Camel (chess)

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c7 black circle
e7 black circle
a5 black circle
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The camel (represented as an inverted knight) may move to any of eight squares (black dots).

The camel (or long knight) is a fairy chess piece that moves like an elongated knight. When it moves, it can jump to a square that is three squares horizontally and one square vertically, or three squares vertically and one square horizontally, regardless of intervening pieces; thus, it is a (1,3)-leaper. Below, it is given the symbol L from Betza notation.

History and nomenclature[edit]

The camel is a very old piece, appearing in some very early chess variants, such as Tamerlane chess. It is still known as such in fairy chess problems.

Value[edit]

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a8 three
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Distance from the f5-square, counted in camel moves. The dark squares cannot be reached, as the camel is colorbound.

The camel by itself is worth about two pawns (appreciably less than a knight), because of its colorboundedness and lack of sufficient freedom of movement on an 8×8 board. However a camel and a bishop and a king can force checkmate on a bare king (assuming that the attacking pieces are not on the same color); a camel, a knight and a king can force checkmate on a bare king, but not easily (there are thirteen types of fortress draws); a camel, a wazir and a king can sometimes force checkmate on a bare king, but it can take up to 77 moves. Even if they are on different colours, two camels cannot checkmate a lone king. While the rook versus camel endgame is a draw in general, there are more winning positions than there are in rook versus knight and rook versus bishop: the longest win takes 35 moves. (All endgame statistics mentioned are for the 8×8 board.)

As a component of other pieces, it has about the same value as a knight (both pieces can move to eight squares), but its long move carries the danger of causing unstoppable attacks in the opening and winning large amounts of material. For example, if a LW (camel plus wazir) is at a1 in the starting position, replacing White's queen's rook, White immediately wins material with 1.(LW)b4, threatening 2.(LW)e5 winning Black's queen and 2.(LW)b5 winning Black's queen's rook; the threats cannot both be parried.

References[edit]