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This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.

Year of the Pig Variants

My piece article Man and Beast 11: Long-Nosed Generals was subtitled after the English translation of a Chinese euphemism for the pig, which also inspired the Sow and Boar (and in 3 dimensions Piglet) pieces featured in that article and first used in my variant Truffle Hunt Chess. Well in the Chinese Year of the Pig 2007-8 it seemed entirely appropriate to mark it with variants featuring these pieces. Since writing the article I have thought of some analogues, that are to longer-range established pieces what the Sow and Boar are to the Wazir and Ferz.

Since the introduction of the Xiang Qi and Shogi tickboxes I have rarely ticked the plain Oriental one, but as the idea of this one was so rooted in Chinese phraseology I ventured to do so for this page. There is a genuine XQ-based variant among them.


Most variants have basically the same array as the corresponding earlier variant, except that pieces have additional moves, usually longer-range, in forward directions.

SCHWEINFURT COURIER (SFC), named after a German town with a suitably porcine name, has a Courier array but with Hood for Prince (Mann), Sow for Wazir (Schleich), Boar for Ferz, Vicecaliph for Bishop (the eponymous Courier), leaping Elephtrotter for Elephant (Alfil), Nightpig for Knight (Springer), and Vicemarshal for Rook.

SFC DE LA DAMA has a Courier de la Dama array but with the same substitutions, except that as CDLD has no Elephants there is no substitution for that.

SFC KAMIL and SFC ASHTARANGA have Courier Kamil and Courier Ashtaranga arrays with the same substitutions plus Camelpig for Camel and Dabbatrotter for Dabbaba. These can also be extrapolated to a pig version of Exhaustive Ashtaranga.

SFC LEAPALE has a Courier Leapale array but with Hood for Prince, Fiend for Duke, Laird for Baron, Gnupig for Gnu, Oberopig for Oberon, Alibatrotter for Alibaba, Dybbutrotter for Dybbuk, and Elktrotter for Elk.

TAMERSWINE has a Timur's Chess array with the same substitutions.

ELEPHTROTTER QI (ETQ) has a more complex, and asymmetric, version of the Xiang Qi array. Substitutions within the Fortress are King for General, Sow for right Ferz, and Boar for left Ferz. Outside are the more conventional stepping Elephtrotter for Elephant (Xiang), Maopig for Knight (Mao), and Vicemarshal for Rook.

CHOGI (not to be confused with Chogo) has a Shogi array but with Goldsow for Goldgeneral (Kinsho), Silverboar for Silvergeneral (Ginsho), Vicecaliph for Bishop (Kakugyo), and Vicemarshal for Rook (Hisha).

CHO MITREGI has a Mitregi array but with the same substitutions plus, where relevant, Nightpig for Knight and Camelpig for Camel.

CHOLEPHTROTTER (CET) has a Shoxiang array, but with both ETQ and Chogi substitutions.

TUNNELCHOGI uses a Tunnelshogi array substituting Gold-/Brass-sow, Silver-/Steel-boar, and Azure-/Jade-piglet for the generals as well as Vicemarshal for Rook, Viceseliph for Bishop, and Viceleprechaun for Unicorn.


The KING moves one step along any orthogonal or diagonal, and must be kept out of check. It is in all the 2d variants, unchanged from the original except where it is a substitute for the XQ General. The EMPEROR is the corresponding 3d piece, differing in having 26 radials to move one step along.

All forward-only (FO) pieces are, while in unpromoted form, unchanged from the non-pig variant. All references to FO oblique pieces below imply the equal most forward directions only, as in Shogi.

Other one-step pieces are ehanced by the addition of a two-step move in their own forward directions. The SOW is the Wazir's compound with the Dabchick (FO Dabbaba). The BOAR is the Ferz' compound with the Tusk (FO Elephant). The HOOD is the Prince's compound with the Thief (FO Alibaba - the name Hood refers to the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) and can also be seen as Sow+Boar. The FIEND is Sow+Piglet and LAIRD Boar+Piglet (Piglet being the triagonal pig piece). The GOLDSOW and SILVERBOAR, and in 3d the BRASSSOW/STEELBOAR/AZUREPIGLET/JADEPIGLET, have the same two-step move as their unprefixed counterparts. When making a 2-step forward move these pieces can leap pieces in the same group and front-rank pieces, except in ETQ and ETQ-heavy CET where the intermediate square must be empty. They can never leap a King or longer-range piece.

The next shortest-range pieces are enhanced by whatever the next step move in the same direction is. The NIGHTPIG is the Knight's compound with the Calf (FO 4:2 leaper), and first appears in Up and Down Chess, one of my my variants using dice. The CAMELPIG is the Camel's compound with the Canard (FO 6:2 leaper). The GNUPIG is the compound of all four, although on a SFC Leapale board the 6:2 move is notional and can never be made. The OBEROPIG can make any 2:1:1 or 2:2:1 leap and any of the forwardmost 4:2:2 and 4:4:2 ones. All four pieces can be blocked only by a King or long-range piece on the halfway square of their longest moves. The MAOPIG is a Mao that can also make a (blockable) four-step move of which the odd steps are forward orthogonal and the even ones in the same forward diagonal direction. The ELEPHTROTTER is the Elephant's compound with the FO 3:3 leaper. The DABBATROTTER is the Dabbaba's compound with the FO 3:0 leaper. The leaping versions' 3-step move is blocked by two pieces if at least one is a King or long-range piece. The stepping version is blocked by any intervening piece. The ALIBATROTTER is Dabbatrotter+Elephtrotter, the DYBBUTROTTER Dabbatrotter+Eunuctrotter, and ELKTROTTER Elephtrotter+Eunuctrotter, where the Eunuctrotter moves two steps in any triagonal direction or three in the forward ones. The suffix -pig indicates the extra move's length being twice that of the original as with Sow and Boar, the suffix -trotter the extra move's length being in a ratio of three to two to the original.

Simple linepieces already have all the moves in their own directions, albeit in highly blockable form, so in each case I turn to the next-shortest (in terms of an individual step) comparably-bound direction. The VICEMARSHAL is the Rook's compound with the Helm (FO Knight). The VICECALIPH is the Bishop's compound with the Hump (FO Camel). The VICESELIPH is the Bishop's compound with the Shovel (FO Sexton - in 3d the 2:1:1 Sexton has a shorter bound move than the 3:1:0 Camel). The VICELEPRECHAUN is the Unicorn's compound with the Cloak (FO 3:1:1 Elf). The names are of course derived from the symmetric compounds Marshal, Caliph, and Leprechaun.

Compound linepieces such as the Queen, and more exotic linepieces such as the Cannon and Timur's Giraffe are not enhanced.


In ETQ and ETQ-heavy CET the Sow and Boar are confined to the middle three files. They can leave their Fortress and enter the enemy one but only by a two-step move. They can always retreat one step, unless they are on their back rank. They cannot cross the River by a two-step move.

In ETQ and all forms of CET the Elephtrotter can cross the River, but not by a two-step forward move.

In Chogi Vicemarshals are promotable to Marshal, Vicecaliphs to Caliph, Helms to Nightpig, Wings to SOWON (Wing+Wazir), and Points to Sow. The -on in Sowon is a generic for the Picket-style extension of a compound piece's non-coprime component. The Goldsow and Silverboar (and of course the King) are unpromotable. Chogi-heavy CET inherits all these except Vicemarshals to Marshal. Cho Mitregi inherits them all and adds promotion of Crosses to Boar, Mitres to BOARON (Mitre+Ferz), Humps (if any) to Camelpig, and no promotion of array Nightpigs and Camelpigs. Tunnelchogi adds promotion of Viceseliphs to Seliph and Viceleprechauns to Leprechaun, with no promotion of Brasssow, Steelboar, Azurepiglet, and Jadepiglet. Promotion zones are unchanged from non-Pig variants.

In ETQ-heavy CET forward-only pieces are promoted to the enhanced form of their symmetric counterpart.

SFC Kamil/Ashtaranga inherit the existing promotions to Queen/Gnu/Prince/Alibaba, without further enhancements, and SFC Leapale those to Empress/Archduke/Alibuck.

Victory is by the same means as in the original variants, although it may be easier or harder depending on how much it helps pieces attack the King and how much each other.


Dabbapigs and Elephpigs are possible pieces (the additional move is 4 steps), but I decided against these as I felt that the lesser extension but greater board coverage of the Dabbatrotter and Elephtrotter would make for more interesting pieces. There is of course no Nighttrotter or Cameltrotter because the Knight and Camel are coprime and there is no 3:1½ or 4½:1½ leap! The nearest equivalents are, I suspect (but perhaps a piece strength analyst might like to investigate), the NITOR=Knight+Stripe (2 forwardmost moves of 3:2 Zebra) and CAMOR=Camel+Sump (2 forwardmost moves of 5:1 Zemel). These names too are explained in MAB 07. Variants substituting them rather than Nightpigs and Camelpigs might be interesting as well.

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By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2007-02-18. Web page last updated: 2018-07-15