Capablanca chess

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8 a8 black rook b8 black knight c8 black bishop d8 black empress e8 black queen f8 black king g8 black princess h8 black bishop i8 black knight j8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn i7 black pawn j7 black pawn 7
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1 a1 white rook b1 white knight c1 white bishop d1 white empress e1 white queen f1 white king g1 white princess h1 white bishop i1 white knight j1 white rook 1
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Capablanca Chess starting setup. The chancellors are on d1/d8; archbishops are on g1/g8.

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 (meaning games between grandmasters would always end in draws). This 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).

Piece setup[edit]

Capablanca proposed two opening setups for Capablanca Chess. His final revision placed the chancellor between the queen and queen's bishop; the archbishop between the king and king's 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). 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 predating Capablanca Chess[edit]

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8 a8 black rook b8 black princess c8 black knight d8 black bishop e8 black queen f8 black king g8 black bishop h8 black knight i8 black empress j8 black rook 8
7 a7 black pawn b7 black pawn c7 black pawn d7 black pawn e7 black pawn f7 black pawn g7 black pawn h7 black pawn i7 black pawn j7 black pawn 7
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3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 i3 j3 3
2 a2 white pawn b2 white pawn c2 white pawn d2 white pawn e2 white pawn f2 white pawn g2 white pawn h2 white pawn i2 white pawn j2 white pawn 2
1 a1 white rook b1 white princess c1 white knight d1 white bishop e1 white queen f1 white king g1 white bishop h1 white knight i1 white empress j1 white rook 1
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Carrera chess. Earliest chess variant on 8×10 board with archbishop and chancellor.

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 same as Capablanca Chess). Bird used names guard instead of chancellor and equerry instead of archbishop.

Variants postdating Capablanca Chess[edit]

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Omega Chess starting position

Capablanca Chess has inspired a number of chess variants:

  • Grand Chess (1984) by Christian Freeling
  • Omega Chess (1988) by Daniel MacDonald
  • Gothic Chess (1998) by Edward A. Trice
  • Aberg's variation (2003) by Hans Aberg
  • Grotesque Chess (2004) by Fergus Duniho
  • Paulovich's variation (2004) by David Paulovich
  • Ladorean Chess (2005) by Bernhard U. Hermes
  • Embassy Chess (2005) by Kevin Hill
  • Univers Chess (2006) by Fergus Duniho
  • Schoolbook Chess (2006) by Sam Trenholme
  • Modern Capablanca Random Chess (2008) by José Carrillo

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 principle which demands that all pawns in the starting positions are protected by at least one piece.

Variants using a different board[edit]

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10 a10 black rook b10 c10 d10 e10 f10 g10 h10 i10 j10 black rook 10
9 a9 b9 black knight c9 black bishop d9 black queen e9 black king f9 black empress g9 black princess h9 black bishop i9 black knight j9 9
8 a8 black pawn b8 black pawn c8 black pawn d8 black pawn e8 black pawn f8 black pawn g8 black pawn h8 black pawn i8 black pawn j8 black pawn 8
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3 a3 white pawn b3 white pawn c3 white pawn d3 white pawn e3 white pawn f3 white pawn g3 white pawn h3 white pawn i3 white pawn j3 white pawn 3
2 a2 b2 white knight c2 white bishop d2 white queen e2 white king f2 white empress g2 white princess h2 white bishop i2 white knight j2 2
1 a1 white rook b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 i1 j1 white rook 1
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Grand Chess starting setup. The chancellors are on f2/f9; the archbishops on g2/g9.

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.

See also[edit]

  • 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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "In Moscow". Time. 1925-12-07. 

Bibliography

Further reading[edit]

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