Hundred Acre Chess
Since A. A. Milne's tales of Winnie the Pooh, and the characters therein, went into the public domain in 2022, I've been pondering doing something with the characters (something better than the horror film Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey). I thought about a simple board game, and finally settled on a chess variant.
The stories' Hundred Acre Woods suggested both the name and the board size. The pieces would be based on the main characters from the books, not the Disney adaptations (which are decidedly not public domain). Christopher Robin would be the King, and about half the others suggested pieces that already existed: Pooh Bear was the Free Bear (see Notes), Kanga and Roo would be the Kangaroo, and Eeyore would be a Donkey. Tigger was originally going to be a piece that I invented called a Springer specifically to represent Tigger's personality (see Notes), but that proved to be too complex for this game so I went with the Tiger. I created the Rabbit on a lark, and realized that it would be perfect for this Rabbit; the Owl was also a spontaneous creation that seemed just right for the stories' Owl. Besides the Springer, the only piece I created specifically for this game was the Piglet Pawn.
The fact that there's more than one of nearly everyone on each side, not to mention two identical sides in the battle, is creative license. On the one hand, it's mainly just pieces inspired by the characters. On the other hand, one can imagine a story where some evil wizard manages to duplicate the characters, and set everyone about fighting.
Each side puts the Christopher Robin (the King) in the center of the back row, on the opposing color (White on black and Black on white), and Winnie the Pooh (Free Bear) next to him. From there, the back row moves outward as Rabbit, Owl, Kangaroo, and Tigger (Tiger).
The second row has Eeyore (Donkey) on each end, with Piglet Pawns filling up the rest.
The pieces are as follows:
King (Christopher Robin): Moves and behaves like a normal King.
Free Bear (Winnie the Pooh): Moves diagonally like a Bishop, sideways (left or right) like a Rook, or leaping two spaces diagonally forward.
Rabbit: Moves diagonally like a Bishop, or leaps (1,2) like a Knight or (3,4) like an Antelope.
Owl: Moves one square orthogonally, or leaps (1,2), (2,3), (3,4), or (4,5).
Kangaroo (Kanga & Roo): Leaps two spaces diagonally, or like a Knight.
Tiger (Tigger): Makes a (2,3) leap, and then may slide outward diagonally like a Bishop.
Donkey (Eeyore): Moves one space to the left or right, or leaps two spaces forward or back.
Piglet Pawn (Piglet): May move, capturing or not, one space forward diagonally, or move without capturing directly or diagonally backward. For an opening move, may leap two spaces forward diagonally.
Other than the pieces and layout, the standard rules of Chess apply. The King can still Castle with the Tiger using the usual rules. However, since the Piglet Pawns' optional initial move is a leap rather than a slide, en passant is not possible.
Gopher, et al
Gopher is a character exclusive to the Disney adaptations, first appearing in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. For this reason, even though I love the character, he doesn't appear here; he's still under copyright by Disney (and will be for the foreseeable future).
The Bear is an alternative name for the Squirrel, leaping two spaces orthogonally, diagonally, or like a Knight. While a useful piece, it seems unfitting for representing the story's eponymous protagonist. The Free Bear, a historical piece, seemed much more fitting.
The Springer (the piece that I invented initially for Tigger) makes its move by moving to an occupied adjacent space, and then making a Queen's move from there. While fun in its own way, it seemed more complicated than was fitting for this game. If you like it anyway, go ahead and use the Springer instead of the Tiger.
The Tiger comes from Daniel Zacharias's game Tiger Chess, and is the only piece here that's borrowed from a contemporary variant.
Combining the Knight (1,2) and Antelope (3,4) makes the piece called the Impala; thus, the Rabbit can be thought of as a compound of the Bishop with the Impala. It's called the Rabbit because its Betza notation is BNNY (though I have to make it BNYN for the Interactive Diagram, because the interpreter sees the NN as a Nightrider and Y as an unknown atom).
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By Bob Greenwade.
Last revised by Bob Greenwade.
Web page created: 2023-08-24. Web page last updated: 2023-10-22