Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

The Tower Game

The Tower Game is an idea I had a long while ago, while trying to create an almost perfect expansion of two-dimensional Chess to the three-dimensional world. It is based on similar concepts to Graeme C Neatham's in Fool's Hexagonal Chess. The game is, shortly put, a simplified version of Gavin Smith's Prince. It uses the same pieces names and movements as that game.


The board is 5 x 5 x 8 (200 cubes, or cells.) Every one of the 5x5 levels is called a 'rank', and every one of the 25 columns is called a 'file'. Ranks are numbered, as usual, from 1 to 8; and files are named by their position in the 5x5 matrix with two letters. For example, the white King start in cc1. The cubes ac2 and ca2 are DIFFERENT cubes. (You might just as well capitalize one of two letters.

There are TWO possible starting setups :


1. The Original setup :

White's first rank is as follows,Ac

e  |.R.|;N;|.B.|;B;|.R.|  
d  |:C:| C |:B:| B |:N:|  
c  |.C.|;C;|.K.|;J;|.J.|  
b  |:N:| M |:M:| J |:J:|  
a  |.R.|;M;|.M.|;N;|.R.|  
     a   b   c   d   e    

From left to right, top to bottom, they go as follows:

e: Rook,    Knight,   Bishop,   Bishop, Rook,
d: Captain, Captain,  Bishop,   Bishop, Knight,
c: Captain, Captain,  KING,     Jester, Jester,
b: Knight,  Merchant, Merchant, Jester, Jester,
a: Rook,    Merchant, Merchant, Knight, Rook.
   a        b         c         d       e

Black's setup mirrors white, but Bishops face Merchants and Merchants face Bishops.


2. The Alternate setup :

White's first rank is as follows,

e  |.R.|;N;|.B.|;M;|.R.|  
d  |:B:| M |:J:| C |:N:|  
c  |.J.|;C;|.K.|;B;|.M.|  
b  |:N:| B |:M:| J |:C:|  
a  |.R.|;J;|.C.|;N;|.R.|  
     a   b   c   d   e    

e: Rook,    Knight,    Bishop,   Merchant, Rook,
d: Bishop,  Merchant,  Jester,   Captain,  Knight,
c: Jester,  Captain,   KING,     Bishop,   Merchant,
b: Knight,  Bishop,    Merchant, Jester,   Captain,
a: Rook,    Jester,       Captain,  Knight,   Rook.
   a        b          c         d         e

Black's setup mirror's white. In this arrangement, all pawns are protected at least once.


The Rook in the bottom right is said to be in the cube ea1. The Rook in the top left is in cube ae1.

In both setups, there is pawn in front of every piece.

This make the set, for the player, as follows :

* 4  Rooks     (R)
* 4  Bishops   (B)
* 4  Merchants (M)

* 4  Knights   (N)
* 4  Captains  (C)
* 4  Jesters   (J) (Formerly Aces)

* 1  King      (K)
* 25 Pawns     (-)

The piece density of the board is 50%. Like in standard chess.

Note : the symbols around the pieces in the diagrams symbolize the Merchants binding. Since only one rank is shown, they also symbolize the Bishops binding.


To describe the movements of the pieces, I have to define three major directions in the 3D board. (Totalling 26 single directions.) * Orthogonal : That is, moving towards one of the simple directions (totalling six): North(N), South(S), East(E), West(W), Up(U), and Down(D). * Diagonal : That is, moving towards one of the double compound directions (totalling twelve): NE, NW, NU, ND, SE, SW, SU, SD, WU, WD, EU, and ED. * Triagonal : That is, moving towards one of the triple compound directions (totalling eight): NEU, NED, NWU, NWD, SEU, SED, SWU, and SWD. -- EDIT 28-6-2007 : Beginner's Guide To Space Chess. This page has diagrams for all those pieces. It calls the Merchant, the Mage. And it calls the Ace, the Jester. I don't like the name Mage, but I like the name Jester, so I changed it throughout the article. -- The pieces in this game are : * The Rook, an orthogonal rider. * The Bishop, a diagonal rider. A Bishop is restricted to half of the board. * The Merchant, a triagonal rider. A Merchant is restricted to, more or less, a quarter of the board (see notes.) * The Knight, a leaper, moves one step orthogonally then one step diagonally. * The Captain, a leaper, moves one step orthogonally then one step triagonally. One is restricted to half of the board. * The Jester, a leaper, moves one step diagonally then one step triagonally. * The King, the royal piece, moves one step in any of the 26 direction. - Castling is done by moving the King to one of the corner cubes and putting the Rook in the cube the King has passed. Normal restrictions apply. * The Pawn, moves without capturing one step orthogonally forward (towards the enemy side.) It moves to capture one step diagonally or triagonally forward. - A Pawn may make a double step in its first move and may be captured en-passant. - Pawns promote upon reaching their eighth rank to any piece in the starting setup, or a Fool(F) (see below.) * The Fool, moves like the King, but is not subject to check or checkmate, and is capturable. It doesn't appear in the starting setup but is an available option when promoting a pawn. Other names for this piece are the Mann, the Commoner and the Prince. (The first letters of these names are already taken. The Prince has also a different movement in 3D chess.)


As in standard chess, except what is stated above. Promotion to compound pieces is forbidden, they're too powerful in the small board. Notation of the cubes is as described above. Notation of the movement is as handled in Short Algebraic Notation; except that in case of ambiguity, the file where the piece starts is prefixed to its name. Moving the King's pawn two cubes forward is 1.cc4 (not unlike 1.e4 in standard chess.) A sample game can go like this : White Black 1. cc4 cb5 2. ccxcb5 cc5 3. cbxcc6 e.p. dbJcd6 In the last move, Black moved his db Jester to cd6 Castling is notated as a King's move : Kee1 is King castling with the ee Rook. It is possible to write something like O-B which King castling Bishop-side. (The Bishop's Rook, for example, is the one diagonally adjacent to a Bishop. The Merchant's Rook is the one diagonally adjacent to a Merchant, and so on.) Stalemate in this variant is not a draw, but not a full win either. It gets 3/4 in tournament counts. This rule is taken from Glinski's Hexagonal Chess.


The Leaper pieces are an interesting study. A Jester, for example, needs 3 steps to go to an triagonally adjacent cube; 2 to a diagonally adjacent cube; 5 to an orthogonally adjacent cube. The Bishop, the Merchant, and the Captain are all colorbound pieces. Each one of the four Bishops and four Captains control 50% of the board. The two Merchants which start in the same bishop-color cube as the friendly king control each 26% of the board (52 cubes.) Each of the other two control 24% of the board (48 cubes.) --- Variants : Many mutators can be applied to this game. To count a few : Alice, Anywhere, Atomic, Benedict, Bughouse, CrazyHouse, Doppleganger, Fusion, Half, Hostage, Kriegspiel, Magnetic, Marseillaise, Suicide, or Extinction. (In the last two promotion to a Fool is not necessary, since you can promote to a King.) If you don't what a certain mutator of these is you can easily look it up. Four special variants that need more detailing are described here : * The Mini Tower Game (The Chamber Game) : Exactly the same game with the same pieces which move in the same way, but in 5 ranks instead of 8. Inspired by Gardner Minichess. * The Toroidal Tower Game : Not unlike Cylindrical Chess. The North and South sides of the tower are connected, and so are the West and East sides. The Bishops (and probably the other color-bound pieces) are no longer colorbound. Castling is abolished. * The Berlin Tower Game : The Pawns move without capturing one forward step diagonally or triagonally. The move to capture one step orthogonally forward. * The Tripunch Tower Game : This one uses a different idea than Ralph Betza'a Tripunch Chess. It doesn't add Gryphon's moves to the Rook. Instead, it replaces the riders with planar riders (the so-called hook-movers,) and leapers with leap-riders. In short, it replaces the Rooks with Bases, Bishops with Scientists, Merchants with Reporters, Knights with Nightriders, Captains with Captain-riders, and Jesters with Jester-riders. For the description of the mentioned planar riders see Prince. All other rules are as in the normal game, except that promotion to a Fool is no longer necessary. It's possible to play this variant with other mutators, like suicide. (This creates a Chess Variant Variant Variant. Go figure!) * The Shuffle Tower Game : A Shuffle variant is necessary to have. The rules are simple: the King and the Rooks remain in their positions unchanged. The Merchants HAVE to be on different bindings, one on each. Bishops have to be on different bindings, two on each. Captains are dealt with likewise. Other wise it's all Random. Black's position mirrors White's. Some possible starting positions : 1 2 3 R M B B R R N C C R R B J B R C M N C M N N J C C J C N C M B N K J C N J K J M B M K N M C N B N J B B J M M N M N B C R J M J R R B B M R R J J C R The position is selected randomly before the game. The number of possible starting positions is 326,592,000 . Of course mirrored and rotated positions are counted. * The Shogi Tower Game : Mr J. Fisher, suggested a setup for Tower Shogi. I made slight modifications to his proposal. This is my setup. 1st rank: 2nd rank: 3rd rank: L N C J L - - - M - P P P P P J S G S N R - - - - P P P P P C G K G C - - - - - P P P P P N S G S J - - - - M P P P P P L J C N L - B - - - P P P P P If this is Black, White setup mirrors it except for one small detail. Merchants face Rook and Bishop and vice versa. The board is 5x5x9. Pawns, Lances move as they do in Shogi. Bishop, Rook and Merchants move as they do in the Tower Game. (Note that the two merchants are on different bindings.) Knight, Captain, and Jester move similarly to what they do in the Tower Game, but they are restricted to a very forward move. Every move MUST advance them two ranks. The Golden General moves to all directions forward (to the next rank) or like a 3D Wazir (orthogonal movement.) Moves to 14 cells. The Silver General Moves to all directions forward, and like a 3D Ferz. Moves to 17 cells. Maybe a Cheap General is possible to add. Moves to all directions forward or like a Secretary (my naming) which is a Triagonal Stepper. It's also possible to enhance the Golden General to move to all directions sideways. This I call the Uranium General, which is, I think, more expensive than Gold. All first rank pieces and pawns, including the Golden General, promote to a Uranium General upon reaching the last three ranks. As in Shogi, promotion is optional unless the piece is immobile. Second rank pieces add the Jeweled General's move (moves and is notated like a Tower King) to their moves. The Drops rules are exactly as in Shogi. Including the no-double pawn rule and the no-checkmate pawn drop. --- The King is pretty difficult to checkmate. This is why I included the Half-Victory Stalemate rule, which I find quite logical. Promotion to Fools was introduced for the same problem, because the Fool is a very strong endgame piece. --- How would Tower Shogi or Tower Xiang Qi be like ? Wildebeest Tower (or Directional Tower) is already proven to be a bad idea. The pieces are difficult to anticipate and too weak (or too strong.) (( UPDATE, a Shogi setup has been added upwards. ))

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.

Author: Abdul-Rahman Sibahi.
Web page created: 2007-05-03. Web page last updated: 2007-06-28