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Chesica Reconstructed


According to Chessmen by Donald Liddell, Gustavus A. Pfeiffer, James G. Maunoury, and Kermit Roosevelt, in 1864 Frederick S. Copley patented designs for a set of chessmen. The next paragraph says:
Copley also invented an ingenious game, Chesica, in which four chess Queens were placed on each back row, four Rooks on each second rank, and four Bishops on the third, in the same manner as checkers are placed. The men had the move of the chess piece, except that the move was restricted to one square, and in addition that of the ordinary checker. The men could not retreat. After attaining the eighth row they assumed the full powers of the chess piece, but still retained the power to capture by jumping as well as by moving to the square occupied by the captured piece.
This is hardly a complete description. Even the goal of the game is not described, nor are little details such as whether captures are optional or required, whether promoted men can capture by jumping backwards like a Checkers King, etc. Being interested in Chess/Checkers hybrids, in this article I shall try to provide a playable set of rules for this game that does not contradict any of the above quote.

General Rules

  1. The goal of Chesica is to capture all of the opposing pieces.

  2. Each player moves a single piece a turn.

  3. White moves first.

  4. All pieces can capture both by replacement (moving into the opposing piece's square) and by jumping diagonally over an opposing piece to land on an empty square just past it. In which directions they may make these capturing moves in depends on the type of the piece.

  5. If a player has a jump capture available, they must use it. If they have multiple jump captures available, they may choose between them.

  6. If after a jump capture, another jump capture is available for the piece that just captured, it must also be taken. However, if there is not another jump capture available for that piece, the player's turn is now over. There is no requirement to choose the longest possible sequence of captures.

  7. Captures by replacement are not obligatory, and are only possible when a jump capture is not available (unlike in Cheskers). After a capture by replacement, as after a noncapturing move, a player's turn ends.

  8. Upon landing on the 8th rank, an unpromoted piece is exchanged for its promoted form, and the player's turn ends.

  9. It is not allowed make a move that would cause the third repetition of of the same board position in a row. (This is to reduce the chance of endless side-to-side shuffling.)


8 |   |:q:|   |:q:|   |:q:|   |:q:|
7 |:r:|   |:r:|   |:r:|   |:r:|   |
6 |   |:b:|   |:b:|   |:b:|   |:b:|
5 |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |
4 |   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|   |:::|
3 |:B:|   |:B:|   |:B:|   |:B:|   |
2 |   |:R:|   |:R:|   |:R:|   |:R:|
1 |:Q:|   |:Q:|   |:Q:|   |:Q:|   |
    a   b   c   d   e   f    g  h
  • Bishops: a3 c3 e3 g3
  • Rooks: b2 d2 f2 h2
  • Queens: a1 c1 e1 g1
  • Bishops: b6 d6 f6 h6
  • Rooks: a7 c7 e7 g7
  • Queens: b8 d8 f8 h8

The Pieces

There are three type of unpromoted pieces in Chesica: Bishops, Rooks and Queens. There are three types of promoted pieces in Chesica: Promoted-Bishops, Promoted-Rooks and Promoted-Queens.

All unpromoted pieces may move like a Checkers/Draughts piece: one square diagonally forward to an empty square, or a diagonally forward jump over an opposing piece, landing in an empty square just beyond, capturing the opposing piece.

All promoted pieces may move like a Checkers/Draughts King: like a Checkers/Draughts piece, but in any diagonal direction, forward or back.

A Bishop may move and capture one square diagonally forward in additions to its base Checker piece move. A Promoted-Bishop moves and captures like a FIDE Chess Bishop, sliding any distance on an unobstructed diagonal line in addition to its base Checker King move.

A Rook may move and capture one square forward or to the side in additions to its base Checker piece move. A Promoted-Rook moves and captures like a FIDE Chess Bishop, sliding any distance on an unobstructed orthogonal line in addition to its base Checker King move.

A Queen combines the moves of a Rook and a Bishop, and a Promoted-Queen combines the moves of a Promoted-Rook and a Promoted-Bishop.

Computer Play

I've written an implementation of Chesica for Zillions of Games. You can download it here:

Written by Peter Aronson.
WWW page created: January 16th, 2003.
Thanks to John Ayer for sending us the quote from Chessmen.