Seirawan Chess was invented by GM Yasser Seirawan and Bruce Harper. In Seirawan Chess (S-chess) the rules are the same as in orthodox chess, except that two pieces, the Elephant and the Hawk, are placed in the reserve. The Elephant (Chancellor) combines the powers of a Rook and a Knight. It is comparable in strength to the Queen. The Hawk (Cardinal) combines the powers of a Bishop and a Knight. It is somewhat weaker than a Queen. These pieces are known from Capablanca's Chess.
Whenever a piece leaves its initial square, one of the extra pieces can immediately be introduced to the vacant square. So this is a double move, comparable to castling. Should a player refrain from inserting his extra pieces at these occasions, then he has forfeited his chance of introducing them. When castling, one of the extra pieces can be placed on either of the squares left vacant, namely the corner square, or the e1/e8 square. Pawns can, additionally, promote to Elephant or Hawk.
In this game the opening variance is very big. As the board is smaller than in Capablanca's Chess, the situation is easier to control, and there are less pawn weaknesses. The knight retains its strength on this standard board. If one doesn't want to delay the kingside castle, then one ought to place the extra pieces on the queenside.
A possible disadvantage is that the bishops tend to disappear from the board too fast. The bishop fianchetto is sometimes ineffective because the opponent can move his bishop from the initial position, and offer an exchange while simultaneously guarding the bishop by inserting the Hawk. However, the opponent can prevent this by introducing his Hawk when the fianchetto bishop is developed.
Note that this program can be used to create diagrams: switch board to the smallest alternative, press 'Print Screen', paste into any graphical editor, cut out the image, reduce colours to 16, and save it. The program can also be used for online play, and for recording games.
I suggest the following variant (also implemented in the program). The extra pieces must, in turn, be placed on the file on which the player intends to introduce the pieces. If, for instance, the player places the external piece behind his own queen, then it is automatically introduced 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 introduction right is forfeited. Note that the player is not allowed to position one piece on the king file and another on the rook file. This rule will prevent him from introducing two pieces simultaneously at castling. This method follows the same rules as in my Pioneer Chess.
I propose yet another variant: in the "forced entry" variant it's mandatory to introduce the external pieces at the first and second piece moves. The Hawk is added first. Only the moves of bishops, knights and queen can introduce the external pieces.
• You can download my free Seirawan Chess program here (updated 2011-02-12), 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.
• See also www.seirawanchess.com
© M. Winther (April 2007).