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Dabbabante Chess


          Dabbabante Chess is a variant of Orthochess that was invented by V.R. Parton in 1971. It is played with the usual Chess pieces, plus two extra Pawns, and two Dabbabantes per side, on a 10 by 10 board. Dabbabantes move on Rook-lines, but only to every second space. They may leap over occupied squares of either color. Dabbabante Chess is described in Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants.

Board and Setup

          Dabbabante Chess starts with the pieces on ranks two and nine, and the Pawns on Ranks three and eight, so the distance between Pawns does not change from Orthochess. The Dabbabantes are added between the Knights and Bishops.


Black: In the above graphic, the Dabbabantes are represented by the upside down Rooks r.

General Rules

          The rules of Dabbabante Chess are identical to those of Orthochess (AKA FIDE Chess AKA International Chess AKA Western Chess), except when noted otherwise.


          The rules are incomplete in some areas. In particular, there is no mention of castling or Pawn promotion. V.R. Parton said nothing about them.

          It is probably simplest to assume that castling works as it does in most 10x8 or 10x10 variants, with the King moving half the distance to the Rook's square, rounded up (three squares Queenward, or two squares in the opposite direction), and the Rook leaps over to the King's far side.

          As for Pawn promotion, you could make an argument either for the 2nd and 9th rank, that being where the pieces start and that being the same amount of distance that the Pawns have to travel in usual Chess, and the 10th and 1st rank, those being the edge of the board. Given the hard time that Pawns have in this game (since Dabbabante's are good at picking them off), promotion at board edge seems like an unnecessarily harsh requirement. Promotion is likely to Knight, Bishop, Dabbabante, Rook or Queen.

The Dabbabante

          It is tempting to consider the Dabbabante a sort of Dabbabah-Rider (that is, a piece that can make repeated leaps of two squares orthogonally in the same direction as long as all the squares landed on but possible the last, are empty), but it isn't, really. Instead, the Dabbabante is a Super Dabbabah, able not only to leap (0,2), but (0,4), (0,6) and (0,8) as well. It is leaper, not a rider.

          In the diagram below, the white Dabbabante on c2 can move to any square marked with a red circle (c4, c10 and i2), or capture the black Pawn on c6 or the black Bishop on c8.

          What is the value of the Dabbabante? Zillions of Games rates it between the Bishop and the Rook at roughly four Pawns. Its ideal value can be easily, calculated: since it can always leap to 8 squares on a 10x10 board, a Dabbabante's ideal value on that board is 8.0. If you compare that to a Knight's ideal value on same board of 5.76, four Pawns seems about right.

          But wait, a Knight is mildly color-bound, switching color with every move, but the Dabbabante is doubly color-bound, only able to see 1/4 of the board (in fact, the four Dabbabantes that start the game each see a different 1/4 of the board). This should cut down their value some, shouldn't it?

          The answer is, of course, it depends. You can't mate with a King and a Dabbabante, and you can usually protect your heavy pieces from an opposing Dabbabante. However, Dabbabantes are very good at picking off Pawns, and they excel at supporting attacks from a safe distance. And if your opponent lets you, they can produce some very nasty forks. But as the game goes on and the board empties out they drop in value. I suspect they are worth about four Pawns in the opening and midgame, and drop to two Pawns or even less at the end.

The Compound Dabbabante or Alibabante

          Parton observed that the diagonal equivalent of the Dabbabante, the Alfilante must exist (the Alfilante being to the Alfil as the Dabbabante was to the Dabbabah). He suggested that the power of the Dabbabante could be increased by adding in the move of the Alfilante.

          The "Compound Dabbabante" or Alibabante (the Alibaba is a combination of the Dabbabah and Alfil) is able to reach the same 1/4 of the board as the regular Dabbabante, and starting in the same position as the Dabbabantes can pick off the undefended Pawns in front of the Knights at the start of the game. The Alibabante has an ideal value of 12 to the Dabbabante's 8, but whether or not the Alibabante is worth half again as a Dabbabante is unclear.


          This information is based on the description in Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, and on information from V.R. Parton's pamphlet 100 Squares for Chess and Damante (in which Dabbabante Chess was originally published).

Computer Play

          There is an implementation of Dabbabante Chess for Zillions of Games. You can download it here:

The latest version of the ZRF is 1.1, and now includes Alibabante Chess too.

          Ed Friedlander has written an applet that lets you play Dabbabante Chess against your computer. To play, click here.

Written by Peter Aronson.
Thanks to George Jelliss for checking 100 Squares for Chess and Damante for further information.
WWW page created: November 6th, 2001.
WWW page updated: April 15th, 2004.