Zanzibar-XL and Zanzibar-S

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A new video on Zanzibar board and pieces

Presentation

These two chess variants were elaborated during the design phase of Zanzibar - Maasai Chess. They have been published on the chessvariants.com pages (CVP) and some players enjoy playing them. They are both simpler that the final Zanzibar-Maasai Chess and they represent an intermediate stage between the later and Metamachy.

Two Zanzibar games are proposed. Zanzibar-XL is the is full version. Zanzibar-S is the smallest version and is detailed on the bottom of this webpage.

Zanzibar-XL is a real challenge. There are 80 pieces of 19 different types, 40 for each player: 1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Eagle, 1 Lion, 1 Duchess, 1 Sorceress, 1 Rhinoceros, 1 Buffalo, 2 Princes, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Camels, 2 Rooks, 2 Cannons, 2 Elephants, 2 Giraffes, 2 Crocodiles, 2 Machines and 12 Pawns.

There is a choice of 288 different starting setups. Black chooses the setup and White makes the first move.

The goal is to checkmate the opposing King.

Setup rules

At the beginning Pawns, and all pieces which come as pairs (Elephants, Cannons, Rooks, Camels, Knights, Giraffes, Bishops, Crocodiles, Princes, Machines) are placed on the board as follows for each player:

  • 1st row: Cannon / Camel / Giraffe / Crocodile / . / . / . / . / Crocodile / Giraffe / Camel / Cannon
  • 2nd row: Elephant / Rook / Knight / Bishop / . / . / . / . / Bishop / Knight / Rook / Elephant
  • 3rd row: 4 x Pawn / Prince / Machine / Machine / Prince / 4 x Pawn 
  • 4th row: 4 Pawn on columns e, f, g, h.

 

Setup of fixed starting pieces at Zanzibar-XL

Then, Black freely decides where to place his King, Queen, Eagle and Lion on squares f11, g11, f12 and g12. After this, Black decides where to place his Duchess, Sorceress, Rhinoceros and Buffalo on squares e11, h11, e12 and h12.

Then, White put his pieces symmetrically in mirror (if Black King is on f12, White King goes on f1) and makes the first move.

1 of the 288 possible starting positions for Zanzibar-XL

As pieces are placed in mirror symmetry, positions of Kings on f squares are exactly equivalent of positions of King on g squares. Then, it can be demonstrated that it exists 288 different starting positions:

    • The King can be on f11 or f12: 2 choices
    • Then, the Queen has a choice of 3 positions: beside the King, beneath the King or diagonal to the King.
    • Then, the Eagle has a choice of 2 remaining positions.
    • Then, the left place in the center is for the Lion.
    • Then, the Duchess has a choice of 4 positions.
    • Then, the Sorceress has a choice of 3 remaining positions
    • Then, the Rhinoceros has a choice of 2 remaining positions.
    • Then, the left place is for the Buffalo.
    • 2x3x2x4x3x2x = 288


(Pieces were not tainted yet. Also in
video here)

Zanzibar-XL

Moves

Pieces from Metamachy

  • King: moves 1 step in every (8) directions on a not attacked square. The King is in check if it is attacked by one or several enemy pieces. It is forbidden to play a move letting his King in check. There is no castling in Zanzibar.

    At his first move, the King may jump to a free square at two squares' distance. For instance, from f2, it can jump to d1, d2, d3, d4, e4, f4, g4, h4, h3, h2 or h1). It does not matter if the square jumped over is occupied or not; however, the jump is forbidden if that intermediate square is threatened by an enemy piece. When jumping like a Knight, at least one of the two intermediate squares must be free of threat (e.g., if jumping from f2 to h3, either g2 or g3 must not be under attack). The King's jump is not permitted if the King is in check. This rule, which was once prevalent in medieval European chess, replaces castling.

  • Queen: slides to any square along the file, the rank or a diagonal on which it stands.

  • Eagle: moves one square diagonally and then, slides away of an indefinite number of squares vertically or horizontally. It is authorized to go only one square diagonal. It can not jump and the unobstructed path must start with the diagonal movement. This piece is almost as powerful as the Queen and is inspired by the Giraffe from Tamerlane's Chess and the Aanca (a mythical giant bird praying elephants, mistaken for a gryphon) from Alfonso X's Grande Acedrex. This piece is also known as Gryphon in many chess variants.

  • Lion: moves as a King (a single step move in any direction), or may jump to a position two squares away, jumping in any orthogonal or diagonal direction, or jumping as a Knight. (Inspired by Chu Shogi, the most popular variant of the Japanese Chess, where the Lion has the same range but is more dreadful as it can move twice in a turn).

  • Rook: moves to any square along the file or the rank on which it stands.

  • Bishop: slides to any square along a diagonal on which it stands. Note that it always stays on the same color of square.

  • Knight: jumps to the opposite square of a 2x3 rectangle. No matter what the intermediate square contains. Note that it always change the color of square at every move.

  • Camel: jumps to the opposite square of a 2x4 rectangle, like an extended Knight. No matter what intermediate squares contain. It is also described as a (3,1) leaper. Note that it always stays on the same color of square. A well known piece from medieval Muslim great Chess like Tamerlane's Chess.

  • Cannon: exactly as in Shako, it is borrowed from Xiangqi. It moves without taking like a Rook, but it takes by going in a straight horizontal and vertical line and jumping over exactly one piece. When a Cannon takes a piece, there must be exactly one piece between the original and final square of the Cannon's move - this piece may be of either color.

  • Elephant: exactly as in Shako. It moves one or two squares diagonally. When an Elephant moves two squares, no matter what intermediate squares contain. Note that it always stays on the same color of square. The Elephant moves as the combined Alfil and Firzan (Ferz) from Shatranj, two pieces which were also present in medieval Chess and have disappeared with the birth of modern moves for the Bishop and the Queen.

  • Prince: a non-royal King who moves and captures one square in any direction, but without being hindered by check. It has been inspired by medieval games like the Courier chess , an old chess variant, played in Germany, where it is called "Man". Like the Pawn, he can also move without capturing to the second square straight ahead from any position on the board.

  • Pawn: can move straight forward one or two square from any position on the board, without capturing. It captures one square diagonally forward.

Pieces specific to Zanzibar (and beyond)

  • Giraffe: jumps to the opposite square of a 3x4 rectangle, like an extended Knight. No matter what intermediate squares contain. It is also described as a (3,2) leaper. Note that it always changes the same color of its square. That piece is found in Alfonso X's Grant Acedrex. The same pattern, but without jumping, is found in Janggi, Korean Chess, for the Elephant. Under the name of Zebra, it is also a fairy piece used by problemists for compositions.

  • Crocodile:  it is the diagonal counterpart of the Chinese Cannon. It moves like a Bishop (which was named Crocodile in Grant Acedrex) and needs an intermediate piece between itself and its victim to capture it. The Crocodile jumps the intermediate and takes the victim on its square. The intermediate is left unaffected. Also known as Vao by problemists.

  • Machine: it is an orthogonal counterpart of the Elephant as it moves one or two squares orthogonally, jumping over the first square if it is occupied. Then, it combines the moves of old Dabbaba and Wazir found in ancient Muslim Chess variants. The word Dabbaba designated a siege machine at war in Arabic, hence the name given for this piece.

  • Duchess: it moves as a limited Queen, one, two or three squares in any straight directions. When moving two or three squares, it may jump and it does not matter what intermediate squares contain.

  • Sorceress: it moves like a Queen and needs an intermediate piece between itself and its victim to capture it. The Sorceress jumps the intermediate and takes the victim on its square. The intermediate is left unaffected. Like the Queen is Bishop + Rook, the Sorceress is Cannon + Crocodile.

  • Rhinoceros: moves one square vertically or horizontally and then, slides away of an indefinite number of squares diagonally. It is authorized to go only one square in line or column. It can not jump and the unobstructed path must start with the orthogonal movement. This piece is inspired by the Unicorn of medieval Grant Acedrex. It is a counterpart of the Eagle. It is now called Manticore on the chessvariants pages.

  • Buffalo: combines the leaps of the Knight (2,1 leaper), the Camel (3,1 leaper) and the Giraffe (3,2 leaper).

Other rules

  • Pawn and Prince Promotion: A Pawn or a Prince reaching the last rank of the board is immediately replaced by an "chief" piece: Queen, Eagle, Lion, Duchess, Sorceress, Rhinoceros or Buffalo. Promotion to any other type of piece is not allowed. It is permitted to promote a Pawn or Prince to a type of piece already present on the same side; however; it is considered "good etiquette" to avoid choosing a piece which is not captured yet, if possible. Note that a side Pawn must take at least five moves to reach promotion by taking double steps (rows 3 - 5 - 7 - 9 - 11 - 12), which is the same number of moves required for a pawn in standard chess (rows 2 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8). A central Pawn could even be promoted in four steps (rows 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 -12).
  • En Passant capture: Any time a Pawn or Prince takes a double step and passes through the capture square of an opposing Pawn, that Pawn may capture the Pawn or Prince as if it had only moved one square. This en passant capture must be made in the immediate move following the double step. Only a Pawn may capture en passant; the Prince does not have this option.
  • End Of Game: The end-of-game rules, checkmate, stalemate, etc., are identical to standard chess.

 


Zanzibar-S

For those who are frightened by the complexity of Zanzibar in its -XL version, there is a moderate version named Zanzibar-S.

Here, there are only (!) 72 pieces of 17 different types, 36 for each player: 1 King, 1 Queen, 1 Eagle, 1 Lion, 1 Rhinoceros, 1 Buffalo, 2 Princes, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights, 2 Camels, 2 Rooks, 2 Cannons, 2 Elephants, 2 Giraffes, 2 Crocodiles, 2 Machines and 10 Pawns.

In Zanzibar-S there is no Duchess and Sorceress

Pawns can only promote to Queen, Eagle, Lion, Rhinoceros or Buffalo when reaching the opposite side of the board.

Like for the -XL version, Black chooses the setup and White makes the first move.

Zanzibar-S set-up

At the beginning Pawns, and all pieces which come as pairs (Elephants, Cannons, Rooks, Camels, Knights, Giraffes, Bishops, Crocodiles, Machines and Princes) are placed on the board as follow for each player:

  • 1st row: Cannon / Camel / Giraffe / Crocodile / . / . / . / . / Crocodile / Giraffe / Camel / Cannon
  • 2nd row: Elephant / Rook / Knight / Bishop / Machine / . / . / Machine / Bishop / Knight / Rook / Elephant
  • 3rd row: 4 x Pawn / Prince / Pawn / Pawn / Prince / 4 x Pawn 

 

Setup of fixed starting pieces at Zanzibar-S

Then, Black freely decides where to place his King, Queen, Eagle and Lion on squares f1, g1, f2 and g2.

After this, Black decides where to place his Rhinoceros and Buffalo on squares e1 and h1.

Then, White put his pieces symmetrically in mirror (if Black King is on f1, White King goes on f12) and makes the first move.

As pieces are placed in mirror symmetry, positions of Kings on f squares are exactly equivalent of positions of King on g squares. Then, it can be demonstrated that it exists 24 different starting positions:

    • The King can be on f1 or f2: 2 choices
    • Then, the Queen has a choice of 3 positions: beside the King, beneath the King or diagonal to the King.
    • Then, the Eagle has a choice of 2 remaining positions.
    • Then, the left place is for the Lion.
    • Then, the Rhinoceros has a choice of 2 remaining positions.
    • Then, the left place is for the Buffalo.
    • 2x3x2x2 = 24.

 

1 of the 24 possible starting positions for Zanzibar-S


Zanzibar-S ready to play


Pieces Value

Zillions gives these average values, normalized to 5 for the Rook :

Pawn: 1.1 ; Giraffe:2 ; Camel: 2.2 ; Elephant: 2.4 ; Knight: 2.5 ; Machine: 2.8 ; Crocodile: 3.3 ; Bishop: 3.4 ; Prince: 3.7 ; Cannon: 4.9 ; Rook: 5 ; Rhinoceros: 6 ; Buffalo: 6.7 ; Duchess: 7.4 ; Lion: 7.6 ; Eagle: 7.8 ; Sorceress: 8 ; Queen: 8.2

A maybe more realistic estimate would be:

Pawn: 1 ; Giraffe: 2 ; Camel: 2 ; Elephant: 2.5 ; Knight: 2.5 ; Machine: 3 ; Crocodile: 3 ; Prince: 3.5; Bishop: 3.5 ; Cannon: 4 ; Rook: 5 ; Rhinoceros: 6 ; Sorceress: 6.5 ; Buffalo: 7 ; Duchess: 7.5 ; Lion: 7.5 ; Eagle: 8 ; Queen: 9

These values are just given for a very rough estimate. A lot of players would disagree and give less or more points to several piece. Never mind, make your own scale and be the Sultan of Zanzibar.


You can play Zanzibar-XL and -S if you own Zillions-of-Games.

Download this zip-file: cazauxchess.zip


Find Zanzibar-XL and Zanzibar-S in the Chessvariants pages

There are presets to play Zanzibar-XL and Zanzibar-S there.


 

Un tablier de 12 x 12 cases.

Un total de 72 à 80 pièces, de 16 à 19 types différents :

Rois, Dames, Fous, Cavaliers, Tours, Pions mais aussi Aigles, Lions, Chameaux, Éléphants, Princes, Canons, Cardinaux, Maréchaux, mais encore Girafes, Crocodiles, Machines, Buffles et Rhinoceros.

288 manières différentes de les disposer au départ !


Diagrams made with the fantastic Chess Board Painting Tools provided by Musketeer Chess    


 

 

 Thanks to Paul Rapoport for his discussion and corrections

01/04/2020

(modified 19/04/2022)