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The Chess Variant Pages



This page is written by the game's inventor, Aurelian Florea. This game is a favorite of its inventor.

Grand Apothecary Chess-Alert

This game is part of the apothecary series, a series of games created by myself with the purpose of finding new ideas in chess and habituating people with progressivelly larger boards. Unlike earlier versions this game it does not wish to be a replacement of regular chess for advanced players.

Setup

The board is 12x12 with 8 brouhaha squares. The ranks are numbered (0),1,2,3,...,11,12,(13) with the parentheses standing for brouhaha squares only. There are in total 576 initial possible setups. For the purpose of explaining the initial setup pieces are split into 7 categories:

  1. The king - the royal piece of the game. Always starts on  g1 for white and g12 for black.
  2. The regular pawns almost fill up rank 3 for white and rank 10 for black. The exception are the the a and l files where regular pawns are placed on the fourth rank.There are also 2 pawns on rank 4 on the f and g files.
  3. The berolina pawns occupy the fields a3,l3,c4 and j4 for white, respectively a10,l10,c9 and j9 for black.
  4. The main board fixed pieces. They are four rooks at a2,b1,l2 and k1 and two cannons at a1 and l1 for white. For black four rooks at a1,b12,l11 and k12 and two cannons at a12 and l12.
  5. On the brouhaha squares there are two jokers at e0 and h0 for white and respectively e13 and a13 for black. Also on the brouhaha squares at f0 and g0 and respectively at f13 and g13 there are two ospreys for each player.
  6. The fields e1,f1,h1 for white and e12,f12,h12 for black are designated as the back rank heavy piece area and are occupied in the initial position at random by a queen, an unicorn and a varan for each respective player. That leads to 6 possibilities.
  7. The fields f2,g2 for white and f11,g11 for black are designated are designated as the front rank heavy piece area and are occupied in the initial position at random by a mortar and a Valkyrie.There are 2 possibilities. 
  8. The fields c1 and d1 are occupied randomly by a knightrider and a warlock for white. Also for white a warlock and  a knightrider are placed symmetrically on i1 and j1. In the same way said pieces are placed for black on c12,d12,i12 and j12. There are again 2 possibilities.
  9. At rank 2 for white and 11 for black between files b and e and h and k inclusively lies the area where the light pieces are. They are arranged in pair symmetrical to the middle of the rank. There are 4 such pieces which are arranged randomly on the right side and then symmetrically on the left side of the rank. These pieces are: the bishop, the vulture, the knight, and the kangaroo.This leads to 24 possibilities..

  That means that in total there are 576 possible initial positions. One sample is shown below.

Pieces

files=12 ranks=14 symmetry=none holdingsType=1 promoZone=4 promoChoice=!P!X*N*B*L*E*Z*R3*Y3*F3*J3*V2*Q2*U2*I2*M2 graphicsDir=../graphics.dir/alfaerie/ whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=gif squareSize=54 hole::::a1-l1,,a14-l14 pawn:P:mfW*fceF:pawn:b4-k4,f5,g5,a5,l5,,b11-k11,f10,g10,a10,l10 berolina:X:mfF*fceW:berolinapawn:a4,l4,c5,j5,,a11,l11,c10,j10 king:K:KisO3isO4isjO2isjO3:king:g2,,g13 rook::::a3,l3,b2,k2,,a12,l12,b13,k13:1 queen::::f2,,f13:1 bishop:B:B:bishop:c3,j3,,c12,j12:2 knight:N:NmL:knight:b3,k3,,b12,k12:1 kangaroo:G:HFD:kangaroo:e3,h3,,e12,h12:1 warlock:W:WZ:/graphics.dir/alfaeriemisc/compounds/%zebrawazir:d2,i2,,d13,i13 cannon:Z:mRcpR:cannon:a2,l2,,a13,l13 knightrider:Y:NN:nightrider:c2,j2,,c13,j13:1 osprey:O:DmpafyafsW:bird2:f1,g1,,f14,g14 vulture:F:afafafsKafsafafKafafraflKafaflafrKafraflafKaflafrafKmH:bird:d3,i3,,d12,i12 joker:J:fI:fool:e1,h1,,e14,h14 Valkyrie:I:BmHafafafsKafsafafKafafraflKafaflafrKafraflafKaflafrafKmH:pegasus:f3,,f12 Mortar:M:RpcRF:tank:g3,,g12 Varan:V:RNN:chancellorrider:h2,,h13 Unicorn:U:BNN:cardinalrider:e2,,e13 symmetry=mirror shuffle=:B:N:G:F,QVU,IM,:W:Y maxPromote=2 royal=3

The King moves like an orthodox chess King and it is the royal piece of this game.

The Pawn moves like an orthodox pawn. It can promote at the furthest 3 ranks for each player. On the rank closest to the player it promotes to either bishop, knight, cannon,  kangaroo or warlock. On the next rank the pawn can also promote to rook, joker, knightrider, vulture or osprey. At the furthest rank the pawn may also promote to queen, Varan, unicorn, mortar, Valkyrie. Also, in order to promote, the player must have the required piece in reserve. In reserve enter all lost pieces by the player allong with (from the beginning of the game) 1 queen, 1 rook, 1 knightrider, 2 bishops, 1 knight and 1 kangaroo.

The Berolina Pawn is a reverted pawn that moves to the 2 forward fields and caputures ahead. Promotion rules are the same as with the regular pawn.

The Queen  is an orthodox chess queen.

The Varan is a knightrider+rook compound piece.

The unicorn is a knightrider+ bishop compound piece.

The mortar is a Rook+Chinese Cannon+ferz compound piece.

The Valkyrie is a bishop+ vulture compound piece (the vulture is a 41&43 path mover which can also jump 3 squarez orthogonally without capturing).

The rook is an orthodox chess rook.

The knightrider is a knight that may continue by repeating the first move.

The joker does not  have a move of it's own. Instead it copies the last move of the opponent.

The osprey is a bent rider. Starts as a dabbabah and then continues towards outside like a bishop.

The cannon is the cannon from Xiangqi. It moves like a rook but captures by hoping over a piece called platform.

The bishop is a regular chess bishop.

The Vulture is a path mover akin to the falcon piece in falcon chess, but it's destinations are the 41&43 squares away from the piece. It may also jump withouth capturing 3 squarez orthogonally.

The knight moves and captures like a regular knight but it can also move (but not capture) with a camel (3,1) leap

The kangaroo step one step diagonally or jumps 2 or 3 steps orthogonally.

The Warlock steps one step orthogonally or jumps like a zebra (3,2). .

Rules

By far the main difference between the rules of classic chess and the rules of grand apothecary chess-alert is that grand apothecary chess-alert has five instead of three possible outcomes:

1. win - obtained through checkmating your opponent which worths 1 tournament point
2. advantage - obtained through stalemating your opponent or having at least 4 extra points in the points counting process (see bellow); worths 0.75 tournament points
3. draw - obtained through double bare kings or through having at most 3 ahead points in the points counting process (see bellow); worths 0.5 tournament points
4. disadvantage- when your opponent finishes at an advantage; still worths 0.25 tournament points
5. loss - you got checkmated
At any time players may give up (loss) or convene at a draw or advantage/disadvantage.

Point count occurs in two situations:
1. The 150 moves rule takes charge (akin to the 50th moves rule of orthodox chess but after 150 moves) i.e. 150 moves have taken place and no captures or pawn pushes happened.
2. An position has been repeated three times.

With the purpose of explaining the points count pieces are split into 5 categories:

1.Heavy Pieces: Queen, Varan, Unicorn, Mortar and Valkyrie - they worth 9 points in the points count.

2.Average Pieces: Vulture, Rook, Knightrider and Osprey- they worth 6 points in the points count

3.The joker - worth 5 points if the opponent has exactly more heavy pieces than non-heavy pieces, 4 points otherwise

4. Light pieces: Bishop, Knight, Cannon, Warlock and Kangaroo - they worth 3 points in the points count

5.  Pawns: Regular Pawns and berolina pawns- they worth 1 point in the points count

In this game there are 4 different castling moves for each side of the king.

1. Long Rook Castling- King slides 3 squares on the bottom rank and the rook jumps imideatly on the other side of the king

2. Short Rook Castling- King slides 2 squares on the bottom rank and the rook jumps imideatly on the other side of the king

3. Long Cannon Castling- King slides 4 squares on the bottom rank and the cannon jumps imideatly on the other side of the king

4. Short Cannon Castling- King Slides 3 sqaures on the bottom rank and the cannon jumps imideatly on the other side of the king

The usual castling restrictions apply.

The en passant rule is as usual only that pawns may move an arbirary number of squares until the middle of the board. The 50 moves rule becomes a 150 moves rule. The brouhaha sqares disapear after they have been vacated. Captures may happen on the brouhaha squares and that preserves them.

At the beginning of the game the joker does not inherit any move because there have not been any moves. That means white cannot move it's joker at the first move. Black may imitate the move made in the same turn on it's first move.

A joker imitating a pawn has only the regular moves, no double step, no enpassant and no promotion even if that pawn has promoted the last move.

Notes

When beginning the design of this game I wanted the piece to fall clearly into 3 categories light, average and heavy with respect with there importance in exchanges. This was done in the previous 10x10 apothecary games to favor dynamically balanced endgames (meaning equal endgames where the material is different, example from chess: B+2P vs R and other things that are the same). Now at the end of creating the 12x12 game I don't see why was that a priority because in a such large game it is very unlikely to have rook and pawns endgames. But the did is already done and lessons will be used in the design of future variants. The light and average pieces were also (with exceptions) selected do be as different as possible. The heavy pieces less so as I considered that each set of stronger piece would give the game the name as in my 10x10 games. I don't know if this was a happy choice also. And that is it with my self criticism. From now on I'll explain why each piece type was considered.

The bishop and the rooks where not changed themselves as they are considered by me to be emblematic pieces that needed to be in the game. Moreover the rooks receive 4 spots for being such right pieces for chess. So this game has four rooks. I could not do that for bishops also as there was just not enough space.

The knight if left just with it's usual powers loses strength to the bishop. As I wished for the two to be as strong I had enhanced the knight with just move powers (just move so that it's flavor it's not lost). In this game the just move ability is camel meaning the full piece in Betza is written NmL. This enhancement I used the first time in this game and it works well here as there is no camel power piece. But due to the fact that a knight can reach the camel squares in two moves anyway and the camel move does not provide such a good cover over the fields around the knight, this is the weakest and the less fortunate of the three enhancements in the three grand apothecary games.

The two pure leapers of the game are the Lyon (FDH) and the warlock (ZW). As all the leapers in the grand apothecary games these are one piece with two leaps on four direction and one in other four direction (the Lyon) and a piece with half the king's moves and some elongated knight move (the warlock) . The pure leapers are seen by me as a natural inclusion in the game.

Not much I find there is to be said about the cannon. It is the Chinese chess piece in a western environment. It is a different concept (a hopper) from the other pieces of similar strength (bishop, knight and pure leapers). I chose it because by being visibly different it adds flavor to the game.

I thought the nightrider to also be a natural addition to the game, for a rook strength (average) piece, but it seems in the end it is to much of a trouble maker. I kept it though in the final version in an attempt to try to see if it works out. Anyway I'm working on 12x12 games where it will most likely not be present. To reach a rook strength piece maybe a maorider compound with something weak (like a ferz) is better.

The vulture takes it's concept from falcon chess where the falcon is a 31&32 destination path mover. The vulture (name proposed by HG Muller) is a 41&43 destination path mover in the same way. My idea was that the falcon is a long path mover (with paths longer than a knight jump) of approximate (a bit stronger) rook strength. I wanted something similar. This game already has leapers that leap 3 and something squares away so I went for a 4 and something destination path mover. The vulture is weaker than a falcon because it can be blocked on more occasions, and also because it's longer destinations (although this is undone by the larger board) and so I decided to add a leaping non-capture move to ease the vulture movement and opening development without affecting it's already tremendous forking power. So in this game I have added a just move threeleaper jump. Why 41&43 destination path mover and not a plain 41&43 leaper, as the leaper would be easier to view. Well, the ability to block the piece makes the game more strategic than tactical as players need to open up lines before using the forking power of the vulture. There are also enough leapers and I prefer leapers to stay in the light pieces groups so that their forks of stronger pieces (even if defended matters). To me rook strength pieces and above, need to be able to be blocked as they enter later in the game anyway, they can fork less defended pieces, and must (to be useful) fork undefended pieces. So a strong leaper (and stronger than an equivalent path mover) seems a contradiction. As the leaping part is designed to fork as much as possible and the strong part is usually related with forcing issues on the board and delivering checkmate.

As (we will see a bit later) I proposed that this game should not have heavy bend riders, but as I observed that bend riders are quite popular (at least in my apothecary games) when I have decided to add two more pieces to the brouhaha squares and introduce a rook strength bend rider, I went for the osprey. The osprey as a colorbound rider is also something different in the rook strength neighborhood making it a nice addition to the game.

As I had said earlier I wanted that this game should not have bent rider strong pieces (as my apothecary chess classic game). So I had chose as two of the heavy pieces the unicorn (BNN) and the varan (RNN- or Komodo Dragon). The unicorn is a piece of exactly queen strength which makes it a very good candidate for the position. The varan is a very strong piece which I worry it unbalances the game. This is probably why I had not seen it in many games.

So I needed two more heavy pieces that are not bent riders. I had put a lot of thought in this not knowing even now how good the result is. I have chosen a vulture bishop compound that I named Valkyrie and a cannon,rook and ferz compound that I named mortar.

When beginning the design of this game I wanted the piece to fall clearly into 3 categories light, average and heavy with respect with there importance in exchanges. This was done in the previous 10x10 apothecary games to favor dynamically balanced endgames (meaning equal endgames where the material is different, example from chess: B+2P vs R and other things that are the same). Now at the end of creating the 12x12 game I don't see why was that a priority because in a such large game it is very unlikely to have rook and pawns endgames. But the did is already done and lessons will be used in the design of future variants. The light and average pieces were also (with exceptions) selected do be as different as possible. The heavy pieces less so as I considered that each set of stronger piece would give the game the name as in my 10x10 games. I don't know if this was a happy choice also. And that is it with my self criticism. From now on I'll explain why each piece type was considered.

The bishop and the rooks where not changed themselves as they are considered by me to be emblematic pieces that needed to be in the game. Moreover the rooks receive 4 spots for being such right pieces for chess. So this game has four rooks. I could not do that for bishops also as there was just not enough space.

The knight if left just with it's usual powers loses strength to the bishop. As I wished for the two to be as strong I had enhanced the knight with just move powers (just move so that it's flavor it's not lost). In this game the just move ability is camel meaning the full piece in Betza is written NmL. This enhancement I used the first time in this game and it works well here as there is no camel power piece. But due to the fact that a knight can reach the camel squares in two moves anyway and the camel move does not provide such a good cover over the fields around the knight, this is the weakest and the less fortunate of the three enhancements in the three grand apothecary games.

The two pure leapers of the game are the Lyon (FDH) and the warlock (ZW). As all the leapers in the grand apothecary games these are one piece with two leaps on four direction and one in other four direction (the Lyon) and a piece with half the king's moves and some elongated knight move (the warlock) . The pure leapers are seen by me as a natural inclusion in the game.

Not much I find there is to be said about the cannon. It is the Chinese chess piece in a western environment. It is a different concept (a hopper) from the other pieces of similar strength (bishop, knight and pure leapers). I chose it because by being visibly different it adds flavor to the game.

I thought the nightrider to also be a natural addition to the game, for a rook strength (average) piece, but it seems in the end it is to much of a trouble maker. I kept it though in the final version in an attempt to try to see if it works out. Anyway I'm working on 12x12 games where it will most likely not be present. To reach a rook strength piece maybe a maorider compound with something weak (like a ferz) is better.

The vulture takes it's concept from falcon chess where the falcon is a 31&32 destination path mover. The vulture (name proposed by HG Muller) is a 41&43 destination path mover in the same way. My idea was that the falcon is a long path mover (with paths longer than a knight jump) of approximate (a bit stronger) rook strength. I wanted something similar. This game already has leapers that leap 3 and something squares away so I went for a 4 and something destination path mover. The vulture is weaker than a falcon because it can be blocked on more occasions, and also because it's longer destinations (although this is undone by the larger board) and so I decided to add a leaping non-capture move to ease the vulture movement and opening development without affecting it's already tremendous forking power. So in this game I have added a just move threeleaper jump. Why 41&43 destination path mover and not a plain 41&43 leaper, as the leaper would be easier to view. Well, the ability to block the piece makes the game more strategic than tactical as players need to open up lines before using the forking power of the vulture. There are also enough leapers and I prefer leapers to stay in the light pieces groups so that their forks of stronger pieces (even if defended matters). To me rook strength pieces and above, need to be able to be blocked as they enter later in the game anyway, they can fork less defended pieces, and must (to be useful) fork undefended pieces. So a strong leaper (and stronger than an equivalent path mover) seems a contradiction. As the leaping part is designed to fork as much as possible and the strong part is usually related with forcing issues on the board and delivering checkmate.

As (we will see a bit later) I proposed that this game should not have heavy bend riders, but as I observed that bend riders are quite popular (at least in my apothecary games) when I have decided to add two more pieces to the brouhaha squares and introduce a rook strength bend rider, I went for the osprey. The osprey as a colorbound rider is also something different in the rook strength neighborhood making it a nice addition to the game.

As I had said earlier I wanted that this game should not have bent rider strong pieces (as my apothecary chess classic game). So I had chose as two of the heavy pieces the unicorn (BNN) and the varan (RNN- or Komodo Dragon). The unicorn is a piece of exactly queen strength which makes it a very good candidate for the position. The varan is a very strong piece which I worry it unbalances the game. This is probably why I had not seen it in many games.

So I needed two more heavy pieces that are not bent riders. I had put a lot of thought in this not knowing even now how good the result is. I have chosen a vulture bishop compound that I named Valkyrie and a cannon,rook and ferz compound that I named mortar.



This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.


By Aurelian Florea.

Last revised by Aurelian Florea.


Web page created: 2021-01-29. Web page last updated: 2021-03-29