In Pioneer 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 must now be placed on the file on which the player intends to introduce the piece(s). If, for instance, the player places the external piece behind his own queen, then the piece is automatically introduced on the queen's initial square when the queen moves away. If a piece is placed behind the king then it is also introduced at castling. The same is true if the external piece is placed behind the rook. Should a piece on the initial position be captured (exchanged), then the player has forfeited his right to introduce an external piece placed behind it. (In an alternative variant black is compelled to place his piece on the same file as white.) Note! In variants with two external pieces per player, the player is not allowed to position one piece on the king file and one on the rook file. This rule will prevent him from introducing two pieces simultaneously at castling.
The players, in their first move, decide from which file they aim to introduce the external piece. In this case, the external piece has previously been positioned on the knight file. It is introduced to g1 when the knight moves. Black introduces his piece when the bishop moves.
Pioneer Chess is intended as an alternative to standard chess. This method of introducing an external piece, or two, is probably ideal while the strategical situation is clarified before play begins. This implementation will allow the user to test which pieces are suitable. It will be enhanced with more alternative pieces in later editions. Pioneer Chess is closely related to Alternative Chess, Accessory Chess and Pilgrim Chess. So far, twentytwo different piece types have been added, including the Consul, Dragonet, Llama, Alpaca, Guanaco, and Vicuña (for illustrations of the latter pieces, see here). Pilgrim Chess was invented and implemented by undersigned, April 2009.
• You can download my free Pioneer Chess program here (updated 2012-01-21), but you must own the software Zillions of Games to be able to run it (I recommend the download version).
• Play Pioneer Chess (with Alpaca) online here.
• Don't miss my other chess variants.
© M. Winther, 2009 April