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Xiangaroo

Introduction

This variant is to Xiang Qi what my Chaturanga variant Chatukanga is to Chaturanga. As in Chatukanga, I get rid of the Ferz, replace it with a compound of two of the paired back-rank pieces, and add in the other two such compound pieces.

Two differences relate to XQ elements absent from Chaturanga and its westerly offshoots. As Xiang Qi has two Ferzes aside, I substitute two of each compound piece aside rather than the one each of Chatukanga. What I do not compound is the Cannon, which is neither a back-rank piece nor a piece with standard Occidental analogues. Since posting this variant I have devised distinctive names for the Cannon's compounds with any kind of Knight (Marksman) and any kind of Elephant (Minethrower), and Chatehopper is a fairly unambigious term for Cannon+Wazir, but at the time Cannon compounds seemed an unnecessary complication. Rook+Cannon would definitely be off limits as too strong in individual directions.

Having twice as many compound pieces as Chatukanga makes up for the relative weakness of Stepping moves compared to Leaping ones, which would leave Xiang Qi's General rather weak against them. As, however, the Ferz move lives on in Chatukanga as part of the King move, I feel quite justified in adding the Ferz move to the General to give the King familiar to Occidentals. At one stage I considered a King whose diagonal move was restricted to the diagonals through the middle of the Fortress, as in Janggi, but decided that this too would be a complication too far.

Setup

Pieces

Pieces existing both in their own right and as components of compounds
The ROOK moves any distance orthogonally through empty intermediate squares.
The STEPPING KNIGHT, or MAO, moves one step orthogonally, turns 45°, and moves one step diagonally. It must make both steps, in that order, and unlike the Leaping Knight the intermediate square must be empty.
The STEPPING ELEPHANT, or XIANG, moves two steps diagonally. It must make both steps, and unlike the Leaping Elephant, or Alfil the intermediate square must be empty.
Pieces not involved in compounds:
The KING moves one square orthogonally or diagonally, and must be kept out of check.
The CANNON differs from the Rook in that capturing moves require exactly one intervening piece, which is of either army and not itself captured.
The POINT moves one step along the forward orthogonal.
Compound pieces:
The CHINESE-STYLE MARSHAL is the compound of Rook and Mao. It always starts its move with an orthogonal step, and can stop there or continue any number of steps in the same direction or just one along an outward diagonal. It differs from the standard Marshal in being unable to leap in the Knight component of its move.
The CHINESE-STYLE INFANTA is the compound of Rook and Xiang. It can be thought of as a Queen whose diagonal move is restricted to having exactly two steps. It differs from the standard Infanta in being unable to leap in the Elephant component of its move.
The CHINESE-STYLE KANGAROO is the compound of Mao and Xiang. It always takes two steps of which the second is diagonal. It differs from the standard Kangaroo (from variant players' viewpoint) in being unable to leap in either component of its move. It of course differs a great deal more from what problematists would consider a standard Kangaroo!

Rules

The King cannot leave a Fortress comprising the intersection of the back three ranks and middle three files. It inherits this property from the General regarding its orthogonal move, and from the Ferz regarding its diagonal move.

The boundary between the two middle ranks is a River, which Elephants cannot cross. Infantas can cross it only by their Rook move, in either direction. Kangaroos can cross it only by their Mao move, in any direction. Points crossing the River acquire the additional move one step sideways.

Check, Checkmate, Stalemate, and Bare Facing are as in Xiang Qi.



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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2010-08-28. Web page last updated: 2016-03-07