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This page is written by the game's inventor, Fergus Duniho.

Demotion Chessgi

by Fergus Duniho

for "The 32-Turn Challenge"


Demotion Chessgi is my third entry for the 32-turn contest. So it is a non-competing entry. It is a Chessgi variant that is designed to last no more than 32 turns. The game is limited to no more than the allotted moves by piece attrition through gradual demotion into nothingness.


Because pieces demote into other pieces and also change sides, this game should be played with extra pieces available. To cover all possibilities, you should have on hand a maximum of 32 Pawns, 14 Knights, 10 Bishops, 6 Rooks, 2 Queens, and 1 King for each side. Seven Chess sets will cover this. But four will probably do, and two might even suffice. I recommend going to K-Mart, or some other department store, and buying four of their least expensive Chess sets.


The setup is like Chess, except that QuickPawns are used in place of Pawns, and each player begins with an extra QuickPawn held in hand. QuickPawns start in the same positions that Pawns do in regular Chess.


Except for QuickPawns, the orthodox chess pieces are used. QuickPawns can move one or two spaces forward from any space on the board. They capture one space diagonally, as Pawns do. They may not capture by en passant. In this game, they do not immediately promote upon reaching the last rank. See the rules for how promotion works.


Demotion Chessgi is played like regular Chess with the following exceptions:

  1. Loss Conditions
    1. The King is captured, or
    2. The King is the only piece a player has left.
  2. Draw Conditions
    1. The game should never be a draw, because it is impossible to repeat previous positions, the absence of check and checkmate makes stalemate unlikely or impossible, and both players cannot be reduced to a bare King simultaneously.
    2. Just in case stalemate is possible, stalemate counts as a draw.
  3. Each turn consists of two parts.
    1. First, the player moves or drops a piece.
    2. Second, the player demotes a piece or promotes a Pawn on the last rank.
  4. Capturing
    1. Whenever a piece is captured (as opposed to merely being removed), the player who captures it gets to keep it in hand.
  5. Dropping
    1. With one exception for Pawns, a piece held in hand may be dropped on any empty space.
    2. A Pawn may not be dropped on the last rank.
  6. Demotion
    1. You may demote any of your non-royal pieces, whether it is on the board or held in hand.
    2. Queens demote to Rooks; Rooks to Bishops; Bishops to Knight; Knights to Pawns; and demoted Pawns are removed from the game.
    3. Kings never demote.
  7. QuickPawn Promotion
    1. A QuickPawn does not immediately promote upon reaching the last rank.
    2. Any QuickPawn sitting on the last rank during the second part of a player's turn may be replaced with any non-QuickPawn piece held in hand by the opponent. The exchanged piece changes to the player's side, and the Pawn is removed from the game.


For the first part of a move, use usual algebraic notation. For the second part, signify demotions and promotions with location = piece. For example, a1=B may signify a Rook demoting to a Bishop or a Black QuickPawn promoting to a Bishop. The context will make clear what is going on. For removing a Pawn, use x location. For example, x a1 means a Pawn at a1 has been removed. For drops, use piece * location. For example, B*a1 means a Bishop was dropped on a1. For demoting a piece held in hand, use piece * = new piece. For example, R*=B means that a Rook held in hand was demoted to a Bishop. For removing a Pawn held in hand, use x*.

Game Length

This game will last no more than 32 turns. Without pieces changing sides, the total number of demotions possible for one player is 9 demotions for the QuickPawns + 4 demotions for the Knights + 6 demotions for the Bishops + 8 demotions for the Rooks + 5 demotions for the Queen, for a total of 32 demotions. Pawns demote only once, disappearing upon demotion. Knights are two demotions away from disappearing; Bishops are three demotions away; Rooks are four; and Queens are five.

As pieces change sides in orthodox chessgi fashion, the number of turns available to one player will increase. But this won't cause the game to last any longer than 32 turns, because it comes at the expense of the other player's turns. When the player with fewer turns left is reduced to a bare King, the game ends with that player losing, and this will always come before 32 turns are up.

So that Pawn promotions will not increase the duration of the game, Pawn promotions are drawn from pieces held in hand by one's opponent.

Without the extra Pawn held in hand at the beginning of the game, this game would last no more than 31 moves. The extra Pawn was added to allow the game to last the full 32 moves permitted by the 32-turn contest.

Zillions of Games

I developed this game with the help of Zillions of Games. You may download a ZRF for playing Demotion Chessgi with Zillions of Games.

This ZRF requires Zillions 1.1.1 or better, because it makes use of multiple piece sets. You can choose from abstract, magnetic, motif, and zillions Chess pieces.

Written by Fergus Duniho
WWW Page Created: Sun Jul 31, 2000