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Pole Chess


The board and initial setup are the same as in usual chess.


Pole Chess adds one piece to the armies of usual chess, called a Pole. Each player has one Pole (Anthony says its form resembles a barbershop pole), which is off the board at the start of the game.


All rules are as for usual chess, except the rules concerning the Pole. On any turn, in place of making any other move, a player may drop his Pole into any vacant square. The game proceeds as usual except that the Pole normally cannot be captured (but see the following paragraph), nor can any sliding piece move through the square the Pole occupies. The Pole itself can be moved, on the player's turn, to any vacant square; it can never capture any piece.

Anthony hints that there is another rule that allows a Pole to be captured in extremely unusual circumstances, but he doesn't describe what those circumstances are.


The natural assumption is that Pole Chess would be even more drawish than usual chess; however, I've written a ZRF for Pole Chess and had Zillions play against itself several times, and it seems to reach checkmate fairly often. Only extensive human testing would settle the question of how drawish Pole Chess is.

I would hope, though, that the mysterious Pole-capturing rule would somehow address the difficulty of forcing checkmate when any single-pronged mating attacks from a distance can be blocked by a Pole, though I can't imagine what the rule would be. Perhaps the readers of this page can make suggestions. It would be interesting to know whether Piers Anthony himself has played this game with his friends, and if so, whether he really has a clear Pole-capturing rule already in mind, and simply didn't find a good place in his novel for describing it.

I thought the tactics that Zillions found for using the Pole were sometimes interesting.

A board situation of one of these games at move 60: White has King c1, Pole c5, Knight c6, Pawns at e5, f4, and h3, Queen h6; Black has Rook a2, Pole b6, King c4, Bishop f5.

60. e6 Pole e7 61. Pole g4 Be4 62. Ne5+ Kc3 63. Qh8 Kd4 64. Pole c2 Ra4 65. Qd8+ Bd5 66. Qb6 Ke4 67. Ng4 Rd4 68. Qc5 Ba2 69. Qe5 Kd3 70. Kb2 Rd5 71. Qe3 Kc4 72. Ne5 Kb5 73. Kxa2 Ka6 74. f5 Rb5 75. f6 Ra5 76. Pole a4 Pole e8 77. f7 Rxe5 78. Qd3 Rb5 79. f8=Q Ka5 80. Qf4 Rc5 81. e7 Rb5 82. Qc7 Ka6 83. Qc6 Ka7 84. Qd3xb5 Pole b6 85. Qa5 Kb8 86. Qa5-a8#

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Author: Mark Thompson. Inventor: Piers Anthony.
Web page created: 2005-04-30. Web page last updated: 2005-04-30