ⓘ Alice chess

Alice Chess

ⓘ Alice Chess

Alice chess is a chess variant invented in 1953 by V. R. Parton which employs two chessboards rather than one, and a slight alteration to the standard rules of chess. The game is named after the main character "Alice" in Lewis Carrolls work Through the Looking-Glass, where transport through the mirror into an alternate world is portrayed on the chessboards by the after-move transfer of chess pieces between boards A and B.

This simple transfer rule is well known for causing disorientation and confusion in players new to the game, often leading to surprises and amusing mistakes as pieces "disappear" and "reappear" between boards, and pieces interposed to block attacks on one board are simply bypassed on the other. This "nothing is as it seems" experience probably accounts for Alice chess remaining Partons most popular and successful variant among the numerous others he invented.


1. Move rules

Pieces move the same as they do in standard chess, but a piece transfers at the completion of its move to the opposite board. This simple change has dramatic impact on gameplay.

At the beginning of the game, pieces start in their normal positions on board A, while board B starts empty. After each move is made on a given board, the moved piece is transferred goes "through the looking-glass" to the corresponding square on the opposite board.

For example, after the opening moves 1. Nf3 e6, the white knight and black pawn transfer after moving on board A to their corresponding squares on board B. If the game continued 2. Ne5 Bc5, the knight returns to board A and the bishop finishes on board B see diagram.

A move in Alice chess has two basic stipulations: the move must be legal on the board on which it is played, and the square transferred to on the opposite board must be vacant. Consequently, capture is possible only on the board upon which a piece currently stands: pieces on board A can capture only pieces on board A ; pieces on board B can capture only pieces on board B. After capture, the capturing piece transfers to the opposite board the same as a non-capturing move.

To demonstrate, if the above game continued 3. Nxf7, the knight transfers to board B. Then with Black to move, both 3.Kxf7 and 3.Bxf2+ are not possible. Black cannot play 3.Qd4 either, since the queen may not hop over the pawn on d7. But the move 3. Bg1 is possible see diagram, although a white pawn is on f2 on board A.

A final stipulation applies specially to moves by the king: a king may not transfer to a vacant square on the opposite board, if this would put the king in check. Castling is largely regarded as permitted in Alice chess. The en passant rule is normally not used, but can be.


2. Early mates

Fools mate

Several exist, one is: 1. e4 d5 2. Be2 dxe4? 3. Bb5# see diagram.

At first glance, it might seem that Black can simply interpose a piece between Whites bishop and his king to block the check for example, 3.Bd7 or 3.Nc6 or 3.c6. But any piece so interposed immediately "disappears" when it transfers to board B. And Black cannot escape check by fleeing to the opposite board via 3.Kd7, because the move is not a legal move on board A. Therefore, it is checkmate.

Another form of fools mate: 1. e4 d6 2. Bc4 Qxd2? 3. Bb5#

And another: 1. e4 e5 2. Qh5 Nf6? 3. Qxe5#

Scholars mate

1. e4 h5 2. Be2 Rh4 3. Bxh5 Rxe4+ 4. Kf1 d5 5. Qe2? threatening 6.Qb5# 5. Bh3# see diagram.

1. d4 e6 2. Qd6 Be7? 3. Qe5+ Kf8 4. Bh6# Seitz–Nadvorney, 1973.


3. Variations

Rule modifications have sprouted a number of variations of Alice chess.

Alice chess 2

The black army starts out on the opposite board B.

Ms. Alice chess

Null or zero moves are permitted. A king cannot escape check with a zero move, and castling is denied if either king or rook have made a zero move. By John Ishkan 1973.


3.1. Variations Alice chess 2

The black army starts out on the opposite board B.


3.2. Variations Ms. Alice chess

Null or zero moves are permitted. A king cannot escape check with a zero move, and castling is denied if either king or rook have made a zero move. By John Ishkan 1973.


3.3. Variations Duo chess

Black starts out on board B ; transfers are optional; non-pawn pieces may make zero moves and may capture in so doing; a king is checked when an opposing piece sits on the kings zero square; mate must cover the kings ability to flee via a zero move. By Jed Stone 1981.

Parton also introduced a smaller, 8×4 version of Alice chess see diagram. He also observed that Alice chess can be played using three boards instead of two. Players then having a choice between two boards when transferring pieces.

Alice chess rules can be adopted by practically any other chess variant too, by simply doubling the number of gameboards in the variant and applying the piece transfer policy for example, Raumschach using two 5×5×5 boards.

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