Author Topic: Elsborg's courier chess. Could start position have been better?  (Read 54 times)

Anders Elsborg Jensen

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Elsborg's courier chess. Could start position have been better?
« on: February 05, 2018, 01:12:14 am »
In 2016 the medieval game of courier chess and a particular design of it's pieces inspired me to make a chess variant that I called Elsborg's courier chess. 

Read about here:

or here

It is basically traditional chess with the spice of some uncommon pieces ( + some more squares ). A simple but many cases very well working idea, in my humble opinion.  The non-FIDE pieces that is used in Elsborg's courier chess are quite simple, yet rarely seen in chess variants. Malcolm Webb who made it possiblto play the elsborg's courier chess with Zillions of Games, told that the prince and the princess, was already used in other chess variants. But the bishop piece might be an original invention by me. I would like to know if some one has seen it elsewhere.

How good my chess variant is I don't know. I actually never played it versus another human. I don't know if any one ever has.

The most interesting thing in the game might be, how strong the un traditional pieces is compared to each other and to the traditional pieces. From the few times i have tried to play the games with Zilllions of Games. It is my impression that the new bishop piece is weaker than the traditional. but how much. I also think that the Prince is stronger than the princess, but how strong are these pieces compared to f.x a rook?

One of my main worries is the starting position. The b-pawn and the k-pawn are undefended when the game starts. what some will see as weakness. The unprotected i-pawn in the capablanca chess. has been seen as a flaw. It has been claimed that white can take advantage of this by playing d3 and win every game. On the other hand. I am thinking that the middle might be to solid. There for I am thinking that i might be better to let the princess start on b1 and the prince on k1 and let knight, bishop, and runner start on square closer to the middle. That would solve issue of the undefended the pawns. It would also leave the h2, and h7 as a kind of f2, f7. ( I think you unstand ) and wouldn't that be great?

Here is what i am writing about:

This game is thought as a funnier way to use a courier chess set than the original way.

 Even I have called this game Elsborg's courier chess because ( my middle name is Elsborg ) and I have been inspired by a courier chess set. This chess variant is much closer to modern chess than courier chess.

with some exceptions this game have the same rules as common chess see the rules here:

The opening setup is as follows:
King g1; Queen f1; Rook a1, l1; Knight b1, k1; Bishop c1, j1; Runner d1, i1; Princess e1; Prince h1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2, k2, l2

King g8; Queen f8; Rook a8, l8; Knight b8, k8; Bishop c8, j8; Runner d8, i8; Princess e8; Prince h8; Pawn a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7, i7, j7, k7, l7

Movement of pieces

The king, queen, rook, and knight  move as in the orthodox FIDE chess game.

The runner moves as the bishop in the orthodox FIDE chess game.

The pawns move like in the orthodox FIDE chess game, except than they can be promoted to any type of piece that is used in this chess variant ( except king of course )

The princess moves like a queen when it don't capture, but it can only capture pieces that are one square away from it.

The prince moves like a king when it don't capture. But it is able to capture like a queen.

The bishop as the runner ends it move on a square that is on the same diagonal as the square where it started it's move, and only the size of board limits how long it can move. The diffence from the runner is how it reaches the square it moves to, and therefore how it can be blocked.

To reach it's goal the bishop must in one move do the following: Go any number of squares orthogonally then turn it's direction 90 degrees and go the same number of squares in the new direction so that ends on a square on the same diagonal as where it's move started.

The bishops way of moving gives it two routes two its destination square. For example if white want's to move his bishop from c1 to e3 at least one of these two conditions must occur either all the squares c2,c3 and e3 have to be empty, or all the squares d1,e1 and e2 have to be empty. It doesn't matter if the square d2 is occupied.

Castling: White can castle kingside by moving his king to k1 and then ind same move move his rook on l1 to j1. Black can castle similar way on the 8th rank.

White can castle queenside my moving his king to c1 and his rook on a1 to d1. Black can castle similar way on the 8th rank.

Elsborg’s courier chess is played without the 50-move rule unless agreed by the players or stated by the organizers/ authorities of an elsborg’s courier chess event. It may be decided to change the 50-move rule to any “more than 50-move rule” f.ex  a 70- move rule, a 100-move rule, a 200-move rule ect.


Like there are people who are interested in the old days and even enjoy for while try to live like people did in the old days. I find historical chessgames like shatranj and courier chess interestering, but I generally I think the modern times are better than the ancient times also regarding chess.

The things I think make the courier chess inferior to moderne are 1) the weak movement of the queen, it’s orthogonal counterpart called  schleich or sneak, smuggler, spy, or fool or trülle. and the bishops.  ( Such weak pieces should come in bigger numbers to be great,  I think ).
2 ) That the pawns only can promote to a very weak piece which make it impossible to win with a king and pawn against king.
3)That the piece that look’s like a little queen is stronger than the queen.

The question was what to do about it. Of course I missed modern the queen so it was a pretty easy decide giving the queen it’s modern power.

The courier chess set that has inspired me is of the type shown on which has been inspired by a painting called "the chessplayers" made by the Dutchman Lucas van Leyden in 1508.
The names of pieces I call princess and prince  are inspired by the way their look and the ways they move are inspired by their names. The piece I call princess is the one that in the original game is called moves like a king and is called different names f.ex. man or sage or rath. I think it looks like a little queen and because of that i found it naturally to name it princess. The princess is looking up to her mother and imitating her way of moving, but she is not yet so strong and there for she can’t capture over long distance. Similar with the Prince. The piece i call prince is in my opinion looking like a little king. It was easy to get the idea to let the prince move the opposite of the princess. I think of it that way that the prince is lazy and arrogant and only want move like a king unless there is really something ( a piece to be captured ) to move for. Then he has the  will and power of youth to move long and fast.

Courier chess is the game where the modern bishop called courier meet the old bishop. The fact that courier chess has a piece that moves like a bishop, but is neither called a bishop and in diagrams not shown as a bishop and piece that is both called a bishop and often is shown like a bishop is both odd, fun and maybe the soul of courier chess. For this reason I wanted to keep some bishopness in the bishop without making it exactly like or in every case worse or in every case better than the runner. I think I found an exciting solution. For some reason I have not seen a piece who moves like this kind of bishop before.

The readers that are familiar with nordic or german language will quickly realize why I have called the courier a runner. It is the direct translation of  Danish word “løber” which is the word Danish speaking people use for the piece that English speaking people call bishop. It is my vision that the runner in any language shall be called a word meaning “some one that runs” and bishop shall be called the direct translation of bishop in any language..

You are welcome to ask or note me if I have not made myself clear.

Comments on everything regarding the game is welcome. However the only thing I could really imagine to change is the start position?

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