In Alternative Chess the rules are the same as in orthodox chess, except that one extra piece per player (or two) is placed in the reserve. Standard chess is included as an option, thereby maintaining the historical connection. In a tournament, by way of the initial voting procedure, players can decide to play a traditional game.
Before starting, the players must decide whether they want to use the extra piece. The above image displays a Mastodon, but practically any piece type can be used. To make a decision, one can, for instance, turn over a marker, or place the extra piece in a special way. Only if both players choose not to use the extra piece, then it becomes a regular game of chess. If white turns down the extra piece, then black can overrule this.
If players have elected to include external pieces, they may either move a piece or pawn, or drop the extra piece from the reserve. The extra piece may only be introduced on the second rank at occasions when a pawn moves two steps. Should a player refrain from inserting his extra piece at these occasions, then he has forfeited his chance of introducing it. Note that pieces and pawns are allowed to move before the extra piece has been dropped.
Introducing the external piece implies a weakening of the pawn chain, so it’s a difficult strategical question whether one should wait, or immediately make use of the drop move to advance a centre pawn two steps. But dropping the extra piece on the king- or queen pawn could block the development of the bishop. Waiting has its obvious advantages, although the alternative positions where the piece can be dropped will become fewer and fewer.
In this setup two extra pieces are used, a Chancellor and an Archbishop.
Alternative Chess is intended as an alternative to standard chess. This implementation will allow the user to test which pieces are suitable. Each variant features a particular piece type. Choose your own favourite. It will be enhanced with more alternative pieces in later editions. So far, circa nineteen pieces have been implemented.
Note that this variant is close to my Accessory Chess where the pawn is only relocated one step.
• You can download my free Alternative Chess program here (updated 2009-10-21), but you must own the software Zillions of Games to be able to run it (I recommend the download version).
• Don’t miss my other chess variants.
© M. Winther, 2007 April