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The Chess Variant Pages

Zonal Chess

Zonal chess is a variant published in 1970 by Check Mate Game Corporation under the endorsement of Grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky. It is played on a normal board flanked by two additional playing areas on either side. These areas - termed "zonal areas," hence the name "Zonal Chess" - confer special powers of movements on rider pieces. Any rider - in a normal game, a queen, bishop, or rook, although the rule would apply to any other rider if other unorthodox riders were being used - beginning a move in a zonal area may change direction and keep on moving in one move so long as they remain in the zonal area. Pieces moving outside the zonal areas cannot change direction once they leave the zonal area, even if they re-enter the other zonal area. Thus, a rook starting from a zonal square may make several turns in a move to dodge friendly or hostile pieces and then zoom across the board to the other zone. But it could not move into the other zone and then execute a turn. Remember, a rider must begin a move in a zonal area to gain the extra movement - it cannot make turns on the entering move, it must come to rest normally and gains its turning power on the next move.

The extended powers of movement do not apply to the normal chessboard between the areas, nor to the special squares, marked "Z" on the board, which are considered to be part of the normal board, not the zonal area. Pieces have no special powers moving from these squares.

One additional pawn is provided to each flank to protect the rooks from attack from a bishop in the zone. A queen in the zone cannot slip past this pawn to capture the rook either since it is also protected by the "Z" square which would prohibit a turn, forcing the marauding queen to stop for a move and leaving her open to attack from the rook. These pawns move normally and promote normally upon reaching the opposite rank. Should any pawns capture further into the zonal area, they may promote upon reaching the end rank for that column.

Zonal Chess




Written by Larry Smith.
WWW page created: February 25, 1999.