Zanzibar, a big island of Tanzania, the place of an old sultanate with a rich history. A name that evokes a link with the Arab civilization when their boats were trading all along the coast of East Africa from the Red Sea to Madagascar.
The idea driving the elaboration of Zanzibar was to fill the void squares of the Metamachy setup. Like Metamachy, Zanzibar uses the dozenal 12x12-square board and all pieces from that game.
In order to decide which pieces to add, the following principles have been observed:
Add pieces with medium power. Introducing new high power pieces is always tempting but too many of them really spoils the game.
Add pieces which present a strong link with pieces existing in historical chessvariants.
Avoid complex moves, especially the compound moves such as pieces that moves as two or more standard pieces. On the opposite, favor moves that give a recognizable personality to the pieces.
Complement as much as possible the pieces already used in Metamachy, for instance looking for orthogonal counterparts of diagonal pieces and vice-versa.
Zanzibar exists in several versions. The one presented here is Zanzibar-XL, a real challenge. There are 80 pieces of 19 different types, 40 for each player: 1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Eagle, 1 Lion, 1 Marshal, 1 Cardinal, 1 Rhinoceros, 1 Buffalo, 2 Princes, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Camels, 2 Rooks, 2 Cannons, 2 Elephants, 2 Giraffes, 2 Crocodiles, 2 Machines and 12 Pawns.
There is a choice of 288 different starting setups. Black chooses the setup and White makes the first move.
At the beginning Pawns, and all pieces which come as pairs (Elephants, Cannons, Rooks, Camels, Knights, Giraffes, Bishops, Crocodiles, Princes, Machines) are placed on the board as on the following diagram:
Then, Black freely decides where to place his King, Queen, Eagle and Lion on squares f1, g1, f2 and g2. After this, Black decides where to place his Marshal, Cardinal, Rhinoceros and Buffalo on squares e1, h1, e2 and h2.
Then, White put his pieces symmetrically in mirror (if Black King is on f1, White King goes on f12) and makes the first move.
This agreement balances the advantage of White starting to play with Black choosing the setup.
As pieces are placed in mirror symmetry, positions of Kings on f squares are exactly equivalent of positions of King on g squares. Then, it can be demonstrated that it exists 288 different starting positions:
The King can be on f1 or f2: 2 choices
Then, the Queen has a choice of 3 positions: beside the King, beneath the King or diagonal to the King.
Then, the Eagle has a choice of 2 remaining positions.
Then, the left place in the center is for the Lion.
Then, the Marshal has a choice of 4 positions.
Then, the Cardinal has a choice of 3 remaining positions
Then, the Rhinoceros has a choice of 2 remaining positions.
Then, the left place is for the Buffalo.
2x3x2x4x3x2x = 288
Diagrams made with the fantastic Chess Board Painting Tools provided by Musketeer Chess
King: moves 1 step in every (8) directions on a not attacked square. The King is in check if it is attacked by one or several enemy pieces. It is forbidden to play a move letting his King in check.
There is no castling in Zanzibar. At his first move, the King may jump to a free square at two squares' distance. For instance, from f2, it can jump to d1, d2, d3, d4, e4, f4, g4, h4, h3, h2 or h1). It does not matter if the square jumped over is occupied or not; however, the jump is forbidden if that intermediate square is threatened by an enemy piece. When jumping like a Knight, at least one of the two intermediate squares must be free of threat (e.g., if jumping from f2 to h3, either g2 or g3 must not be under attack). The King's jump is not permitted if the King is in check. This rule, which was once prevalent in medieval European chess, replaces castling. Identical to Metamachy.
Queen: slides to any square along the file, the rank or a diagonal on which it stands. Identical to standard chess.
Eagle: moves one square diagonally and then, slides away of an indefinite number of squares vertically or horizontally. It is authorized to go only one square diagonal. It can not jump and the unobstructed path must start with the diagonal movement. This piece is almost as powerful as the Queen and is inspired by the Giraffe from Tamerlane's Chess and the Aanca (a mythical giant bird preying elephants, mistaken for a gryphon) from Alfonso X's Grande Acedrex. Identical to Metamachy.
Rhinoceros: moves one square vertically or horizontally and then, slides away of an indefinite number of squares diagonally. It is authorized to go only one square in line or column. It can not jump and the unobstructed path must start with the orthogonal movement. This piece is inspired by the Unicorn of mediaeval Grande Acedrex. It is a counterpart of the Eagle.
Lion: moves as a King (a single step move in any direction as Wazir or Ferz), or may jump to a position two squares away, jumping in any orthogonal (Dabbaba) or diagonal (Alfil) directions, or jumping as a Knight. (Inspired by Chu Shogi, the most popular variant of the Japanese Chess, where the Lion has the same range but is more dreadful as it can move twice in a turn). Identical to Metamachy.
Rook: moves to any square along the file or the rank on which it stands. Identical to standard chess (except there is no castling)
Bishop: slides to any square along a diagonal on which it stands. Identical to standard chess
Knight: a (2,1) jumper, it jumps to the opposite square of a 2x3 rectangle. No matter what the intermediate square contains. Identical to standard chess
Camel: a (3,1) jumper, it jumps to the opposite square of a 2x4 rectangle, like an extended Knight. No matter what intermediate squares contain. Note that it always stays on the same color of square. A well known piece from medieval Muslim great Chess like Tamerlane's Chess.
Giraffe: a (3,2) jumper, it jumps to the opposite square of a 3x4 rectangle, like an extended Knight. No matter what intermediate squares contain. Note that it always changes the same color of its square. That piece is found in Alfonso X's Grant Acedrex (but its move has been rendered differently by 20th century historians). The same pattern, but with a non-jumping move, is found in Janggi, Korean Chess, for the Elephant. Under the name of Zebra, it is also a fairy piece used by problemists for compositions.
Buffalo: combines the leaps of the Knight (2,1), the Camel (3,1) and the Giraffe (3,2).
Cannon: exactly as in Xiangqi. The Cannon moves without taking like a Rook, but it takes by going in a straight horizontal and vertical line and jumping over exactly one piece. When a Cannon takes a piece, there must be exactly one piece between the original and final square of the Cannon's move - this piece may be of either color. This is identical to the move of the Cannon in Shako and Metamachy.
Crocodile: it is the diagonal counterpart of the Xiangqi's Cannon. It moves like a Bishop (which was named Crocodile in Grant Acedrex) and needs an intermediate piece between itself and its victim to capture it. The Crocodile jumps the intermediate and takes the victim on its square. The intermediate is left unaffected. (Also known as Vao by problemists).
Machine: it is an orthogonal counterpart of the Elephant as it moves 1 or 2 squares orthogonally, jumping over the first square if it is occupied. Then, it combines the moves of old Dabbaba and Wazir found in ancient Muslim Chess variants. The word Dabbaba designated a siege machine at war in Arabic, hence the name given for this piece.
Elephant: exactly as in Shako and Metamachy. It moves one or two squares diagonally. When an Elephant moves two squares, no matter what intermediate squares contain. Note that it always stays on the same color of square. The Elephant moves as the combined Alfil and Ferz from Shatranj, two pieces which were also present in mediaeval Chess and have disappeared with the birth of modern moves for the Bishop and the Queen.
Prince: a non-royal King who moves and captures one square in any direction, but without being hindered by check. It has been inspired by medieval games like the Courier chess , an old chess variant, played in Germany, where it is called "Man". Like the Pawn, he can also move without capturing to the second square straight ahead.
Pawn: can move straight forward one or two square from any position on the board, without capturing. It captures one square diagonally forward. Identical to Metamachy.
Pawn and Prince Promotion: A Pawn or a Prince reaching the last rank of the board is immediately replaced by an "chief" piece: Queen, Eagle, Lion, Marshall, Cardinal, Rhinoceros or Buffalo. Promotion to any other type of piece is not allowed. It is permitted to promote a Pawn or Prince to a type of piece already present on the same side; however; it is considered "good etiquette" to avoid choosing a piece which is not captured yet, if possible.
En Passant capture: Any time a Pawn or Prince takes a double step and passes through the capture square of an opposing Pawn, that Pawn may capture the Pawn or Prince as if it had only moved one square. This en passant capture must be made in the immediate move following the double step. Only a Pawn may capture en passant; the Prince does not have this option.
End Of Game: The end-of-game rules, checkmate, stalemate, etc., are identical to standard chess.
Pieces Value Zillions gives these average values, normalized to 5 for the Rook :
Pawn: 0.8 ; Giraffe:2 ; Camel: 2.2 ; Elephant: 2.4 ; Knight: 2.5 ; Machine: 2.8 ; Prince: 3.3 ; Crocodile: 3.3 ; Bishop: 3.4 ; Catapult: 4 ; Cannon: 4.9 ; Rook: 5 ; Cardinal: 5.8 ; Rhinoceros: 6 ; Buffalo: 6.7 ; Marshall: 7.4 ; Lion: 7.6 ; Eagle: 7.8 ; Queen: 8.2
A maybe more realistic estimate would be:
Pawn: 1 ; Giraffe: 2 ; Camel: 2 ; Elephant: 2.5 ; Knight: 2.5 ; Machine: 3 ; Prince: 3; Crocodile: 3 ; Bishop: 3.5 ; Catapult: 4 ; Cannon: 4 ; Rook: 5 ; Cardinal: 6 ; Rhinoceros: 6 ; Buffalo: 7 ; Marshall: 7.5 ; Lion: 7.5 ; Eagle: 8 ; Queen: 9
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 Jean-Louis Cazaux.
Web page created: 2020-04-21. Web page last updated: 2020-04-30