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A Chess Variant Making Off.

I believe that is the fist time that is made (as far as I know).

As I said in the variant itself, I'm infected with the Three Variant Virus [again: why Daniil?! (lol) Why? (LOL)...]. And, to achieve peace of mind I needed to create a variant of my own (I hope I did it).

The beginning material was big enough: 2 Rooks, 2 Maos, 2 Elephants, 2 Ferzes, 1 Wazir, 2 Paos, 1 King, 2 Gold Generals, 2 Silver Generals, 2 Honorable Knights, 2 Lances, 1 Queen, 2 Knights,  and 2 Bishops (the pawns will be discussed later). It was obvious that this variant should be big; after all, no traditional board would accommodate the pieces.

Here I made my first two mistakes; I thought that the palace and the promotion zone of the Shogi should be one third of the board. And, as I needed an even number for a Xiang Qi river, I chose 18; after all, 12 wouldn’t make such a difference, as for the columns I chose 15, for a 5x5 palace.

I’m a fool for symmetry, so, the first thought was add another wazir and another queen; my other weakness is a deep need to have orthogonal, diagonal and their compound in the board, with this in mind, I also added 2 stepping dabbabahs, 2 stepping alibabas, 2 men, 2 vaos, 2 leos, 2 diagonal lances and 2 compound lances, I also thought to add 2 moas and 2 moos, but I soon dismissed this (it will be proved as good decision later).

Them, the first nightmare, the deployment of the pieces, I never believed that would be such a torment, as I said I’m a fool for symmetry, and I couldn’t place the diagonal pieces in a way where the pieces work (one in each color), what to do? Research. So I looked at The Shanghai Palace to see the answer, the variant gave me conformity with the situation, so I looked further and I found in Korean Chess (Janggi) my answer, the possibility of choose an array, changing the position of the diagonal bound with the leapers! With this in mind I decided to add the Korean elephant (a stepping zebra), and, if I had a stepping zebra, why not an honorable one and a full one? So, now I had six more pieces (my second mistake) to deploy (imagine if I decided to go with moas and moos, I’d probably died, after all I’d want to add zebra versions). What looked as a solution was just a way to worsen things. If I had hair, I would be yanking it now. So I decided: the board was wrong! What to do? Research. I almost used something like The Russian Fortress Chess (perhaps a palace outside the board?); I believe that I will, later, when this fever of three variants leaves me, create something for a board like that one. At this point I gave up…

I was living a torment to create a variant that I knew nothing about! The board, the array, nothing! Just the pieces I wanted in the board. So, I asked for help, in the yahoogoups I posted a message asking for help, John K. Lewis came in to my help (thanks John), and made a calculation and told me that a 14x14 could do the work. So, an 18x15 board would do the work easy!

I resumed my work. First I had an idea of who should be in the palace: the king, the generals, the wazires, the ferzes and the men. I thought to keep just the king, the wazires and the ferzes in a inner palace, and the men, the generals in a outer palace, but as it showed up it was just a third mistake, so I gave it up and kept only the 5x5 palace, without the 3x3 inner palace. Even so, to create a working array stills a nightmare… What to do?

Then I remembered a criticism made by Derek Nalls about the bishops, but it can be extrapolated to any color bound pieces, he said that to be effective should exist a pair of each color (if you take a look at my Knightless Symmetric Chess you see that I already had adopted such solution), i.e., two white bishops plus two black bishops per side. So a ditched the zebras and added a pair of vaos, bishops, ferzes and diagonal lances, sounds crazy, I know, after all, it’s just trade a problem by another; but it helped me to solve the array problem, it was just repeat the before mentioned variant.
In the palace, I took the ferzes side by side, with a man in the middle, it worked beautifully! I put the other man in the opposite side, the king in the middle of the palace and the wazires in the middle row; all I needed to do was place the generals. I chose to put them in inner diagonals for aesthetic reasons and not overcrowd the perimeter, the choice of who would be at front and at back was made by mobility, as the silver generals have less mobility than the gold, I putted them first. After a little revision, I decided to advance the wazires and trade places between the generals, giving the silvers more space to leave the palace, because the gold have more mobility and can leave by sidelines.

With this I was set! Even if the frontline was behind the border of the palace (a row behind the pawns line). Then I remembered that the dabbabahs and the alibabas was color bound too! What to do? Easy! Just move forward a row the frontline and place the other dabbabahs and alibabas behind.

I must confess that I was much tempted to add more pieces (perhaps in an other variant) then the ones there.

The pawns were, since the beginning, a headache; after all I had three different pawns with different moves and promotion.

First I thought to put in groups of three (shogi, fide, xiang qi, fide, shogi), but I believe that would be too complicated, and would violate the shogi rule of not promoted pawns in the same columns. So, I adopted the solution of use iron generals as pawns and give the player the liberty to promote his pawn where he feels better, for tactical reason (the exception is the not promoted pawn rule).

When I thought I was ready to post, another problem… I couldn’t, for some reason, make lines with the letters of the pieces, no matter what I tried! So, I got a simple solution. Numbers! I work with judicial credit recovery, so I work daily with strings of numbers, and they always fit; so, why not use numbers instead of letters to show the array of the pieces. It worked beautifully.

Well, that’s how the Har Meggido Chess Variant was born, I hope you liked it.

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By Claudio Martins Jaguaribe.
Web page created: 2010-07-29. Web page last updated: 2010-08-18