Capablanca Chess

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8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black princessd8 black bishope8 black queenf8 black kingg8 black bishoph8 black empressi8 black knightj8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black pawnf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawni7 black pawnj7 black pawn7
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6i6j66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j44
3a3b3c3d3e3f3g3h3i3j33
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawni2 white pawnj2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white princessd1 white bishope1 white queenf1 white kingg1 white bishoph1 white empressi1 white knightj1 white rook1
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Capablanca Chess starting setup. The archbishops are on c1/c8; the chancellors are on h1/h8.[1][2]

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 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 version of the game.

The new pieces allow new strategies and possibilities that change the game. For example, the archbishop by itself can checkmate a lone king in the corner (when placed diagonally with one square in between).

Setup and rules[edit]

Capablanca proposed two opening setups for Capablanca Chess. His final revision placed the archbishop between the queen's knight and queen's bishop; the chancellor between the king's knight and king's bishop.[1][2] The king moves three squares when castling instead of moving two squares as in standard chess. A pawn can promote to archbishop or chancellor in addition to the regular promotion options in standard chess.[2]

Capablanca also experimented with a 10×10 board size with a different initial setup and where pawns could advance up to three squares on their first move. Edward Lasker wrote:[3]

... 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 new piece names archbishop (originally named chancellor) and chancellor (originally named marshall, followed by marshal) were introduced by Capablanca himself.[4] These names are still used in most modern variants of Capablanca Chess.

Variants of Capablanca Chess[edit]

Predating Capablanca Chess[edit]

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8a8 black rookb8 black princessc8 black knightd8 black bishope8 black queenf8 black kingg8 black bishoph8 black knighti8 black empressj8 black rook8
7a7 black pawnb7 black pawnc7 black pawnd7 black pawne7 black pawnf7 black pawng7 black pawnh7 black pawni7 black pawnj7 black pawn7
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6i6j66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j44
3a3b3c3d3e3f3g3h3i3j33
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawni2 white pawnj2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white princessc1 white knightd1 white bishope1 white queenf1 white kingg1 white bishoph1 white knighti1 white empressj1 white rook1
abcdefghij
Carrera's Chess.[5] Earliest chess variant on 8×10 board with archbishop and chancellor.

Capablanca was not the first person to add the archbishop and the chancellor 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 an 8×10 board. He placed new pieces between a rook and a knight. Archbishop was on the queenside and chancellor on the kingside. Carrera used names centaur instead of archbishop, and champion instead of chancellor. 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 the names equerry instead of archbishop, and guard instead of chancellor.

Postdating Capablanca Chess[edit]

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   A

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   J
w3 wd
9 a9 zd b9 rd c9 nd d9 bd e9 qd f9 kd g9 bd h9 nd i9 rd j9 zd 9
8 a8 pd b8 pd c8 pd d8 pd e8 pd f8 pd g8 pd h8 pd i8 pd j8 pd 8
7 a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 i7 j7 7
6 a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 i6 j6 6
5 a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 i5 j5 5
4 a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 i4 j4 4
3 a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 i3 j3 3
2 a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 i2 j2 2
1 a1 pl b1 pl c1 pl d1 pl e1 pl f1 pl g1 pl h1 pl i1 pl j1 pl 1
0 a0 zl b0 rl c0 nl d0 bl e0 ql f0 kl g0 bl h0 nl i0 rl j0 zl 0
w1 wl    A
<W1
 B
 C
 D
 E
 F
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W2>
w2 wl
Omega Chess starting position

Capablanca Chess has inspired a number of 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
  • Capablanca Random Chess (2004) by Reinhard Scharnagl
  • 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
  • Victorian Chess (2007) by John K. Lewis
  • Modern Capablanca Random Chess (2008) by José Carrillo

Embassy Chess uses a starting position identical to Grand Chess adapted to a 10×8 board. Capablanca Random Chess 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.

Using a different board[edit]

abcdefghij
10a10 black rookb10c10d10e10f10g10h10i10j10 black rook10
9a9b9 black knightc9 black bishopd9 black queene9 black kingf9 black empressg9 black princessh9 black bishopi9 black knightj99
8a8 black pawnb8 black pawnc8 black pawnd8 black pawne8 black pawnf8 black pawng8 black pawnh8 black pawni8 black pawnj8 black pawn8
7a7b7c7d7e7f7g7h7i7j77
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6i6j66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j44
3a3 white pawnb3 white pawnc3 white pawnd3 white pawne3 white pawnf3 white pawng3 white pawnh3 white pawni3 white pawnj3 white pawn3
2a2b2 white knightc2 white bishopd2 white queene2 white kingf2 white empressg2 white princessh2 white bishopi2 white knightj22
1a1 white rookb1c1d1e1f1g1h1i1j1 white rook1
abcdefghij
Grand Chess starting setup. The chancellors are on f2/f9; the archbishops are on g2/g9.

There are also variants of Capablanca Chess that do not use the standard 10×8 board. Grand Chess is a popular 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 starting pieces without placing the hawk or the elephant (Seirawan's names for the archbishop and the chancellor, respectively), he forfeits his right to do so.

Programs that play Capablanca Chess[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gollon (1969), p. 220
  2. ^ a b c Schmittberger (1992), p. 204
  3. ^ Lasker (1959), p. 39
  4. ^ Pritchard (2007), p. 122
  5. ^ Pritchard (2007), p. 120

Bibliography

Further reading[edit]

  • Pritchard, D. B. (1994). "Capablanca Chess". The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. Games & Puzzles Publications. pp. 38–40. ISBN 0-9524142-0-1.  (extensive history)

External links[edit]