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Updated version 2.0 of four dimensional crazyhouse/bughouse chess variants

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The following is based on a four dimensional chess variant of mine (a link devoted to it is provided much further below, as are links for some other games mentioned):

Here's an idea for four dimensional crazyhouse and bughouse chess variants that can be played as if on a two dimensional plane (a 16x16 board, with appropriate spacing, could be used for 4D crazyhouse even on a coffee table; it would be about the size of a Scrabble board [15x15 in that case] - using a computer program for 4D crazyhouse if desired, a player could check if he is making a legal move, and whether it is mate or stalemate, for example).

I'd call the two variants 4*Crazyhouse, and 4*Bughouse, assuming the names are not taken. These untested variants were largely inspired by my desire to see western chess style variants created that might allow at least some human players a sporting chance against any computer playing program, unlike is the case for standard chess. Here's a sort of diagram for a possible start position on the sixteen 4x4 mini-boards that either of the two variants are played on (by two of the opponents):

Col =a= and file Col =b= and file Col =c= and file Col =d= and file Row and rank
 aa  ab  ac  ad   ba  bb  bc  bd   ca  cb  cc  cd   da  db  dc  dd  Rr

[N] [B] [B] [N]  [N] [U] [U] [N]  [R] [D] [D] [R]  [R] [D] [D] [K]  44
[P] [P] [P] [P]  [P] [P] [P] [P]  [P] [P] [P] [P]  [P] [P] [P] [P]  43
    :::     :::  :::     :::          :::     :::      :::     :::  42
:::     :::          :::     :::  :::     :::      :::     :::      41

:::     :::          :::     :::  [U] [D] [D] [U]  [R] [D] [D] [Q]  34
    :::     :::  :::     :::      [P] [P] [P] [P]  [P] [P] [P] [P]  33
:::     :::          :::     :::      :::     :::  :::     :::      32
    :::     :::  :::     :::      :::     :::          :::     :::  31

    :::     :::  :::     :::          :::     :::  :::     :::      24
:::     :::          :::     :::  :::     :::          :::     :::  23
(P) (P) (P) (P)  (P) (P) (P) (P)      :::     :::  :::     :::      22
(Q) (D) (D) (R)  (U) (D) (D) (U)  :::     :::          :::     :::  21

:::     :::          :::     :::  :::     :::          :::     :::  14
    :::     :::  :::     :::          :::     :::  :::     :::      13
(P) (P) (P) (P)  (P) (P) (P) (P)  (P) (P) (P) (P)  (P) (P) (P) (P)  12
(K) (D) (D) (R)  (R) (D) (D) (R)  (N) (U) (U) (N)  (N) (B) (B) (N)  11

In 4*Crazyhouse and 4*Bughouse, some 3 and 4 dimensional moving pieces are introduced, and all the pieces may possibly move between the mini-boards when performing a move (note that 'coordinate' in these instructions refers to the rank or file of a square on a mini-board, or refers to the row or column number of a mini-board):
D=4*Chess Balloon (I'd nickname it Dirigible) - moves like a bishop except changes 4 coordinates as it moves (standard 4D fairy chess piece);
U=4*Chess Unicorn - moves like a bishop except changes 3 coordinates as it move (standard 3D fairy chess piece);
B=4*Chess Bishop - changes 2 coordinates as it moves, like a bishop (does not change square colour even if moving to another mini-board);
R=4*Chess Rook - changes 1 coordinate as it moves, like a rook;
Q=4*Chess Queen - moves like a 4*Chess B or 4*Chess R, or a 4*Chess U, or a 4*Chess D;
K=4*Chess King - moves like a 4*Chess Q, only one square/mini-board at a time (no castling);
N=4*Chess Knight (nicknamed Horse) - changes 1 coordinate by 1 square and 1 coordinate by 2 squares, like a knight;
P=4*Chess Pawn - moves like a 4*Chess R (unless capturing) except only moves forward one square at a time on a rank, or forward by one column or one row to another mini-board (but moves to same rank & file there). If it is making a capture it moves like a 4*Chess B, except only moves by one square, or by one mini-board that's adjacent diagonally or by one row or by one column, and never retreats by rank or mini-board (i.e. by row or column). 4*Chess P promotions (if allowed) occur on the last rank of the corner mini-board where the enemy 4*Chess K starts the game, and a 4*Chess P may promote to any 4*Chess piece type (other than 4*Chess K). There is no double step or en passant, and it is possible for a 4*Chess P to early on avoid being captured by an enemy 4*Chess P simply by moving to the last rank of a mini-board (except for the appropriate promotion mini-board).

When it comes to dropping captured pieces in hand on a square, the same rules apply as in regular crazyhouse or bughouse (except as far as 4*Pawns go). My preferences for special 4*Pawn rules are:
1) A 4*P may not be dropped on a player's 1st rank on any mini-board, nor on a promotion square;
2) I personally prefer that there be no 4*P promotion (to at least avoid the need for getting any more extra pieces when playing offline), but instead of an Australian rules variant applied to standard bughouse (where a player's pawn just simply remains on the last rank), I suggest the following experimental options be available to a player in case of a 4*P reaching the last rank on its promotion mini-board:
2a) The 4*P can indeed just remain on the mini-board where it is (for the rest of the game, unless captured), or:
2b) The 4*P can be simply removed from the mini-board as part of the same move, and can be dropped on a later turn by the same player, or:
2c) The 4*P can be removed as in rule 2b), plus any available piece can be dropped on that last rank square as part of the same move, or:
2d) In case an enemy piece has just been captured by the 4*P, a player can chose options 2a), 2b) or 2c), or in case of the variant being 4*Crazyhouse, the captured piece can be dropped on that last rank square (after its colour is changed), following removing the 4*P (which can be dropped on a later turn by the player), again as part of the same move.

Note that an implication of the rules further above is that the following pieces have certain max. number of directions that they can move along in making a move that does not involve dropping a piece:

4*Chess R: 8 directions max. (including the 4 if it stays on the same mini-board as it starts)
4*Chess D: 16 directions max.
4*Chess B: 24 directions max. (including the 4 if it stays on the same mini-board as it starts)
4*Chess U: 32 directions max.
4*Chess Q (or 4*Chess K): 80 directions max. (the sum of the above pieces' max. directions)
4*Chess N: 8 plus 8 plus 4x4 plus 4x4 = 48 directions max. in theory, but less than that since the mini-boards (and the number of them) are not large enough to ever allow it (actual max. = 24).

[update: To perhaps improve computer-resistance, a variant on the rules above would be to not allow drops past a player's first two Rows of mini-boards, to inhibit any mating series of drops.]

In the case of crazyhouse (whether standard 8x8, 10x10 or 4D), if it is to become widely popular, and ideally a variant is used where pawn promotions are not allowed, an idea could be to, instead of using conventional pieces, have two-sided playing tokens (one side White and one side Black), with the same symbol of a chess piece etched on both sides. This would spare the need to have two sets of pieces of both colours, in order for two players to have an offline game. One downside would be that such tokens would likely be less aesthetic, though perhaps not as much as is the case for Shogi (Japanese Chess) IMHO; a possible second downside might some day be that such tokens would have to be produced all from scratch by manufacturers who would need to be convinced.

Here are some links, including ones with descriptions of a number of variants mentioned above in case viewers are unfamiliar:

Updated 08-03-2016 at 05:45 PM by Kevin Pacey

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Chess variants