by Ruggero Micheletto
Historians believe that chess originated in India in about the 6th Century, AD. From there it took two disparate paths, traveling west to Arabia and Europe and north to China, Korea and Japan. Currently, both the western variant (ortho-chess) and the eastern variant (xianqi) are widely played. We can now see -- by the names of their pieces -- that xianqi has remained true to the original warfare theme, while ortho-chess has introduced a theme of court politics.
In creating Ultra Chess, I sought to maintain the Asian idea of warfare while keeping the political theme to a minimum. For example, in Asia it would seem strange for the most powerful piece on the board to be a queen. Would it not make more sense for this to piece be a warrior?
The western influence in Ultra Chess is evident in the more powerful pieces. Each piece (except for the Pawn) has the full move and capture powers of a King. To compensate for this increase in piece power, I have chosen a 10x10 board. With this larger board, it seems appropriate to increase the Pawns first-move option to up to three squares forward-most.
Due to the larger board and more powerful pieces, Ultra Chess is very rich and complex. Imagine two Warriors with the attack power of a queen, and all other pieces having full move privileges to adjacent squares. These new powers are particularly effectual for the Bishop and the Knight: The Bishop is no longer color bound, and the Knight becomes very difficult to trap. Moreover, the Consort can be a life-saving partner in protecting the King. These new pieces are quite capable of countering the power of the twin Warriors.
The King (K) moves as in ortho-chess.
The Consort (C) moves as the King, but is not subject to check..
The Warrior (W) moves as the ortho-chess queen.
The Bishop (B) moves as the ortho-chess bishop, plus one square orthogonally.
The Knight (N) moves as the ortho-chess knight, plus one square in any direction.
The Rook (R) moves as the ortho-chess rook, plus one square diagonally.
The board array
The 10x10 board array is shown below:
- Pawns may move 1, 2 or 3 squares forward-most on their first move.
- A Pawn arriving at the last rank may promote to any piece (except a King).
- The en passant capture rule applies even in the case of a 3-square advance.
- All pieces, except Pawns, have the ability to move and/or capture one square in any direction (a King's move).
This variation is extremely simple; anyone who knows chess can immediately play it.
I want to thank Gary Thomas and David Howe for their keen observations and help.
Written by Ruggero Micheletto. Edited by John William Brown, 14 April 1999. HTML conversion by David Howe.
This variant is an entry in the 1999 Large Variant contest.
WWW page created: April 15, 1999. Last modified: May 8, 1999.