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]

One design for the archbishop and chancellor pieces

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] It is important to notice that, unlike orthodox chess, each king, instead of each queen, starts on a square of its own color (the white king on a light square; the black king on a dark square).

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]

abcdefghij
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.
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8a8 black rookb8 black knightc8 black bishopd8 black empresse8 black queenf8 black kingg8 black princessh8 black bishopi8 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 bishopd1 white empresse1 white queenf1 white kingg1 white princessh1 white bishopi1 white knightj1 white rook1
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Bird's chess.[6] Second 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.[7][8] Carrera used the names Centauro (centaur) instead of archbishop, and Campione (champion) instead of chancellor.[9]

In 1874, Henry Bird proposed a chess variant similar to Carrera's variant. The only significant difference was the opening setup. The new pieces were now between the bishops and the royal pair, the archbishop close to the king, the chancellor close to the queen. The pawn in front of the bishop on queenside is not protected on the initial setup. Bird used the names equerry instead of archbishop, and guard instead of chancellor.

Postdating Capablanca chess[edit]

abcdefghij
8a8 black rookb8 black princessc8 black knightd8 black bishope8 black queenf8 black kingg8 black bishoph8 black knighti8 black empressj8 black rook8
7a7 white rookb7 white bishopc7 white queend7 white knighte7 white kingf7 white empressg7 white knighth7 white princessi7 white bishopj7 white rook7
6a6 black rookb6 black bishopc6 black knightd6 black empresse6 black queenf6 black kingg6 black princessh6 black knighti6 black bishopj6 black rook6
5a5 white rookb5 white bishopc5 white queend5 white knighte5 white kingf5 white princessg5 white knighth5 white empressi5 white bishopj5 white rook5
4a4 black rookb4 black knightc4 black bishopd4 black queene4 black kingf4 black empressg4 black princessh4 black bishopi4 black knightj4 black rook4
3a3 white rookb3 white knightc3 white bishopd3 white queene3 white empressf3 white kingg3 white princessh3 white bishopi3 white knightj3 white rook3
2a2 black rookb2 black queenc2 black knightd2 black bishope2 black princessf2 black kingg2 black bishoph2 black knighti2 black empressj2 black rook2
1a1 white empressb1 white rookc1 white knightd1 white bishope1 white princessf1 white kingg1 white bishoph1 white knighti1 white rookj1 white queen1
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The opening setups for Aberg's variation (8), Grotesque chess (7), Univers chess (6), Ladorean chess (5), Embassy chess (4), Gothic chess (3), Schoolbook chess (2), and Paulovich's variation (1). All are displayed from white's point of view of the board.

Capablanca chess has inspired a number of variants:

  • Universal chess (1928) by Dr. Bruno Violet (on 10x10 board). He proposed two arrangements.
  • Grand Chess (1984) by Christian Freeling
  • Gothic chess (2000) 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

Several proposals postdating Capablanca chess were designed to use an initial arrangement where all pawns are protected by at least one piece. This has been the case with Universal chess, Grand chess, Gothic chess, Grotesque chess, Ladorean chess, Schoolbook chess as well as with Univers chess, which adopted the starting lineup of Universal chess and used it on a 10x8 board, and Embassy chess which uses a starting position identical to Grand Chess adapted to a 10×8 board.

Aberg's variation has the same setup than the historic ancestor Carrera's chess. This because Aberg followed Murray's description which was wrong and thought to invent a new game by switching the archbishop and the chancellor. But doing so, he reached exactly the setup proposed by the 17th century Italian master.

David Paulowich in 2004 proposed an arrangement that was included in ChessV as "Capablanca Chess, Paulowich Variant". John Kipling Lewis re-invented it independently in 2007, giving it the name of Victorian Chess. Therefore, they have an identical initial setup.

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]

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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
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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. It makes a clever use of the large 10x8 board, giving a lot of early mobility to the rooks. All pawns are protected on the initial setup.

In 2007 Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan devised a variant (called Seirawan chess), which adds the two pieces to the standard game with an 8x8 board 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.

Strategy[edit]

H. G. Muller suggested the following estimated piece values:[10]

pawn 0.85
knight 3
bishop 3.5 (+0.5 for the bishop pair)
rook 5
cardinal 8.75
marshal 9
queen 9.5

Programs that play Capablanca chess[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
  6. ^ Cazaux-Knowlton (2017), p. 256
  7. ^ Pruen, Thomas (1804). An Introduction to the History and Study of Chess. p. 42. Carrera invented two new pieces, to be added to the eight original chess-men. That which he calls campione is placed between the king's knight and castle: its move is both that of the castle and of the knight. The other, named centaur, between the queen's knight and castle, has the move of the bishop and knight united. Each of these pieces has its pawn, and, of course, the board must contain two more squares on each side, which will augment their number to eighty. This invention appears to have died with the inventor.
  8. ^ Foster, Ben (1889). Chancellor Chess, or The New Game of Chess. p. 5. Carrera in 1617 inserted two new pieces, a Campione, having the moves of rook and knight, to be placed between the king's rook and the king's knight and a centaur, combining the moves of bishop and knight placed between the queen's rook and the queen's knight on a board 10x8 squares.
  9. ^ Murray, H.J.R. A History of Chess. p. 827. In his last book he describes a new variety of chess of his own invention on a 10x8 board,with four extra pieces on each side, viz., two Pawns, a Centauro (b1, b8) with the moves of Rook and Knight, and a Campione (i1, i8) with the moves of Bishop and Knight. The game never got beyond the book stage. H.J.R. Murray incorrectly described the moves of the Centauro (actually, bishop + knight) and Campione (rook + knight).
  10. ^ http://www.chessvariants.com/index/displaycomment.php?commentid=28113

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]