for them to decide a winner (and so the group bonus) though they have a bearing on this and so are designated as Influential, but when played as the tie-break games they are now “promoted” to being the games that decide who does win the group bonus and here other designations where appropriate are applied to them that would not otherwise be so.....these promoted games include Chinese chess, Arabian chess, Western chess and Capablanca chess.


The Jewel series group

The Jewel series group (aka Keys in Time) does not include any of the games of A Chess Set and has different workings to the grouped games of above. Note that the Jewel series group can be called simply the Jewel group or even Jewel.

The series consists of a number of Rounds (rather than Steps) and each round consists of: Part 1: Games, being the Lead game (e.g. Combat, Northern Light etc.) and the Tie-break game of Relay if required, and then Part 2: Choice, being the choice of whether to have points or the alternative next game bonus.

Each Lead game has one or two points for a win but if this is a draw then the tie-break game of Relay (obstacle variation) is played and the winner of this (the first to win two races) receives the game point(s).....this is different to the other groups shown above where the tie-break game is played (if necessary) only after all the games have been played. At the end of the series there will be a winner (or winners if a team) because there are seven total game points and half points are not scored because of the tie-break for each game.....the group winner, who requires a minimum of four points, receives the five bonus points that the group series carries.....also for each game except the last the winner can choose to have an advantage (alternate bonus) taken into the next game instead of receiving the points for the game and in this case the game points are carried forward and the winner of the next game can receive the full points including the carried forward points or take an advantage into the next game instead, and this can be repeated until the last game and so it is possible for up to seven points to be won - for the last game that is - and in this situation the bonus of five points would also be decided by the result of this game unless a tie-break were needed - twelve points in all.....the maximum points for a single game in the other groups is nine – by the Storm games, but this Forest group can carry more possible total available points – fourteen in all.

This method of scoring is called cumulative scoring whereas the standard method of scoring is called independent scoring - the standard method applies to the individual games in other groups and also when a game in Jewel is won.

Players are allowed 30 minutes or so to choose between points or the alternate bonus, and they are allowed to discuss this with their team captain.

In contrast to the previous types of groups players can play the same side throughout the series.

One possibility with Team play is to restrict the level of playing ability for those who play Skirmish and perhaps Combat - for example team members who play Skirmish may only be beginners, but this would not apply to high level group play.

The beginner’s practice game of Duel does not of course come under series rules.

Jewel is meant to be mainly played as a linked series of games but can be played as Stand-alone games as is shown in the following abridged table – an unabridged table is shown in Further thoughts – Various.


Jewel table


Jewel - Enhanced game status designations

These are applicable to the Jewel group as follows:

Skirmish, Combat and Northern Light

It is not possible for the group bonus to be secured by any of these games since the required minimum of four points are not available at the end of this stage – only three are, but they have a bearing on who eventually does win and so they are designated as Influential

Crystal of Doom

The designation here depends on the points situation e.g. if the points so far have been carried forward then five points are available and either player can win the bonus, but since Relay is played if a draw and also the winner can choose the alternate bonus instead of the points the designation here is should be noted that one at least of the players of Crystal of Doom can win the bonus and so the game always has at least a critical designation.....Crystal of Doom could perhaps be considered the game that the outcome of the Jewel series often turns most on

Lost Treasure

The bonus may have already been secured by this stage, but if not a check of the possible scores will show it is possible for either side to do so; Lost Treasure then is either designated as Inactive if the bonus has already been secured or as Pivotal otherwise since either side can now win the bonus by winning the game or neither side can yet do so if the result is a draw


When played as the Tie-break game for Skirmish, Combat, Northern Light or Crystal of Doom - here Relay has the same Enhanced game status as the Lead game.....but if Lost Treasure is a draw then Relay will be designated as Decisive unless Lost Treasure is inactive and then so too would Relay be designated


Parallel chess and the Woodland parallel group

Northern Light and Kaleidoscope can be played by two players playing in tandem with the playing format called Parallel playing and then would be Parallel chess with the group name of the Woodland parallel group (or simply the Woodland group). A player winning both the games in this group would score an additional two bonus points - four Satellite game points in all, but they must be played as Parallel chess for the bonus points possibility to apply and both games must be won otherwise the usual Stand-alone points are scored, and the following also applies (see Further thoughts - Various):

Two boards are placed alongside each other and designated board one and board two.

What game is played on what board is decided by arrangement, traditional means or by roll of dice or coin – the relevant game ornaments can be placed on the boards for indication.

Who moves first on board one is decided by arrangement, traditional means or by roll of dice or coin.

With the Jewel series group games players usually play the same side and so colour throughout; however, players here may alternatively play different coloured sides for each game (mainly green and red – but then the usual north and south of the boards for Jewel is disregarded, and also see Further thoughts - Name changes etc. where board colours for Crystal of Doom are mentioned together with a general note on board and piece colours) – this is decided by arrangement, traditional means or by roll of dice or coin.

Following the above choice players choose what coloured side(s) to play their games with – this is decided by arrangement, traditional means or by roll of dice or coin.

The above choices determine how the pieces are set out on the two boards.

Players may only move first in one of the games.


With Parallel playing of Chess moves must alternate between the games - there are two acceptable patterns as follows.....(but note that South here is just a convention that refers to the player moving first in game one on board one, the board that is on his left side, and North is a likewise convention – players are seated opposite each other throughout as usual, and they do not change over).....

Firstly the Vertical (Player) crossover pattern:

1. South game one, 1... North game one; 2. North game two, 2... South game two;

3. South game one, 3... North game one; and so on.

Here the flow of moves is clockwise.


Secondly the Diagonal (Player) crossover pattern:

1. South game one, 1. North game two; 2... North game one, 2... South game two;

3. South game one, 3. North game two; and so on.

Here the flow of moves does not continuously follow a clockwise or anticlockwise direction.


Moving pattern is decided by arrangement, traditional means, or by roll of dice or coin.


There may be allowed a single or dual set of clocks; if there is a single set then players might wait to play their moves immediately one after the other – a longer wait but perhaps a greater and more exciting impact…..players may need to be careful about when they press their clocks (pressing one's clock stops it running and sets the opponent's clock running) and any referee may take this upon himself.


Parallel playing notes

The background story of the Woodland group is that the Kingdom of Magic woods is split between rivalries for the Northern light and rivalries for the Woodland crown (succession to the vacant throne) and that the Princesses of Northern Light are rivals for possession of the Northern light whilst the Duchesses of Kaleidoscope are rivals for the Woodland crown, however these sets of rivalries remain separate and do not meet.

With Northern Light and Kaleidoscope a comparison can be made between the different type of games that are produced by the different objectives of a Princess Winning the key and Inhabitants Encircling a Duchess and when the Woodland group is played this comparison can be made as the games happen - some might find it interesting to observe the games when played in Parallel format.

Parallel playing could be used for other Head games (as they are called) – Storm on the different board sizes for example, or the two core variations of Meridian (also mentioned in connection with tie-break games for the Meridian group in Further thoughts – Various), or the same Head game on both boards - see next, or various other Chess games or variations, or mixed games - perhaps of a much different type, and this format might suit exhibition play, but only the Woodland group in the above format is currently a standard group for this format.

The games could be tagged before their name as Game 1 and Game 2 with whatever game the very first move is played in being game 1.


Parallel match play

If a match (as distinct from a group) were played of one particular Head game with the Parallel playing format, then, instead of one player having the (considered so for most all Chess games) advantage of first move followed by the other player having this advantage for the next game* this advantage would be in balance.....there could be an uncertain outcome for both games until near their end with twice the points available and some may find this to be exciting in games in matches.....very high level match games would likely continue into a second day as there may possibly be twelve or even more hours of play and so there would then be an overnight intermission and probably one or two intervals - sealed moves would come into play then (see Part three: Timing of Games).

Also with Parallel play is that players need to consider how to allocate their efforts over the two games (and this may change as the games progress) so as to try and maximise the points they win, and so additional skills may be required to that of Linear play (as the currently usual match format of one game at a time can be called, though Consecutive is an alternative term – see note below).

Games could be tagged (perhaps after the name of the Head game) as Game 1 and Game 2 with whatever game the very first move is played in being game 1 - the Match round (or series??) number could also be tagged.

* Some (linear) matches change the first-moving player around at the halfway stage – thus for each half of the match each player has the ‘First game/First move’ impetus…..another (linear) possibility is: after the first game of the match when players change sides as usual, to then play two games with the same side before changing round for another two, and so on until the end of the match - this ‘Swing-changeover’ results in the Impetus changing over quicker than the ‘Halfway-changeover’ and may give opportunities to disrupt an opponent’s rhythm – perhaps leading to less draws+…..also see Changeover chess in Further thoughts – other possible Games etc. that uses this idea, but for moves within a game…..Both Parallel and Swing-changeover (or Pendulum if preferred) formats are a possibility TBD for Steps matches.

+ For example: if a player has two games to play as the first-moving side he may, depending, decide he can afford to chance an opening gambit on one of them – possibly even a risky one, and such possibilities could add flair and excitement to match games…..the overall match situation would of course need considering.


Note - Format tagging

Consecutive may be a useful term when tagging the formatting of match or other games – e.g. where a match is played conventionally with one game at a time (linear or consecutive play of games) with players changing sides after each game (consecutive changeover of sides) and with the standard moving pattern of one move played alternately by each player (consecutive making of moves) a match could include format tagging of Consecutive/Consecutive/Consecutive (games/sides/moves), and variations would simply be tagged as appropriate e.g. if match games were again played linear but with the pendulum changeover of sides – see the above asterisked note, and with the changeover moving pattern of Changeover chess – also see the above asterisked note, the tagging would be Consecutive/Pendulum/Changeover…..parallel play might only need e.g. Parallel/Consecutive as players usually play different sides together – they could however be noted as different or same sides if required or preferred so.


Transfer chess and the Realm transfer group

Following on from Parallel playing is another playing format called Transfer playing and this is based on and similar to a popular Chess game and its variations called Alice chess that was invented by Vernon R Parton (a page can be found for this game on this site).

The standard Head games for playing with the Transfer playing format are LancerChess – described earlier, and Western chess, and where so played this would be called Transfer chess.

Note that the roles of the King and Queen in Western chess have been reversed though their commencing positions are the same – this follows the pattern of LancerChess.

The rules for Transfer chess are as follows:

There are two standard 8x8 chessboards placed alongside each other – board one and board two (board one is on south’s left-hand side) and both boards have north and south at the same ends.

The object is to Checkmate the opposing Queen.

South moves first.

Choice of sides is decided by arrangement, traditional means, or by roll of dice or coin.

There are four deployment variations

A. all pieces for both north and south are deployed as usual on board one. This is called the Vertical closed variation.

B. all south’s pieces are deployed as usual on board one whilst all north’s pieces are deployed as usual on board two. This is called the Diagonal closed variation.

C. all pieces for both north and south are deployed as usual on board one except for their Royal pieces (the Queens) who are deployed on their usual squares on board two. This is called the Vertical open variation.

D. all south’s pieces are deployed as usual on board one except that his Queen is deployed on her usual square on board two, whilst all north’s pieces are deployed as usual on board two except that his Queen is deployed on her usual square on board one. This is called the Diagonal open variation.

Deployment variation is decided by arrangement or, if not, two rolls of dice or coin decide, where first roll decides either one of A or B or one of C or D and second roll decides between either A or B or between either C or D.

When a piece, except the Queen, completes a move or capture on one of the boards it must be transferred to the corresponding destination (finishing) square on the other board and in this connection:

A move must be legal before transferring.

The destination square on the other board must be unoccupied but intervening pieces on this destination board can be (effectively) jumped/leaped over.

A Queen may not transfer between boards but may make any legal move within her own board and in this connection:

A Queen may move to a square correspondingly occupied on the other board (even if by the opposing Queen) - see Transfer playing notes for implications of this.

Where a Queen is so situated as above and in a Check or a Checkmate situation occupancy of the corresponding square(s) on the other board is discounted, i.e. the effectiveness of pieces checking/checkmating a Queen is not reduced in any way by such squares.

A Queen must escape check if possible and a piece from the other board may be transferred to block the check.

Players must alternate moves as usual but do not have to alternate their moves between boards.

En passant captures are not allowed throughout all variations.

Castling or suchlike is not allowed throughout all variations (but some possibility remains for the closed variations TBD).

Players should state Check when the opposing Queen is in check though this is not compulsory.

For all variations played with this format and played as Stand-alone games LancerChess scores two Satellite game points for a win and one each for a draw and Western chess scores one Satellite game point for a win and a half each for a draw.


The Realm transfer group

This is a group played by two players with the Transfer playing format.

The details of play are as follows with the two group Head games played in the order shown:

1. Western chess

2. LancerChess



Western chess scores one point for a win and a half each for a draw

LancerChess scores two points for a win and one each for a draw

Bonus points are two but both games must be won

All points are Satellite game points

South moves first in both games

Choice of sides in the first game is by arrangement, traditional means or by roll of dice or coin, then players reverse sides for the second game

Deployment variations are decided by roll of dice or coin where: first roll decides one of variation A or B is played; then second roll decides one of variation C or D is played; then third roll decides their allocation to the two games

A player winning both the games in this group would score five Satellite game points in all, but they must be played as Transfer chess for the bonus points possibility to apply and both games must be won otherwise the usual Stand-alone points are scored.

The games could be tagged before their names with 1st Head game and 2nd Head game according to order of play


Transfer playing notes

The (limited) background story is that told of earlier in LancerChess – see LancerChess, but there is additional background in that with variations A and B the Queens are with their armies for their (relative) shelter and safety whereas with variations C and D they have been cut off from their armies due to a misunderstanding of messages sent to them.....this background also applies to the games when played as Stand-alone games in this format.

By confining the Queens to one board a certain amount of their scope is reduced than is otherwise, but this may sharpen the focus on the game's object to checkmate them and also the Queens may have safer escape moves cut off and so their positions may, depending on the deployment variation, be more precarious and some may find these things to be of interest. A further point of possible interest is that Queens can indirectly guard their own pieces (and also opposing pieces) on the other board by occupying their corresponding square since capture of this piece would not be allowed as the Queen occupies the destination square on the other board of the would be capturing piece - in this way a centralised and perhaps influential entrenched piece can be established on a board, but the Queen's position may be very precarious on the other (this Queen's allowable move rule could change but is unlikely).

There are other Chess games that could be played in this format and it is possible to have more boards and transfer rules for them, but only the Realm group in the above format is currently a standard group for this format.



Relay - Swing scoring and Grouplets

Relay could be used as a Tie break game for numerous games as well as the Jewel group games and in addition to this the Relay Swing scoring system (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.) could be considered as grouplet - see notes, and an example demonstration follows - note this system is not used for the Jewel group and also note that the Head game (LancerChess here) does not need to result in a draw:

A game, for example LancerChess (numerous others are possible), has resulted in e.g. a draw and so points are level at 1-1.

A game of Relay is played (preferably the Obstacle variation).

The winner of the short distance race has a point added to his score and so is one point ahead of the loser i.e. 2-1.

The loser of the short distance race can choose to accept the score and then players keep their points or he can choose to play the middle distance race.

If the Middle distance race is played the winner has one point transferred from the loser's points total.

The score is now either 3-0 to the winner of the short distance race or 2-1 ahead for the player who was the loser of this race.

If the score is 3-0 this ends the game with the final score as 3-0.

If the score is 2-1 then the loser of the middle distance race can choose to accept the score and then players keep their points or he can choose to play the long distance race.

The winner of the long distance race has one point transferred from the loser's points total.

The score is now either 3-0 or 2-1 and this being the final race this is then the final score.



If LancerChess had finished 2-0 then a score of 3-0 could have been possibly reached earlier than in the example.

If a player has zero points upon finishing the short distance race or the middle distance race this ends the game and the game may not extend beyond the long distance race.

Other games have other scores/results and so before Relay commences there may be different amounts than shown above for each player, but the principle is the same and equal amounts are always at stake for transfer.

There are no bonus points in the way of other groups though Relay gives an additional point.

The score amount transferable is the lower of the players' point scores up to a maximum of one point - it is not permitted for players to go below zero at any stage.

A grouplet consists of: Part 1 - the Head game and Part 2 - the Swing game: race 1,2&3, here being LancerChess and Relay and because there is only one head game this is called a grouplet.

Authorisation would be required for this system of play/scoring and there is currently no standard grouplet with this playing/scoring format.....but if scaled down a standard grouplet is much more likely and an example would be a (the) Combat grouplet where Combat would score 1 for a win or 1/2 for a draw and Relay scores 1/2 and the transfer is 1/2 - if these points are substituted in the above example the only change is a halving of the points.


Below is the summary table for Group play - called the Groups landscape it can be read with screen is subject to updating as and when appropriate




As shown in the Groups landscape Swing is used to describe a clock, a method of scoring and a game – the game is Relay and is referred to as such because it drives the swing scoring in the relevant grouplet.....Phased (or Stepped) clocks are described in the next part of Steps and swing clocks could instead be called phased/stepped hourglass clocks or phased/stepped pendulum clocks.....Swing scoring could be called pendulum scoring and then Relay would be referred to as the (associated) pendulum game – but the game of Stones of Fortune referred to later in Further games is described as being a pendulum game and so I have kept swing to describe this scoring method and the associated game.



Exhibition play and Grandmasters, also production awards

There are what are called Simultaneous (chess) exhibitions where a sometimes grandmaster strength Western chess player plays a number of games simultaneously against a number of other players of moderate strength and the grandmaster moves round the boards in turn where the players make their move and the grandmaster makes his - players are expected to make their move as the grandmaster arrives at their board and the grandmaster does not usually take long to then make his move. There are also occasional blindfold simultaneous exhibitions where the grandmaster cannot see the board and the moves are told verbally to him. There is no reason of course why the games of Steps could not be played in such exhibition formats; but exhibition play can be in different formats to this and can be at longer times, and some exhibitions, for example, could feature fewer players playing an experimental game or variation or a less frequently played game variation and Phased clocks (see Part three: Timing of Games) could also be used, and in addition to this the boards and pieces could be of a particularly striking appearance to suit the theme of an exhibition and players could also be costumed - there are many possibilities with exhibitions since they would not usually score on a level as would tournaments or matches (see Further thoughts - Various, regarding tournaments and matches) but they would probably be well suited to accompanying productions or role playing and here there could be possibilities of awards based on this as well as the game itself.

Games at odds

Strong players sometimes give their opponent an advantage in a game - called a game at odds or Handicapped chess, and this is often a piece advantage and can be very small or may be very large as might happen if a grandmaster played a novice.


Of currently registered Western chess players less than one percent are of grandmaster strength (about 1,500) – see Further thoughts: Various.



The Runich dice (see Further thoughts - various)

There are at many points in Steps along the Way of Chess the possible use of a dice to decide matters such as choice of sides and so forth.....the preferred type of dice for this is the Runich dice though it needs to be of a suitable size and this dice can also be used where appropriate in the third Evergreen (as parts of A Leap of Recreation™ are known, with Steps along the Way of Chess being the second) of A Lacework of Strands where another interesting puzzle I have called the Ball-barrel puzzle is also shown (this puzzle though is not my copyright).....

.....The Runich dice (or Runich cube if preferred) is based on the original Rubik’s cube - invented by Erno Rubik, and as the picture below shows, as well as being a dice that could be used in many games it is also a puzzle that can be used in the same way as the original cube.....but is it easier or harder to solve though?.....Well.....there are, I am sure, more possible solutions than the original.....But.....the original cube has only one place for each of the 26 uniquely coloured parts that give 54 coloured surfaces – 8 corners with 3 sides, 12 edges with 2 sides and 6 fixed centres with 1 side.....with the original cube then we at least know where each part must go.....with the Runich dice it is not so definite.....however the picture shows what the alignment pattern of a standard dice usually is and this then is the object of the puzzle – note that the opposite sides of a dice add up to seven.....

The Runich dice is © Copyright 2018 of Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls





Part three: Timing of Games


There are several types of clock in use for timing chess and a game of chess or such at any type of event or at any level is not tied to using any particular type of clock or actual time settings on such clocks – this can be decided by organisers, tournament committees etc. Also at points during a game there is sometimes a switch to another type of clock as is for example the case after sixty moves in the 2018 world Western chess championships final - see tournament clocks below. The type of clock used may give rise to different approaches to managing clock times and so an element of additional skills can enter into games.

At the end of the section mention is made of Calendar chess.

Most Chess clocks, and they can be mechanical or of digital technology, are currently of three basic types as follows:


Single countdown clocks

This is where a fixed amount for the whole game is entered onto both players’ clocks and where this amount simply counts down on each move and a player will lose the game on time when his amount counts down to zero. These are sometimes called blitz time control clocks, particularly for very short games; but I prefer the term Single countdown clocks and they are mostly used for games of up to about 30 minutes for each player.


Tournament clocks

There are also what could be called tournament or traditional or fixed control or classical clocks whereby a specified time is allowed for a number of moves followed by another such specification and these time controls may be continued in like manner though not necessarily with the same average time per move and can be called the first time control, the second time control etc. – note that unused time is carried forward to the next time control. Also note that tournament clocks often use increments as described next in Fischer clocks and may well have a final 'rest of the game in' time control.

An example are the time controls for the above mentioned 2018 world championships as follows:

(first time control) 100 minutes for the first 40 moves

(second time control) 50 minutes for the next 20 moves

(third time control) 15 minutes for the rest of the game

There is an increment of 30 seconds per move from the commencement of (and throughout) the game


Fischer clocks

These clocks were the idea of Robert (Bobby, as he is usually known) Fischer and consist of firstly entering a balance onto each player’s clock and then for each move a player makes his clock has an additional fixed increment added to it - for example: Initial balance 90 minutes with an Increment of 120 seconds per move (these may have been settings thought of by Bobby Fischer). The use of increments with clocks is becoming widespread including at fast times. Bobby Fischer was a world Western chess champion.


Hourglass clocks

Mention should also be made of these clocks, though rarely used in Chess for tournaments etc., whereby an initial amount of perhaps up to a minute or so is entered onto each player’s clock and whilst they are moving their clock counts down whilst their opponent’s clock increases by the same amount – if a player’s clock counts down to zero he loses the game on time. An actual hourglass is shown below and it can be seen how they work, though they could be of digital technology:



There are a few other features with regard to clocks as follows:

To allow for the actual moving of pieces etc. there can be a delay in the operation of clocks and this is often called time lagging and also in long games players mostly should, I think, have a break and a rest and this is usually called an adjournment whereby the operation of clocks is halted but I prefer (not always though) the following terms for Steps:


Pause is where there is time lagging of up to 20 seconds

Hold is where there is time lagging of more than 20 seconds

An Interval is where there is an adjournment of up to 1 hour

An Intermission is where there is an adjournment of more than 1 hour

An Increment is, as already described, an amount of time added to a player's clock when he makes a move

An Increase in time would occur where time was added to a player's clock above the time settings if thought proper by the arbiter

Reduction in time would occur where time was subtracted from a player's clock below the time settings if thought proper by the arbiter



Where an Interval or Intermission occurs the player to move must write down his next move and hand this to the arbiter - the written move is placed in a sealed envelope and is not shown to his opponent and is called a Sealed move and is made by the arbiter upon the game re-commencing.

The arbiter can start or stop clocks, or adjust (a self explanatory term) them as he sees fit, whenever he thinks proper to do so.


Of the Phased clocks that follow (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.) Phased countdown and Phased increment clocks are somewhat based on Fischer clocks and other clocks but whereas Fischer clocks were intended to mostly end time pressure and eliminate what are called time scrambles these two phased clocks do not aim to do so (and Phased swing clocks still less so) but rather to reduce them as sometimes time pressure is an interesting and valid feature of a game and time scrambles may on occasions bring a dull game to life.

Note that full clocks information including settings must be displayed to players, referees and spectators etc. throughout a game, and moves and move counters must also be displayed as Phased clocks often need to take move numbers into account.


Phased clocks each have one variation except for combination clocks [plus there are Independent Single countdown clocks] and a description of these clocks follows in the order shown below:

Phased Countdown - standard

Phased Countdown - triple controls

[Also Independent Single countdown clocks]

Phased Increment - standard

Phased Increment - variable parameters

Phased Combination clocks

Phased Swing - standard

Phased Swing - open ended


Phased Countdown clocks - standard

These clocks have one significant difference to Fischer clocks and operate as follows:

Firstly, for each player an amount called the Main balance is entered onto what is called the Main clock.

Secondly, for each move a player makes a fixed amount called a Reserve increment is added onto a separate Reserve clock as it is called – this is different to Fischer clocks where the increment is added to the same clock as the main balance is entered onto. The reserve clock is not used until the main clock has counted down to zero.

Thirdly, when his main clock has counted down to zero the player then uses his reserve clock where no more amounts of time are added to and so this clock acts as a single countdown clock and if this counts down to zero the player loses the game on time.

An example would be for a main balance of 120 minutes and with a reserve increment of 60 seconds.

As can be seen the player has a degree of control of how much reserve time he builds up as by moving quickly he will have a larger reserve time when he switches to his reserve clock due to more increments in a given time.


Phased Countdown clocks – triple controls

A variation of this type of clock is to include a further iteration when using the Reserve clock and using a Secondary reserve clock.....(this acts as did the Reserve clock - now called the Primary reserve clock and with a Primary increment).....and with the same or a different Secondary increment to the first iteration, for example 30 seconds - iterations could continue but this would be most unusual.

Both variations of Phased Countdown clocks are allowable for the very highest level tournaments or matches or suchlike with the triple controls being generally preferable.


Independent Single countdown clocks

With all Phased clocks and in any meaningful game players would have an overall time limit (for example 200 minutes or so each and this would correspond to the above example times for triple controls with perhaps 180 minutes if not triple) and this would be entered onto Independent Single countdown clocks that would count down continuously (though they would be halted during Intervals or Intermissions – they would however be re-started on time) but only take effect if a player’s phased clock is still running and so a player can lose on time before his independent clock counts down to zero (when he would lose whatever the situation on his phased clock) – the time entered onto these clocks allows for clock pauses and suchlike (ordinary single countdown clocks can have pauses/holds or increments)…..their purpose is to prevent excess time allowed to that intended and (as with phased clocks) also to stop games from needlessly continuing indefinitely (if a game were to needlessly continue by any chance the referee should warn players of the developing situation and if the game were still to continue needlessly the referee would be obliged to stop and adjudicate it, perhaps with the assistance of software and any assistant referees - referees have this power in such situations).

These clocks can be simply referred to as the Independent clock or Independent Countdown clock.


In addition to Independent Countdown clocks players with standard Phased Countdown clocks would have the following:

A Main clock

A Reserve clock


In addition to Independent Countdown clocks players with triple Phased Countdown clocks would have the following:

A Main clock

A Primary Reserve clock

A Secondary Reserve clock


Phased Increment clocks – standard

These clocks have one or two significant changes to Fischer clocks and operate as follows:

Firstly, an amount called the Initial Balance is entered onto each player’s clock. Unlike Phased Countdown clocks there is only one clock for each player - but see below, and this is called the player’s Compound clock.

Secondly, for each move a player makes an Increment of a fixed amount is added to his clock but in contrast to Fischer clocks this is only for a set number of moves called the Cut-off point. During this phase of the game (the pre cut-off phase) if a player’s clock counts down to zero he would lose the game on time.

Thirdly, at the cut-off point a Final increment (this could be called the Cut-off increment) is added to each player’s clock – this is different to Fischer clocks where the increment is of a fixed amount throughout the game.

Fourthly, (the post Cut-off phase) the clocks now act as Single countdown clocks with no more time added to and if a player’s clock counts down to zero he loses the game on time.

An example would be for an initial balance of 60 minutes; an increment of 60 seconds with a final increment of 60 minutes at a cut-off point of 40 moves. These settings would give a maximum time allowed for the whole game for each player of 160 minutes.

As the example shows (assuming the game runs to more than the Cut-off point) up to the Cut-off point of 40 moves the maximum time allowed for each player is 100 minutes but a minimum of 60 seconds a move is allowed and so players have less flexibility than with Phased Countdown clocks but have more certainty of periodical times allowed.

Note that the Final increment is added immediately after the actual making (in the above example) of move 40.


Phased Increment clocks – variable parameters

A variation of this type of clock is to include players each having their own choice (within set limits) of their own initial balances and increments and also final increments and cut-off points, provided the predetermined overall maximum time for the whole game for each player were not exceeded.

Both variations of Phased Increment clocks are allowable for the very highest level tournaments or matches or suchlike and both have equal preferability.

Note that where this clock variation is used players must simultaneously declare their settings to the referee immediately prior to the game commencing.

A spreadsheet template with example figures for this clock variation is shown below and example range limits are also shown.


Independent Single countdown clocks as explained in Phased countdown clocks are set for all significant games using Phased increment clocks with 200 minutes entered being an example and this would correspond to the above template amounts as the time entered would not be less than the maximum allowed for the game in either variation.

In addition to Independent Countdown clocks players with Phased Increment clocks would have the following:


A Compound clock


There is also an alternative way of displaying these clocks and that is to enter the Initial balance onto an Initial clock and the amount of all potential increments onto an Increment clock and then to transfer them to the Initial clock as and when they occur - this gives full visibility to the actual and potential times. In the example in the standard Phased increment clock 60 minutes would be entered onto the Initial clock - being the initial balance, and 100 minutes would be entered onto the Increment clock - being 40 initial increments each fixed of 60 seconds and a final increment of 60 minutes; then for 40 moves 60 seconds a move would be transferred from the increment clock to the initial clock, then after making move 40 the final increment of 60 minutes would in addition also be transferred, after this the initial clock would count down as a Single countdown clock and if this counts down to zero the player loses on time. Players then have in addition to an Independent Countdown clock the following:

An Initial clock

An Increment clock

Note - this 'in advance' display method for increments cannot be used for Phased countdown clocks as the potential increments are not known in advance for these clocks as they are for Phased increment clocks.


Phased Combination clocks

There is also is a combination of standard Phased Increment clocks and standard Phased Countdown clocks whereby clocks are as a standard Phased Increment clock but (using the alternative way of displaying mentioned above - also see here the note to this) when the initial clock counts down after the final increment (now called the Cut-off increment) has been transferred there is, as with a standard Phased Countdown clock, a reserve increment added to a separate Reserve clock for each move - for example 30 seconds or 60 seconds, and after the initial clock counts down to zero this separate reserve clock is used and counts down as a Single countdown clock and if this counts down to zero the player loses on time.

Independent Single countdown clocks as explained in Phased Countdown clocks are set for all significant games using Phased Combination clocks.

This Phased Combination clock is allowable for the very highest level tournaments or matches or suchlike.

In addition to Independent Countdown clocks players with Phased Combination clocks would (under the alternative way of displaying mentioned above) have the following:

An Initial clock

An Increment clock

A Reserve clock

The terminology for increments for these clocks is as follows:

The Initial increments

The Cut-off increment

The Reserve increments

Other variations are possible but this is the standard and accepted one.


Below is an example illustration showing the workings of this clock - not being from an actual game the opponent's clock is not then shown, in an actual game the opponent's times might need taking into account:



This is an illustrative example only and is not intended to represent an actual such clock as it is envisaged that it might be, for example current move times could also be shown.


Phased Swing clocks - standard

Based mostly on Hourglass clocks these clocks may be considered something of novelty clocks with regard to their use for games, however there are interesting possibilities with these clocks – but first their method of operation:

Firstly, an amount called the Swing balance is entered onto a clock for each player that is called their Swing clock.

Secondly, an amount called the Reserve balance is entered onto a separate clock for each player that is called their Reserve clock.

Thirdly, whilst a player is moving his swing clock counts down and his opponent’s swing clock goes up by the same amount.....if a player’s swing clock counts down to zero then his reserve clock is then used.....time used on the reserve clock does not increase the balance on either the opponent’s reserve clock or swing clock and after using his reserve clock the player’s swing clock will once again increase as his opponent then uses his swing clock.....if during this phase (the pre Cut-off phase) a player’s swing clock and then reserve clock count down to zero he would lose the game on time. It can be seen that the combined balance of the swing clocks is always the same during the pre cut-off phase.

Fourthly, after a set number of moves called the Cut-off point both players’ balances on their reserve clock and swing clock are combined onto their reserve clock and these act as single countdown clocks and if a player’s clock counts down to zero he loses the game on time.

An example would be for a reserve balance of 30 minutes and a swing balance of 30 seconds with a cut-off point of 40 moves.

Players have with these clocks opportunities to directly impose time pressure by moving quickly and/or by introducing complexities and highly tactical or double edged situations into a game.....unlike standard hourglass clocks however there are possibilities with the use of the reserve clock to defend against these measures and so a game can take on an exciting pursuer and pursued character and could even have the pursuer and pursued is also possible if both players’ reserve clocks run low or very low before the cut-off point for the clocks to become virtually as standard hourglass clocks – at least up until the cut-off point when the remainder of the game (the post Cut-off phase) could take on the character of a blitz game (aprox. 5 min. per player) or even a bullet game (aprox. 1 min. per player), particularly with small swing balances of less than 20 seconds.

Note the combining of balances (in the above example) occurs after the second moving player's 40th move.


Below is an example illustration showing the workings of this clock - also see the introductory note, that applies here, in the Phased Combination clock illustration:




This is an illustrative example only and is not intended to represent an actual such clock as it is envisaged that it might be, for example current move times could also be shown.


Phased Swing clocks – open ended

A variation of this type of clock is not having a cut-off point and so there is no combining of balances followed by a single countdown on the reserve clock, but Independent Single countdown clocks would prevent a game from going on indefinitely and so would be set for these clocks.

Both variations of Phased Swing clocks are allowable up to high level tournaments or matches or suchlike and sometimes at the very highest level of such with the standard clocks being generally preferable.

Independent Single Countdown clocks as explained in Phased countdown clocks are set for all significant games using Phased Swing clocks with 60 minutes entered being an example and this amount would correspond to the above example amounts for both variations.

In addition to Independent Countdown clocks players with Phased Swing clocks would have the following:

A Swing clock

A Reserve clock


Calendar chess

This is the renamed form of Correspondence chess.....this flexible playing arrangement does not take place in over-the-board play but between players who are geographically separate, sometimes by great distances, moves are infrequent and games may last weeks, months or even years.....there are details readily available for this form of Chess that may allow for the assistance of books, databases, computer engines and so forth, and so Calendar chess could give a different 'take' on games.....there is no reason why various Steps games and their variations could not be played in this form with suitable rules and time settings - based on the Calendar (hence the name Calendar chess).....

.....and players could choose player names for themselves (the author may have the reserved general gaming name of Silver) or introduce some agreed rules if thought suited and practical, for example being allowed to take back and change a move within a certain time and before the opponent moves (an Interlude is the term for this, and players may not make their move before this has elapsed) – time settings would be adjusted to compensate the opponent for this.....not quite the same as the alternate bonus take back described in Jewel for Lost Treasure where the opponent has moved before the taking back.....players may also agree to a Recycled reserve (also a term) and this would be for a short extension of time if a player had overrun his time (delays in communication etc. could occur) - the Reserve is topped up each time after use.....these benefits may have limits placed on them though.....

… example (very long) times: players might agree to moves being played every two to seven days (the seventh calendar day here being the basic date set to move by) with a recycled reserve of one day and the interlude here would be two days (and the minimum of two days per move here would be for the duration of the game – much less in this example would be out of step with the game), and they may decide that the interlude can be used up to three times and the reserve up to five times (perhaps more, depending), but an end date would be set (perhaps years hence in this example) where the game, if not already so, would be required to stop – and possibly be adjudicated…..

.....and much more besides: there is ample scope for combining game formats, moving patterns, deployment determinations and other – more of these can be found in Further thoughts along with variations of game object and piece promotions, and some ideas of A Draughts Set could be incorporated…..but this list is by no means exhaustive…..


Concurrent play

.....the possibilities seem to be practically unlimited, but I'm not sure they would score Game points.....perhaps they or Nominal points are a possibility – if authorised, and players could have a number of games being played Concurrently.....Concurrent play is a term reserved to Steps meaning the playing of a number of chosen games played at the same time (not to be confused with Parallel play that ties games together in a specified format though Parallel played games could be within Concurrent play, while Simultaneous play usually refers to exhibitions but otherwise is not distinctively used in Steps though could be in the future)…..

.....and the games can be the same, similar or different and there could be Team and/or Consultation play – Concurrent play is very free-ranging and may well suit Calendar chess where players may wish to play more than one game or diverse games at the same time.




Part four: Other


Further games



I have included the games that follow with one or two reservations, but they may play well and some may like them; however, I will say what reservations I have of them:


Stones of Fortune is part of Tiger's-eye Games by Glenn Nicholls and is on this site on page Chess from Draughts etc.....the game, that is based on Backgammon, may have potential to be very interesting and has several novelty ideas.....I say may because it is untested and needs tidying up - the whole page does, and may need revising (see Further thoughts - Various), but eventually a suitable place will hopefully be found for it.

Touchstone is, as can be seen, the same in terms of mechanics as the game of Western chess except for the promotion rules (I have here discounted the King/Queen changeover aspect of the game to Western chess as this is of no real effect), but this changed promotion aspect may sometimes bring something extra to a game and so I have included it and there is also some representational and background additions that may also be of interest to some and give scope for productions or role playing etc.

Shadow is a game that would require some extensive practical testing to see that it does not have refutations to the game’s several (perhaps more) and, I think, interesting possible playing development situations I have written about in the game’s individual introduction.....if the game does offer the scope I would like as written in its introduction then it may prove to be a compact game of interesting ideas and the background is very capable of forming a detailed story for possible role playing, or similar, for introductory purposes and/or during play.

A Draughts Set that is based on the game of TwinDraughts that is itself based on the game of English draughts (aka American checkers) and the rules to this well known game are very readily available.....but the game has, it seems, been more or less determined by computers to end in a draw with correct play, though for a long time prior to this the percentage of draws was very high indeed at top level and this then is perhaps no surprise. As with the game of Shadow, TwinDraughts is a game that would need extensive practical testing (perhaps with computers) to see if it actually ‘works’ inasmuch that both sides, discounting strong computers, have reasonable winning chances and there is scope to avoid constant draws otherwise the game would, I think, be withdrawn from Steps, as would any other of its games if eventually determined to fall short of such requirements. As with Touchstone and Shadow there is scope for role playing and suchlike.



The Game of Touchstone



Chess or rather Western chess is regarded as sacrosanct by many of its players and for them seemingly any change is a step too far. However, Touchstone is virtually identical to Western chess and is intended as a colourful makeover to Western chess that hopefully some will find preferable to the existing game – perhaps those who would like a more representational and background aspect to Western chess.

There are some influences in the background of the story of the legendary King Arthur – variations of this story are readily available on film and much is available elsewhere.



In the Time of spoken Myths and Legends and in a region called the Fractured Realm there is The Touchstone and this is the name that has been given to the stone that the legendary 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 unite the Fractured Realm and not just be one of a number of kings or others of the nobility who rule over particular areas as is the existing 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 safe-keep them, and disputes have broken out and escalated and have now led to battle being about to break out between the two main rivals.....



The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Queen and this wins the battle and the winning King and Queen will acquire the Touchstone and the undrawn Excalibur - for a while at least.....but both were to be lost and forgotten in the mists of time.


Board at commencement



Moves of Pieces (referring to Western chess)

A King – he is identical to a Queen

A Queen – she is identical to a King including vulnerabilities to check and checkmate etc.

A King’s or Queen’s tower - its powers are identical to Rooks

A King’s or Queen’s knight – he is identical to a Knight

A Baron – he is identical to a Bishop

A Baroness – she is identical to a Bishop

A Duke - he does not appear at the commencement of the battle – his powers are those combined of a non-royal Western chess King and a Rook (but with no castling abilities)

An Earl - he does not appear at the commencement of the battle - his powers are those combined of a non-royal Western chess King and a Knight

A Viscount - he also does not appear at the commencement of the battle – his powers are those combined of a non-royal Western chess King and a Bishop

Also not appearing at commencement are Aristocrats and Nobles and undesignated Knights (i.e. not distinguished between King’s or Queen’s): Aristocrat – he moves as a Rook (but has no castling abilities), Noble – he moves as a Bishop, and a Knight - not unexpectedly he moves as a Knight

Protecting the Queen (castling) is allowed in accordance with kingside and queenside positioning

A Pikeman – his powers are identical to Pawns except when rescuing his King or a Duke or promoting or under-promoting as follows


Pikemen and promotions

There are long standing Royal proclamations that upon reaching his end rank a Pikeman can promote as follows

To an Earl

To a Viscount

To an Aristocrat

To a Noble

To a Knight

However if his King is captured a Pikeman can instead rescue him and the King then promotes him (by Royal prerogative) to a Duke.....the newly promoted Duke is held prisoner in the King’s place but he can himself be rescued by a Pikeman reaching his end rank – in this case though the freed Duke has no prerogative to promote the Pikeman who freed him, but the King will exercise his royal prerogative after the battle (should his side win) and promote the Pikeman to a Lance-commander (described in Further thoughts – further pieces)



If the King is further captured after a rescue he can be rescued again and then there is another promotion to a Duke

There can be more than one Duke held prisoner following rescues or with them being captured in battle, and if so any rescue thereof would be in order of their promotion

When a Pikeman is promoted to a Duke a suitable piece (perhaps with an unobtrusive indication of promotion order – First, Second and so on; not 1 or 2 etc.) is substituted for the Pikeman and placed at the end of the board along with other fellow captured pieces (participants)

There is only one King (per side) under these rules


A Pikeman promotion summary follows:

To rescue his King, if captured

To rescue a Duke, if there is one (or more) captured

To promote to an Earl

To promote to a Viscount

To underpromote to an Aristocrat

To underpromote to a Noble

To underpromote to a (undesignated) Knight


Further Notes

The rare, in Western chess, mid-game but usually exciting promotion of a Pawn to a Knight has in Touchstone an additional and I think more dangerous and more exciting though still fairly rare possibility of a mid-game promotion of a Pikeman to an Earl.....also see Further thoughts - Other possible games etc. - Promotion variation from TigerChess, where another interesting possibility of a mid-game promotion is described with perhaps a less rare occurrence.

As the game is much based on Western chess I have followed this game's principle (as I have also with LancerChess) that underpromotions are allowed to the other pieces, however unlikely the necessity or advantage of doing so.

Although a Pikeman could rescue other captured participants including Earls and Viscounts this does not happen in practice - this would not help his side's cause and his King would not approve of a hazardous rescue (as such they are) without good reason, and likely the captured participant would decline such rescue.



There can be ornamental pieces placed along with the board – e.g. the Touchstone with Excalibur set in.

Once a Tower has been or can no longer be used to Protect the Queen it becomes a King's or Queen's Siege-tower (and is manned as is a Tower) to reflect its greater freedom to attack and fittings should be added to the piece to show this, or alternately a separate piece of different appearance can be placed on the appropriate square - it is though no different than if it was a Rook of Western chess following castling.


After the battle the winning King will exercise his royal prerogative to promote any Pikemen who rescued Dukes to Lance-commanders.....and 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 - see LancerChess in A Chess Set in Part one: the games.


Information Table




The Game of Shadow



Shadow is a game that combines ideas and pieces from several other games. There may be a good number of moves of manoeuvring to control Woodland river before tactical elements make themselves felt or there may be one or more early releases of Hawks to give a sudden sharp tactical side to the battle, or there may be a long wait for a Pikeman to promote – there are many possibilities though the board, at sixty three squares, is one square smaller than the standard Western chess board. As with RiverQi earlier the rule on crossing the river also applies here.



In the future a young King and his Queen were crowned in the Woodland kingdom. The river running through the Woodland kingdom is thought by most to have great healing and other beneficial qualities and to be amongst the richest concentration of these qualities that the river system it is a part of contains. Thus it was that attention by some began to be attracted and secretly entering the Woodland kingdom came a renegade and Dark Seer who had discovered the great concentration of beneficial qualities in its river.

At the far south of the Woodland kingdom was a large and ancient fortress - similar in appearance to a huge castle and dating back by untold centuries. This uninhabited fortress was dark and forbidding and generally avoided by those of the Woodland kingdom due largely to the frightening legends of its far distant past about a noble simply called the Count. It was to this fortress that the Dark Seer came and made of it her base of operations.

It was not long before the Seer was regularly bathing in the river and then a distinguished looking man of middle years (the Seer herself was of middle years) had joined her. Had anyone at that time taken much notice of them they would have soon been aware that they were starting to look younger and fitter almost by the day and soon both (through enchantments) were gaining great influence amongst some of the kingdom’s inhabitants.

Whilst all this was happening it seemed the opposite was happening to others of the kingdom, in particular the Queen and to some extent the King. The Queen’s health and fitness seemed to be declining and there was a reduction in the King’s heretofore exceptional physical strength. This was a great mystery to the healers of the kingdom, who were considered most knowledgeable in their field, for both were young with no previous problems and like all those of the Kingdom were benefited by the seemingly health giving qualities of the river.

But the High Count (as the Seer’s companion had now declared himself) and the Seer knew exactly what the cause of the King’s and Queen’s problems were, for their (mis)use of the river had a rebounding and negative effect on the King and the Queen and others. Both the Seer and the High Count also knew full well that to maintain their well-being required continuous (mis)use of the river and that sooner or later they would have to forcibly usurp the rule of the kingdom. To this end the Seer and the High Count put much effort into enchantments winning over as many of the Inhabitants as possible.

These activities of the Seer and the High Count could not be hidden for very long though and so it was that the King and Queen and their advisers turned their attention towards them and issued a Royal summons requiring them to present themselves and explain their activities; but the High Count and the Seer realised that they would certainly be arrested and tried for serious crimes and so gathered their supporters and prepared for the Battle that would decide who the future rulers of the Woodland kingdom would be.



The object of each player is to Lock-up (Checkmate) the opposing Woodland Queen or Dark Seer and this wins the Battle (game).

Note that should the Woodland King and Queen’s inhabitants win the battle they may well demolish the Dark Fortress as it becomes called.


Board at commencement



Moves of Pieces

Pieces move on squares and not intersections as they do in Chinese chess and the pieces are 3D and not disc-like as they are in Chinese chess

The Northern pieces are prefixed by ‘Woodland’ e.g. a Woodland Rider and the Southern pieces are suffixed by ‘of the Shadow e.g. a Pikeman of the Shadow (or perhaps prefixed by Shadow if preferred). Exceptions to this are the High Count and the Dark Seer who are called by these names

The Rule on Crossing the River is the same as described earlier in RiverQi 

Initial deployment of pieces is as shown and their moving and capturing powers by comparison to the pieces of Western chess/Chinese chess etc. are:

The Woodland Queen and the Dark Seer (as mentioned later Sorceress may be an alternative name) are identical to the King of Western chess but are confined to Woodland City or the Dark Fortress respectively – no other piece is so confined…..note that their moves are different to those of the Generals of Chinese chess and, also unlike Generals, they may face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file

The Woodland King and the High Count have identical powers to the Dukes of Touchstone except that the Rule on Crossing the River applies to them. Note the reduction in the Woodland King’s strength has left him with lesser powers than he had previously – these were the powers of a King (of LancerChess, Storm etc.), and also note that the title High Count is considered equivalent to that of a Duke.

A Rider – he is identical to a King’s Lancer of LancerChess except that the Rule on Crossing the River applies to him.

A Siege-tower – it is identical to the Chariot of Chinese chess except that the Rule on Crossing the River applies to it

A Cannon - it is identical to the Cannon of Chinese chess except that the Rule on Crossing the River applies to it


Hawkers and Hawks have been described earlier in RiverQi but are explained again here:

A Hawker moves to and captures on one position vertically forwards, as does a Soldier in Chinese chess, until he has reached the opposing Area on his sixth rank when the following takes place:

Each Hawker carries with him a Hawk that is a trained attacking bird and will attack opposing Inhabitants situated in the opposing Area

The King/Queen and the High Count/Dark Seer have instructed all their Hawkers to release their Hawks upon reaching the opposing Area

The Hawker releases his Hawk and withdraws from the battle and his Hawk is left by herself on the position that the Hawker was on

The released Hawk can exercise her moving and capturing powers commencing on the next move

If a Hawker is captured before releasing his Hawk, the Hawk is also captured

A Hawk’s moving and capturing powers cannot be used before she is released

A Hawk is confined to the opposing Area where she is released into and she cannot move or capture outside of this area (or on the River). A Hawk can move along any path that is vertically forward, vertically backward or horizontal and land upon any unoccupied square along one of these paths regardless of any intervening Inhabitants, i.e. a maximum of nine squares (if all are unoccupied) – this moving ability is called flying. When capturing however a Hawk can only capture on one adjacent position that is vertically forward, vertically backward or horizontal i.e. a maximum of four possible squares. She can either move or capture on a move – she cannot do both on one move.


A Pikeman - he is identical to a Pawn of Western chess and en passant rules apply; when reaching his end rank he is (must be) promoted to a Squire (this may change to promotion to a Rider).

A Squire (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.) – this is a conferred title – has identical powers to a non-royal Western chess King.



The seven Woodland river squares can be called Bridges as the river has a good number of these



Withdrawn Hawkers are removed from the board and placed with captured opposing Inhabitants whom they guard.

Woodland river is downriver to that of RiverQi and larger than the river in RiverQi (though it covers less squares – note that the nine squared Woodland city, being a city, is far larger than the palaces of RiverQi or indeed the Dark Fortress of Shadow, but all this is representational and has no effect on the game’s mechanics).

Siege-towers and Cannons are manned.

Players can be costumed in suitable colours etc.



Information Table




A Draughts Set



A Draughts Set, as with A Chess Set, could be read as a short stand-alone book and so is to be found on a separate page on this site titled Chess from Draughts etc…..and amongst the ideas is that of bringing Draughts into the wider field of Chess…..



Circuits and Tours



Where a piece lands on every square of a board the usual terminology is: a Closed Tour for where the piece can return to its commencing square or an Open Tour for where a piece does not or cannot return to its commencing square; but I prefer the term Circuit for where a piece can or actually does return to its commencing square and the term Tour can then be used for where the piece does not (or cannot) return so.

The best known of these Circuits and Tours are those of the Western Chess Knight and these have been recorded and noted for many centuries, but the smallest square board he can tour is a 5x5, though he can tour a 4x3 board:

Below are some possible solutions to Circuits and Tours mentioned above and in LancerChess - note that the numbering method for the Knights is different to that I have used for the King's Lancer and that I have used the A1 square as the commencing square throughout.


A Tour of a Knight on a 5x5 board:


A Tour of a Knight on a 4x3 board:


On square boards Knight circuits are only possible on even numbered ranks/files due to the fact that a Knight lands on a different coloured square (a different set of diagonals) each time he leaps (a circuit on any square or rectangular board of any odd number of squares is therefore not possible for a Knight).....a 4x4 circuit is not possible but a 6x6 is and there are many possible for the standard 8x8 chessboard. Below is the oldest such 8x8 circuit known and dates back to the 9th century CE and is by al-Adli ar-Rumi who was recognised as the strongest of Arabian chess players for some years:



A 3D Circuit of a King's Lancer on a 3x3x3 board - here he finishes on his commencing square numbered 27 with a Level jump having just made a Plane jump:

One further point is that circuits and tours can be further termed as oblique - as with Knights, or linear - as with the King's Lancer.




Studies etc.



A facet to Chess that has many enthusiasts is that of the study of games or that of game positions or of problems - sometimes these are composed positions or sometimes they are positions that have occurred in actual games or are based on such. Often studies or problems are of the type where white (south) is required to play and win or to deliver checkmate in a specified number of moves.....The following are no more than just the briefest of introduction to this very large field of studies and problems and they can be readily found in many numbers; amongst them I have included famous games and critical positions occurring in them and one or two of these include within them situations of delivering checkmate within a certain number of moves, as can be seen.

As an aside it should be mentioned that spectators of games, who, I think, are an important part of Chess, can and often do share in the tension and excitement of an outstanding game or a brilliant moment occurring in a game and an example of this is given in the following (The Golden Move).



The Saavedra study

This is often considered to be the most famous of all Western chess studies and is known as the Saavedra study or position where Fernando de Saavedra discovered the key move of 6. Pawn to C8 and promotes to a Rook.....the commencing position is shown below with the standard Western chess symbols. This study is not recommended for beginners though.

The original position and solution were published in 1895 but the adjusted and now usual position as shown below was given in 1902 by Emanuel Lasker who was the world’s Western chess champion at the time.


The Saavedra position with white (south) to move and win


1. c7 South commences with Pawn to C7

1...Rd6+ North responds with his Rook to D6 and checks south’s King – other moves lose as south’s Pawn will promote to a Queen with an eventual win


2.Kb5 South escapes the check by moving his King to B5. King to B7 would lose the Pawn by pin from the Rook moving to D7, and King to C5 would be followed by the strong move Rook to D1 with Rook to C1 to follow and if south promoted there would be a skewer to his King and the Queen would be lost and north would win - south needs to be aware of this defensive resource

2...Rd5+ North checks south’s King by Rook to D5 otherwise south’s Pawn will promote to a Queen and north will be unable to prevent south’s eventual win - for example if the Rook is played to D2 then south’s Pawn will promote to a Queen and attempts at checking south’s King run out shortly whereupon south will take control


3.Kb4 South now moves his King to B4 and stays in control of the situation

3...Rd4+ North now checks south’s King by moving his Rook to D4 to prevent south’s Pawn promoting


4.Kb3 South keeps control by moving his King to B3

4...Rd3+ Once again north checks south’s King to prevent the promotion by moving his Rook to D3


5.Kc2 South moves his King to C2 to ensure the Pawn’s promotion

5...Rd4 North now moves his Rook to D4 and if south’s Pawn then promotes to a Queen north will move his Rook to C4 checking the King and attacking the Queen and after south captures north’s Rook the game is a draw by stalemate


6.c8=R And so south moves his Pawn to C8 and promotes to a Rook and the aforementioned stalemate position cannot occur and in addition to this south is threatening to move his Rook to A8 with checkmate to follow.....this is the key move as mentioned

6...Ra4 To prevent south’s threatened checkmate north moves his Rook to A4.....other moves are possible but they cannot both prevent checkmate and retain north’s Rook


7.Kb3 South moves his King to B3 and both threatens to capture north’s Rook and also threatens checkmate by moving his Rook to C1 and so north must either lose his Rook and lose the game fairly quickly or be checkmated.



The Golden move

The Golden move was the name given to a move played by Frank Marshall in the Western chess game Stepan Levitsky – Frank Marshall, Breslau on 20 July 1912, after the following moves had been played


1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Bg5 0-0 9.dxc5 Be6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Bg4 Qd6 13.Bh3 Rae8 14.Qd2 Bb4 15.Bxf6 Rxf6 16.Rad1 Qc5 17.Qe2 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxc3 19.Rxd5 Nd4 20.Qh5 Ref8 21.Re5 Rh6 22.Qg5 Rxh3 23.Rc5


The position was as below




Frank Marshall now played 23...Qg3 and it was said that the spectators showered the board with gold coins upon seeing this - not a few consider this to be the greatest of Western chess moves ever played, former world Western chess champion Garry Kasparov called it the most brilliant move in the history of (western) Chess - taking the Queen with either Pawn leads to Checkmate: 24.f2xg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 - the only move, and 25...Rxf1 Checkmate, while 24.hxg3 and 24…Ne2 Checkmate; Stepan Levitsky as white resigned the position as his best reply of Queen takes Queen will leave him a piece down (24.Qxg3 would be followed by 24…Ne2+ 25.Kh1 - the only move, 25…Nxg3+ 26. Kg1 - if 26.fxg3 then 26…Rxf1 Checkmate, 26…Ne2+ 27.Kh1 – the only move, and then for example 27…Ra3 moves the Rook out of danger), and at this level of play (this was a masters tournament) the resulting position would have led to a loss.


There are of course other candidates for the greatest move ever played but I think if there is to be what could be called The Platinum move we must take into account the situation as well as the move itself and so:



The Platinum move

In November 2016 the world Western chess championship final took place in New York between the holder Magnus Carlsen of Norway and the challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

The playing format was for twelve games at long time controls and if the scores were level after this then four games were to be played at rapidplay (typically around 30 min. per player) with increments, and if the scores were still level after this the match would proceed to paired games of blitz play with increments. Continuing tied scores would lead, after ten games, to a final game where a draw would result in the player of the black pieces being declared the match winner – this game would give slightly more time to white.

Magnus Carlsen was favourite but Sergey Karjakin won the eighth game only for Magnus Carlsen to draw level on the tenth game; the next two games were draws and so the match proceeded to rapidplay.

The first two games of rapidplay were draws but Magnus Carlsen won the third and so the situation now, on 30 November 2016, was that if Magnus Carlsen won or drew the fourth and final rapidplay game he would win the match and remain world champion whereas if Sergey Karjakin won this game the match would proceed to blitz play.

The following moves were played:


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. f3 e5 6. Nb3 Be7 7. c4 a5 8. Be3 a4 9. Nc1 0-0 10. Nc3 Qa5 11. Qd2 Na6 12. Be2 Nc5 13. 0-0 Bd7 14. Rb1 Rfc8 15. b4 axb3 16. axb3 Qd8 17. Nd3 Ne6 18. Nb4 Bc6 19. Rfd1 h5 20. Bf1 h4 21. Qf2 Nd7 22. g3 Ra3 23. Bh3 Rca8 24. Nc2 R3a6 25. Nb4 Ra5 26. Nc2 b6 27. Rd2 Qc7 28. Rbd1 Bf8 29. gxh4 Nf4 30. Bxf4 exf4 31. Bxd7 Qxd7 32. Nb4 Ra3 33. Nxc6 Qxc6 34. Nb5 Rxb3 35. Nd4 Qxc4 36. Nxb3 Qxb3 37. Qe2 Be7 38. Kg2 Qe6 39. h5 Ra3 40. Rd3 Ra2 41. R3d2 Ra3 42. Rd3 Ra7 43. Rd5 Rc7 44. Qd2 Qf6 45. Rf5 Qh4 46. Rc1 Ra7 47. Qxf4 Ra2+ 48. Kh1 Qf2 49. Rc8+  Kh7

The position was now as below



Magnus Carlsen now played the Queen sacrifice 50. Qh6+ and, on his 26th Birthday, this move won the match and ensured he would stay as world champion - it is Checkmate next move for if 50... Kxh6 then 51. Rh8 Checkmate or if 50... gxh6 then 51. Rxf7 Checkmate.

So though it is subjective of course this move of 50. Qh6+ is my choice for The Platinum move.



The Silver move

With a Platinum move and a Golden move perhaps we should add a Silver move and the following, though once again subjective, would be my choice. This was played in a most famous game by Adolf Anderssen against Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London, but was not a tournament game being played during a break in what was the first Western chess international tournament (Adolf Anderssen went on to win the tournament and was for some years afterwards considered to be the world's leading player).


The following moves were played:

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Qh6 7.d3 Nh5 8.Nh4 Qg5 9.Nf5 c6 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6 13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 Ng8 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 17.Nd5 Qxb2 18.Bd6 Bxg1


The position was now as below

(Note that Adolph Anderssen played the black pieces but still moved first – the diagram shown is as all games are now shown i.e. with white as south and moving first.)


Adolph Anderssen now played 19.e5 and the Pawn becomes something of a Silver bullet that ensures his win despite the fact that a second Rook is then taken; the move both cuts the defensive line of the opposing Queen and threatens Checkmate in two starting with Nxg7 (for those who like to investigate alternate possibilities 19.Re1 may also win, as perhaps may 18.Re1). The game continued:

19...Qxa1+ 20.Ke2 and it is thought that Lionel Kieseritzky resigned the game at this point, but it may be that he played the move 20... Na6 that leads to 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+ (a Queen sacrifice) Nxf6 (taking the Queen - blocking with Ne7 also loses to Checkmate next move) 23.Be7 Checkmate; analysis has shown that playing 20...Ba6 would also eventually lose as would 19...Ba6.

So my choice, again entirely subjective, is 19.e5 for The Silver move.



A Chinese chess game

So far only Western chess has featured in these studies so can Chinese chess then, that has no piece stronger than the Rook of Western chess, produce something of its own form of excitement - well, in Terence Donnelly's 1974 book Hsiang Ch'i there is a game given where south (shown as black in the book and moving first) delivers checkmate on his 24th move that is the 10th check in succession and the source of this game is given as Chin tai hsiang ch'i ming chu hsuan (Selected famous modern games of Chinese chess), Shanghai, 1958.

The moves of this game are as follows and are given with traditional piece descriptions and the diagram shows a traditional board with traditional disc type pieces moving on line intersections (this is unlike that used in this book for Chess games) but uses Western chess algebraic move notation:


1. Cannon e3, Horse g8 2. Horse g3, Horse c8 3. Soldier e5, Guard d10 - e9

4. Horse c3, Chariot h10 5. Soldier e6, Soldier x e6 6. Horse c3 - e4, Cannon h4

7. Cannon x e6+, Elephant c10 - e8 8. Cannon e3, Cannon x e4+ 9. Horse x e4, Chariot h6

10. Chariot i2, Chariot d10 11. Chariot b1, Cannon a8 12. Chariot f2, Cannon x a4

13. Horse f6, Chariot h8 14. Horse x e8, Chariot d8 15. Horse d6+, Horse e7

16. Cannon x e7+, General d10 17. Horse x c8+, Chariot x c8 18. Chariot d2+, Chariot h8 - d8

19. Cannon d7+, Chariot e8 20. Cannon x i7+, Chariot c8 – d8 21. Chariot b10+, General d9

22. Cannon i9+, Guard f8 23. Chariot x d8+, Chariot x d8 24. Cannon e9 Checkmate.


The diagram above shows the final position.

As can be seen the Red General cannot escape Checkmate by capturing the Black Cannon on E9 as the rules of Chinese chess do not allow Generals to face each other on an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file and I have kept to this rule for the Steps games of QiPlacements and RiverQi.


An Arabian chess mansuba

There is much more to Chess though than spectacular moves and situations as shown above – there are many subtleties, and a good example of this can be seen in the following study position, called a Mansuba, of an Arabian chess position taken from The Oxford Companion to Chess by David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld 1984 under the heading Mansuba. This Mansuba is from a manuscript dated 1257.

I have named the pieces in a commonly understood western way as follows: Kings (on squares D6 and A5) move as those of Western chess and Knights (on squares C2 and B8) also move as those of Western chess whilst the General (on square D4) moves one square diagonally and could also be called a Counsellor (this is the piece that Pawns must promote to).

The position is as follows and white is to play and win by baring the opposing King (this counts as a win with historic Arabian chess):



1. King c7, Knight a6+ 2. King b7, King b5 3. Knight a3+, King a5 4. Knight c4+, King b5 5. Knight d6+, King a5 6. General c3, Knight c5+ 7. King c6, Knight e6 8. Knight b7+, King a4 9. Knight c5+

and the following winning position is reached as the blue Knight will be captured on the next move thus baring the opposing King:



Author participation: a Handful of Roles

Role-playing runs consistently throughout Steps and so I ought to say what my preferred roles in games would be.....for the main role there is little choice since I am of Rhun (Prince Shaye of actually) and therein is the Emerald forest and this Forest is where the Games of Storm and Crossfire take place, and Rhun does not have a formal Precedent or a single formal Adviser as such, and so I can then only be the Northern (or Storm) Prince of Storm/Crossfire (including group play - both games are played in the Forest group) about possible occasional other roles.....well.....there is the Emerald sword of Rhun that glows green when used in combat and a green glowing sword (though not the actual Emerald sword) appears in Crystal of Doom, and here I would be a standby as the (Northern) Green Crystal Prince who might not appear all that often - he only appears if chosen as the next-game bonus by the winner of Northern Light in the Jewel series.....a more low profile role would be as one of the Northern Banner-carriers in other standby seems in order and this would be as an (Northern) Earl of Touchstone, who again might not appear very often since this only comes about as a promotion choice, and the player might not choose to so promote.....and one occasional guest appearance would be the Arabellan Prince of Arabella - perhaps in group play games.....these make up a handful of roles, but I would repeat that the other non-main roles are possibilities only at the moment.....

.....further to this is that a Siege group is a likely future possibility and that the Touchstone promotion rules would also apply to LancerChess and Clash if there were a Chequered Saga as mentioned earlier in game groups - this would mean being on standby for three games but the chance of appearing would be increased so.....the five roles then could all appear in group play - something I prefer.


The Emerald sword mentioned above does not appear in Steps but does so elsewhere in A Leap of Recreation™.

The above are about my preferred roles, but this does not mean the games they appear in are necessarily my favourite games in terms of playing however.....this is another question, and a difficult one since I have no intention of rating my own games or those of others further than what is said elsewhere in Steps - this is a matter of individual opinion and could change over time, including my mention or two seems reasonable though and that would be playing (as the Northern Khan) the Meridian games, or as this as part of a team in group play, or perhaps as a spectator of these or other games or listening to a commentary of them or other games.....then there is the Diagonal groupling…..then again there is being a Captain in the game of Flagship, but this is in A Lacework of Strands - as is Mixed Blade, as are the Auction and Four-stroke Showdown in Revolver…..

It is also a matter of individual opinion regarding the playing format and type of clock (and their settings) or two comments seem in order though and that is I think I would find the first two tie-break games in gatherings groups (and possibly elsewhere) most interesting, and perhaps most exciting, when played parallel with the standard stepped swing clock (or perhaps the simultaneous countdown clock) at settings between current tournament and rapidplay times - this is not to say I would always find this playing arrangement preferable, far from it, and linear play, transfer play and the other types of clocks and various settings for them all have their place in Steps, as does much else.....the aforesaid combination of playing format, type of clock and settings could be called the Parallel-swing playing arrangement, and another example of this would be playing the Woodland group where play might last for several hours or so with a midday interval.

There are a number of reasons why I prefer group play - among them are team play, and bonus points are available, and there is enhanced game status, and there are different playing formats and clock types and scoring methods, and much else besides.....some groups have been mentioned already here but I would add A Steps Trilogy to these - this group has various types of games played in a varied order and with variable bonus scoring.

And computer chess and games.....I have three favourites here - one of them is Majestic chess (2004) and has already been mentioned in the introduction to the Jewel series as has Chessmaster grandmaster (2007) but it is the forerunner to this of Chessmaster 7000 (1999) that I prefer (this also has an engine by Johan de Koning).....the third is Mephisto Vancouver (1991) programmed by Richard Lang and unlike Majestic chess and Chessmaster 7000 that are PC software Mephisto consists of modules housed in a tournament sized wooden board with pieces, and I also have another smaller sized wooden board and pieces plus another module (called Risc II – 1994, programmed by Ed Schroeder) – the boards and modules are interchangeable.....these chess computers are all different in their basic design, but I find each to have features of interest.....these are for Western chess but I do have (for PC) GSP Intelligent Strategy Games (1998) that has software for, amongst others, Chinese chess and the basic features are there (including an openings book); Draughts is also included (Mephisto never manufactured a Draughts module).....and of other software: I have PDA software by ESolution (2003-04) for the sliding numbers puzzle and how to play this can be looked up easily enough – see below.....and as something of an aside I have PC software for, amongst others, (Air) Table Hockey (2005) by Sierra On-Line Inc. and this seems to play OK in a way that the actual game does - a fine actual indoor game.

The sliding numbers puzzle could be a picture instead of numbers – the puzzle could be software or actually physical and vary in size (starting at 3x3) and difficulty, and unlike the numbers version the required place of the (square shaped) pieces needs to be worked out similar to piecing together a standard jigsaw (the finished picture is shown for both types of jigsaw), and then the pieces need to be moved into place in the same manner as the standard sliding numbers puzzle - the puzzle is then a combination of two puzzles and more than one person could be involved in attempting to solve it - compare this to the Runich dice that has a dual use as a cube puzzle or games dice rather than being a dual puzzle (or triple perhaps – see below), the Runich dice is described earlier in Grouping of games.....and this sliding picture puzzle can also be used as a standard sliding numbers puzzle if the appropriate numbers are on the opposite side to the pictures provided the pieces can be removed from their housing and placed back in with the numbers uppermost instead of the pictures - also when the pieces are removed from their housing and placed with the pictures uppermost they can be used in a similar way to a standard jigsaw.....the three possibilities are

1. A sliding jigsaw puzzle with housed pictures uppermost

2. A sliding numbers puzzle with housed numbers uppermost

3. A standard-type jigsaw with un-housed pictures uppermost

The numbers will show the correct housing starting placement and north/south alignment prior to scrambling for both picture and number sliding puzzles – it would be ensured that sixes and nines were not interchangeable when upside down and that ones and eights were different when upside down, i.e. the correct way up of the numbers would be clear

The standard-type jigsaw has straight edges unlike a conventional jigsaw

Although the sliding jigsaw is harder than the standard jigsaw inasmuch as the standard one does not have the sliding puzzle element the pieces in the standard jigsaw are not fixed in their north/south alignment as with the sliding jigsaw and this would make it harder to work out where the pieces require to be placed – each sort of jigsaw therefore has something different to offer as a puzzle than the other

With the standard jigsaw help is available from the numbers underneath the pictures – they indicate where to place them and their north/south alignment (number 1 would be placed at the top left-hand corner then 2 to the right along the top row and so on and then downwards to the left-hand of the next row and continuing left to right and so on), and this would be suitable for beginners.

The full puzzle design as described is called the Rhunich jigsaw and is © Copyright 2019 of Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls.....and I think it may then be preferred to call the Runich dice the Rhunich dice (its Merridonian name and a puzzle that is © Copyright 2018 also of Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls).....together they are called the Rhunich puzzle set (this would be upgradeable).....a set would consist of several different sized dice (including a pair of suitable size for use in games) and several different sized jigsaws with different pictures – they would be manufactured to the most exacting of standards.

To return to computer chess: Mephisto boards had a retractable drawer that housed the modules that contained the programme and had a small screen and operating keys…..a thought would be for a small PC-type screen and operating keys/method to be in a retractable board drawer together with the processor and (disc loadable) programmes, and then PC programmes like Majestic chess and Chessmaster 7000 as well as those like Vancouver and Risc and perhaps a Draughts programme could all be played in conjunction with a wooden board and pieces (when chosen - various screen boards and pieces would be available as well, also all sorts of features and effects would be available) – some of the Steps games could be included as well, as perhaps could software for the Rhunich jigsaw or other appropriate software (including, I would hope, Blade and Revolver and perhaps Flagship )… the moment this is only a thought and could be thought of as the Rhunich games computer (this would be upgradeable) and this name is reserved to the author - were this to become a reality the manufacture of this would again be to the most exacting of standards.



Further thoughts


Games and things are not necessarily fixed in terms of rules, names or appearances and so forth - there can be improvements or corrections or new variations and many other things major and minor, and practical playing experience could suggest changes.....the following lists some current thoughts along these lines but they are possibilities only and not definite in any way and this section could be updated and change at any time as could any other items:


Name changes etc.

There are a number of names and terms that are reserved to Steps or reserved for possible future use by Steps and these may well be listed as part of a Steps Inventory of names and terms.

The name of Invasion for the variation of Arabella may be changed.

In Arabella/Invasion the Characters of Enchantment may well be renamed the Characters of Beguilement.

Chinese chess, that is also called Xiangqi, could also perhaps be called Eastern chess.....and a possibility is, if preferred, to alternately call the River of Many Bridges in RiverQi the River Xiangqi (pronunciation is as in English Zankey), but it is not called this elsewhere along it however.

The use of the word Storm in and the way of naming Kings/Queens/Princes/Princesses in the game of Storm may well be re-thought, and a likely possibility is that the prefix of Storm before King, Queen, Prince or Princess is assumed to refer to the northern of such as the northern Prince and Princess take precedence over their two southern counterparts - see Storm/Crossfire for comparisons regarding this.

The Water-horse variation of RiverQi could simply be called Water-horse whilst the Hawker variation of RiverQi may be changed to the Hawk variation.

The names of Princes (Cloaked and Crystal) in Crystal of Doom may be changed.

The board colours for Crystal of Doom may change, as may those of any game in Steps if thought preferable, and the same applies to piece colours, though the stated basic colours of both should certainly predominate if at all possible - also it must be ensured that board and piece colours for games enable a good playing experience.

The Region names (Forestasia and Anglonia) in Lost Treasure may be changed.

The name Woodland occurs in more than one game/group and this may be altered.

The Dark Seer of Shadow may be renamed as the Sorceress - a Sorcerer or Sorceress is necessarily dark whereas a Seer may not be so.

The piece called a Squire in Shadow may be renamed and the promotion rules in this game may well be revised.

Phased clocks can be called Stepped clocks if preferred.

The times that games take place may be changed and may be set out in an appendix.


The design, type and colours of pieces or boards may be changed for games, and an example picture of a representational piece set of Western chess is shown below followed by an example picture of a 3D representational Chinese chess set

I should add that these particular designs are examples only and are not intended to be used in Steps games.




There are alternative boards, one is for Relay and is called The Bronze Stadium board, and this shows actual distances for the races and is shown below



There is also a very representational board called The New-Camelot board where the area called The Tournament Arena can be used for numerous games with their boards - this, the copyright of Glenn Nicholls, is also shown below



Further pieces

There are pieces that do not actually appear on the board in games but are described, and there are pieces that have not been described elsewhere at all

The Khan of Meridian has already been described; also in Meridian there are a Pike commander and a Pike leader - a complementary piece would be a Pike senior (he could also be called a Senior pikeman)…..and this piece has now been added to Meridian (see Afterthoughts in this game), and there is a Senior infantryman in Siege who moves as does a Senior pikeman.

Another possible piece would combine the powers of a King’s lancer and a Queen’s lancer (see LancerChess) and he could be called a Lance-commander. This piece appears in Tiger’s-eye Games by Glenn Nicholls.

Also a possible piece is one that can leap to all the squares in a 7x7 box of squares that a King cannot reach from the centre square (24 squares in all) and he could be called a Knight commander, but considering his power would likely be called a Knight-royal. This piece appears in Tiger's-eye Games by Glenn Nicholls.

There are also (representational) mythological pieces that are winged, also from Tiger's-eye Games by Glenn Nicholls, of an (Ice) Dragon and Elder and Younger Winged-serpents and these move (respectively) as do the King, Aristocrat and Baroness of Touchstone but they can fly and so are unimpeded in both their movement and captures by any pieces. These pieces do not currently appear in any Steps games though might possibly be incorporated at some stage as background or even in a game.....these pieces feature in the game called Dragon, and this game also incorporates a crucial naval battle within it that takes place on an ocean between Kingdoms where there are ships as pieces that can give passage to various pieces as well as sink each other, and a highlight of the game is if the Ice Dragon is set afire - there is a page by the name of Dragon on this site that describes all this.


The Prince of Storm/Crossfire could be modified as shown below (but is perhaps not so logical and direct in the moves).....also note various combinations are possible here with the other similar Storm pieces. 

As can be seen there are extra squares that this piece can arrive at by means of two different Knight Leaps - e.g. the square C6 could be arrived at by means of a Leap to square C5 or D6.....the square designations are as per the usual Chess method.

These extra squares, then, have the advantage of extra accessibility, but they have the disadvantage of possible blocking of two follow-through sets of squares.

I have not named this piece as yet due to the more direct moves of the Prince of Storm/Crossfire taking precedence.


There is also a piece, also from Tiger's-eye Games, that combines the powers of the (northern) Prince and the (northern) Princess of Storm and he is here called the Storm Emperor.


Other possible games etc.

There are a few novelties here - they are at an early stage but hopefully some will find one or two of them interesting


Game variation – The Two Towers:

This is a basic variation that can be tried out for Western chess, LancerChess/Clash or Touchstone and is where one side commences without a King and the other without Towers - the pieces are placed otherwise as usual…..the side with the Two Towers has a slight material advantage but a King can make an earlier impact on the game and the side with the Towers may face an early attack, but the side with the King cannot Protect the Queen (castle) while the side with the Towers can…..if the side with the Towers can survive an early attack the extra material advantage of the Towers may tell later on in the game… may be that there is one or more winning opening lines for the side with the King but a brief Western chess computer testing does not show one…..if played with Touchstone there could be background where one side’s King has been captured before the battle commences and held prisoner* and that the other side has not yet built Towers…..the games may involve sharp positions and complexities not generally found in their standard forms and they may be challenging – draws may be less likely, and the game may in addition prove useful for more advanced learning and training purposes

*The event+ of his rescue (see the rules of Touchstone) could, as background representation, be termed ‘The Return of the King’

+Game events (as they are called) include Protecting (Safeguarding) the Queen, Promotions and suchlike of all sorts and of course Checkmate, amongst other non-routine occurrences for example: Boarding a Magic Carpet in Arabella; and game events in Steps are not restricted to between first and last moves - the above mentioned Touchstone has an example of this where there are Post-game Rewards, and even the choosing of sides etc. at the beginning of a game are events in the wider sense


Sides can be described as e.g. North has the Towers, and the game may be sharper this way as South, moving first, could have a quicker attack involving the King.

The Two Towers may also be suited for tie-breaking in match play of e.g. Western chess, perhaps in conjunction with parallel play.


Game variation - Breakout:

This game variation is based somewhat on Western chess, Capablanca chess and Seirawan chess (a game invented by the Western chess grandmaster Yasser Seirawan and Bruce Harper and that uses the extra pieces of Capablanca chess on an 8x8 board) with something of the game of Storm added. The representational background will probably be that of Storm except that the Castles mentioned there as background have been rebuilt and are situated on two extra squares to a standard Western chess 8x8 board - these squares being behind d1/e1 and d8/e8 and are called the Southern or Northern castles – d wings or e wings.

At game commencement occupying these extra squares (Castles) are the Precedent and Adviser of Capablanca chess whilst the King, Queen, Rooks, Bishops, Knights and Pawns of Western chess occupy their usual positions but are named as in Storm, though as standard with Steps the roles of the King and Queen are reversed and Protecting the Queen is then reversed from the squares in Western chess.

Movement to and from the Castles is less free-flowing than that of across the board (called the Emerald Forest as per Storm) as it would be in actuality and so pieces can only move/capture to or from the Castles from or to the adjoining first rank (Foresters, as Pawns are called in Storm, still promote on their eighth rank as set out in Storm/Crossfire) though they can move/capture within the Castles, if possible.

The remaining rules are the same as Storm and the scores would likely be two Satellite game points for a win with one each for a draw, but at the moment the game is initial only.


Notes on game variation of Breakout -

The name Breakout may be changed.

Pieces situated outside Castles, including first ranks, have the whole board available for movement/capture except for the Castles as described - note that the aforesaid restrictions also apply to a player's own pieces if they are situated in his opponent's Castle.

It would be possible to have the Prince and Princess of Storm commencing the game instead of the Precedent and Adviser but one of the objects of this game is to counter-balance the power present on the board (in contrast to Storm and Crossfire where the object is to provide a tactical fireworks display) and these two pieces may bring a little too much of this, but the possibility remains.

The board could and perhaps should have ornamental Castles (as representing a Forest the board could be decorative also) and also the Uncharted Regions (dense forest that is representational background in Storm) remain outside of the Forest and Castles. The background story is basically that of Storm but may need adjusting.

It is likely the Precedent commences on the Castle d wing and the Adviser on the e wing but this could be changed if beneficial in any way (switching them round might facilitate defending c2 and c7 from e1 and e8).

In Breakout, as in the games of Steps, the equivalent of Castling of Western chess is called Protecting (or Safeguarding) the Queen and if the Queen has been moved to within her Castle and so foregone being Safeguarded she could then be described as being Castled, giving a distinction.

There are with the Castles some additional defensive resources available such as the facilitation of the re-grouping of pieces or giving shelter to a piece and if the Queen were to move there early in the game she could be almost immune to attack for much or all of the opening and middle game – at least in some games, perhaps many games, also there are defensive resources available with Castles in the endgame, and these defensive resources could be considered an interesting counter-balance to the much increased potential attacking power on an 8x8 board.

It seems possible to play with the Capablanca pieces on an 8x8 board without the Castles of Breakout and the rules associated with them whereby at commencement the d and e file Foresters are placed on their third rank whilst the Precedent (likely d file) and Adviser (likely e file) are placed behind them - d and e file Foresters do not have an optional initial two square move.


Game variation - Storm Force 24:

This is a game variation principally based on Storm and where players can choose their three powerful pieces up to a value of twenty four and place them on the 10x8 or 10x10 Storm board - hence the name of the variation. The value of twenty four comes from the King plus the Precedent plus the Adviser as these are the pieces of Capablanca chess that Storm is based on (the King, Prince and Princess of Storm have a value of twenty seven - Storm Force 27?). What three squares are available for the pieces to be placed on are to be decided, but would likely be those of the King, Prince and Princess of Storm or those of the King, Precedent and Adviser of Capablanca chess - the placement of the remaining pieces would likely be according to those of Storm or Capablanca chess or Western chess (probably there would be three game sub-variations) depending on the squares available for the three powerful pieces – these three placement templates are shown below




The Storm template could be adapted to an 8x8 board for a Western chess and perhaps other game variations, and another possibility is to play Storm Force on an 8x8 board with this template or the Western template (the d and g files would be 'squeezed' out and colour adjusted*1  to make an 8x8 board)…..

 (Author – this has been done, see ‘Boardroom’ later)

 …..and to set the ‘spend’ limit at a suitably lower level, perhaps 9, 8 or 7 - this would be named accordingly as Storm Force 9 etc. (a spend limit of 10 may be possible but note that for the Western template here the Forest prince – see table below, could, if certain opposing pieces were chosen including another Forest prince, deliver Checkmate immediately by capturing the opposing f file Forester*2 – and similar could happen on larger boards with some deployments)… of the noticeable features of the available pieces in the table below are the different attributes they have - exceptional leaping (Knight-royal) and jumping (Lance-commander) are there as are combinations of these (Crystal and Cloaked princes), also there are short range pieces such as the Earl as well as long range pieces such as the King and Viscount (who is not colour-bound), and other attributes are to be found besides - see the game of Storm for more.

*1The general Western chess principle of ‘light on right’ squares should be adhered to (Steps seeks to do this where appropriate) – thus the h1 square should then be lighter coloured and the rest of the board colouring follows from this; and here the Queen can follow the general Western chess principle of light-coloured Queen being on a light-coloured square and dark-coloured Queen being on a dark-coloured one, and there is no need for them to have any additional distinguishing colours as described in Storm

*2If the Southern (or Northern) Forest prince and the Queen change places it seems the game could then be played on an even footing



Below is the Table of piece values but they are initial and rounded (rounded down rather than up, e.g. the Cloaked Prince and the Viscount) and somewhat subjective approximations only and subject to change.....It should also be kept in mind that the values are primarily for the opening and middle game where the highly tactical possibilities of the variation may well be influential in deciding the game's result; but for the endgame the values could well change and two examples, also mentioned in Storm and Crossfire, would be that the King may be of more value than the Forest Prince and the Adviser may be of more value than the Forest Princess.



Storm shelter

An example placement is shown below (for south) with the Storm template and the Capablanca pieces and this particular placement is called the Storm shelter placement – all the Foresters are defended as shown and a brief test of this placement against stronger pieces (the Forest Prince and Princess) suggests the defence could be very firm whilst retaining the attacking potential usual to Capablanca piece variations.....this could be played as a game called Storm Shelter (or simply Shelter for short or instead of) where both sides would have this commencing deployment and this may become the third tie-break game for the Forest group (see grouping of games in part two) - here South must win and needs to come up with an attacking Storm to overcome North's defensive Shelter



Notes on game variation of Storm Force 24 -

Since there are twelve piece choices the game's name may be changed to Storm Force 12.

Players can choose three pieces whose value is less than twenty four but not more and they may not choose more than one piece of each type.

Players also choose what of the available three squares to deploy their three chosen pieces on.

Players do not declare what pieces they have chosen and what squares they have chosen for their deployment to each other but to the referee and then the pieces are placed on their squares and the game commences.

Players would probably be allowed perhaps 15 minutes or so to decide on these pieces and their deployment and would have to then commence the game, with any shortfall if there were any.

The principle of having a certain amount to 'spend' on pieces could be applied to other Chess games and also different types of games from Chess and an example of this is the game of Flagship in A Lacework of Strands.

Only practical play could determine if refinements or adjustments were required to the rules or piece values or deployment of other pieces (e.g. Knights and Service-maidens) and whether some deployments were not acceptable for any reason (e.g. an unavoidable loss of material etc. – see the first note mention of immediate Checkmates, though a possibility might be to allow for each player one chosen piece to be changed before play commences). As with Breakout the game, at the moment, is initial only.

There is the possibility of further pieces being added to the table but the alternate name of Storm Force 12 would have to change, and in connection with this I have not included the Khan, who is mentioned in Meridian, or the Storm Emperor, who is mentioned above in Further pieces, as these are or would be considered more appropriate as background pieces than as participating pieces for this particular variation. 

Players may have a particular liking for certain pieces (and their deployment squares) and they may be adept in their use of them and they may like the possibility of choosing them, but then their opponent may know of these preferences and base his choice on what the player perhaps does not like to play against rather than what he himself likes, and both players may be thinking along these lines and some unexpected and interesting deployments may arise because of this, and there are likely around 1,000 possible deployments for each player.

Forester promotions follow the same logic described in Storm/Crossfire.

For those who like to classify pieces then the King, Forest prince, Forest princess, Crystal prince and Cloaked prince can be classified as Royalty; the Duke, Earl and Viscount as of the Nobility; the Precedent and Adviser as being Political, and the Knight-royal and Lance-commander as of the Military.....they can also be described as Major pieces since all are at least as powerful, if not considerably more so, than the Western chess Rook – but it may be that such pieces are also described as Eminent or Pre-eminent, depending,* but though I’ve used these names this is still TBD as is another possibility, Foremost

*Where there is only one such piece in a game, such as the King in Western chess, they could be called the Pre-eminent piece (whereas several such pieces might collectively be called Eminent pieces)…..just as the Queen is described as the Royal Piece to reflect her special status in that her effective loss loses the game, so the King could be described as the Pre-eminent piece (he is still however classified as of Royalty though he is not the actual Royal piece) to reflect that he is more powerful than any other piece – as mentioned near the beginning of the book his loss without compensation would lose the game to an experienced player almost as surely as the Queen being then Checkmated herself


As with Breakout the likely scores are two Satellite game points for a win and one each for a draw - Storm (and Crossfire) score more as they are considered the prime games and so take precedence.

Protecting the Queen is allowed for all these Storm Force possibilities and follows the pattern of Storm, or if an 8x8 board LancerChess.

The background would be basically that of Storm but may need adjusting.


A Handicap system

The Storm Force games would seem to be well suited for a handicap system…..

 (Author – this has been done, see ‘Boardroom’ later)

 …..whereby more experienced and stronger players would have less to spend (a different type of system to Plateau where the handicap is in placement and not material value - see Cannon-fire in QiPlacements in A Chess Set): for example a beginner would start with a handicap (spending amount) of 24 or perhaps up to 27 or even 28 on the larger sized boards, and 9 or perhaps 10 on the 8x8 board (but see the earlier note regarding the possible immediate Checkmating abilities of the Forest prince), while more experienced players would have lower handicaps (and therefore less spending amounts) depending on their playing strength…..this system could perhaps at some stage be developed further into a wider handicap system*

*I think the system might be preferred to have relative handicaps such as (for an 8x8 board) 0 - strongest, +1, +2, +3, +4 and +5 (where 1 = western chess pawn value) that would be applied to the players with regard to the Storm Force level set for the game being played: e.g. if one player had a 2 higher handicap than the other player on an 8x8 board for Storm Force 8 then he could spend up to 8 whereas the lower-handicapped player could only spend up to 6, while players with the same handicap could both spend up to whatever Storm Force level was set - this way adds variety for players and games, and players of the same (and any) strength could play each other having any Storm Force level and so any level of pieces…..the game level would be set making sure to accommodate the players’ handicap levels+ 

+The level set for the game must allow for the difference in handicaps with regard to the difference in piece values, for example: if, on an 8x8 board, the difference in handicaps were 3 then the game level must be Storm Force 8, 9 or 10 as the lowest piece value is 5 (the highest is 10) and a game level of 7 or lower would leave the possible piece choices difference less than the 3 of the handicap difference.


Steps will convene to the Boardroom on web page Springboard  



Resumption of Steps from web page Springboard  


Object variation from TigerChess:

TigerChess (one word, and a page by this name is on this site) forms part of Tiger's-eye Games by Glenn Nicholls and a possible version of this can be played with the LancerChess pieces and board whereby the four squares behind c1/c8, d1/d8, e1/e8 and f1/f8 (that can be called the northern and southern Palace c, d, e and f wings) form each sides Palace. The playing rules are as follows - 

At the commencement of the game each player has a piece called the Royal guard posted to one of the four squares of their Palace and the Royal guard may not leave his post and move from his square but he guards the square in front of him by wielding a sword (representational points).

The Kings' Lancers are called the Standard bearers and should carry a decorative flag.

An additional object of the game is to Occupy the Palace and this must be carried out by the Standard bearer capturing the Royal guard as described below and this scores three Satellite game points.


Notes on object variation from TigerChess -

I have not yet decided on a name for this game with this possible object variation.

Checkmate is kept as a secondary object.

The loss of a Standard bearer still leaves Checkmate as an object and this scores two Satellite game points - if Occupying a Palace also results in Checkmate (or check) to the opponent the score is still three Satellite game points.

The Standard bearer captures the Royal guard by moving as usual and from the board but if he moves to the square in front of the Royal guard he can be captured (the Royal guard does not move in doing so though and can only capture the Standard bearer - this could change to any piece but is unlikely to) and so there is usually only one square on the penultimate rank that the Standard bearer can capture the Royal guard from - discovered checks could make the end rank square available though.

The reason for the higher score of Occupying a Palace than Checkmate is that only the Standard bearer can deliver this and to do so he must travel deep into his opponent's territory to land on (usually) just one square - this could be a long and risky journey and his opponent may well target him for capture, but attempts to defend both him and the Queen may lead to the opponent gaining the initiative.....Occupying the Palace may be an exciting object with complex possibilities in some games.

The posting of the Royal guards could be by arrangement or by draw of card etc.

Occupation of the Palace may not be carried out whilst the player's Queen is in or remains in check or if this causes the player's Queen to be in check or checkmate.

Palace squares can only be moved to when the Standard bearer captures the Royal guard.

There may be adjustments to the rules of this object variation – there are a number of possible changes, but the principle of Occupying a Palace would be basically the possible and perhaps preferable change is to have a moat in front of the Palaces that requires the Standard bearer to be on the one necessary corresponding square of the end rank in order to jump over the moat and carry out Occupation of the Palace, and here the Royal guard has no capturing powers other than a theoretical only power to capture on any wing of his Palace.

There can and perhaps should be ornamental Palaces.

Palaces could be called Strongholds with northern and southern c, d, e and f rooms or wings.


Promotion variation from TigerChess:

This idea also comes from TigerChess and is where a Pawn (or equivalent and by whatever name) may promote on the penultimate rank but to a lesser piece (e.g. a knight), but in conjunction with this only the first Pawn to reach their end rank can promote to a greater piece - this means that there can be one or more Pawns on the penultimate rank that cannot be promoted and they can only move or capture to their end rank and then stay there until and unless captured.


Notes on promotion variation from TigerChess -

A name has yet to be decided for this promotion rule that could be used in games such as Western chess or LancerChess etc.

This rule could be changed so that any Pawn reaching the end rank could be promoted to a greater piece.

It would be interesting to know how often Pawns in Western chess safely or apparently safely reach the seventh rank but not the hoped-for end rank.

Early promotions to such as a Knight may not give much of a material advantage compared to a later end rank promotion but they may give an attacking initiative whereas the end rank promotion may not happen and the chance would have been lost - this possible early promotion could be a complex and interesting decision.

It is unlikely this rule would change standard scores. 


Deployment variations:

Note: The Steps Naming Scheme is used here – also see Points on Steps Naming Scheme and Equipment in Boardroom

Squeeze-down (or Pendulum or Swing?) placing

This is again based on an idea from TigerChess and has some slight similarity with Fischer Random Chess.....but unlike Fischer Random this deployment determination is brought about by play and not at random.....Fischer Random is also called Chess960, there being 960 possible starting arrays (that are reflectively symmetrical – but there is rotational symmetry within this figure) to this Western chess variation and that was invented by the former Western chess world champion Bobby Fischer who is also mentioned in Steps Part two: Timing of Games - many players consider Bobby Fischer to be a leading candidate for the strongest ever player of Western chess.....the rules are as follows.....

Other Notes

Bobby Fischer invented Chess960 as a way of preventing memorised opening theory from having too much influence on a game as compared to playing ability. For those interested in opening theory there is much information readily available for Western and Chinese chess - high level tournament players of these may know a great deal of such theory.

The head game used here as an example is Western chess but could be others

First rank is called here by an alternate name of Home rank, but second rank and so on would still be called so


.....The Pikemen are placed on their usual squares but the pieces are placed on any empty squares as follows

1. South places one of his pieces on his home rank

2. North places two of his pieces on his home rank

3. South places two of his pieces on his home rank

4. North places two of his pieces on his home rank

5. South places two of his pieces on his home rank

6. North places two of his pieces on his home rank

7. South places two of his pieces on his home rank

8. North places his last two pieces on his home rank

9. South places his last piece on his home rank

The only stipulation in this example is that each player must have his Nobles placed on opposite coloured squares (if Barons/Baronesses are in the head game - as they are in this example, then they are replaced with Nobles – they move the same)

Play now proceeds as usual (the engagement phase as compared to the placement or deployment phase) except there is no Protecting the Queen (castling) whatever the array - see further notes below


Further notes

If Towers are in the head game (as they are in this example) then they are replaced by Siege Towers and this means that the move of Protecting the Queen is not allowed at all

Pieces are not designated by reference to kingside or queenside - e.g. a King's/Queen’s Knight is simply called a Knight, etc.

A Protected Queen (castled) position, or at least similar positions, can though come about by means of the placings.

Either player can force some asymmetry if he chooses to.

The placement choices for each player start off with eight possible squares for five possible piece types = 40 choices and so there are 40 x 40 = 1,600 possible positions after just one deployment placement by each player but this may not stay so as there are many transposition possibilities and players can force some symmetry if they choose to; also with standard commencing play the number of possible moves tends to increase for some time into the game (perhaps more noticeably so for pieces than for Pikemen - in Western chess there are sixteen possible Pikeman opening moves and four possible Piece opening moves for each side), but here the placement choices reduce from the initial forty for each player down to just one each and so there is here a noticeable contrast in the stages of a game that may be interesting to some, and in connection with this players may delay the placement of the key pieces of the King and Queen, perhaps to see where their opponent places theirs, but then the longer the delay of placing these key pieces the less choice there is of squares for them and this aspect may also be interesting to some.....this is the reason for the name of Squeeze-down placing.

The possible number of arrays is calculated by: each player must place each Noble on one of four squares and so has 4x4 possibilities; the King can then go on one of six squares with the Queen on one of five squares; then the first Knight has four squares and the second Knight three squares, but either can occupy either square with no difference; then the Siege Towers have to occupy the last two squares also with no difference, and so there are 4x4x6x5x4x3/2x2x1/2 = 2,880 possible starting arrays for each player and the game has 2,880 x 2,880 = 8,294,400 possible starting arrays though there is some symmetry, but I would like this calculation checked (I have checked and it seems OK).

The idea of this deployment variation is that players determine their commencing array for themselves whilst taking their opponent's placings into account - this could be a complex game within itself (there may be significant advantages to one side in some arrays) and so a significant amount of time would likely be set for this stage of say an hour per player (in this example) that would count down and then if a player had not completed his placements in this time he would have to continue the game with such pieces and their placements as he had (on second thoughts I think this would result in a loss on time).


Mirrored shuffling

This is a deployment determination brought about at random by way of shuffled cards that lead to reflective symmetry (hence the name), but unlike Chess960 there are no castling rights – see further notes below, and some positions could arise here where Queens are placed in dangerous positions (as intended to sometimes happen).....the procedure is as follows.....


Western chess is the example head game again but could once again be other games

First ranks are here again also called by the alternate name of Home ranks


.....There is a set of six cards showing pieces

One showing Kings

One showing Queens

Two showing Knights

Two showing Siege Towers (not Towers)

And there is a set of eight cards each showing a file from a to h


The procedure is

1. Pikemen are placed as usual

2. Both sets of cards are shuffled and spread face down

3. A file card is drawn and turned face up

4. Nobles are placed on their home rank squares of this file (as with Squeeze-down placing if Barons/Baronesses are in the head game - as they are in this example, then they are replaced with Nobles)

(5). As soon as a file card is drawn with opposite home rank square colours to that in 4. then the remaining Nobles are placed on the file’s home rank squares

6. An undrawn file card is drawn and turned face up

7. An undrawn piece card is drawn and turned face up

8. The pieces (same) for both sides are placed on these files (on their home rank squares)

9. The procedure continues until all pieces are placed

The game now proceeds to the engagement phase

Other procedures are possible but this is my own preference


Further notes

The card sets (called Mirrored cards of game) would likely be of rather striking designs and the effect of mirrors may impact on a design

As with Squeeze-down placing  if Towers are in the head game (as they are in this example) then they are replaced by Siege Towers and this means that the move of Protecting the Queen is not allowed at all

Also as with Squeeze-down placing pieces are not designated by reference to kingside or queenside - e.g. a King's/Queen’s Knight is simply called a Knight, etc.

The number of possible arrays are shown in the calculation in Squeeze-down placings and are the number for each side i.e. 2,880 but there is some rotational symmetry in this

Any arrays found to be unacceptably advantageous to one side would need to be noted


Mirrored shuffling - rotated

A further possibility is, after the pieces have all been placed by cards, to rotate one side's (decided as usual e.g. by roll of dice or coin etc.) pieces through 180 degrees - for example north, the pieces on a8 and h8 change places as they do on b8 and g8, c8 and f8, and d8 and e8.....this may sharpen up some positions compared to the Mirror shuffled - unrotated (as this can be called) pieces…..also the above further notes apply regarding Towers and Protecting the Queen, designations and arrays.


Scoring for Deployment variations

These two somewhat contrasting in idea deployment determinations could, I think, at times be played in a significant way and score points accordingly - but not more (and perhaps less) than the relevant head game.


Changeover chess (or Pendulum chess?):

Following on from Squeeze-down placing is for the playing of games to have this moving pattern that is called the Changeover (Pendulum?) moving pattern where south, moving first, makes one move then north makes two moves, then south makes two moves and so on with alternate two move turns (not to be confused with Parallel playing - here this is for one game).....the advantage of first move, or perhaps rather being a move ahead, therefore changes over on each turn (see further notes in Squeeze-down placing where mention of some aspects of this may give points of comparison between the two) - this would need testing for suitability for some games, but it may prove interesting having greater width but less depth calculation, and it may be that any final tie-break game in gatherings groups is played with this moving pattern - provided the game proves suitable.....there are a few specific rules as follows

One piece can be moved twice or two different pieces can be moved on a turn, but moves must be played one after the other and may not be made simultaneously - to be more precise the second move may not begin until the first one is completed.

A Royal piece may never be moved into or allowed to be in Check on first or second moves

If a player delivers Check on his first move then his turn finishes and he does not keep a move in reserve

A player in Check must escape immediately on his first move - if he cannot he is Checkmated and the game ends

Protecting the Queen (if part of the head game) is as usual and counts as one move

As with Siege and Transfer play en passant capturing is considered better left out and so there are no en passant captures allowed in any game played this way

Of head games that may be suitable I think Western chess, LancerChess and Clash are, also both variations of Arabian chess and perhaps those of Arabella and Invasion may be – but I’m not keen on these latter games being played so…..Western chess, LancerChess and Clash could then be played with this moving pattern, and perhaps for the Chequered group a final tie-break game could be played so – south (who needs the win) would have the choice of whether to have this moving pattern, but then north would have the choice of having Knights or Lancers (south would have Knights regardless).....having the Lancers would probably favour north slightly, but he may prefer to play with Knights and the game’s asymmetry combined with this moving pattern may give both sides plenty of practical chances to win with either choice..... at the moment all this is tentative and can only be taken into group play provisionally – if unsatisfactory the group would revert back to before.



A possibility players may try out, if they both agree, is for games such as Western chess, LancerChess etc. to have an optional rule where there is also a win by 'Queen promotion' (promotion to ascendancy over her rival Queen that is - or to 'First Queen' if a preferred term) that occurs if a Queen reaches her end rank (or the opposing Queen's commencement square?) - she must not be in check here and if this also left the opponent in Checkmate there would be no extra points scored.....this would give an extra way to avoid a draw and could liven up dull and drawish endgames, but at this stage I think it is experimental, though it is certainly a possibility.

In LancerChess promotions to a Lancer could take place without reference to the colour of Lancers' commencing squares and so a player could then have a Queen's Lancer operating on a different set of diagonals to that of his original Queen's lancer - a possible name for him would be a Queen's rider.

To win a race in Relay could require a Runner landing on a square past his starting square.

In Relay the somewhat confusing wording regarding sending back and re-entering a runner to a race may well be worded clearer.

For the Rainbow, Jini, Chequered, Meridian and Forest groups it may well be preferable for the first two tie-break games to be played with the Parallel playing format - this is likely to become standard, and a further possibility is for a time advantage for South in the final tie-break game.

For the Jewel games, and perhaps one or two others, the rules regarding Stalemate situations may be revised, and Forced passing rules may be included; and in this respect the ideas set out in 'From Stalemate to Checkmate' by Glenn Nicholls (refer to page of this name on this site) in Tiger's-eye Games may, in a suitable or adjusted form, be brought in. 

The rules for first moves in the Jewel series group and also for Stand-alone Jewel games may well be revised and this would then be shown in an updated Jewel series table and individual game tables, and an updated unabridged Jewel series table is shown below - called the Jewel portrait (it's just about readable with screen enlargement) this contains quite a bit more information than the earlier abridged table and has its headings changed round to is subject to updating as and when appropriate



The Jewel series game of Skirmish may be changed so that the Key position acts as a block to sliding pieces as with the other Jewel games (perhaps there is a small guard hut situated at the Key position of the forest crossroads), and in this case the Pike commander piece would be changed to a Lance commander though the promotion to this piece from a Pikeman is perhaps not quite so logical, then again if named a Royal pikeman or a Pike royal.....? 

The rules of Combat may be changed both as a Stand-alone game and as a game within the Jewel series due to the perhaps (but perhaps not) large amount of first move advantage, but this would first require analysis or data to determine the appropriateness of this - perhaps compiled by computers, computer or other analysis could lead to changes in this or any other Steps game and/or its situation within Steps.

The game rules of Northern Light and/or Kaleidoscope may be changed to include Castling type moves.

The rules of the Woodland group may be looked at again with a view to clarification.

Information tables including that of the Jewel series group may be updated to include a Notes section where appropriate. 

The letter case shown for board files and algebraic notation varies between upper and lower case and this may well be changed to all showing the usual convention of lower case.


Mongolian chess could be played in the Meridian group with the following changed format:

The Meridian group (alternative)

1. Mongolian chess

2. Meridian - Core variation

3. Combination

Tie break game is Mongolian chess


Core variations are Western and Eastern variations - see Meridian

What Core variation is decided by roll of dice or coin

For Combination south Guards the Queen – see Meridian

The Escape rule is not allowed to be in force (but see below) - see Meridian

Mongolian chess scores 1 point for a win and ½ each for a draw

Meridian and Combination score 2 points for a win and 1 each for a draw

Group bonus points are 5 (4 points is a possibility so as to bring into line with the Chequered group and then the bonus points for the Forest group may possibly become 5)

Promotion rules for Mongolian chess are as the Eastern variation of Meridian (except not to a Pike leader) as are other rules such as piece types and names (Teme are called Barons/Baronesses where Barons commence on the F file and Baronesses commence on the C file), role reversals, general board appearance and so forth - also there is no castling type move for the Queens. The Berse or Snow Panther (called and as a Prince-royal of Meridian) starts on E1/E8 not D1/D8 and his Chu (called Pikemen) must move to E4 followed by his opponent moving his to E5 as the first moves of the game; all other Pikemen only have a single square first move.

The Checkmate rules of Mongolian chess apply as does the draw rule of "Niol", but there is no draw by "Robado".

Note that there is a point (or two) less available overall with this changed group format though it may perhaps be a logical change although Mongolian chess is significantly more similar to Western chess than Chinese chess whilst Meridian is intended to be a fit between these two games. Also note the modern rule variations of Mongolian chess do not apply here and that there are one or two changes to the traditional rules. Background is along the lines of the Meridian variation of Combination. Also I have used the names of Baron and Baroness as I have also used these names in other games for this piece, but these names may change; also, although this piece does not appear in Meridian currently there is a possibility it may do so - see Meridian, Further Rules and Notes.

Also possible with this changed Meridian group would be to have the Escape rule (described in Meridian) in force for the Meridian and Combination games, but there would then be less points scored, this change might though be suitable as an exhibition group.

The Escape rule mentioned above may be upgraded to score the same as when it is not in force for this alternative (or additional and perhaps separately named) group and then probably for Stand-alone games.

Other possibilities for the Escape rule are as an option(s) for the Meridian group(s) and/or possibly for South only in Combination (likely?) as Group and/or Stand-alone games, and then all with probably the same scores as without it.....apologies if this sounds confusing but what I’m saying is that I’d like to keep all possibilities for this rule open including level of play

There is, perhaps, something to be said for this alternative Meridian group becoming the main one.....But I'm not enthusiastic

Further - with the Meridian group as it stands it may well be preferable for the first two tie-break games to be the two core variations (preferably played parallel) and if a third were necessary this would be the 1st core variation played in the group.....this format would also be preferable for the first two Arabian chess tie-break games in the Jini group where players, if they so wished, could play one game with the Traditional variation and the other with the Modern.....similar applies to Capablanca chess and board sizes in the Forest group.

In the Jini group whether the Traditional or Modern variation of Invasion is played could be the opposite to the one played in Arabella.

In Merridonia the Runich dice is spelt Rhunich - pronunciation is the same.

Tidying up and revising of Stones of Fortune may be longer term


Tournament and Match play:

Tournaments are generally where a number of players enter such to play a number of rounds of a specific game or variation thereof, and at the end of play there are placings according to the Entrants’ results…..Steps official tournaments would likely have their own scoring system with the highest placed Entrants (perhaps the top three or four) receiving ‘Tournament Bonus points’ (perhaps allocated by the ‘Sum of Digits’ method as explained in the Stepladder asterisked note in Cannon-fire in QiPlacements – except here the digits would be 1 to 4 allocating 1st 40%, 2nd 30%, 3rd 20% and 4th 10%) in addition to their Stand-alone points, and these could be of a large amount since tournaments might sometimes last for a week or more…..the format and details for tournaments may, at some point, be written as a separate heading – see note below…..the Bonus would depend on a number of factors such as the number and strength of Entrants, the number of rounds played and so forth

There is also match play where usually just two players play a series of a specific game or variation thereof, and as with tournaments a format for matches may at some point be detailed under a separate heading – see note below… with tournaments there would be points scored in addition to their Stand-alone points, and these would be called ‘Match Bonus points’ (perhaps split 2:1 in favour of the winner) and this Bonus - that could be substantial, would depend on factors such as the strength of the Contestants and the number of games played and so forth… highest levels a minimum of twenty games would be played at longer time settings

With lengthy tournaments and matches there would be rest days for players and others


At the moment Conventional tournament formatting and Stepladder tournament formatting as described in Cannon-fire along with Conventional and both Parallel and Pendulum (combined?) match formatting as described in Grouping of games are all distinct possibilities - and for Tournament and Match Tie-break games, and depending on the head game, The Two Towers perhaps played in conjunction with Promotion to First Queen – both described earlier in Further thoughts, are also possibilities as is the playing format of them e.g. linear or parallel, clock type and settings etc.


Use of Computers

In high level tournaments or matches players are obviously not allowed the use of computers to assist them with choosing moves, but computers may be useful in one or two other ways and the following is based on ideas mentioned in the page Dragon on this site by Glenn Nicholls.....they could record the game's moves, and full details of it, and check the legality of moves as they are played and issue visual and/or audible warnings of an illegal move, and this could help players, arbiters and assistants, particularly with games that have more complex rules; also, more for beginners or less experienced players (but not only so), and again particularly with a more complex game, a computer could show a list of all the possible moves that could be played - the (properly presented) moves list might highlight captures and checks but would not show move evaluations or be ranked by such evaluations (though it could do so) and would simply be a list of all the next possible moves (on that move - sometimes called a ply in computer chess); this may be a useful learning app where players learn to check out the less obvious (but not necessarily weaker) moves - the list would likely be shown to both players and perhaps displayed to any spectators that might be watching (as could be the game's details and the moves already played and recorded by the computer, also there could be a graphic display of the board position), and for some players and spectators (those not using their own app) this could add interest to a game.


Player ratings and the Elo system

The generally accepted rating system for Western chess player strength is now the Elo system and an online extract is given below:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Perhaps the best-known statistical model is that devised by Arpad Elo in 1960 and further elaborated on in his 1978 book The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present. He gave ratings to players corresponding to their performance over the best five-year span of their career. According to this system the highest ratings achieved were:

     2725: José Raúl Capablanca

     2720: Mikhail Botvinnik, Emanuel Lasker

     2700: Mikhail Tal

     2690: Alexander Alekhine, Paul Morphy, Vasily Smyslov

(Though published in 1978, Elo's list did not include five-year averages for Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. It did list January 1978 ratings of 2780 for Fischer [Shaye – see below] and 2725 for Karpov.)

End of extract


Under this system grandmasters rate from 2500 upwards…..BUT…..Anatoly Karpov has stated that in his opinion there has been inflation of ratings since this time – and I think he would know given his playing strength and achievements (he was a world champion); it is very noticeable of the small difference in ratings between the above listed players – all were world champions except that the official championship commenced after Paul Morphy’s time (he is though considered as the strongest player of his time by virtually all)…..the strongest ever players of Western chess would now, I think, be generally considered as Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen (though I would add that in terms of talent a good number consider Jose Raul Capablanca to be a match for these) – all were/are world champions and, if I may, I would like to tentatively suggest a rating for each of around 2750 [Bobby Fischer 2780!? - wow.....but]… unfortunate that they, like some of the players listed above, played in different Chess eras and so never played each other at their peak, if at all.

In the forward I stated that excitement is the quality I have tried for most in the book - so who might be the most exciting player ever of this calibre…’s rather subjective I’m sure but the following comment was found on the website in a 2015 article – ‘Who are the most interesting chess players of all time?’ – the italics are mine: ‘(Mikhail) Tal was easily the most brilliant and creative attacking player ever’.



Move to TigerPad page



where there are listed some of the items appearing in Steps along the way of Chess



Below is an idea of a Person’s Savings Account and settings together with two tables and some notes with explanations – it is readable though screen enlargement may be needed:

A Further Hope is that one of these accounts with a sufficient ‘starter’ balance is issued free together with the free individual house as part of a Person’s Invitation to Merridonia 


Notes regarding Savings Account:

A Person may only usually have one of these accounts

There may be joint or group-held accounts in some circumstances

Loans or overdrafts or external transfers are not usually allowed

There are no tax liabilities or implications with regard to any Savings Account of Merridonia

There are terms and conditions regarding interest rates, limits etc. – one term is mentioned here:

Interest rates are 1% reduced from what they would be otherwise (i.e. in the settings above from 6% to 5% in the Satellite section, and from 5% to 4% in the Currency section) as premium for fully comprehensive insurance for any loss to the Saver of funds, including by criminal means* - this insurance is a non-profit enterprise and if surpluses built up they would be periodically distributed to Savers or other good causes

*It is possible to quickly re-mint all held coins – those in circulation would then be recalled for this process, any not so returned (returns must be considered lawfully held) would not be legal tender…..but this is an exceptional measure


Dates are not shown as the above is basic illustrative only and, as stated, does not necessarily indicate how an account might actually look like - dates would of course then be shown

The marks and the interest figures are entries whilst the others are balances (interest figures are also balances) - these might not be shown as they are but being examples they are all shown on one line                     

 Individual entries would give full details including their Satellite Certificate reference where applicable and whether points were Stand-alone or Bonus points - this, and much other information, is recorded in Journals of Tournaments etc.

All points, tokens, marks and currency (coins) are those of Merridonia and names more formally expressed would show this as e.g. Satellite Game Points of Merridonia (whether Stand-alone or Bonus points could also be indicated), or coinage as Merridonian Golds, Silvers, Bronze etc.


There are situations in Steps (and Lace) where players may share points (or tokens) and initially I think this can be acceptable down to either halves, quarters, eighths, sixteenths or thirty-seconds of them; and so in the Satellite section points and tokens are shown in fractions – the initial conversion level and exchange rate settings above facilitate this with the smallest Satellite holding of one thirty-second of a Nominal token being worth the smallest Coin holding of one Dec…..the calculation is:


One Nominal point = 16.00 Bronze or 16.00 x 10 x 10 = 1,600 Decs

One Nominal point = 50 Nominal tokens or 50 x 32 = 1,600 thirty-seconds of Nominal tokens

Therefore one thirty-second of a Nominal token = first line/second line = one Dec



Methods and Procedures:

The following explains the workings of the columns shown with figures in the illustration


Satellite Section:

The columns for Tokens, Points, Interest and Value work the same for both Game and Nominal and here need not be too differentiated


There are a number of diverse things that Marks can be awarded for in Merridonia and they can be somewhat subjective, such as Theatrical marks awarded for a production; or they can be more objective, such as Exam marks scored in a recognised examination of Merridonia (Only – Merridonia has its own educational and training system)…..the different types of Marks are not directly comparable however, and though hard-won as they are they do not of themselves have monetary value (they may lead to such of course) – But, they are entered in a Saver’s account and are considered an essential part of the Saver’s credibility and would be looked at for matters such as the possible issue of a chequebook…..And all these things - and many others, are considered before issuing a Person a Merridonian Licence






Currency Section:





Total Section:






To Be Continued





Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls of Rhun, Merridonia

Sunday, 8th January 2023


Page finishes

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Glenn Nicholls.

Last revised by Glenn Nicholls.

Web page created: 2016-10-23. Web page last updated: 2016-10-23