As chess becomes more and more dominated by computer analysis, the Capablanca variant on 100 squares may be the next wave in human play. Although Capablanca himself thought that the game on a 10x10 board was a bit too slow and later in his life advocated a 10x8 board, we believe that the play on a 10x10 board is actually more dynamic and maintains items such as long diagonals — let’s face it, chess belongs on a square board. Yes, we will at some point manufacture other sizes of boards for other variants, but the 10x10 version of Capablanca Chess (hereafter referred to as “Capa100 Chess” on this site) is the one that we want to fully explore through e-mail tournaments, analyzed games, opening analysis, and so forth.
In order to play Capa100 Chess, you will need a 10x10 board and a regular chess set with two extra pawns for each side. You will also need a piece to represent the Chancellor and Archbishop. If you don’t have an extra set, a 3D printer may offer you an alternate solution; we will also be getting together a set of pieces that will be available for sale over the next few months (a reasonably priced wood set).
The extra pieces were created in the spirit of the Queen, which of course moves like a Rook and Bishop. The Chancellor moves like a Rook and Knight; the Archbishop moves like a Bishop and Knight — both pieces can only jump other pieces when moving like the Knight. It is estimated that the Chancellor is worth close to 9 pawns (like the Queen) and the Archbishop is closer to 8 pawns. Whether these estimates will stand the test of time (and correspondence tournaments) remains to be seen.
The piece setup is as follows (note that it is the King on his own color on the 10x10 board, not the Queen):
The Archbishops start next to the Queen on the d1 and d10 squares, and the Chancellors start next to the King on the g1 and g10 squares. Although there seem to be different setups for the Capablanca variant, the one that makes the most sense keeps the King and Queen in the middle (next to each other) just as in the regular game. In fact, keeping the bishops on the c-file and h-file allows them to fianchetto if they so desire (again in keeping with the spirit of regular chess) -- note that this is something that cannot be done on a 10x8 board, since unique long diagonals do not exist on such a board.
Pawns promote on the 10th rank (White) and 1st rank (Black). The pawn must be promoted to a piece that has already been captured (unlike in regular chess where a player could theoretically have 9 Queens). In the extremely rare event that there is no piece available, the pawn is not allowed to move to the final rank, but can still give check on an opposing King.
Castling follows the same rules as in regular chess, with the exception that the King will move three squares to either side with the rook being placed next to the King on the opposite side of the move. For White, kingside castling will consist of moving the King from f1 to i1 with the Rook moving from j1 to h1; queenside castling will consist of moving the King from f1 to c1 with the Rook moving from a1 to d1. In the diagram below, the Black pieces show the position of King and Rook prior to castling, while the White pieces show the position after castling.
Pawns can move one, two, or three squares on the first move of the pawn. This allows the battle for the center to start almost as rapidly as in the normal game. For the rules regarding en passant, any pawn moving two or three squares on the first move can be captured when passing through the capture square of an opposing pawn just as in the normal game. Hence, if there are Black pawns on b3, b4, and b5, and there is a White pawn on a2, if White plays her pawn to a5, Black can choose on the next move (and next move only) to play b4xa3 e.p., moving the pawn from b4 to a3 and removing the White pawn from a5. Black could also choose to instead play b5xa4 e.p., moving the pawn from a5 to b4 and removing the White pawn from a5. The pawn on b3 has no capture options on the a5-pawn.
Other rules will be clarified as we move forward. Another great thing about Capa100 Chess is the fact that almost all endgame theory remains intact — the only difference is the fact that there are four center files instead of two, with the Bishop, Knight, and Rook files remaining the same. Unanswered questions (currently) include whether to promote to Queen or Chancellor or Archbishop when it is possible to promote to any of the three. So, the basic theories remain the same, but there will be additional aspects to spice things up.
TL;DR: This variant keeps as close to the tradition of regular chess as possible, while at the same time adding new dynamic play that has not been overanalyzed. Creativity is alive and well with Capa 100 Chess.
Please feel free to either post here or write us with any questions at Lakewood Lakes Chess (all one word) at gmail, and I hope you enjoy the game on a “human” level!
Learn all about playing Capablanca chess on a 100-square board (Capa's original concept), and post your rules questions and strategy ideas here.
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