abcdefghijklmnop
16a16 black rookb16 black knightc16 black wizardd16 black champione16 black bishopf16 black upside-down knightg16 black princessh16 black queeni16 black kingj16 black empressk16 black fooll16 black bishopm16 black championn16 black wizardo16 black knightp16 black rook16
15a15 black pawnb15 black pawnc15 black pawnd15 black pawne15 black pawnf15 black pawng15 black pawnh15 black pawni15 black pawnj15 black pawnk15 black pawnl15 black pawnm15 black pawnn15 black pawno15 black pawnp15 black pawn15
14a14b14c14d14e14f14g14h14i14j14k14l14m14n14o14p1414
13a13b13c13d13e13f13g13h13i13j13k13l13m13n13o13p1313
12a12b12c12d12e12f12g12h12i12j12k12l12m12n12o12p1212
11a11b11c11d11e11f11g11h11i11j11k11l11m11n11o11p1111
10a10b10c10d10e10f10g10h10i10j10k10l10m10n10o10p1010
9a9b9c9d9e9f9g9h9i9j9k9l9m9n9o9p99
8a8b8c8d8e8f8g8h8i8j8k8l8m8n8o8p88
7a7b7c7d7e7f7g7h7i7j7k7l7m7n7o7p77
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6i6j6k6l6m6n6o6p66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j5k5l5m5n5o5p55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j4k4l4m4n4o4p44
3a3b3c3d3e3f3g3h3i3j3k3l3m3n3o3p33
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawni2 white pawnj2 white pawnk2 white pawnl2 white pawnm2 white pawnn2 white pawno2 white pawnp2 white pawn2
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white wizardd1 white champione1 white bishopf1 white upside-down knightg1 white princessh1 white queeni1 white kingj1 white empressk1 white fooll1 white bishopm1 white championn1 white wizardo1 white knightp1 white rook1
abcdefghijklmnop
Chess on a really big board: initial position. As Betza did not specify icons for the unorthodox pieces, instead using letters to represent them in diagrams (as for the standard pieces), some Omega Chess symbols have been used to represent some of the unorthodox piece types, along with some relatively standard icons for the knighted pieces from Capablanca chess, and an inverted knight for the rose.

Chess on a really big board is a large chess variant invented by Ralph Betza around 1996.[1] It is played on a 16×16 chessboard with 16 pieces (on the back rank) and 16 pawns (on the second rank) per player. Since such a board can be constructed by pushing together four standard 8×8 boards, Betza also gave this variant the alternative names of four-board chess[1] or chess on four boards.[2]

Game description

The standard rules of chess apply except in the following cases:[1]

abcdefghijklmnop
16a16b16c16d16e16f16g16h16i16j16k16l16m16n16o16p1616
15a15b15c15d15e15f15g15h15i15j15k15l15m15n15o15p1515
14a14b14c14d14e14f14g14h14i14 fourj14k14l14m14n14o14p1414
13a13b13c13d13e13f13g13 threeh13i13j13k13 threel13m13n13o13p1313
12a12b12c12d12e12 fourf12g12h12i12 twoj12k12l12m12 fourn12o12p1212
11a11b11c11d11e11f11 twog11h11i11j11k11l11 twom11n11o11p1111
10a10b10c10d10 threee10f10g10h10 onei10j10 onek10l10m10n10 threeo10p1010
9a9b9c9d9e9f9g9 oneh9i9j9k9 onel9m9n9o9p99
8a8b8c8 fourd8e8 twof8g8h8i8 white upside-down knightj8k8l8m8 twon8o8 fourp88
7a7b7c7d7e7f7g7 oneh7i7j7k7 onel7m7n7o7p77
6a6b6c6d6 threee6f6g6h6 onei6j6 onek6l6m6n6 threeo6p66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5 twog5h5i5j5k5l5 twom5n5o5p55
4a4b4c4d4e4 fourf4g4h4i4 twoj4k4l4m4 fourn4o4p44
3a3b3c3d3e3f3g3 threeh3i3j3k3 threel3m3n3o3p33
2a2b2c2d2e2f2g2h2i2 fourj2k2l2m2n2o2p22
1a1b1c1d1e1f1g1h1i1j1k1l1m1n1o1p11
abcdefghijklmnop
Rose (qN; single-letter symbol O). Makes any number of consecutive knight moves on an octagonal (almost circular) path. It may move either clockwise or counterclockwise: going along a sequence of numbers 1-2-3-4-3-2-1 in a circle on the diagram demonstrates one possible move of the rose. For example, it may travel along the following path: i8–g9–e8–d6–e4–g3–i4–j6–i8. It may jump over pieces in each of its individual knight moves, but is blocked by pieces on its circular path (though it may capture an enemy piece thus placed).
By going all the way around a circle, it is allowed to return to its starting position. Thus a player with an unblocked rose may pass their turn.
The rose was invented in 1968 by Robert Meignant for chess problems.[2]

Betza included the rose in his initial setup because it is a piece especially suited for a large board: it cannot display its full power on boards smaller than 13×13. Furthermore, its already large move still cannot reach all the way across the board, contributing to the large feeling of the game along with the ability of the riders to attack from a large distance away.[1]

History

Chess on a really big board was created as an outgrowth of Betza's ideas on three-dimensional chess, after he noted that an 8×8×8 board for 3D chess would have 512 spaces, more than any large version of chess that had previously been invented; he then considered two-dimensional very large (or, in his word, "huge") chess games, mainly on the 16×16 board because such a board requires no non-standard equipment to construct, and while much larger than the 8×8 board, it was not so big as to make an unplayable game.[1] This idea eventually came full circle in the development of the 16×16×16 three-dimensional version of chess on a really big board, which he called "impossibly large".[4]

Gameplay

Betza described his choice of pieces as "a very basic and logical selection of the fundamental geometrical moves, except for my idiosyncratic insistence on including the Rose in the lineup of pieces. These are largely the basic units of chess, and anybody who designs a [16×16] game with 32 pieces is bound to come up with something reasonably similar, at least if they want it to be like chess but a bit less tactical." In fact, his original plan was to include the WA along with the complementary FD, but this leaves the c- and n-pawns undefended in the initial position. His final assessment was that the game was "rather chesslike".[1]

Betza divided the pieces into three classes: seven long-range pieces (the rooks, bishops, queen, archbishop, and chancellor), two mid-range pieces (the rose and superknight), and six short-range pieces (the knights, FDs, and WFAs). He opined that the short-range pieces, though the weakest, were crucial as they take time to get into the action, but are very important for opening up specific lines for attacks.[1]

Sample opening phase of a game

abcdefghijklmnop
16a16 black rookb16 black knightc16 black wizardd16 black champione16 black bishopf16g16h16i16 black kingj16 black empressk16l16 black bishopm16 black championn16 black wizardo16 black knightp16 black rook16
15a15 black pawnb15 black pawnc15 black pawnd15 black pawne15 black pawnf15 black pawng15 black pawnh15i15j15 black pawnk15 black pawnl15 black pawnm15 black pawnn15 black pawno15 black pawnp15 black pawn15
14a14b14c14d14e14f14g14h14i14j14k14l14m14n14o14p1414
13a13b13c13d13e13f13g13h13i13 black foolj13k13l13m13n13o13p1313
12a12b12c12d12e12f12g12h12i12j12k12l12 black queenm12n12o12p1212
11a11b11c11d11e11f11g11h11 black upside-down knighti11j11k11l11m11n11o11p1111
10a10b10c10d10e10f10g10h10 black pawni10j10k10l10m10n10o10p1010
9a9b9c9d9e9f9g9h9i9 black pawnj9k9l9m9n9o9p99
8a8b8c8d8e8f8g8h8i8 white pawnj8 white pawnk8 black princessl8m8n8o8p8 white pawn8
7a7b7c7d7e7f7g7h7i7j7k7l7m7n7o7p77
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6 white fooli6j6k6l6m6n6o6p66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5h5i5j5k5l5m5n5o5p55
4a4b4c4d4e4f4g4h4i4j4k4l4m4n4o4p44
3a3b3c3d3e3f3g3h3i3j3k3l3m3n3o3 white queenp33
2a2 white pawnb2 white pawnc2 white pawnd2 white pawne2 white pawnf2 white pawng2 white pawnh2 white pawni2j2k2 white pawnl2 white pawnm2 white pawnn2 white pawno2 white pawnp22
1a1 white rookb1 white knightc1 white wizardd1 white champione1 white bishopf1 white upside-down knightg1 white princessh1i1 white kingj1 white empressk1l1 white bishopm1 white championn1 white wizardo1 white knightp1 white rook1
abcdefghijklmnop
Position after 9...Ql12

The following sample game fragment was constructed by Betza.[1]

1.i8 i9
2.Qp9

The 16×16 analogue to the Wayward Queen Attack (in orthodox chess, 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5). On such a large board, this opening move becomes much sounder, as it is more difficult to attack the queen, and from this position it bears down onto the centre from a long distance.

2...h10
3.j8 Oh11

Black defends his i-pawn; White attacks it again (her j-pawn being defended by the chancellor on j1); Black defends it again, moving his rose from f16 via e14 and f12 to h11, where it defends the pawn on i9. Trading pawns would be disadvantageous and lead to the loss of a tempo by the initiator, but at some point White's chancellor must be developed.

Currently, White has no immediate threats. Attacks on Black's h-pawn with Bb4 (moving the d-pawn away first), or his rose with Bo4 (moving the m-pawn away first) are easy to counter. Hence she decides to bring a short-range piece to attack, though this will take several turns.

4.Ji4 Ai15
5.Jh6 Ak14

Attacking White's queen.

6.Qp10 Ji13
7.p8!?

Threatening to lift the king's rook to the h-file to contest the centre.

7...An11!?

Continuing to attack White's queen. This region could also be used as an advanced base: the n11 square can easily be defended by the rose or the m-pawn, and a natural follow-up would be 8...Qn10.

8.Ql6 Ak8

The White queen retreats and attacks the Black i-pawn again, but Black defends the pawn with the archbishop while attacking the queen again. The archbishop itself, though attacked by White's superknight, is protected by Black's rose.

9.Qo3

If 9.Qk7, then 9...Al9 may win a pawn.

9...Ql12

Threatening 10...Al6.[1]

Sample games

abcdefghijklmnop
16a16 black rookb16c16d16e16f16g16h16i16j16k16l16m16n16 black rooko16 black kingp1616
15a15b15 black pawnc15 black pawnd15e15f15g15h15i15j15k15l15 black empressm15 black pawnn15 black pawno15 black pawnp15 black pawn15
14a14b14c14d14e14 black pawnf14g14h14i14j14k14l14m14n14o14p1414
13a13b13c13d13 black pawne13f13 black pawng13 black pawnh13i13 black upside-down knightj13k13l13m13n13o13p1313
12a12b12c12 black queend12e12 black wizardf12g12 black knighth12 black pawni12 black championj12k12l12m12 black knightn12o12p1212
11a11b11c11d11e11f11g11h11i11 black pawnj11k11l11m11n11o11p1111
10a10b10c10d10e10f10g10h10i10j10 black pawnk10l10 black championm10n10o10p1010
9a9 black pawnb9c9d9e9f9g9h9i9j9k9 black pawnl9m9 black wizardn9o9p99
8a8b8c8d8e8f8g8h8i8 white pawnj8k8l8 black pawnm8n8o8p88
7a7b7c7d7e7f7 white pawng7h7 white knighti7j7 white pawnk7l7m7n7o7p77
6a6b6c6d6e6f6g6h6 white knighti6 white championj6k6 white pawnl6m6n6o6 black princessp66
5a5b5c5d5e5f5g5 white wizardh5 white princessi5