Capablanca chess

Capablanca chess
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Capablanca chess. Archbishop is placed between knight and bishop on the queen's side, chancellor on the king's side.

Capablanca chess (or Capablanca's chess) is a chess variant invented in the 1920s by former World Chess Champion José Raúl Capablanca. It incorporates two new pieces and is played on a 10×8 board. Capablanca proposed the variant while World Champion, and not as a "sour grapes" rationalization after losing his title as some critics have asserted.[1] He believed that chess would be played out in a few decades and games between grandmasters would always end in draws. The threat of "draw death" for chess was his main motivation for creating a more complex and richer version of the game.

The new pieces have properties that enrich the game. For example, the archbishop by itself can checkmate a lone king (king in a corner, archbishop placed diagonally with one square in between).

Contents

Setup of the pieces

Capablanca proposed two opening setups for Capablanca Chess. In one opening setup, he proposed that the archbishop be placed between the bishop and the queen and that the chancellor be placed between the king and the king's bishop. This setup has the flaw that it leaves the pawn in front of the king's bishop undefended, allowing white to threaten mate on the first move.

He subsequently revised the opening setup so that the archbishop was between the queen's knight and bishop, and the chancellor was between the king's knight and bishop. He also experimented with 10×10 board sizes, where the pawns could move up to three squares on the initial move.

In his book, The Adventure of Chess, Edward Lasker writes (p. 39):

...I played many test games with Capablanca, and they rarely lasted more than twenty or twenty-five moves. We tried boards of 10×10 squares and 10×8 squares, and we concluded that the latter was preferable because hand-to-hand fights start earlier on it.

Lasker was one of the few supporters. Hungarian grandmaster Géza Maróczy also played some games with Capablanca (who got the better of him). One of the few rational critics, British champion William Winter, thought that there were too many strong pieces, making the minor pieces less relevant.

The names for new pieces, Archbishop and Chancellor, were introduced by Capablanca himself. These names are still used in most modern variants of Capablanca Chess.

Variants that predate Capablanca Chess

Capablanca was not the first person to add the Chancellor and the Archbishop to the normal Chess set, though he is the most famous. Other attempts mostly differ only by the arrangement of pieces and the castling rules.

In 1617, Pietro Carrera published a book Il Gioco degli Scacchi, which contained a description of a chess variant played on 8×10 board. He placed new pieces between a rook and a knight. Chancellor was on the king's side and archbishop on the queen's side. Carrera used names champion instead of chancellor and centaur instead of archbishop. The game was largely forgotten after the death of the inventor.

In 1874, Henry Bird proposed a chess variant similar to Carrera's variant. The only significant difference was the opening setup. The chancellor was placed between the queen's bishop and queen and the archbishop was placed between the king's bishop and king. Bird used names guard instead of chancellor and equerry instead of archbishop.

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Carrera Chess. Earliest chess variant on 8×10 board with archbishop and chancellor.
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Bird's chess. Another predecessor of Capablanca chess.

Variants that postdate Capablanca Chess

Capablanca Chess has inspired a number of chess variants;


It is noteworthy that Embassy Chess uses a starting position identical to Grand Chess adapted to a 10×8 board.

Another interesting recent development is Capablanca Random Chess, invented in 2004 by Reinhard Scharnagl. This game combines ideas of Fischer Random Chess and Capablanca Chess. It also applies the sound principle which demands that in the starting position, all pawns are protected by at least one piece.

Variants which use a different board

There are also variants of Capablanca Chess that do not use the standard 10×8 board. Grand chess is a popular chess variant invented by Dutch game designer Christian Freeling in 1984. It uses Capablanca Chess pieces upon a larger, 10×10 board.

In 2007 Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan devised a variant (called Seirawan chess), which adds the two pieces to the standard game in a different manner. The player, after moving a piece (for example, a bishop) from the first rank, may immediately place either of the two pieces on the bishop's square. If the player moves all his eight officers without placing the Hawk or the Elephant (Seirawan's names for the Archbishop and the Chancellor, respectively), he forfeits his right to do so.

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10 a10 black rook b10 black king c10 black king d10 black king e10 black king f10 black king g10 black king h10 black king i10 black king j10 black rook 10
9 a9 black king b9 black knight c9 black bishop d9 black queen e9 black king f9 black chancelor g9 black archbishop h9 black king i9 black knight j9 black king 9
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2 a2 black king b2 white knight c2 white bishop d2 white queen e2 white king f2 white chancelor g2 white archbishop h2 white bishop i2 white knight j2 black king 2
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Grand Chess. The chancellor and archbishop are at right of the king.
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Omega Chess - start position

Capablanca chess has inspired many chess variants, including grand chess and omega chess.

See also

  • ChessV - a program (licensed under the GPL) which plays Capablanca Chess and all of the other proposed 10×8 setups, as well as several other chess variants against the computer.
  • SMIRF - a program which plays all 12,118 Capablanca Random Chess variants except Gothic Chess.

Notes

References

  • D.B. Pritchard (1994). The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. ISBN 0-9524142-0-1. 
  • Edward Lasker (1959). The Adventure of Chess. ISBN 0-486-20510-X. 

External links


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