Thursday 7 March 2019

How to ruin chess sets

Despite enjoying Transfer Chess (or Bughouse) when I was younger, I do have an aversion to the game these days. My main complaint is that it makes sorting out chess sets for the next competition/lesson/club night a chore. So I have mixed feelings about sharing the following chess variant with you.
From the 1866 edition of "The Chess Player's Magazine", a multiplayer variant is described, which has some similarities to Transfer Chess. Two players are chosen as Captains for each team. They then take turns picking from the remaining players to form the teams (so each team size is half the number of players). The boards are then laid out in a line, with one tea, having White on all boards, and the other team having Black. Each match is played as normal, but when one side wins a game, the team captain can take all the pieces left on the board from the winning side of that game (except the King), and distribute them to the other games in progress. The only restrictions are that a side cannot be reinforced above it's initial holdings (eg a second queen cannot be given to player who still has hers), and that the pieces must be placed on their starting squares (eg rooks on a1 or h1, pawns on the second rank). Pieces must be placed on empty squares, so if d1 is occupied, then the queen cannot be added to that game. (NB This implies that reinforcements must be placed immediately) Pieces can be given to one player, or across multiple games. As an added bonus, a winning player can also be used as a substitute, replacing another player whose game is still in progress. If the captain of a team loses a game, she is replaced by the player first picked etc
As I've never heard of this variant before, I'm assuming it didn't catch on. However, it could be fun for a club's end of season function or something to keep kids amused. After a certain point I'm also guessing the balance is going to tilt in one sides favour, as the reinforcements will create wins, which will create reinforcements etc

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