Here’s an odd chess variant I’ve been looking at for the past couple of days. It’s in the family of games you can play using an ordinary chessboard and pieces — no extras required. It’s called Leghan’s Chess. Except for the pawns, all of the pieces move exactly as they do in standard chess.

Leghans_Setup

The new rule is, pawns move diagonally toward the opposing army. White pawns capture by moving up or to the left, and black pawns capture by moving down or to the right. That is, the capturing moves are notionally “diagonal” with respect to the non-capturing moves, but everything is tilted by 45 degrees. There’s no initial double move, and thus no en passant. Also, there’s no castling, for obvious reasons.

The advantage of playing any chess variant is that there’s no opening book to memorize. From the very first move, you’re on your own. Looking at this setup, though, we can see a couple of factors that will affect the opening.

In standard chess, deploying the rooks takes a bit of time, because they’re tucked away in the corners. In Leghan’s, you can deploy the rooks easily — it’s the bishops and knights that are bottled up.

The pawns that sit on the edges beside the rooks are “orphans.” They can neither protect nor be protected by other pawns, unless your opponent conveniently allows you to capture a piece with one of your orphan pawns, thus moving it inward. The central pawns, on the other hand, protect one another better than those in standard chess.

The Zillions game engine beats me consistently, which is frustrating, but at least it gives me a chance to learn about chess variants in actual play. Finding a human opponent might be a little tricky.

Why fool around with this stuff at all? Well, it’s better than watching TV, isn’t it?

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