The Chess Variant Pages

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This page is written by the game's inventor, Charles Gilman.


Since devising Bishogi I have added Symgi to the FIDE-to-Shogi spectrum, listing out the progression of such variants on that page. Well my use of forward-only (FO) pieces in variants such as Mitregi and more recently Shoxiang 108 has suggested to me another spin on this spectrum: having the back rank promotable, as in Chessgi and Crazyhouse, but returning from capture as FO versions promotable to their full selves. As the best way to represent this is with a Shogi set, I also modified Pawn promotion. The strong Bughouse/Crazyhouse influence inspired a name ending in -house, and Frontofhouse - a concatenation of a theatrical phrase - struck me as a suitable reference to the forward nature of returning pieces.


As FIDE Chess - that should cheer up those of you who find my more imaginative arrays overwhelming!


Array pieces are as in FIDE Chess. The KING is represented by Shogi's own King. Here is a table of other pieces and their representation. Symmetric pieces are shown promoted-face up, and F/O ones unpromoted-face up.
Symmetric pieceFO piecerepresented by
Stewards move one step along any orthogonal except to capture, which they do one step along any diagonal. They and their 3d extrapolations appear in my piece article Man and Beast 02: Shield Bearers.


Pawns (including reintroduced ones but not Stewards) starting a move on either rank of their own camp may make a double-step noncapturing move. Enemy Pawns (but again not Stewards) may immediately capture them En Passant as if only the single step had been made.

Castling is as in FIDE Chess. Castling with a piece reintroduced on a Rook square is not allowed as pieces return FO and Shogi has no Castling.

A player capturing an enemy piece can reintroduce it into their own army - restricted to forward directions (unpromoted-side up) - in place of a normal move. They cannot be placed on a square where promotion is required.

Helms ending a move in the enemy camp must be promoted. Other reintroduced pieces may be promoted when ending a move on the enemy Pawn rank, and must when ending one on the far rank. Back-rank pieces regain their array move and Pawns become Stewards.

Check, Checkmate, and Stalemate are as in FIDE Chess.


In theory this principle can be applied to any variant using Pawns and symmetric pieces - excluding Curved pieces as these do not have FO versions. Possibilities include Chaturanga and Courier variants (Ferzes return as Crosses, Elephants as Tusks, Wazirs as Points, Princes as Princelings), a Wildebeest variant (Camels return as Humps, Gnus as Handymen), Knighted-piece variants (Marshals return as Marshrunners, Cardinals as Cardirunners), a Duke of Rutland variant (Chatelaines return as Caryatids), Yang Qi and Eurasian variants (Cannons return as Cannonballs, Arrows as Arrowheads), and even hex and/or 3d variants (Unicorns return as Horns, Duchesses as Countesses, Governors as Missionaries, Empresses as Conqueresses). Different-armies variants could either have pieces return as themselves or, more consistently with Shogi-piece representation, have them return as their other-army counterparts. Where it would not be good to apply it would be to theme-heavy variants as names of FO pieces may well detract from the theme.

Is there room for further variants between Frontofhouse and Shogi? Well there are at least three further steps as regards the back rank: start with the pieces Forward-only; have genuine Shogi pieces (Gold rather than Princess, Silver rather than Mitre), and expand the board to 9x9 with the d-file piece duplicated. That gives six possible pairs of intermediate variants, with each variant common to two pairs. If anyone thinks these worth posting please feel free to post them.

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Charles Gilman.
Web page created: 2009-02-28. Web page last updated: 2009-02-28