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This page is written by the game's inventor, Mark Hedden.



Strange chess is my fourth major chess variant. It is based on my love of pieces that use the board or interact with other pieces differently from regular chess pieces. So, a 'strange chess' variant can loosely be defined as "A chess variant where many of the pieces use the board or interact with other pieces in a way differently from those in regular Chess."


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WHITE: Rook, a1, L1; Bacteria, b1, k1; Halfer, c1, j1; Knight, d1, i1; Bishop, e1, j1; Queen, f1; King, g1; Digger, b2, k2; Stone, c2, d2, i2, j2; Wall, f2-g2; Magician, f3, g3; Pawns, a3, b3, c3, d3, e3, f4, g4, h3, i3, j3, k3, l3

BLACK: Rook, a12, L12; Bacteria, b12, k12; Halfer, c12, j12; Knight, d12, i12; Bishop, e12, j12; Queen, f12; King, g12; Digger, b11, k11; Stone, c11, d11, i11, j11; Wall, f11-g11; Magician, f10, g10; Pawns, a10, b10, c10, d10, e10, f9, g9, h10, i10, j10, k10, l10


The rook, bishop, king, queen, and the pawns are all the same as in regular chess. However, the other pieces, um, aren't.

Wall: The wall is an interesting piece from one of my other chess variant, Ganymede Chess. Its move is the same as a rook, but that's not the feature of it that makes it unusual. You see, the wall takes up two squares. This makes it a wonderfully unusual piece. It starts out taking up two squares horizontally next to each other, but it can rotate to take up to squares vertically next to each other. But it can NEVER take up two spaces diagonally. And, before you ask, yes it can take two pieces in the same turn. Remember, however, that it is easier to take than most other pieces, because it can be more easily threatened. However, after some practice, you should start to get used to it. Personally, this is among my favorite pieces, although you may think otherwise.

Bacteria: The bacteria is another piece that I took from one of my other chess variants, Microorganism chess. The bacteria begins a piece by moving as either a knight or a king. However, after it takes a piece, it gains the ability to move like that piece. And, if you're wondering, if it takes a wall, it does not grow to 2 squares. However, if it takes another bacteria, it can move like all the pieces the other bacteria has captured, as well. As you can see, it has the potential to grow very powerful, but it also can stay weak, too.

Magician: The magician is a weird piece that I have seen in other chess variants, although I forget which one. I think there was one called Magician Chess, but I forget. Please inform me if you remember! The magician moves and captures like a king or a (2,0) jumper, but it has one special power: It can "move" any unoccupied square in a two square radius around it to an area that currently has no square occupying it. So, if there is a magician on b5, and an empty square (left by another magician) on d9, then the b5 magician can teleport the unoccupied square a6 to d9. Get it? If not, e-mail me at (email removed contact us for address), or else try to find a better description elsewhere.

Digger: The digger is a very weird piece. It moves as does an ordinary bishop, but it "digs" underground to get to its target space, ignoring anything in it's path, EXCEPT for "non-squares" left by magicians. Also, for two turns after it's move, other pieces of the same side can move two squares down the tunnel it left, before having to go up onto the surface again. As you can see, these pieces can assist in creating quick attacks against the enemy. I'd say they're worth about as much as a rook.

Stone: The stone is among the most normal of the new pieces in Strange Chess, but that's not saying very much. They move one space in any direction, like a king, but they capture differently from any piece. A stone captures when it and another piece are one square away from a piece, and are on exactly opposite sides of the piece. For example, in the following diagram, white's d2 stone can capture black's magician by moving to d3, or white's b3 stone can capture the magician by moving to b4.

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These pieces aren't incredibly powerful, as you can see, but they are good at defending key squares, making them excellent defensive piece.

Halfer: The halfer is among the weirdest pieces that I have ever created. After I created the Wall for Ganymede Chess, I started thinking about pieces that don't take up one square. At first, I thought mainly about big pieces, and I'm planning on making some variants with some REALLY big pieces as soon as I work out their details. However, my thoughts soon turned to pieces that take up less then one square. Soon, the Halfer was born. The halfer is a piece that takes up exactly 1/2 of a square. It moves like either a knight or a (3,1) jumper. However, it can share a square with a friendly piece or with another halfer of another color. To capture any piece, including other halfers, the halfer moves to the square of an enemy piece. Then, for two turns, they are both immobile, but after the two turns are done, the captured enemy piece is removed from the board. But, if another enemy piece takes that square before the halfer is done capturing the enemy piece, then the halfer is captured, and one of the two enemy pieces are placed on one of the squares immediately around the square the halfer was on. However, if your opponent attempts to capture one of your halfer, then his piece must go through the laborious two-move wait. These rules make the halfer harder to capture, and harder to get captured. Also, the two-move rule does NOT apply to check and checkmate with Halfers. As you can see, halfers are truly the opposite of Walls. Walls take up more than one square, and capture other pieces easier, but are also easier to capture. Halfers take up less then one square, and are harder to capture, but it is also harder for them to capture other pieces. It makes for a wonderful game. Wall vs. Halfer is kinda like Bishop vs. Knight, with the bishop being faster and easier to use on the offense, but the knight being sneakier and harder to easily attack. OK, I'll stop rambling now. Of course, halfers are... (Mark gets shot with a tranquilizer here.)


Castling works in the following way: If the space between the king and rook is vacant, neither has moved yet, and the king is not in check, then the king moves to the square that Bacteria start out at, and the rook moves to the square just beyond the King. This is so King and Queen side castling are equal in there usefulness. Pawns move like normal pawns, but on their first move, they can move up to the half-way mark.


I purposefully made the opening setup very inconvenient for you. For example, Magicians and Walls do not work well in the opening, but they are in places were it is very easy to get them out, and where they almost have to be gotten out quickly because they block a lot of other pieces. The exception to this is the Diggers and the Halfers, because of the fact that they can't really be blocked and any starting place is fine by them. Also, stones are going to take a while longer to get out then you'd like, because they're such good defenders. All these factors mean that you really need to apply a lot of calculation and thought to even the first few moves of the game.


Thanks for reading this variant. Questions/comments, whatever, can be e-mailed to (email removed contact us for address), and will be greatly appreciated, I assure you.

Written by Mark E Hedden.
WWW page created: January 3, 2000.