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


I have a couple of friends whose last name (well, maiden name for one) is Zwang. I was curious about its background, and looked it up: the word is German for "force," "coerce," or "compel." (Actually, to be strictly specific, it's the noun root.)

The story goes that, when Germany first mandated family names for everyone, and required them to come inform the magistrate of their decisions, one man voiced his objection by telling the magistrate, "If I'm going to be coerced to have a last name, then my last name will be 'coercion' [Zwang]" (my paraphrase of the translation).

And so that brings us to Zwangkrieg -- "Coercive War."

In this game, several of the pieces have ways of moving enemy pieces -- pushing, pulling, swapping places, and so forth. Others affect how (and whether) the pieces can move.


The game is played on a board with 12 rows and 12 columns.

Each player has three rows of pieces, set up as follows:

Row 1 has a Power Queen in the center with the King on the other center square, flanked by Bodyguards, then Flash Bishops, Aurochs, Impalas, and Shoving Rooks.

Row 2 has a Valkyrie in front of the King and a Phoenix in front of the Power Queen, flanked by Lariats, Relay Knights, Sorcerers, Wizards, and Kirin.

Row 3 has four Linebacker Pawns in the center, with four Standard Pawns on each side.

files=12 ranks=12 promoZone=1 promoChoice=*N*B*R*Q*I*A*KR*W*S*BG*PH*VL graphicsDir=/cgi-bin/fen2.php?w=FFC1CC&b=70AB44&t=Greenwade&p= squareSize=50 graphicsType= lightShade=#FF4444 darkShade=#555555 holdingsType=1 maxPromote=2 standard pawn:PS:ifmnDfmWfceF:pawn:a3,b3,c3,d3,i3,j3,k3,l3,,a10,b10,c10,d10,i10,j10,k10,l10 linebacker pawn:PL:fhmKifmnDifmnAfhmpafabucKifhmpafmpafabucK:linebackerpawn:e3,f3,g3,h3,,e10,f10,g10,h10 relay knight:N:mNxaN:relay--knight:d2,i2,,d11,i11 flash bishop:B:BcuyabpF:bishop--wind:d1,i1,,d12,i12 shoving rook:R:RcafyabuR:americanfootball--rook:a1,l1,,a12,l12 power queen:Q:QcafyabuRcuyabpF:queen--lightning:f1,,f12 impala:I:NYN:impala:b1,k1,,b12,k12 aurochs:A:NFX:ox:c1,j1,,c12,j12 kirin:KR:FD:kirin:a2,l2,,a11,l11 wizard:W:FCudC:wizard--swap:b2,k2,,b11,k11 sorcerer:S:WZudZ:sorcerer--swap:c2,j2,,c11,j11 bodyguard:BG:K2:bodyguard:e1,h1,,e12,h12 spell=brake phoenix:PH:WA:phoenix:f2,,f11 valkyrie:V:QudQafudQ:valkyrie:g2,,g11 lariat:L:mNcKaibuabcaibQ4:lariat:e2,h2,,e11,h11 king:K:KisO4:king:g1,,g12


While not all pieces have moves and powers that affect enemy pieces, most do.

Aurochs: Leaps (1,2) or (1,4).


Bodyguard: Moves up to two spaces in any direction. Has Hia power: any sliding piece trying to pass through an adjacent space is stopped, and cannot move more than one space while in range. This doesn't affect leapers, but it does affect the Bishop's and Lariat's pull, which do not work at all in or through the Bodyguard's Hia zone.


Flash Bishop: As in standard Chess, except that, if there's an enemy piece in the adjacent square in the direction opposite to where it's going, the Bishop may (optionally) "pull" that piece one space, in the same direction with it, leaving the piece in the space that the Bishop just vacated. (The Bishop is allowed to capture a piece on its final destination square.)


Impala: Leaps (1,2) or (3,4).


King: As in standard Chess.


Kirin: Moves one space diagonally, or leaps two spaces orthogonally.


Lariat: Moves without capture like a Knight, captures only in adjacent spaces. Can also "grab" a piece up to 4 spaces away radially, and pull that piece toward itself any distance.


Linebacker Pawn: Moves forward, directly or diagonally, one space. It doesn't capture, but pushes an enemy piece one space to the empty space beyond. As an opening move, it may move two spaces, with the same pushing effect in the second square.


Phoenix: Moves one space orthogonally, or leaps two spaces diagonally.


Power Queen: In standard Chess, the Queen is a compound of the Bishop and Rook; and the same is true here: besides their movements, the Power Queen may pull a piece like a Flash Bishop when moving diagonally, or push a piece like a Shoving Rook when moving orthogonally.


Relay Knight: Moves as in standard Chess, but does not capture; instead, any friendly piece on a destination square gains the move of a Knight, and that piece may use that move to capture.


Shoving Rook: As in standard Chess, except that, on encountering an enemy piece, the Rook has the option of either capturing it, or pushing for as far as there are empty spaces to push it into. In the latter case, the Shoving Rook ends in the space adjacent to the shoved piece.


Sorcerer: Moves one square orthogonally, or leaps (2,3). May swap places with another piece, either friendly or enemy, with the (2,3) leap (as well as capture conventionally).


Standard Pawn: As in standard Chess.


Valkyrie: Moves like a Queen, but does not capture; instead, any piece it lands on, whether friend or enemy, may be deposited at any point along the path it took to get there.


Wizard: Moves one square diagonally, or leaps (1,3). May swap places with another piece, either friendly or enemy, with the (1,3) leap (as well as capture conventionally).


Regarding the play itself, rules are essentially the same as in standard Chess, except where noted otherwise.

Promotions: Upon reaching the far row, Pawns (both Standard and Linebacker) may promote to any non-Pawn that the enemy has captured.


This is not the first appearance of the word zwang in chess. The term zugzwang refers to a situation where any legal move a player makes will only worsen his position.

Of course, this is a little different; here, it's the piece, not the player, that's being forced to move.

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 Bob Greenwade.

Last revised by Bob Greenwade.

Web page created: 2023-09-05. Web page last updated: 2023-09-05