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Review of Omega Chess

Omega Chess is a slightly larger chess variant played on a 10x10 board with four extra corner squares. Two new members have been added to the chess family: the Wizard and the Champion. The initial setup of the standard pieces is the same as in standard chess, with the new pieces being placed on the outer flanks of the board.

Omega Chess is very popular in the Chess Variant community and has generated a lot of interest. I am also aware that many GMs play and promote this game, and that there are many Omega Chess tournaments played worldwide each year.

Omega Chess may be slightly larger than standard chess, however that does not mean that the game is significantly more complex. In terms of rules, there are really only two new rules -- the movement rules for the two new pieces. The other rules are the same as chess, with some very minor differences for the pawn. Compared to many variants, Omega Chess is simplicity itself. And in my experience, the game plays very much like chess, but without the many standardized 'book' openings that one has to memorize for standard chess.

Many previous attempts at large chess variants usually involved creating new pieces which were combinations of existing pieces, namely, a combination of Rook and Knight, and/or combination of Bishop and Knight. These pieces tend to be very powerful (on par with the Queen). In addition, many variants change the initially set-up of standard pieces. This creates an imbalance in the game and balance is key to chess play.

Omega Chess takes a balanced approach. In standard chess, there are three 'rider' pieces (the Queen, Rook, and Bishop), but only one 'leaper' piece (the Knight). Omega Chess balances the number of riders and leapers by creating two new leaper pieces (the Wizard and Champion), equalizing the number of riders and leapers to three each.

These two new pieces are not overly powerful, and keep the game balanced, while creating new and more interesting tactical combinations and strategies, another key to chess. The pieces are further balanced in that of the three leapers, only one is color-bound (the Wizard). This matches up with the three rider pieces, of which also only one is colorbound (the Bishop).

Omega Chess also retains all of the standard chess rules, with only minor modifications. Castling is exactly the same, and en passant is extended in a logical way due to the possibility of pawns moving three squares initially. Pawns have slightly farther to travel before being able to promote (one square farther if they take the initial three square move). The result is a balanced game, which plays very close to standard chess, but with many new tactical combinations and unexplored opening sequences.

Omega Chess sets are of exceptional quality with aesthetically pleasing pieces, and a durable, well-crafted playing board (which can also double as an standard chessboard). All told, Omega Chess is a well-designed and well-balanced new chess game.

Written by David Howe. Web page posted by David Howe.
WWW page created: 15 Aug 2000. Last modified on: 15 Aug 2000.