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The Chess Variant Pages

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Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2021-06-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I wish this game were more popular. It seems like an excellent design. The piece selection seems strange at first but after thinking about it I can see the beauty of it.

I imagine the aanca could have originated as an enhanced ferz, to go with the bigger board. Then the knights could have become unicorns by gaining a diagonal slide after their leap to complement the aanca. The crocodile is a fairly obvious addition. The giraffe and Lion both make knight-like leaps, suitable for the large board, and the Lion includes and extra 3,0 leap which removes it's color binding and forms a nice looking pattern.

The result of all that is eight pieces with a nice range of power and an aesthetically consistent set of moves. There are all of the 2,1 3,1 and 3,2 leaping moves, the rook and bishop moves, and bent rook and bishop moves (unicorn and aanca). The leaping pieces are differentiated in power by some of them having additional movements, but they don't ever feel like arbitrary combinations.

The initial setup is also elegant. The Pawns start as far apart as they do on the 8x8 board, and the pieces are all on the back rank. The promotion rule fits well with this setup and is another great innovation.

I think the main weak points, if there are any, would be the pawns and the king's leap. It seems unlikely that the king would benefit much from a 2 square leap on such a big board with so much empty space; and perhaps modern pawns would be better. But overall this variant appears to be carefully designed.

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