Once upon a time I used to play a lot of chess. I don't claim any great expertise at it, especially nowadays, when there are so many other things to spend time on, that I am woefully out of practice. But in 1977 I sat down and combined together a number of ideas that I had encountered during prior
years. The resulting variation of chess is described herein. It is not really a half-baked idea...but the idea of "selling" this to the chess community, full of purists as it is, IS half-baked!
First, the Board: This is a large combat area, 14x14 squares, checkered in the usual pattern of dark and light colors. As in Standard Chess, the Board is placed between the players with a light-colored square at each player's right.
Next, the pieces, quantities, point-values, abbreviations, and some movement-info:
14 Pawns: 1.5pts, "P" (combination-turn piece)
2 Assassins: 3pts, "A" (diagonal motion only); same as a Standard Chess Bishop (but what are BISHOPS doing on a battlefield??? Meanwhile, Chess originated in India, where/when Assassins were a semi-official part of the political structure.)
2 Squires: 5pts, "S" (orthogonal motion only); same as a Standard Chess Rook/Castle (but a Rook is a thief! And Castles don't move on battlefields! Meanwhile, there were two categories of Squires; one group consisted of wealthy landowners, almost of the nobility.)
2 Barons: 7pts, "B" (combination of Assassin and Standard Chess Knight)
2 Earls: 8pts, "E" (combination of Squire and Standard Chess Knight)
2 Dukes: 9pts, "D" (combination of Squire and Assassin); same as a Standard Chess Queen (and since when is a Queen the mightiest warrior in the realm? Not to mention that there are two of these in THIS game, and the King is not allowed to be a bigamist!)
2 Knights: 9.5pts, "N" (combination-turn piece)
1 Champion: 12pts, "C" (combination of Squire and Assassin and Standard Chess Knight)
1 King: Worth The Game, "K" (combination-turn piece)
Combination-type pieces such as the Baron, Earl, Duke, and Champion, may make only one type of move per Turn (EITHER Standard Chess Bishop-move OR Standard Chess Rook-move OR Standard Chess Knight-move).
Combination-turn pieces, the Pawns, Knights, and Kings, make purely ordinary moves, but may be moved at the Player's option either once or twice per Turn. The King is allowed to move THROUGH check. "En passant" for Pawns is allowed everywhere on the Board. Knights really are more powerful than Dukes! (I put a lot of time into experimenting with forced-mate scenarios, to make that determination.) Kings and Knights can capture guarded pieces and escape; they can even capture two pieces per Turn. To maintain its reputation as a jumper, the Knight's first move is allowed to enter any square that some friendly piece already occupies (it's not allowed to stay there, of course). The Pawns are a bit more restricted: On the first half of the Board, a Pawn may EITHER move one space forward, OR two spaces forward, OR capture. On the second half of the Board, a Pawn that gained enough experience to survive that far can move and/or capture in any combination, just like Knights and Kings. However, Pawns may only move forward, while Kings and Knights may be moved from Square X to Square Y, and BACK to Square X. (This has a side-effect of making stalemates almost impossible.) ALSO: These combination-turn pieces are combinable in another way....
During the Play, two separate pieces MAY be moved each Turn! Depending on how a Player wishes to coordinate an attack or a defense, the Champion and a Squire might be moved, or an Assassin and a Baron, or whatever pair seems appropriate. Furthermore, the combination-turn pieces can have their motions split up any which way. Moving a King one square counts as a half-move; moving a Pawn one square counts as another half-move. So a player might move each Knight once, the King once, and a Pawn once, thereby accounting for two whole moves in that Turn. A player is REQUIRED to make a half-move at a minimum each Turn, and is NOT required to do more than that. A player seeking a draw might deliberately move the King back-and-forth, effectively doing nothing. The Standard Chess rules for draws do not need to be modified much, to accommodate this.
Initial setup of pieces, and Castling:
All Pawns must be placed on the second row. The King is placed in center of the first row, on the square that matches its color (since there is no Queen to claim that privilege). The Champion is placed in the other central square. NEXT....
The rest of the first Player's pieces are now arranged on the first row in ANY symmetrical fashion. THEN....
The second Player's pieces may be arranged in any desired counter-pattern. It must also be symmetrical, it MAY mirror the first Player's arrangement, but it doesn't have to.
Face it: The best initial arrangement is unknown, so how should it be found? I can suggest this as being not-a-horrible-mistake: E; B; A; N; S; D; (K & C); D; S; N; A; B; E.
For the procedure known as Castling to be possible, the Player must first arrange the pieces so that both corner squares contain EITHER Squires, Earls, or Dukes. During the Game, the King and a corner-occupant must not have previously been moved, and all squares between them must become unoccupied (standard rules). When a Player chooses to Castle, the King is moved four spaces toward a corner, and the corner-occupant is moved toward and past the King, until one square separates the two pieces. Castling counts as one of a Players two moves per Turn.
ONLY ONE CHAMPION AT A TIME IS ALLOWED. But you can have lots of Dukes and Knights and other pieces.
Identifying the Pieces and their motions:
I constructed my Combination Chess set by first buying four ordinary sets, and then hacking and gluing various parts:
Pawns, Assassins, Squires, Knights, and Kings: Unchanged.
Barons: Saw off top of an Assassin and glue on top of a Knight.
Dukes: Saw off top of an Assassin and glue on top of a Squire.
Earls and Champions: Saw off part of a Squire and glue on top of a Knight.
For Champions only, continue by sawing off top of an Assassin and glue on top of the Squire-fragment.
Anyone who knows Chess should have no trouble figuring out how any observed piece can move, except perhaps for the Knights. Visualizing a Knight's potential double-move is tricky, and is one of the reasons why it is a very dangerous piece in this game....