A Chess Set
A Chess Set
A Handful of Games
A short book by Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls of Merridonia
A Leap of Recreation™
also by the same author
and with reference to
by Glenn Nicholls
© SAE Nicholls 2019-2021
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A Chess Set takes place in
More often known as Merridonia
Where one’s days can be many and where Justice and Fairness have much Regard
From Steps along the way of Chess
A Chess Set contains what might be thought of as the cornerstone of Steps along the way of Chess, and could perhaps be read as a stand-alone book and so is given a separate page on this site by this name
The games that form A Chess Set, namely LancerChess, QiPlacements, Arabella, Meridian and Storm with their variations are very much based on, respectively, the games of Western chess, Chinese chess, Arabian chess, Mongolian chess and Capablanca chess that as said in the General Introduction form much of the basis of Steps along the Way of Chess and because of this basing I have found most all of these games (called Matched games) suitable to form standard groups of games as set out in part two of the book.....but when basing a game on such well known and long-played games it is necessary, I think, to try to introduce something that gives an impetus to the existing game and what that something may hopefully be I have, mostly, set out in the introduction to each game or in its further rules and notes section or in the game’s variation section and it is in these game variation sections that comparisons can perhaps best be made since here there is usually a direct playing of the existing base game against the steps game (called Bridge games) and this idea has been carried forward into standard groups of games.....
The Game of LancerChess
The game of LancerChess (one word) is a basic variant of Western chess and the object of this game is to provide a few simple changes to the standard game of Western chess such that provide additional scope and some new and interesting complexities to the game whilst retaining the overall feel of the standard game. Of note with the game's Lancers is the increased individuality of the minor pieces and particularly that of the movement of Queens’ Lancers on opposite coloured diagonals giving an initial balanced advantage for each side on one set of diagonals – advanced players may find this feature of interest. Also included is the Game variation of Clash and a Circuit puzzle.
There are very brief details only of this battle that are known – it is known that the battle takes place in the distant past in the Disputed realm (known as the Fractured realm in an even more distant past - see Touchstone in Part four: Other, further games).....exact reasons and causes for the battle are not known and little else of these mysterious times is known either.
The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Queen and this wins the battle.
Board at commencement
Moves of Pieces
Western chess comparisons for piece moves are as follows:
A King – he is identical to a Queen
A Queen – she is identical to a King
A King’s or Queen’s tower - its powers are identical to Rooks
A Baron – he is identical to a Bishop
A Baroness – she is identical to a Bishop
The Kings' Knights on G1 & G8 are replaced with Kings' Lancers. These can move to any square either one or two squares away in a vertical or horizontal direction and can jump over any intervening piece if moving two squares. He captures on the square he moves to and not any square he moves over when moving two squares.
The Queens' Knights on B1 & B8 are replaced with Queens' Lancers. These can move to any square either one or two squares away in a diagonal direction and can jump over any intervening piece if moving two squares. He captures on the square he moves to and not any square he moves over when moving two squares.
Though they do not appear in LancerChess there is in Further thoughts - Further pieces a description of pieces called a Lance-commander and a Knight-royal.
A Pikeman – he is identical to a Pawn of Western chess except for minor promotion changes as below.
Promotions of Pikemen on reaching their end rank are the choice of King, Siege-tower (that in promotion need not be distinguished between King's or Queen's - see note below on Siege-towers), Baron/Baroness or Lancer. If there is promotion to a Lancer then this must be to a King's Lancer if the colour of the promotion square is the same as the colour of the commencing square of the original King's Lancer or to a Queen's Lancer if the colour of the promotion square is the same as the colour of the commencing square of the original Queen's Lancer (see Further thoughts - Various). If there is promotion to a Baron/Baroness there is no distinction in the name and the promoted Pikeman is simply called a Noble and he has the powers of a Western chess Bishop.
Note that the term underpromotion is often used where the choice is made to promote to a weaker piece than the strongest possible, this being the King in LancerChess - reasons for this can include forks by Lancers (in LancerChess - there are different forks in other games) that may be more advantageous, or to overcome a Stalemate defence (an example of this is seen later in Studies etc. with the Saavedra study). Most Steps games allow for underpromotions in some way even though some are highly unlikely to give advantage over stronger promotions, if at all.
Of further note is that as well as the usual opening line transpositions there are also (part) game transpositions here where LancerChess can transpose to Western chess if all the Lancers are captured (discounting the slight differences in promotion choices - I have kept these to a minimum). Transpositions from Clash of this sort are also possible - see next; also others - e.g. Capablanca chess and variations of this - see Storm. Opening line transpositions occur when opening moves lead to the same position they otherwise would but are played in a different order.
Further Rules and Notes
Jumping involves linear movement such as the Lancers described above whereas leaping involves oblique movement such as with the Knights of Western chess.
It can be seen that at the commencing position the Queens’ Lancers guard the equivalent of the weakly protected (in Western chess) Kings’ Bishop two squares.
And also with the Queen's Lancer players who are ambitious to win as north may find it a key piece for the reason mentioned in the introduction.
Also of note is that the King’s Lancer can force Checkmate on an 8x8 board with only his Queen’s help against a lone Queen within a reasonable number of moves* and he attacks more squares than does the Western chess Knight on most of the board (48 of 64 squares) and he may give advantages when Protecting the Queen with the King's Tower instead of the Queen's whereas "long castling" in Western chess is not considered preferable in most situations; indeed the King's Lancer seems particularly well suited to moving in and around the basic kingside protected position (with f, g and h Pikemen unmoved) where he can defend many of the squares in this area of the board - it's worth a look at this I think, and perhaps also at other positions that might arise here and at various protected positions on the queenside where comparisons to kingside positions could be interesting - there are considerable differences.....note that the eastern side of the board is called the kingside and the western side is called the queenside, though using compass points is acceptable and these could give more precision if required - e.g. the south-eastern quadrant.
*An example of this is given later in LancerChess in Checkmate with Minor pieces - he also has this Checkmating ability if he were on a Chinese Chess board and an example of this is also included…..in both cases he does not need his jumping powers as the examples show, though a position is shown where a jump may be helpful if not necessary.
Western chess is often called International chess and this reflects the status this game has been accorded.....and Western chess is sometimes called the Royal Game and indeed many such as Kings and Queens have played and been enthusiasts of this game and its precursors for centuries, and still are.....
Adjournment to Tiger’s-eye Opera page
A Mystery Quest
Re-convenement and continuation:
Individual pieces are usually referred to by Northern or Southern but Orange or White is allowed. Players are usually referred to as the Northern Player, or simply North, and as the Southern Player, or simply South, but Orange Player or White Player is allowed as is simply Orange or White.
The board as shown is called the Chess-valley board.
Representational: Siege towers
Once a Tower has been or can no longer be used to Protect the Queen it becomes a King's or Queen's Siege tower (and is manned as is a Tower) to reflect its greater freedom to attack and fittings should be added to the piece to show this, or alternately a separate piece of different appearance can be placed on the appropriate square - it is though no different than if it was a Rook of Western chess following castling.
Game variation - Clash
If one side plays with LancerChess pieces and the other side plays with Western chess pieces this is the game of Clash, with the player of the Western chess pieces described as having the Knights. There is little difference in the strength of the pieces of the two sides though the LancerChess pieces seem to have a small advantage and so the Southern player, who moves first, always plays with the Western chess pieces in any meaningful game or tournaments or matches or suchlike. The roles, powers and vulnerabilities of the Western chess King and Queen are reversed so as to match the LancerChess pieces as are all other aspects of the Western chess pieces matched to LancerChess such as piece names, piece style etc. Note that the Western chess pieces are still on their same squares at commencement e.g. the Western chess Queen is still on D1 or D8. The Background etc. is the same as for LancerChess.
The advantage of the LancerChess pieces over the Western chess pieces is, I think, that the King's Lancer is a stronger piece in all phases of the game than the Western chess Knight - see notes to LancerChess above, though not greatly so and this may be somewhat counter-balanced by the Queen's Lancer being "colour bound", but on balance the Lancers seem to have a small advantage over the Knights.
With regard to piece strengths the basic valuation of the Western chess pieces is often given as Pawn = 1, Knight = 3, Bishop = 3, Rook = 5 and Queen = 9, but I would emphasise this is a general approximation for the standard game of Western chess only…..(but see Storm Force 24 in Further thoughts where I have kept to this basis for a number of other varied pieces - as I have kept to this basis for piece values throughout Steps - the advantages of a simple comparison are considered to outweigh the limitations, undoubted though they are)…..a further point is that the Knight and Bishop are often referred to as the Minor pieces with the Rook and Queen referred to as the Major pieces…..the Royal piece is not given a value since if captured the game is lost, but non-royal pieces that move as does the King of Western chess occur a few times in Steps and as a rough general approximation only their value on a comparable basis might be taken as 3½ - a bit subjective though, but he has the Checkmating abilities of the King’s Lancer mentioned earlier and an example of this is also included in Checkmate with Minor pieces below…..but what of the basic value of the pieces of standard Chinese chess if on a comparable basis – well, starting with the Rook-corresponding Chariot = 5 and by checking with the valuation of one or two others a rough approximation might be Cannon = 3, Horse = 2½, Elephant = 1, Guard = 1, Promoted soldier = 1 and unpromoted Soldier = ½, but it must be emphasised that this is only a general approximation and is also a bit subjective…..and the Lancers – again this is somewhat subjective, but a rough general value might be King’s Lancer = 3½ and Queen’s Lancer = 3, but the Queen’s may be worth slightly less.....and perhaps, with the same provisos, we should round off for now with the following additions from the remaining Base games, though piece names here are those of Steps:
Chinese chess: Sceptre = 1, but quite possibly more*
Arabian chess: Princess/Enchantress = 1½ and Catapult = 1½ (Steps version only: Jini = 7)
Mongolian chess: Prince-royal (aka Snow Panther) = 7
Capablanca chess: Precedent = 8 and Adviser = 7
But there are some more piece values to be found in Arabella and Meridian and Storm.....and some other piece values are shown in Storm Force 24 as mentioned above – others may be added as and when.
*See QiPlacements for a description of the Sceptre - I have given this a specific mention and value as it can have a significant impact in the end game, perhaps more so than a Promoted soldier if less so in the middle game, and this being the case one seems a reasonable value…..examples of its effectiveness can be seen in Checkmate with Minor pieces that follows and Studies in Part four (though it is not called a Sceptre here but is an integral part of the General’s powers – this piece does not have such an integral power in Steps however).
Checkmate with Minor* pieces
When the only other pieces on the board in Western chess are Queens the minimum requirement to force Checkmate is a Siege Tower…..this is not too hard and players can learn how to do this and also learn how to Checkmate with the King; both need to be known as they can and do occur in games – but forcing Checkmate with the minor pieces is not so easy: the Baron and Baroness together can do so, as can the Knight with only one of these, but two Knights cannot…..all of these situations can be readily looked up with instructions on how to proceed - some though may only occur rarely, then again if they do…..but as already said LancerChess has a minor piece in the King’s Lancer that can force Checkmate without the assistance of another minor piece, but this is considerably harder to learn than is that of a Siege Tower or a King, and we are going to make it even harder by using a piece from Meridian called the Leading Swordsman (or Leading Pikeman – but the name Swordsman avoids confusion with ordinary Pikemen here) who moves the same but cannot jump - his value may be scarcely that of a Knight (see Meridian), and he may be among, or even the, lowest-value uncomplicated piece to be able to force Checkmate on a Western Chess board and perhaps also among those on a Chinese Chess board (an example of this is also shown), and a helpful jump by a King’s Lancer will additionally be shown, but first we shall look at an easier Checkmate by another minor piece – the Adjacent:
*It could perhaps be said that if a piece can force Checkmate in the game it appears in it is a major and not a minor piece; but for the time being Steps will classify major pieces as having at least the value of a Siege Tower irrespective of Checkmating abilities – and these abilities can vary on different board sizes - those shown following are on the standard sized Western and Chinese Chess boards.
These examples, and others similar elsewhere, are not intended in the way of some Chess problems to only have one answer but as demonstrations of a way to achieve Checkmate in certain situations – with these there are often a number of alternatives and though some are mentioned they may well not be exhaustive…..the following could then be termed as ‘Chess Demonstrations’ while in Cannon-fire there is what could be termed a ‘Chess Puzzle’ (the Quadruple check with Checkmate puzzle) while in Meridian there is what could be termed a ‘Chess Problem’ where a Khan is required to deliver Checkmate in 1 that only has one answer – these terms overlap to some extent though
The Adjacent is from the game Crystal of Doom and moves as a non-royal Western chess King – the checkmate is not too difficult to learn, but South does have to force North to at least an edge of the board…..we start with a position that could hardly be further away from this:
North Queen d8
South Queen a1
South Adjacent h1
-South to move in a material situation that though currently hypothetical in Steps may yet occur-
Since the Northern Queen is safe as long as she is away from the edge North’s strategy here will be to try to keep her in or around the centre squares of d4, e4, d5 and e5, while South will try to take control of these squares and then force North to an edge or corner of the board – the first moves are somewhat perfunctory and others are of course possible
1. Queen b2, Queen d7
2. Queen c3, Queen d6
3. Queen d4, Queen e6
(South establishes a foothold in the centre)
4. Adjacent g2, Queen f5
(North keeps near to the centre)
5. Adjacent f3, Queen e6
(North still keeps near the centre)
6. Adjacent e4, Queen f6
The preliminary moves have been played – the Adjacent has been brought to the centre alongside the Queen and is now ready to make his presence felt
7. Adjacent e5! check, Queen e7
North’s Queen is now cut off from the centre altogether and is gradually forced to the edge of the board
8. Queen d5, Queen f7
9. Adjacent f5, Queen e7
10. Adjacent e6 check, Queen f8
(the Adjacent leads the way)
11. Queen e5, Queen g7
12. Adjacent f6 check, Queen f8
13. Queen e6, Queen g8
(South’s Queen moves up ready for the finish)
14. Adjacent g6, Queen h8
(if Queen f8 then Adjacent f7 is Checkmate)
15. Queen f6, Queen g8
(North’s only move)
16. Adjacent g7 Checkmate
To win here South will need to force North’s Queen into a corner of the board – nothing else will do - and once again we start with a situation where this could hardly be further away…..as with the exercise before it is useful training in the co-operation of two pieces, but it is more than this – it is quite a challenge where the Queen can apparently slip the Checkmating net, and if the player did not know how to then finish he would not get the reward of his perhaps hard-won advantage…..the moves shown are the same as would be for a King’s Lancer:
North Queen d8
South Queen a1
South Leading Swordsman (King’s Lancer) h1
-South to move with a material situation that (if a King’s Lancer) could occur in a game of LancerChess-
In this case though North’s strategy here will again initially be to try to keep his Queen in or around the centre squares he will perhaps concentrate more on simply keeping her out of a corner…..South will try to take control of the centre squares and then force North into a corner of the board – as with the previous example the first moves are somewhat perfunctory and others are possible
1. Queen b2, Queen e7
(a change from Queen d7 of last time)
2. Queen c3, Queen e6
3. Queen d4, Queen d6
4. Swordsman f1, Queen e6
5. Swordsman f3, Queen d6
6. Swordsman e3, Queen e6
7. Swordsman e5 check, Queen f6
South controls the centre and the Northern Queen is now cut off from here, and at first glance it seems the Leading Swordsman will confine her to the north-eastern quadrant as he and the Southern Queen force her towards the corner…..and Checkmate…..but she can find a flight square
8. Queen e4, Queen f7
9. Queen f5, Queen e8 (a flight square)
North seems to have slipped the net, and provided he can now keep his Queen out of a corner he will have saved the game
10. Queen e6, Queen d8
11. Queen d6, Queen e8
(keeping as far away from the corners as possible)
12. Swordsman e7 check, Queen d8
(still keeping away from the corners)
13. Swordsman d7 check, Queen e8
(and still keeping away)
14. Queen e6, Queen f8
(a change - away from the middle and North’s only move)
15. Queen f6, Queen e8*1
North’s Queen is back in the middle and also attacking the Swordsman, who is undefended - it seems she can’t be forced into a corner and checkmated…..but
16. Swordsman d6!*2, Queen f8
(North’s only move)
17. Swordsman d8 check, Queen g8
(North’s only move)
18. Queen g6, Queen h8
(North’s only move)
19. Swordsman f8 Checkmate
*1 if 15… Queen g8 then 16. Swordsman f7, Queen h8 (the only move) 17. Queen g6, Queen g8 (the only move) 18. Swordsman f6! (see *2), Queen h8 (the only move) and 19. Swordsman f8 Checkmate.
*2 this ploy is most often needed when checkmating with the King’s Lancer and needs to be known of and kept in mind when doing so.
-and a position with a King’s Lancer jump-
North Queen c8
South Queen d6
South(King’s Lancer e5
South to move with a material situation that could occur in a game of LancerChess
1. King’s Lancer e6, Queen b8*
2. King’s Lancer c6!, Queen b7
(The Lancer’s jump completely hems in the Northern Queen)
3.Queen d7, Queen b8
4.King’s Lancer b6 check, Queen a8
5. Queen c7, Queen a7
(North’s only move)
6.King’s Lancer c6, Queen a8
Much the same ploy by the Lancer as 16. Swordsman d6! in the previous example that leaves only one move for the Northern Queen – in the corner
7. King’s Lancer a6 Checkmate
*1… Queen d8 loses quicker to 2. Queen c6, Queen c8 (the only move) 3. Lancer e8 check, Queen b8 (the only move) 4. Queen b6, Queen a8 (the only move) 5. Lancer c8 Checkmate…..other moves later on do not help North either, for example 4… Queen a7 5. Queen c7, Queen a8 (the only move) and 6. Lancer a6 Checkmate.
Checkmate can still be achieved without the jump (for example 1. Queen c6, Queen b8 2. Lancer d5, Queen c8 3. Lancer d7, Queen b8 – only move 4. Queen b6, Queen c8 5. Lancer d6 – the ploy, Queen b8 – only move 6. Lancer d8 check, Queen a8 – only move 7. Lancer c8 Checkmate), but with the Lancer’s jump the Northern Queen is thereafter confined to a 3x3 box of squares in the corner and this is visibly clear and may be helpful for the finishing moves…..a further point with these finishing situations is that South should be careful of stalemate, and though in this one it is perhaps unlikely nevertheless…..
-A hypothetical position in QiPlacements-
North (Green) Princess e10 (or e9 or e8)
North Leading Swordsman e4
South (Blue) Princess e1
South to move
South cannot stop North from bringing about this positioning of the Swordsman on e4 with his Princess on the e file, and North can ensure South is to move – e.g. by moving his Princess along the e file…..if South’s Princess is situated elsewhere in her Palace the process is similar, but no longer
1. Princess f1
(Princess d1 - and a symmetrical process)
1… Leading Swordsman g4! – moving ‘outside the box’
(1… Leading Swordsman f4? or e2? – and a Draw by stalemate)
2. Princess f2
(the only move – the Green Sceptre prevents the Princess from moving back to the e file)
2… Leading Swordsman f4 check
(preparing to enter the Blue Palace)
3. Princess f1
(the only move)
3… Leading Swordsman f3 Checkmate
The Northern General wins the battle and secures prior rights to the Magic stream for the Green Territory
Alternatively North could play 1. Princess f1, Swordsman d4 2. Princess f2 (the only move), Swordsman d3 – entering the palace earlier (or f4 check as before) 3. Princess f1 (the only move) and Swordsman f3 Checkmate…..in this case the Swordsman does not move outside the box.
The King’s Lancer’s circuit 2D
This is a basic Circuit puzzle suitable for beginners played on a 3x3 board where the King’s Lancer of LancerChess commences from square A1 and he must land on every square of the board once and finish back on square A1. An example follows:
1. Commences from A1 to B1
2. from B1 to C1
3. from C1 to C2
4. from C2 to C3
5. from C3 to B3
6. from B3 to B2! - B3 to A3? and the Circuit fails.
7. from B2 to A2
8. from A2 to A3
9. Finishes with A3 to A1 - and the Circuit succeeds with a jump.
The King’s Lancer’s circuit 3D
The King's Lancer can also complete a circuit on a 3D board of 3x3x3 and one possibility is shown below with diagrams and using numbers to show the order of moves. He commences from and finishes on the green coloured number 27 square:
If on level 1 the King's Lancer were to jump from the number 8 square to the green coloured number 27 square this would be the 2D circuit of above.
Solutions involving a level jump are also possible and an example is given after the section on clocks.
Circuits and the similar tours are possible with other pieces with that of the Knight of Western chess being the best known and examples of these are also given after the section on clocks.
The King’s Lancer’s circuit 2D and 3D of several size boards may be included as part of the Rhunich puzzle set (see after the section on clocks), though it may then be called the Rhunich circuit (2D and 3D)…..and there may be other piece circuits and tours and possibly some piece-capturing routes included in the Puzzle set – these may collectively be called Rhunich journeys.
A basic example piece-capturing route is shown below where south’s Baron on c4 is to move consecutively and must capture all of north’s Pikemen one each move:
1. Baron captures e6
(no other move will succeed)
2. captures c8
3. captures a6
4. captures d3
5. captures g6
6. captures h5
7. captures f3
8. captures c6
Notes on Type of piece
Staunton pieces is the name of a design, credited to Nathaniel Cook, of Western chess pieces that were first made available in 1849 by Jaques of London; they are named after Howard Staunton who for some years around this time was generally regarded as the world's strongest Western chess player.
Staunton pieces are very widely used and are currently the type of piece that, according to the current rules of Western chess, are to be used for competitions (as stated earlier tournament boards would likely have squares upwards of 2ins with height of Kings at some way over 3ins).....type and size of pieces and boards is not necessarily so for Steps.
A picture of an original Jaques Staunton set is shown below and an example of a representational set is shown in Further thoughts - Name changes etc.
And below is shown a picture of the Gothic piece variation mentioned earlier in Steps
It is perhaps stretching things a little to classify the Gothic pieces as a variation of the standard Staunton pieces, but I find them a good basic design and by classifying them as such they have a reserved place in Steps
The Lancers will become a standard part of both these sets and will require suitable designs.
The Game of QiPlacements
QiPlacements (one word where Qi is pronounced as in the English word key) is very much based on Chinese chess – sometimes called Xiangqi (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.). The difference here being the placement phase of QiPlacements - a game within a game - though only two deployment placements are made by each player.
Of note here is that boards for QiPlacements would not be of paper or cardboard, as is traditional for some players of Chinese chess, but would be of the finest quality wood or other quality material.
Also included are specified deployment placement procedures – Traditional, Accelerated and Encounter.
In the time of spoken Legends and Myths there is dispute over rights to the Stream that runs between the Rainbow Territories as this Stream (that may have stepping-stones in places – this could be shown with artwork or perhaps by ornamentation) is said to have magical healing properties and though this is perhaps but legend and myth only there are many who believe it to be true and there has finally come a time when battle is about to commence to decide who has priority over rights to the Magic stream (as it is called).
The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Princess and this wins the battle.
The board shown above is that used at the very start of the game where the Cannons are awaiting placement (or deployment if the word is preferred).....the Forbidden placement squares that are explained later can simply be a removable overlay and then the rest of the game can take place on a board without them as shown below and some players may prefer not to have these squares shown at all, but in tournaments or matches or suchlike they must be shown during placement and then after placement they must not be shown for the remainder of the game.
Moves of Pieces
Chinese chess comparisons for piece moves are as follows:
A Princess – she is identical to a General, both Princesses are young
An Attendant – she is identical to a Guard
A Protector – he is identical to an Elephant
A Horse – he is identical to a Horse
A Chariot – its powers are identical to Chariots
Soldiers – his powers are identical to Soldiers and he compulsorily promotes to a Leading soldier on his sixth rank who is identical to the promoted Soldier of Chinese Chess and he should differ in appearance to that of an un-promoted Soldier.
Awaiting Placement – see below: Cannons – its powers are identical to Cannons.
Order of Play:
First there is a placement of Cannons to unoccupied squares within their own Territory, other than the Forbidden squares – see below. The first Blue Cannon is placed then followed by the first Green Cannon; then the second and last Blue Cannon is placed followed by the second and last Green Cannon. This is called the Placement phase with the Alternate placing as there is here called so. After the placement of Cannons there follows the Engagement phase where Blue moves first and moves are then played alternately.
Background - the Forbidden squares
As part of the background ethos it is forbidden, when placing them in the placement phase, to train a Cannon on a Princess, a Protector or a Chariot (these are manned) – all are initially undefended – and so the Forbidden squares as shown on the board are not permitted to have a Cannon placed on any of them. It is permitted, however, to train a Cannon on a Soldier – see Note below. During the Engagement phase the Forbidden squares (that are also the Soldiers’ promotion squares) are the same as ordinary squares and have no different effect (other than promotions) than any other ordinary square, also Cannons are now free to attack any piece, whether defended or not, in the same way as any other piece is free to.
The Forbidden squares benefit initially undefended pieces from immediate Cannon attacks, but since these squares benefit Soldiers by their promotion when (if) reaching them they do not also have the benefit of immunity from having a Cannon initially trained on them.
Further Rules and Notes
There are three specific placements that follow a set procedure of offers/counter-offers and acceptance as follows:
1. The Traditional placement
If south places his first Cannon on square H3 then this must be construed as an offer to play Traditional Chinese chess and if north places his first Cannon on B8 then he is deemed to have accepted this offer and then south must place his second Cannon on B3 and north must place his remaining Cannon on H8. This is effectively Chinese chess and is called the Traditional placement.
2. The Accelerated placement
If south places his first Cannon on square F4 then this must be construed as an offer to play a placement variation called the Accelerated placement and if north places his first Cannon on D7 then he is deemed to have accepted this offer and then south must place his second Cannon on D4 and north must place his remaining Cannon on F7. This placement is called accelerated because if played from the traditional Chinese chess placement position it takes twice as many moves for the Cannons to reach these squares i.e. four moves each side
3. The Encounter placements
This is usually simply called Encounter and is where one side plays with the Traditional placement while the other side plays with the Accelerated placement and comes about as follows:
a) If south places his first Cannon on H3 he is construed to be offering to play Traditional Chinese chess as above, but if north places his first Cannon on D7 he is deemed to have made a counter-offer to play an Encounter placement and if south places his second Cannon on B3 he is deemed to have accepted this offer and north must place his second Cannon on F7
b) If south places his first Cannon on F4 he is construed to be offering to play the Accelerated placement as above, but if north places his first Cannon on B8 he is deemed to have made a counter-offer to play an Encounter placement and if south places his second Cannon on D4 he is deemed to have accepted this offer and north must place his second Cannon on H8
To distinguish between a) and b) it is stated who has the Traditional placement.
These offer, counter-offer and acceptance rules for Encounter placements apply to what are called Stand-alone games and where games are played in the Rainbow group (see Part two: Grouping of Games) they differ.
It is possible to reach the above positions by transposition of placements - perhaps including subsequent moves (this is not considered proper - even if the player 'with the move' is reversed, and players could well forfeit games for doing so), but where none of the above placement positions are reached the classification is Open placement (or Free-range placement?) and this would be assumed if nothing was otherwise stated.
A Note on Encounter
Encounter is considered to be the Bridge game of the Matched games of Chinese chess and QiPlacements Accelerated/Open placements - the advantage of the Accelerated placement over the Traditional placement of Chinese chess would seem to be the quicker control of open files by the Chariots with the possibility of them then moving into the opposing territory.....in significant games south would usually have the Traditional placement thereby giving first move advantage to the Traditional placement.
Tests suggest that with correct play no significant advantage can be gained from the placement phase.
Copying placements during the placement phase can lead to significant loss of material.
Discounting the required order of Traditional, Accelerated and Encounter placements, the possible number of placement moves is 26 x 26 x 25 x 25 = 422,500 and if there were no symmetry this would lead to 105,625 positions, but there is some symmetry and some positions give advantage – however as something of a guess I would think viable placements run into thousands and perhaps well into thousands. Also see Further thoughts - Other possible games etc. - Deployment variation from TigerChess, where two possible deployment placement variations are described with Western chess as an example.
Princesses, like Generals in Chinese chess, are forbidden to face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file - see later
The background etc. is the same for all these placements/games.
Pieces are 3D and not disc-like as they are traditionally in Chinese chess, below is a picture of an antique traditional Chinese chess set whilst in Further thoughts - Name changes etc. there is a picture of a 3D representational set
Note that Generals in Chinese chess are piece names and not player names as they are in QiPlacements.
It has been said that Chinese chess is probably played by more people than any other board game in the world.
Individual pieces are usually referred to by Green or Blue but Northern or Southern is allowed.
Players are usually referred to as the Green General or the Blue General but Northern General or Southern General is allowed as is simply Green or Blue or simply North or South.
Further of Cannons
It seems the Cannon was probably not part of the original game of Chinese chess and may not have been added to the game for some centuries – opinions vary widely though as to what century.....but whatever, the move of the Cannon (and the Horse) make possible several situations that do not occur in Western chess…..
Intermission to Cannon-fire page
Re-commencement after Cannon-fire:
The Stream separating the Blue and Green territories is representational only and has no actual effect on the game as the river has no actual effect in Chinese chess.
Horses and Chariots and Cannons are manned.
With regard to Princesses being forbidden to face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file - see earlier: the representational aspects of this are that these Royal inhabitants have a talismanic Sceptre that can send rays vertically forwards along unoccupied squares along files (pieces block them but are unharmed), but they only have effect against the opposing Princess and they may not move into them or be exposed to them - there should be ornamental Sceptres for them…..the Sceptres are actually coloured silver (as would be other ornamental Steps items where suited, for example Swords) though called the Green and Blue Sceptres after their Territories - they are the same ones that feature in RiverQi at a future time when they are called the Northern and Southern Sceptres (they can also be called this in QiPlacements if preferred) – the Empresses of RiverQi have them and should be ornamented so.
After the battle the Stream was to eventually become a large River – see the game RiverQi later.
The Game of Arabella
The game of Arabella is based on the game of Arabian chess that was the game Western chess developed from. There are in this game a few changes from Arabian chess that hopefully will add some new and interesting features, the most noticeable being the Flying carpets and the Jinis. The game could be called Jini if wished so. Note that the moves for the pieces are set out in a Table and in a way that I think is suitable here. Also included is the game variation of Invasion and there are Traditional and Modern variations with regard to some optional moves.
The short background story here makes reference to the story of Aladdin that has been put into film and performed as a theatre play and is well known and readily available. Aladdin was a real life character some centuries ago and an outstanding Arabian chess player - perhaps the strongest of his time.
The story then is:
A wicked Magician has sought to usurp the rule of a faraway Kingdom together with his wicked Enchantress by capturing the King’s young and beautiful and only daughter while he is far away visiting friendly Kingdoms and so his young but brave adopted and orphaned son - the Kingdom's prince, must defend the Kingdom until he returns.
Prior to the battle commencing the wicked Magician was attempting to deceive the Kingdom into believing his intentions were honourable with regard to the Kingdom in that he wished for the hand of the Princess and no more (he in fact sought to rule the Kingdom by this way and knew of the King’s absence and intended to take advantage of this). As a token of good faith each side exchanged their great Lamp and their Jini who resided within them, but the Kingdom’s Ward lost trust and refused further talks and the wicked Magician refused to return the Kingdom’s Lamp and Jini, mistakenly believing him to be more powerful than his own - the Kingdom responded likewise, thus at the start of the battle both Jinis are within their Lamps and are prisoners of the opposing side and the wicked Magician and his wicked Enchantress now seek to rule the Kingdom by the forceable capture of the Princess.
The object of the Battle (game) is either to Checkmate the opposing Princess or Enchantress or to Capture all opposing Persons and this is shown in the Table mentioned in the Introduction for suitability and clarity – either wins the battle.....should both occur simultaneously no additional points are scored however.
Board at commencement
The following are explained further later in the game
The Caves of Spells (as they are called, or Magic caves if so wished) are not themselves invisible – but the spells cast (by the Wards) conceal those they imprison from the opponents, and the ends of the board can be suitably decorated in such a way
Though a Jini inside his Magic lamp is not seen by his own side until and unless a Swordsman is about to release him, they are not concealed from the opposing Ward (who overlooks their – his own, end of the board) and so there can and should be visible ornamentation – the Swordsman on the diagram here is one who has released him
Captured characters are also not concealed from the capturing Ward and these are visibly placed at his end of the board - the usual placement in Steps
For Arabian chess (Steps version) and if the Magic Horse option is in effect: he (the Horse) should be visibly placed at his Prince/Magician’s end of the board to await possible calling upon.
Further Rules and Notes
The Prince/Magician or the Princess/Enchantress can move (with their usual move) to the square of their Flying carpets and embark on (board) them and then the move and so capturing ability of the Flying carpet comes into play until they disembark by their own move - they can do this at any time (provided within Checking rules) but until disembarkation the move of the Flying carpet is over-riding. As can be seen the Prince/Magician can embark on either Flying carpet whereas the Princess/Enchantress cannot – if two Flying carpets of the same side occupy adjacent squares and one is boarded by the Prince/Magician then they can move to board their other Flying carpet (this being a usual move of theirs - and they can capture, but not board, an adjacent opposing Flying carpet by their usual move, as can the Princess/Enchantress if the adjacent square with the Flying carpet is a diagonal one and provided this is within Checking rules).
Flying carpets can only carry one at a time and only of their own side - their move is not blocked by an intervening piece and they do not need to be carrying someone to make a move or a capture.
A Check can be escaped by the move of the Flying carpet or by the Princess/Enchantress disembarking when they are on a Flying carpet.
No others can embark on a Flying carpet except those mentioned above.
When on a Flying carpet both the Flying carpet and the Prince/Magician can give check or capture a piece by virtue of their own individual moves as can the Princess/Enchantress also capture a piece by virtue of their own individual move (provided within Checking rules) but this would entail disembarkation.
Capturing a Flying carpet would also mean the Prince/Magician being captured if on board.
It should be noted that the name Flying in Flying carpets is representational in that for Regal Characters boarded on them it seems as if they are flying since when un-boarded they are earth-bound.....Flying here is then a subjective descripton used in the Kingdom and not the same as the objective description used for e.g. the Hawks of RiverQi.....If players so wish however the Carpets may be called Magic carpets and their moving described as '(going on) a Magic carpet Ride'.
Jinis do not have the ability to be embarked upon as do Flying carpets.
Although a Jini’s move includes that of a Prince/Magician he is not of Regal status.
There is no castling type move.
The classification of Persons is as shown in the moves table i.e. Horsemen and Swordsmen.
When on a Flying carpet basic Checkmate situations of a Princess/Enchantress require different moves to that of the King of Arabian chess or Western chess and when not on a Flying carpet some potential Stalemate situations can perhaps be more easily overlooked than with the aforesaid King, for example a Swordsman of the Kingdom on D3 would prevent the Enchantress from moving at all if she were on D1 (a square that a Flying carpet cannot land on).
A lone Jini can force Checkmate against a lone opposing Princess/Enchantress even if on a Flying carpet, but though this is only a theoretical situation the moves played to bring this about would still be relevant in practice in games. A lone Magician/Prince can force Checkmate against a lone Princess/Enchantress if not on a Flying carpet and though again this is only a theoretical situation the moves played would also still be relevant in practice.
Notwithstanding the Jini's checkmating ability there are situations, due to a player needing at least one of his Persons on the board, when a promotion choice to a Jini or a Horseman could involve complex considerations.
As with stating Check, a player may give warning of critical attacks of his opponent’s Persons (perhaps by a small gesture) but as with stating Check this is not compulsory.
Arabian chess was widely played for over a thousand years - longer by five centuries than Western chess, and below are shown ancient Arabian chess pieces with the white piece being the King and the green piece being the equivalent of the rook
Individual pieces (characters) are usually referred to as (Characters or those) of the Kingdom or of Enchantment e.g. a Horseman of the Kingdom or a Flying carpet of Enchantment though Regal characters are still called simply by title e.g. the Princess or the Enchantress. It is though allowable to call pieces as Northern or Southern although Regal characters would again still be called simply by title.
The Wicked Magician or the Wicked Enchantress may be called such if preferred and to distinguish the Prince and Princess from others in Steps they can be called the Arabellan Prince/Princess.
Players are usually referred to as the Kingdom’s Ward (or the Ward of the Kingdom) or the Magician’s Ward (or the Ward of Enchantment or Beguilement) but Northern Ward or Southern Ward is allowed as is simply North or South.
When a win occurs by capturing all a side’s Persons then the final position of the game is after the capture of this last Person is made, and in order to show more clearly what happened the final position should highlight the square where this capture occurred (and of course this square has the piece that made the winning capture on it) – there could be for example a white border placed around the square for a North win or a red border placed around the square for a South win…..unlike the historical version of Arabian chess the losing side here in Steps has no draw-obtaining right of the same reply in such a situation (currently, but this may change or possibly become an option – TBD*), but the winning side may not make a move that leaves their Royal piece in check or Checkmate.
*It is likely this will be at least an option – were the draw-obtaining reply (that may not leave this player’s Royal piece in check or Checkmate) to leave the opponent’s Royal piece in check or Checkmate this would not count, as the replying move has already ended the game (as a draw).
Swordsmen may or may not have an initial optional two square move as Pawns do in Western chess - see variations below.
In this variation Swordsmen do not have the optional initial two square move as Pawns do in Western chess and so en passant rules do not apply.
in this variation, that has to be agreed by both players, Swordsmen have the optional initial two square move as do the Pawns of Western chess and en passant rules apply.
With reference to the above Traditional and Modern variations the procedure is that if a player wishes to play the Modern variation then he needs to place his Regal pieces on opposite squares to that shown in the diagram and this is construed as a wish to play the Modern variation; if the other player also places his Regal pieces likewise he will also be construed to wish to play the Modern variation and a small gesture by each player pointing out the variation situation needs to be made as confirmation of their agreement to the variation and play proceeds with the Regal pieces on these different squares - this is the case whenever the Modern variation is played. If either player has misunderstood the variation situation after a few moves (considered to be by five moves by each player) they may point this out whereupon the game must recommence with a clear understanding of what variation is to be played.
If either player does not show a wish to play the Modern variation then the player who does show a wish to play this variation must then place his Regal pieces onto the squares as shown in the diagram and the Traditional variation is then played.
There is some background story and representation when releasing a Jini (who is inside his Magic lamp at the start of the game) that is equivalent to a Swordsman’s promotion, but here the Swordsman must look after the Jini’s Lamp - his home, for the Jini must return there after the battle (whenceforth the Swordsman would be a welcome guest there of the Jini - a rare honour). If captured a Jini must return to his Lamp but he can be released again (but no more than three times in all) in the same way though there is only one Jini for each side and whose Lamp is past each side’s end rank where there are a number of caves that have been readied for imprisoning captured pieces (characters) – see later. If a side has released their Jini and he is on the board then a Swordsman of such side upon reaching his end rank must then be promoted to a Horseman. There can and should be ornamental Lamps placed on the borders of the board and if a Jini is released the Swordsman who has done so would be placed alongside his Lamp. A Swordsman can (promote) under-promote to a Horseman instead of releasing his Jini as may happen e.g. to prevent loss by capture (or absence) of all Persons - a player needs at least one Swordsman or Horseman on the board or a loss occurs.
Jinis are in the spirit and duration of game play only - they live in their Lamps otherwise and so are non-forceful, but this has no practical effect on the game.....a Jini's Lamp is a magical home that has everything inside it that a Jini could wish for.
Persons requiring capture in order to win do not include Regality (of different status) or Siege-towers (that are constructions) or Flying carpets (that are Talismans) or Jinis (of game play spirit).
Siege-towers are manned but this does not classify them as Persons.
Horses are available for promotion purposes (they are plentiful within the Kingdom) - Horsemen are indeed on Horses and very skilled with them they are - Swordsmen are trained in and capable of these skills or would not be able to persuade a Horse to them.....a Horseman does not keep any of the moving/capturing powers he had as a Swordsman.
For those who like representational points the Swordsmen when playing the Modern variation can have their Swords raised in a more aggressive stance than when the Traditional variation is played – the Swordsmen could and perhaps should have this adjustable ornamental ability.
A further background point is that the Prince also has no siblings.
Those captured during the battle, who could include the Prince or the Magician, are imprisoned in caves and there concealed by spells of the Wards (players), and Swordsmen are then unable to find them to carry out rescues of them and can only release their Jini as described above (also see next note) or themselves promote to a Horseman, also described above…..after the battle the winning Ward is able to counter the spells of the opposing Ward and find the caves and release (or recover) those captured - this may entail further adventures however.
At commencement of the battle both Jinis are in their Magic lamps and are also imprisoned in caves that are concealed by spells of the Wards, but when (if) release by a Swordsman is imminent their Magic lamps are powerful enough to overcome the spell of concealment and so make their presence known – at the end of the battle the winning Jini/Lamp is released from imprisonment (if not already so) but must return to his Lamp (if not already there).
Game variation - Invasion (see Further thoughts - Name changes etc.)
The differences with Invasion to Arabella are:
1. The Characters of the Kingdom must Checkmate the Magician not the Enchantress (the Characters of Enchantment must still Checkmate the Princess) - the capturing of all Persons object remains the same. The Magician (and perhaps also the Enchantress) should differ in appearance from Arabella - possibly in apparel.
2. The Magician and Enchantress cannot board Flying carpets as they are now non-talismanic and non-boardable Catapults - Catapults still otherwise move the same and, though manned, are classified as constructions and not Persons.
The rules regarding the Traditional and Modern variations of Arabella also apply here and so there are two variations of Invasion - the deployment procedure is also the same as in Arabella.
The Characters of the Kingdom (who are said here to have the Talismans) may have something of an advantage, but the Characters of Enchantment (or of Beguilement if preferred) are south and so have the first move advantage.....in addition it is now harder to Checkmate the Magician than the Enchantress would be (both are unable to board a Flying carpet) - and also harder than an un-boarded Princess, though it should be noted that the Magician becomes less effective than otherwise as an attacking piece now being vulnerable to Check and Checkmate - he is however still capable of the theoretical forcing of Checkmate on his own against a lone Princess - though not so were she boarded (see the earlier note regarding this), but this is not the case with the Prince, even if he is boarded, against the Magician.
There are further possible Invasion variations e.g. where those of the Kingdom must still Checkmate the Enchantress to win but where those of Enchantment must Checkmate the Prince to win and where the rules on Flying carpet boarding are as mentioned above, but these are not considered mainstream variations.
A further note is that the Arabian chess throughout Steps has the same pieces and rules as those of Invasion except:
1. Both sides have Catapults - there are then no Magic carpets, but there are Magic amulets - see below.
2. The Royal pieces that require to be Checkmated are the Magician - as with Invasion, and the Prince (who stands in the Magician's way). Both should differ in appearance from Arabella (as perhaps also should the Princess and the Enchantress including wearing Amulets – see next) - the difference could possibly be in apparel.
3. Representational: The Princess and the Enchantress both wear an Amulet (there should be ornaments) around the neck and if captured are instantly Teleported to the square of, respectively, the Prince or the Magician (the one-time only talismanic power of their Amulets) – they have then escaped their capture but henceforth must stay on the square of and move with their Prince or Magician though they are now non-forceful and have no independent powers of movement or capture and so have no practical effect on the game and share the fate (perhaps of Checkmate) of the Prince or the Magician…..this also applies in Invasion to the Enchantress…..it is said, though not by all, that in the earliest form of Chess – Indian chess*, the Raja – the royal piece, could under certain conditions, move as a Horse (here the same as the Knight of Western chess) once during the game, his usual move being as that of the Shah of Arabian chess (the same as the King of Western chess).
*So far as I can tell this is not usually named so, if at all, but Steps recognises it as such…..the Raja gives rise to a possible option in Steps Arabian chess called the ‘Magic Horse’ option that follows below.
4. Note that the same Traditional and Modern variation rules and deployment procedures of Arabella also apply, and the capturing of all Persons object remains the same.....the historical version of Arabian chess has some differences to the Steps one - these can readily be looked up.
The Magic Horse option
This possible (at this stage, but TBD, and also TBD is the possibility for inclusion in Group play – see Part two of Steps) optional variation is for (Steps) Arabian chess* only and not Invasion in this case – there are very representational aspects (some may like this) and is as follows:
The agreeing to the option would follow along the lines of procedure that are set out in the Modern variation and both players would have to place their Magic Horse piece at their end of the board (not on a square) - and if both players express this wish then…..
If the Prince or Magician are in check (or otherwise would be in Checkmate) they may, once in a game only call upon their Magic Horse who will fly to them and transport them (together with the Princess or Enchantress if they have been teleported to their squares) with the move of a Steps Horseman, but he will then fly away from the board altogether – the Prince or Magician may not of course be set down on a square where they would be in check or Checkmate
It is possible that one or both players would wish to play one or both options that are available, but they need not be under any haste with procedures to arrive at the game’s commencement
The potential for colourful background presentation to this, and the other Arabella games, is perhaps novel and hopefully very interesting - to some at least.
*Since Steps recognises the name Indian chess and the Magic Horse is based on the Raja of this game there would be no objection to the term Arabian-Indian chess being used when the Magic Horse option is in force for Arabian chess.
For Arabella (and Invasion for north) the abilities and values of the Regal characters are augmented by the possibility of embarking (boarding) or disembarking from a Magic carpet…..but it is not simply a case of adding together (for the Prince - the incumbent, though this applies to the Magician also*) the values of a non-royal Arabian chess Shah and a Catapult plus a bit more for interaction….there are other versatile possibilities, for example if an embarked Prince is attacked by a Siege tower he can disembark and protect his Magic carpet, and he can do this by moving out of the Tower’s line of attack or he can shield or be shielded by the Carpet – the Carpet can at other times protect its Prince…..so as well as the earlier provisos for piece valuations there needs to be added the further one that the non-embarked valuations are for when the Prince is on the board along with one or both Carpets that are readily available – at commencement for example, while their Stand-alone values can be found in LancerChess…..anyway, it’s more of an estimate or perhaps guess than other piece values and they may well change in the light of experience (as could any piece value in any game)…..but for now:
At commencement: Prince/Magician = 4
At commencement: Magic carpet = 2
When embarked: Prince/Magician + Magic carpet = 7
The valuation of the Magic Horse is perhaps even more of an estimate or guess than that of the probably nearest comparison - the Magic carpet, and no doubt could be thought about long…..but one feature of the Magic Horse springs to mind, and that is, during the game at least, he is never captured…..to start with then - an arbitrary value awaiting experience:
At commencement: Magic Horse = 2
But what of the Magic lamps and the Magic amulets…..well, neither have a direct effect on the game’s moves, but without his Lamp a Jini would not be released and enter the game; and her Amulet can keep the Princess or Enchantress in the game, though they cannot then act independently…..but this is background and representational while values are material – nevertheless I think they should be included, but their values are notional only and entirely subjective:
Magic lamp = 2 notional
Magic amulet = 2 notional
And the Magic caves should perhaps also be included since they restrict rescues of captured pieces – this could make a difference in some situations…..and countering their spells after the battle could lead to further adventures – there is scope here for productions…..again background and representational, and so again entirely subjective and notional values - and these notional values are perhaps around the limit of the scope of piece valuation in Steps:
Magic caves – spells only = 1 notional
Magic caves with adventures = 2 notional, perhaps more
*The Princess and the Enchantress are the Royal pieces when they are able to embark upon a Magic carpet – their non-royal values are shown in LancerChess…..also a Person (Horsemen and Swordsmen) may become equivalent to such when only one is left, but generally their values can be taken as those of Knights and Pawns as shown in LancerChess – in a situation where just one Person is left to a side he can, if so wished, be named as the Regal Horseman or Regal Swordsman (promotion could change his material status though) and they can and perhaps should be of different appearance as they otherwise would be – perhaps in apparel…..unlike the Royal piece a Regal Horseman or Swordsman does not have to evade check etc., and as is usual in Steps the Royal piece evading check also takes first precedence when making a move in Arabella.
The Game of Meridian
Meridian is a game that has features of Western and Chinese chess and one or two of Mongolian chess – it is not intended to be a full combination of these games however, but rather a fit between Western and Chinese chess with something of Mongolian chess included and there are two core variations called the Western variation and the Eastern variation plus a further variation called Combination that combines elements of the two core variations. There is also a rule variation called the Escape rule and this is something of a novelty and is considered as a variation suitable for exhibition play (see note) that some may find to be an interesting challenge and is also allowable up to high level tournaments or matches or suchlike.
There are, no doubt, many ways of bringing together elements of Western and Chinese chess and perhaps other Chess, but here I have drawn together the features that I personally find to be too associated with these games to leave out; but this has led to two core variations though both seem to give scope for attacking play and games may sometimes be quick and fierce.
Where there are differences between the Western and Eastern variations these are stated, otherwise the two variations are the same. The differences are straightforward however. Combination is explained at the end along with the Escape rule.
Note: Exhibition play is talked of in Part two: Grouping of Games
Over time a once great and huge Empire has begun to fragment into a number of Kingdoms within two Khanates and the two Principal Kingdoms are the neighbouring Sapphire kingdom of the Northern Khanate and the Golden kingdom of the Southern Khanate, and as their names suggest much of the source of their wealth derives from Sapphires and Gold. There is though an area of land between them that contains huge deposits of both of these and both Kingdoms have claimed the land as their own and this area has become known as the Disputed lands. This situation has led to their Warriors, traditionally known as the Sapphire Horde and the Golden Horde, to mobilize and battle commences shortly afterwards.
Western variation: The King and Queen of both Kingdoms are themselves young and do not as yet have children and so there are no heirs to either Kingdom.
Eastern variation: The King and Queen of both Kingdoms are too elderly to directly participate in the battle and so both their young heirs (the Princes-royal) do so together with the young Princesses-royal – it is considered essential for a Prince-royal, in particular, and a Princess-royal to prove themselves in a situation of difficulty or conflict.
Here the Kings and Queens take charge of the detention of captured Warriors for by tradition captured Warriors of rival Khanates or Kingdoms are treated as guests with hospitality until their release and so both Kings and Queens prepare areas of their Palaces for such.
Note: A Princess-royal is the title given to the eldest child but where there is a son, and by tradition the eldest son is the heir.
Western variation: The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Queen and this wins the battle and the winning Kingdom (and Khanate) will annex the Disputed lands.
Eastern variation: The object of the Battle (game) is to Checkmate the opposing Princess-royal and this wins the battle and the winning Kingdom (and Khanate) will annex the Disputed lands.
The annexing of the Disputed lands is of course background story.
Board at commencement
Moves of Pieces
Western variation: A King – he is identical to the Queen of Western chess.
Eastern variation: A Prince-royal – he is as the “Snow Panther”* of Mongolian chess – a game played for centuries in Mongolia, and moves both as the Rook of Western chess (or rather the Chariot of Chinese chess since he has no castling abilities) and a non-royal King of Western chess i.e. he has a single-square diagonal move in addition to his Rook’s move.
*The Snow Panther is a traditional alternative name of the Prince-royal and players can call him this if they so decide - he can force checkmate on his own against a lone Princess-royal, and checkmating opportunities may arise in a game perhaps quite suddenly with his long-range move (a pouncing); as an illustration of this: if the Princesses are on their commencing squares and the Southern Snow Panther is on f3 with the move then 1. Snow Panther pounces to f8 check, Princess-royal d9 (the only move) 2. Snow Panther e8 Checkmate – ‘pounces’ can be used as game notation if together with ‘Snow Panther’ to indicate a long-range move by the Snow Panther with a quick checkmate to follow.....a King though cannot force checkmate on his own against a lone Queen – if the Snow Panther and Princess of the above example were a King and Queen then the Queen would capture him on f8 - but were he a Khan however he would move to f7 instead and the Queen would be checkmated, but see later (and compare to here) for the Khan’s powers and a further example of his checkmating abilities.
Western variation: A Queen – she is identical to the King of Western chess except that she is confined to her Palace as is the General of Chinese chess – unlike the General though the Queens may face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file
Eastern variation: A Princess-royal – she is as the General of Chinese chess and so is confined to her Palace as is the General of Chinese chess, but unlike the General the Princesses may face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file
A Chariot – its powers are identical to the Chariots of Chinese chess.
A Cannon – its powers are identical to those of the Cannon of Chinese chess.
A Horseman – he is identical to the Knight of Western chess.
A Shieldsman – he is identical to the Counsellor (sometimes called an Adviser or Mandarin or Guard) of Chinese chess and so is confined to his Palace.
A Pikeman – he is as the Pawn of Western chess except for the following:
All Pikeman only have an initial one square move except those on the A and I files that have the optional initial two square move as with Western chess and so the en passant rules would apply in their case, though not others.
Upon reaching his end rank a Pikeman must promote and his choices are as follows:
Western variation: If his King is detained (captured) he can rescue him though he is himself captured and detained in doing so, but he will later be given much reward should his side win the battle.
Eastern variation: If his Prince-royal is detained (captured) he can rescue him though he is himself captured and detained in doing so, but he will later be given much reward should his side win the battle.
Western Variation: A Pikeman can promote to a Pike commander who can move or capture one or two squares in any direction but cannot jump i.e. he can only “slide”.
Eastern Variation: A Pikeman can promote to a Pike leader (often called a Leading pikeman) who can move or capture one or two squares vertically or horizontally but cannot jump i.e. he can only “slide”.
Afterthought - I think for the Eastern Variation a Pikeman can also promote to a Pike senior (or Senior pikeman) who can move or capture one or two squares diagonally, but like the Leading pikeman can only slide and cannot jump; he is also ‘colour-bound’.
In both variations a Pikeman can promote to a Horseman.
Further Rules and Notes
What variation is played is by arrangement, agreement or by roll of dice or coin.
There is no Castling type move.
The different type of Pikemen should differ in appearance.
I have refrained from bringing the Bishop of Western chess into Meridian (possibly by Pikemen promotions) - Chinese chess, like the Eastern variation, does not have a long-diagonally moving piece and the Western variation already has a King who can move so.....to bring this in would, perhaps, tilt things too much towards Western chess but the possibility remains.
Individual pieces are usually referred to by Sapphire or Golden but Northern or Southern is allowed. Players are usually referred to as the Northern Khan or the Southern Khan but simply North or South or simply Sapphire or Gold is allowed, and it follows that players are also allowed to be called the Sapphire Khan or the Golden Khan but Northern or Southern may be preferred for Khans since the Khanates include other (though lesser) Kingdoms besides the Sapphire and Golden ones.
In something of a reverse between these two games the Western variation is usually the more tactical (but see the earlier note comparing the Royal pieces) and if a comparison with Western chess were required I would say this variation has something of nineteenth century attacking Western chess about it – but only limited comparison can be drawn with this. The Eastern variation perhaps plays more like a typical game of Chinese chess but again only a limited comparison can be drawn.
Below is shown an old Mongolian Chess set
The Disputed lands area of the board is decorative only and has no effect on the game in any way but this area also straddles the Northern and Southern khanates as well as the Sapphire and Golden kingdoms.
Horses are available for promotion purposes (they are to be found in the northern and southern forests and plains) - Horsemen are indeed on Horses and most skilled with them - Pikemen are trained in and capable of these skills or would not be able to persuade a Horse to them.....decorative ornamental Horses can be placed at the ends of the board.
Chariots and Cannons are manned.
Shieldsmen also wield Swords as well as Shields.
Though a Khan does not appear on the board during the battle his powers are those combined of both a King and a Horseman (see Further thoughts - Other possible games etc. - Storm Force 24) - but perhaps a value should be given were he to do so, and so with the provisos set out in LancerChess for piece values
Khan = 12, quite possibly more
He can Checkmate a (unconfined) Western chess Queen on his own – an example on an 8x8 board:
North Queen e4
South Queen a2
South Khan a1
South must have his Queen on the board or the position would be illegal
South to move and Checkmate in 4
1. Khan c31 check, Queen f52
2. Khan d4 check, Queen g63
3. Khan e5 check, Queen h74
4. Khan f6 (or f7) Checkmate
1 1. Khan f6 is also Checkmate in 4
2 If 1… Queen f4 then 2. Khan d4 check and 2… Queen g5 or g3 also leaves a Checkmate in 2
3 If 2… Queen g5 then 2. Khan e5 check and 3. Queen h6 or h4 is Checkmate next move
4If 3… Queen h6 then 4. Khan f6 Checkmate
There are then two possible first-move answers that meet the requirement, but if the Northern Queen were instead on e8 and if Checkmate in 1 was required then
1. Khan f6 Checkmate - the only move that meets the requirement
Pikemen may not enter their own Palaces - hence the placements of them at commencement; this does not apply either to the playing rules or as a representational point for Pike commanders or Pike leaders who may enter them (see Further thoughts - Further pieces).
Game variation - Combination
This game variation of Meridian is where one player has a King and a Princess-royal whilst the other has a Prince-royal and a Queen, and the player with the King is said to Guard the Princess-royal whilst the player with the Prince-royal is said to Guard the Queen. The rules are as given except Pikemen have the option of promoting to either a Pike-commander or a Pike Leader (perhaps less likely but included on principle) or to rescue their King/Prince-royal if captured (detained), or promote to a Horseman. The player with the King, perhaps as expected, seems to have an advantage but this may not be as much as expected and if the King and Prince-royal are exchanged the advantage may change over since the Queen would be harder to checkmate than the Princess-royal (other things being equal), or put another way the Princess is easier to checkmate than the Queen – see the earlier note regarding the Snow Panther (Prince-royal) and pouncing showing that, if not exchanged, this player has a possible tactic that the player with the King does not have…..the southern player, who moves first, always Guards the Queen in any significant or meaningful game or tournaments or matches or suchlike…..as with the core variations the Royal pieces may face each other along an otherwise (between them) unoccupied file.
There are a few background story points in this variation as follows:
For the player who guards the Princess-royal the King is able enough to participate in the battle but the Queen is not, at least for the current time, and by tradition only those who are battle-ready are allowed to participate.
Also for the player who guards the Princess-royal the only and younger son - the Prince-royal, has been seriously injured during training exercises and is unable to participate in the battle, but will and does fully recover.
For the player who guards the Queen the King has been seriously injured following a fall from a horse (he does not have the skills of a Khan in this respect) but is expected to make a full recovery - he does so, though is unable to participate in the battle.
Also for the player who guards the Queen the only daughter - the Princess-royal, is considered too delicate in fitness as yet to participate in the battle, though is improving at a good rate.
It is also possible for there to be variations where both players have a King and Princess-royal or both have a Prince-royal and Queen, but these are not considered mainstream variations.
Rule variation - the Escape rule (see Further thoughts - Various)
There is for the core variations of Meridian and Combination this possible optional rule whereby a player may, if in an otherwise Checkmate position, move his Royal piece outside of the Palace (but not into Check of course) and if this escapes the otherwise Checkmate position the result of the game is a 'Draw by Escape' and the move should be played to leave the game's final position.* If the Royal piece cannot escape Checkmate in this way then the game ends as usual in this Checkmate position.
The move to outside of the Palace must be the usual one for the Royal piece and can be a capture.
A simple way to express this rule might be to say a Royal piece can only leave the Palace to escape being in Checkmate whereupon the game is a draw.
There is a further possibility whereby this rule would only apply if the player delivering Checkmate had his King or Prince-royal on the board - there could be further possibilities but this one is more likely and could be tagged as restricted compared to unrestricted otherwise.
The rule is not currently allowed in QiPlacements or RiverQi or Shadow (see later).
Satellite nominal points only (see General Notes) may be awarded for exhibition play, or scored for tournaments or matches or suchlike when this rule is in force and are two for a win and one each for a draw.....the term awarded is the one usually used for the scoring of points in exhibition play, but may also be used where considered suitable.
*The current rule (it could be changed) is that the move to escape ends the game as a draw and if this were to leave the opposing side in check or Checkmate this would not count as the game has already finished.
There are a few background story points in this rule as follows:
There are in the Palaces secret underground passageways that are known only to the Royal piece (and a few select other-such) and these lead to the surrounding areas (squares) outside the Palaces and if the Royal piece escapes through the passageways and is not attacked outside the Palace (in Check) the Royal piece will make good their escape - but these passageways can only be used to escape being in Checkmate.
During a game the possible un-attacked squares outside the Palace that the Royal piece could move to are called Escape squares - these will change throughout a game as and when the Royal piece moves within the Palace and they are only potential Escape squares until and unless used (by means of the secret underground passageways mentioned above) when the one actually used together with the square the Royal piece moved from is known as the Escape route. Note that Escape routes also change throughout a game as and when the Royal piece moves within the Palace and are also only potentially so until and unless used. These squares and routes can also change depending on other moves and opponents' moves.
(Potentially) There are eleven Escape squares (nine for a Princess-royal) with a Queen having nineteen Escape routes and a Princess-royal nine Escape routes.
The rule variation can be designated as with Escape routes or with Passageways, with Underground passageways, with Secret passageways or even with Secret underground passageways.
When in a winning position or when attacking players may need to be aware of Escape squares/routes in a similar way as they may need to be aware of Stalemate possibilities.
The value of escape routes through the secret passageways could be compared to the Magic Horse shown in Arabella, and if used they have a direct effect on moves and so are not valued notionally – initially an arbitrary value the same as the Magic Horse is given:
Secret passageways = 2
As a point of naming and representation - for those who would prefer: the Pikemen can be named as Swordsmen and wield ornamental Swords instead of Pikes (Pikemen should themselves be ornamented so, perhaps Horsemen and Charioteers should be ornamented as well, possibly also Cannoneers…..and elsewhere in Steps there are staffed or manned Towers and Siege-towers, and others)…..as with the modern variation of Arabella the Swords (or Pikes) should probably be raised in a more aggressive stance since the Swordsmen are placed further up the board or have the initial two-square move option…..names can follow that of a Pikeman i.e. Sword-commander or Sword-leader (or Leading Swordsman) but in this case a Sword-commander could instead be called a Sword-master (or Master Swordsman or even Master of Swords) – it’s a matter of personal choice (though it is preferred that LancerChess uses the name of Pikeman whilst Arabella uses the name of Swordsman)…..
…..and a comparison: a Sword-master on an empty 9x9 board attacks the same maximum number of squares as a Chariot – sixteen, and although a Chariot attacks more squares on average (always sixteen actually) the Sword-master has more paths of movement, and these extra paths of movement perhaps make the Sword-master slightly more powerful, and with the provisos set out in LancerChess for piece values:
Sword-master = 5½, perhaps more
Also different Swordsmen and Pikemen should differ in appearance – perhaps in apparel
A further point is that, though they cannot Jump, both Master and Leading Swordsmen have the Checkmating abilities of the King’s Lancer as noted in LancerChess and where examples of this are given for the Leading Swordsman*
What then is the value of the Leading Swordsman – I think the comparison here is perhaps both to the Horseman (Knight) of Western chess and the (manned) Horse of Chinese chess…..all three can attack a maximum of eight squares (on an empty 9x9 board, but a Leading Swordsman averages most) but a Horseman can Leap whereas a Leading Swordsman cannot Jump…..but…..as shown in LancerChess a Leading Swordsman has Checkmating abilities that neither a Horseman nor a Horse has…..and so with the same provisos as before:
Leading Swordsman = 3, perhaps a bit less.
Afterthought – and with regard to the Senior Pikeman (or Swordsman) mentioned earlier:
Senior Swordsman = 2½, perhaps a bit less
*The Sword-master has an additional checkmating ability whereby he can checkmate a Princess-royal on his own – a situation that could occur in Combination (provided the Escape rule was not in force) and one where a Leading Swordsman could not do so: for example if the Southern Sword-master is on e6 with the move then wherever the Northern Princess-royal is in her Palace checkmate is in no more than two moves away e.g. if she is on f8 (the Southern Queen can be anywhere in her Palace) then 1. Sword-master e7 check, Princess-Royal f9 (the only move) 2. Sword-master e8 Checkmate – this has similarities to a Soldier-in-Command checkmating a General in Plateau – see Cannon-fire earlier.
The Game of Storm
Storm has two Board variations (10x8 squares and 10x10 squares) and is based on Capablanca chess - invented by Jose Raul Capablanca. As with Capablanca chess the games often produce complex tactics and could be called Fireworks games. Although playing these games on a 10x10 board can produce these complex tactical positions on a 10x8 board it has been noted when playing Capablanca Chess that the pieces are quicker to engage and so this is considered here to be the main and preferred board size, but the 10x10 board is not precluded from anything. Jose Raul Capablanca was a world Western chess champion.
Also included is the game variation of Crossfire (perhaps even more of a Fireworks game) and a further game variation is set out in Further thoughts - Other possible games etc. - Storm Force 24 (also see the game variation of Breakout in this section of Further thoughts, and Breakout also describes a further variation possibility).
Many centuries ago it is surmised that the dwellers of the huge Emerald Forest moved into the uncharted regions and dispersed to many other areas where they eventually settled and did not return - there may have been conflict involved but this is not recorded or if so has been lost. The two Castles that were originally built situated north and south of the Forest became overgrown and crumbled away and were not rebuilt. A few of the Forest dwellers it seemed remained however and over a very long period of time they formed two separate and self-governing regions at the north-most and south-most of the forest but did not venture beyond the forest and so the one-time explored regions became uncharted regions once again – at least to the dwellers of the Emerald Forest*. However there came a time when all the dwellers wished to explore and map the uncharted regions and also to appoint a group of dwellers to oversee this (called the Guardians of the Forest); but there were differences as to the policies and details of this and also as to who (a Principal guardian) would lead the group of Guardians. This led to a general dispute on how both the forest and the uncharted regions should be organised and governed and eventually a battle became unavoidable.....
*Nothing is now known of the uncharted regions, but rumours from the distant past tell of great Wolves and huge Striped and other Cats and of massive Bears living there, and some Foresters have occasionally glimpsed what they think could be one such as these within the Emerald Forest itself - but if so this may be only a rare incursion from the uncharted regions…..perhaps after matters are settled the story of ‘The World that Time Forgot’ may be told TBD.
The object of the Battle (game) is to take Captive (checkmate) the opposing Queen and this wins the battle.
Board at commencement
Note that only the 10x8 board is shown but the commencing array is the same for a 10x10 board.
Moves of Pieces
When Protecting the Queen she now moves three squares towards the relevant Tower instead of two as does the King in Western chess castling.
Western chess comparisons for piece moves are as follows:
A King – he is identical to the Queen
A Queen – she is identical to the King
A King’s or Queen’s tower - its powers are identical to Rooks
A King’s or Queen’s knight – his powers are identical to a Knight
A Service-maiden – her powers are identical to a Bishop
A Forester – his or her powers are as a Pawn except for when promoting on reaching their end rank. Alternately placed Foresters are either boys/girls (18 to 21 yrs) or young men/women - role-playing or piece sets can be either/or (determined by arrangement, traditional methods or by roll of dice or coin), but boys/girls or young men/women need not be placed facing each other though as stated they should alternate.....south must place his first and then north does so.
Promotion (compulsory) choices for Foresters are: Either to be exchanged (they actually free them) for a captured fellow King, Prince or Princess or to promote to an Aristocrat (he/she is the same as a Siege-tower - see note below on Siege-towers), a Knight (he/she is the same as a Knight and not distinguished between a King’s or a Queen’s Knight) or a Noble (he/she is the same as a Bishop). Note that the title of Dame has been replaced by that of Knight.
In freeing a captive King etc. a Forester is taken captive themselves, but at the end of the battle they are rewarded for their bravery.
A Prince, who is very young and at commencement stands next to his father (himself still young) – his powers are explained below with reference to the diagram
A Princess, who is very young and at commencement stands next to her mother (herself still young) – her powers are explained below with reference to the diagram
For role-playing the Prince and Princess are lower-age restricted in accordance with their true ages.
The moves of the Prince and Princess are described with reference to the following diagram where they are situated on an empty board. The squares shown in the diagram in black are the example squares they are occupying. The Prince and Princess can first move the same as the Knight and these squares are called the strike squares and are coloured orange in the diagram; they can move to or capture on these squares like the Knight i.e. regardless of any intervening dwellers. From the strike squares the Prince or Princess can then continue along the associated follow-through squares (or Paths) as shown in the diagram coloured yellow - they can slide along these follow-through squares to move or capture in the manner of the Rook for the Prince or in the manner of the Bishop for the Princess.....they cannot jump (or leap) over any dwellers situated on the follow-through squares.....they cannot leap (or jump) over a strike square that is occupied i.e. if a strike square is occupied by any piece then the Prince or Princess cannot move to or capture on the associated follow-through squares.....if a strike square is occupied by an opposing piece then the Prince or Princess can capture this piece but cannot move to or capture on the associated follow-through squares. The follow-through paths are as shown in the diagram and cannot be varied by turning off from the strike squares at any other angles to those shown - these paths are described as of ongoing direction and most closely match the direction of the associated Knight’s move.
Further Rules and Notes
The Prince and Princess can give rise to a form of triple check and blockable double check (neither of these are possible with the Western or Capablanca pieces - this sometimes refers to just the extra pieces in Capablanca chess) as well as the usual form of non-blockable double check, and examples of these are shown later in this game section. There is also in Further thoughts - Further pieces a description of a possible modification of the Prince's moves and possible combination pieces are mentioned along with a piece called the Storm Emperor (he is also mentioned later here), though none of these currently appear in Storm or its variations.
Capturing and captured dwellers (pieces) are usually respectively described as taking captive and held captive, though as usual with other established Chess games (and those of Steps) the Queen is not actually captured and removed from the board but is checkmated to leave the game's final position and so here is then described as being taken captive (not held captive - this as stated refers to captured pieces) - to clarify: taking captive occurs on a move whilst thereafter the captured piece is held captive off or at the opponent's end of the board.
Green has been included in the colours of the pieces as representing the Emerald Forest. The reason for south’s dark green and north’s light green (see Table) is so that the Queens have some of the colour of their commencing squares (see board) – this accords with current Western chess where the white Queen commences on a light square and the black Queen on a dark square - but there should not be a great deal of these green colours used and this is more optional than required and would change were the board an 8x8.
The Southern Prince and the Southern Princess are non-forceful dwellers unlike their forceful Northern counterparts – this is because the Southern dwellers have chosen a different form of rule to those of the north as is seen in Crossfire – see later - this has no practical effect on the game however.
Once a Tower has been or can no longer be used to Protect the Queen it becomes a King's or Queen's Siege-tower (and is manned as is a Tower) to reflect its greater freedom to attack and fittings should be added to the piece to show this, or alternately a separate piece of different appearance can be placed on the appropriate square - it is though no different than if it was a Rook of Western chess following castling.
The young Service-maidens can be distinguished by the fact that those on lighter squares are light haired whereas those on darker squares are dark haired and they are usually called such e.g. the Northern light haired Service-maiden.
If played on a 10x10 board then the only difference to the rules of the 10x8 board is the initial move of the Forester who then has an additional option of moving three squares as well as the usual one or two. The en-passant rules and logic also apply to this additional optional move. Sometimes a 10x10 board would be played at the very highest level but the 10x8 board would generally be preferable.
Game variation - Crossfire
Crossfire is effectively the playing of Capablanca chess against Storm and the Capablanca pieces (dwellers) are also effectively deployed as in Capablanca chess. The Capablanca pieces are at a material disadvantage since the Precedent and the Adviser are not as powerful as the Northern Prince and the Northern Princess. There are however two advantages for the Capablanca pieces to offset this: firstly is that the Capablanca pieces are always south in any meaningful game or tournaments or matches or suchlike and so always move first and secondly the Northern Princess is the only major piece in the game that cannot force checkmate with the lone help of the Queen against a lone Queen – the Adviser of the Capablanca pieces can. Notwithstanding this Crossfire is tactically complex enough to offer enough scope for possible winning chances to either side and games may be even more tactically complex than Storm. Note that with Crossfire, as with Storm, the Southern King is forceful as also is his Precedent and his Adviser unlike the Southern Prince and Southern Princess in Storm.
The player with the Capablanca pieces is described as having the Precedent and Adviser.
This is as for Storm.
This is as for Storm.
Crossfire Board for the Southern Dwellers at commencement
Note that the Northern Dwellers are deployed as shown for Storm.....and that below is also the commencing deployment and pieces for Capablanca chess where played in Steps (in Capablanca chess North has the same pieces directly opposite this, e.g. the Queen is on the e file, the Adviser is on the h file etc. - all pieces in Capablanca chess are forceful).
Rules to crossfire
The rules are nearly the same as for Storm and so mostly only differences are given as follows:
As shown on the board at commencement the deployment patterns have some differences. The only pieces (but see Foresters below) that differ from Storm are the Precedent and the Adviser whose moves, as per Western chess comparisons, are as follows:
The Precedent – he can move both as can a Rook or a Knight.
The Adviser – she can move both as can a Bishop or a Knight.
Foresters only differ in some promotion choices i.e. they can be exchanged (they actually free them) for a captured Precedent or Adviser (as well as a fellow captured King), otherwise their choices are the same as for Storm.
Further Rules and Notes to Crossfire
The notes on the two board variations (tagged as 10x8 or 10x10) given in the introduction for Storm also apply to Crossfire.
The notes of Storm including that on the board variation also apply to Crossfire.
The following is a somewhat subjective ranking with values of the most powerful pieces in Storm/Crossfire* – values are shown with the usual provisos
Both sides: King = 9
North: Prince = 10
North: Princess = 8
South: Precedent = 8
South: Adviser = 7
The material advantage of the Storm pieces (the Prince and the Princess) over the Capablanca pieces (the Precedent and the Adviser) can be seen here and one of their advantages is that they can attack along the board into the opposing position whilst being shielded (the commencing position shows this with Foresters) whereas the Precedent and the Adviser (or the King) cannot do this without leaving a line of attack open against themselves - Foresters and other dwellers readily give this protection to their Prince and Princess for they know that when necessary they will leap over them to take up the forefront of a perilous and critical or pivotal situation, and after ensuring the safety of his Queen the King will join them.
The King is the only one of these pieces with no leaping abilities but later on in a game when the board becomes more open he may become the most powerful piece due to the many squares his lines of attack can cover when they are not blocked.
With her leaping abilities and four forward lines of attack the Princess may well be as powerful as even the King in the opening and middle game but, as stated earlier, she cannot force Checkmate (with just both Queens also on the board) as can all these other pieces.
Various possible exchanges of the powerful pieces listed above can lead to a number of different asymmetrical combinations of these pieces opposing each other in Crossfire (and Storm and also Capablanca chess), and some players find such asymmetry gives interesting scope to a game; also these exchanges can sometimes lead to a game with some resemblance to Western chess, particularly on a 10x8 board and (contrastingly with symmetry) with King v King of the powerful pieces, and so Western chess is not entirely lost with these games.
The King, Precedent and Adviser can be thought of as having a lateral combination of moves, whilst the Prince and Princess can be thought of as having a vertical combination of moves.
*There are some other Storm pieces and their moves mentioned in Further pieces in Further thoughts and these include the Storm Emperor (who is northern and forceful), and I would think his value to be in excess of 15, perhaps by some amount – he has six forward lines of attack combined with leaping abilities, but he does not currently appear in any Steps games…..also mentioned here are some (representationally) mythological pieces with the most powerful being the Ice Dragon – I can only imagine his value, if he is unrestricted, to be 25 and perhaps considerably more – he also does not currently appear in any Steps games, but brief details are given in Further pieces of a game that he does appear in…..if however they were to appear in Steps the diagram below shows their moves/captures if on the centre of a 9x9 board – the Emperor covers more squares than the Dragon but other than his leaping squares he can be blocked whereas the Dragon cannot be blocked on any of his squares, and were he to replace the Southern King in a game of Western chess for example he could deliver checkmate on the very first move by 1. Dragon a5 or h4 Checkmate…...their moves do not overlap at all and they would be exceptionally complementary – when they are together that is – but for this to happen the Emperor would have to fly the Dragon…..and perhaps one day he will…..
The above scheme could perhaps be used for a number of Steps pieces, and if so might be named the Steps Move or Moving Scheme where the darker green would also be used for jumping squares and the lighter green shown as moving is actually for sliding, though I’ve called it moving here - as an example the Khan of Meridian would have the above blue (rare) flying squares of the Dragon shown in the light green sliding (moving) colour plus the dark green leaping squares shown above…..the colours are meant more as representational than artistic - blue for the sky and green for terrain, whilst water would be shown as dark blue.
The tables below show the possible Line-ups of the Storm games where each side has only one of the powerful pieces:
It has been said that the Precedent and Adviser of Capablanca chess are the two most popular variant pieces (those outside of Western chess) but though they have been known by several names they were not called this by Jose Capablanca - or anyone else so far as I know.....below are shown Staunton type pieces of this more recent Chess game for these two pieces with the taller being the Precedent.....
.....But these may be more suited as a design for the Prince (the taller) and the Princess, and in this case a suitable design for the Precedent and Adviser will be required - and although not stated so in the information table Staunton pieces may at times be acceptable for playing the Storm games, but not the Gothic piece variation as this is for the LancerChess games only.
In all variations individual pieces are usually referred to as Northern or Southern but Orange or White is allowed and in addition and also in all variations the Northern/Orange (but not the Southern/White) King, Queen, Prince and Princess can be referred to as the Storm.....e.g. the Storm King or the Storm Princess etc. - thus by referring to e.g. 'the Storm Prince' this would specifically mean the Northern/Orange Prince but by referring to 'the prince of the game storm' this would be a general reference to either piece, but see Further thoughts - Name changes etc
Players in all variations are usually referred to as the Northern Guardian or the Southern Guardian but Orange Guardian or White Guardian is allowed as is simply North or South or simply Orange or White.
The games of Storm and Crossfire and the two board variations can be combined into a single procedure of choosing for tournaments, matches or social or exhibition play or suchlike. The procedure for deciding what is to be played is that the host organiser or player sets the board upmost to 10x8 squares or 10x10 squares to decide the board variation (the board can be two sided) and then the guest player chooses the Storm or Crossfire pieces to decide the game variation – sides are decided as shown in the Information table. Choosing in reverse order is also possible.
The southern dwellers of the Emerald forest have, unlike the northern dwellers, chosen their form of rule to include a formal Precedent and Adviser and the positional order of those with executive authority/powers is:
The northern dwellers of the Emerald forest do not have a formal Precedent or Adviser and their positional order of those with executive authority/powers is:
Examples of types of checks and tactics
Below are shown two examples of the types of checks and related tactics that can occur in Storm/Crossfire with the Prince and Princess – both are on a 10x10 board and only show a few relevant pieces (Foresters are not shown, but some would likely be on the board).....the images are not as representational as I would like, but they will suffice for the basic examples that these are intended to be
In the first example above.....if North plays his Princess to d4 or e3 we have the usual (discovered) non-blockable double check that occurs in Western chess, Capablanca chess etc. and the Queen must move since it is not possible for both the checking pieces to be taken captive or blocked, and in both instances the Princess also forks the Adviser on f1 and can take her captive after the Queen moves.....if North instead plays his Princess to g7 or h6 however there is a blockable double check that does not occur in Western or Capablanca chess etc, e.g. if North plays his Princess to g7 and South plays his Knight to d3 the checks from both the Princess and the Service-maiden are blocked (though the checks could not both be stopped by either the Princess or the Service-maiden being taken captive even if the position were such) – a further point here is that the blocking Knight is now double pinned by both the Princess and the Service-maiden (though he is defended by South's Adviser and his Queen) and the taking captive of either one of these Northern pieces (again, were the position such) would still leave the Knight pinned by the other one, and this is another situation that does not occur in Western or Capablanca chess etc.....the usual discovered check can also be played here by e.g. Princess to g3 attacking the Adviser and giving a discovered check from the Service-maiden - South can move his Adviser to d3 away from the attack of the Princess and block the check, but the pin on the Adviser from the Service-maiden leaves the Adviser able to be taken captive.
In the second example above.....if North plays his Knight to f4 or h4 we have a triple check with the Prince and the Siege tower also giving check in addition to the Knight – a further situation that does not occur in Western or Capablanca chess etc, and South cannot block all these checks or capture all these pieces and so the Queen must move, and if North’s Knight is played to f4 he also forks the Precedent on d3 and can take him captive on the next move.....there is also another situation that does not occur in Western or Capablanca chess etc, namely a blockable double check involving three pieces (only two were involved in the first example), e.g. Knight to e5 attacking the Precedent with a blockable double check from the Prince and the Siege tower - the Precedent can move away from the Knight’s attack to g3 and block both checks but is then double pinned by the Prince and the Siege tower and can be taken captive next move, though he is defended by South’s knight on h1 and his Service-maiden on e1 as well as his Queen.
The above two examples are only intended to give an introduction to the tactical possibilities of the Storm set of games, but hopefully they give an idea of the potential scope these games can give in this regard, and there are many others that can occur involving various discovered attacks, forks, pins and skewers and so forth.
A Chess Set finishes but
Steps along the way of Chess continues with
Shaye-Alexander Ellis Nicholls of Rhun, Merridonia
Sunday, 8th January 2023
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By Glenn Nicholls.
Last revised by Glenn Nicholls.
Web page created: 2018-03-14. Web page last updated: 2018-03-14