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This page is written by the game's inventor, Ralph Betza.

Missed-Mark Chess

You know how sometimes you're typing along and your hands drift sideways and all of a sudden the words start yp ;ppl ;olr yjod?

Recently, my eye was drawn to a typographical error of that sort in an email from Dave Dyer, and it inspired an email discussion about a chess variant where the same thing could happen.

The Basic Rules

0. The rules are the same as in FIDE Chess except as follows.

1. Sometimes, although you intend to make a legal move, your hand slips sideways and you miss the mark.

Clarifications to the Basic Rules

The move you intend to make must be completely legal; especially, it has to get you out of check!

Notice that the mistake you make has to be horizontal, because that's the kind of typo that inspired the game. You can't make one of these "mistakes" unless there is another piece right beside the one you "intend" to move.

The Source-Displacement Rule

My original idea was that you would intend to play Ng1-f3, but you would pick up the Rook from h1 and put it on f3.

Notice that the piece you pick up could be an enemy piece, so you could possibly use one enemy piece to capture a different enemy piece. This is legal!

The effect of this rule is that it gives you extra control over every square that you attack with your normal moves.

The Total-Displacement Rule

Dave Dyer misunderstood, and thought the rule was that you would intend to play Ng1-f3, but you would pick up the Rook from h1 and put it on g3 (making the same displacement on both the origin square and the destination square).

Clarification: You will notice that the Total-Displacement rule allows you to capture your own pieces.

The effect of this rule is that it gives you some control over squares you couldn't ordinarily reach.

Both Rules In One Game

I thought about it a bit, and decided the rules seemed to be equally strong, so one player should use one rule and the other player should use the other rule!

An email game is in progress....


On moves where there is a "mistake", after the actual move the intended move should appear in parentheses.

For example,

1.  Bc1-c3 (intend Nb1-c3)     c7-c5 (intend d7-d5)
2.  d2-d4                      c5:d4
3.  Bc3:d4                     Qd8-c7
4.  b2-b3                      d7:d4 (Qc7-c4)
The word "intend" is put there for the first mistake of the game in order to remind the reader what's going on.

Historical Reference

I realized a week after starting all this that there is a precedent for this game, an older game with a similar idea.

I no longer have the details at hand, but the precedent is called Old Man Chess, and the idea is that the player's shaky hands make one mistake per move, either picking up some other piece than the intended one, or setting down/capturing on some other square than the intended one.

Missed Mark Chess is considerably more restrained than Old Man Chess, and to my taste this makes it a more playable variant. Your mileage may vary.

1.  Bc1-c3 (intend Nb1-c3)     c7-c5 (intend d7-d5)
2.  d2-d4                      c5:d4
3.  Bc3xd4                     Qd8-c7
4.  b2-b3                      d7:d4 (Qc7-c4)
5.  Qd1-d2                     e7-e5
6.  e2:d4 (intended Qd2:d4)    e5-e4
7.  Nb1-c3                     Bf8-b4
8.  o-o-o (castle queen side)  b7:b3 (Qc7:c3)
9.  a2:b3                      Qc7-b7
10. Bf1-b5+                    Ke8-f8
11. Kc1-f1 (Rd1-f1)            Ra8-c7 (Nb8-d7)
12. Bb5-e2                     Rh8-g6 (Ng8-f6)
13. Rh1-h3 (Ng1-h3)            h7-h6
14. Ph2-g4 (Pg2-g4)!           Ng8-f6?
        (Note: 14...e4-e3!)
15. Pe4-d5 (Pd4-d5)            h6-h5
16. Qd2-e3                     Bb4:c3
17. Pg2-f3 (Pf2-f3)            b3:d1 (Bc3-e1)
18. Pf3:c3 (Qe3-c3)            a7-a1/Q (Qb7-b1)
19. g4-g5                      Bc8:h3+
20. Ng1:h3                     Qa1:c3

Aside from running out of pieces, you don't have anything beside any
other thing, which rather limits your special moves.

We never specified which rule for Pawns on the first rank, and we
never specified whether it's legal for you to play g5:f6 which
doesn't put you in check according to the FIDE rules [f7:f1(g6-g1)
not a "normal move"].
Note to the above: From moves 11 to 14, black [finally gets around to] concentrates on developing "things beside other things", which is what you need in this game. All it took was a few moves of putting things beside other things, and the enemy position fell apart.

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