Sunday, 17 April 2016

Battle: A wargame played on a chessboard: Part 2: How to play the game


Of the various Marching and Attacking Moves, together with the method of recording same, if desired.

Consider the Chess-board as a battlefield 8 miles long x 8 wide. Consider it marked as shown for the purposes either of explaining or recording the battle fought. Notice that the same units lie in line from south to north, and the same tens from west to east, so as to aid in mentally locating and grasping a move when quoted;

General (G), and also Ammunition (A).

EXAMPLE 1. Place White’s General in position on No.33 square. He can never attack; but he may march the one mile, as marked thereon, in any one of the eight radial directions, as likewise marked thereon, say to 44. And if desired, we may record such march a G33 to 44; but being White’s piece we must prefix it with W, thus reading WG33-44. And so likewise with the Ammunition.

Infantry (I).

EXAMPLE 2. Place White’s Infantry at 33, and Black’s Cavalry at 55; record it as WI33, BC55. White may either march say to 63, or other intermediate position; or else he may attack Black’s Cavalry by moving into action. The record of the one would read: WI33-63, and the other WI33-44. No need to express more, for the very direction from 33 to 63 implies the one to be a march, and the other 33-44 to be an attack, in which BC55 is taken. Had another piece of either side been stationed at 44, there would have been no room to get into action at 44, consequently no attack.

Gun-Battery (GB).

EXAMPLE 3. Place WGB33, BC53, BSB63, BI73. Either WGB33 may march say to 44, thus: WGB33-44; or else, by moving a mile into action, he may attack, and so sweep all three Blacks off the field, thus: WGB33-43.

EXAMPLE 4. Repeat last example, but substitute WSB63 for BSB63. WGB is now masked by the presence of WSB63, and cannot fire.

EXAMPLE 5. Repeat example 3, and add any other piece at 43. WGB33 cannot move into action, and therefore cannot fire.

EXAMPLE 6. Place WGB33, BI63, BGB83. It probably would not pay WGB33 to fire into BI63; since then, being at 43, it would be in range and at the mercy of BGB83 in return.

Shell-Battery (SB).

EXAMPLE 7. Place WSB43, BC63, BI73. White may march either say to 54, or say 65, thus: WSB43-65; or else he may attack, thus: WSB43-53, taking both pieces.

EXAMPLE 8. Place WSB43, BI63, BC73, DGB83. If White attacks both Infantry and Cavalry, thus: WSB43-53, he will be in range and at the mercy of BGB83. It will be wiser therefore to fire only on Cavalry as the greater value, leaving Black’s Infantry to mask its own Gun-Battery with; and record that fact in full, thus: WSB43-53 (BI63), signifying that BI is spared; but if White had GB instead of SB, he could have taken the lot.

EXAMPLE 9. Place WSB42, BI44, BC45, BI65. WSB42 may attack BI44 and BC45 thus: WSB42-43; but in that position – 43, it would then be attacked by BI65, thus: BI65-54.

EXAMPLE 10. Place WSB26, WGB46, BC56, BGB76. Now White’s GB cannot attack, but is in danger from Cavalry attack next move. True, his SB can attack Cavalry, but Black’s GB would then take both in return. On the other hand if WGB retires to, say 35, to save such disaster, Cavalry would follow up and probably capture WGB or WSB; unless White had say Infantry at 12 and at 63 to support his guns with, then he would be safe.

Cavalry (C).

EXAMPLE 11. Place WC16, WSB15, WGB23, BA28. Cavalry marches to 38. Ammunition is lost; for if it moves either to 17 or 18, SB fires on it; if on it; or if it remains where it is, or moves to 37, then Cavalry charges it.

EXAMPLE 12. Place WC21, BGB35, BSB64. Let WC21-54, BSB64-46, WC54-36, BGB35-44, WC36-46 thus capturing SB, but BGB44-45, and takes C.

Practice alone will show the power of an organised attack or defence, the value of caution as well as skill


  1. Seems my inference last time we wrong: capture is by replacement. Sort of.

    It is a pity they don't use the chess algebraic convention for identifying squares (files are lettered, ranks are numbered); or at least have reversed the rank and file numbering. Take a bit of getting the hang of!

    If you we making a record of the game - like a chess 'score' - you could use a system like this:
    1.e2-e4 e7-e5
    2.Ng1-f3 Nb8-c6
    3.Bf1-b5 f7-f5
    4.d2-d4 f5xe4 ...
    (Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Variation)
    This is actually the 'long form' of algebriac notation. If no piece is identified, then it was a pawn move. '-' implies move; 'x' implies a move and capture.

    Would the following signify a valid sequence of moves?
    1.I25-55 I74-64
    2.S16-25 I64x55
    3.S25-35x55 ...
    What would be a good reply by Black here?

    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      I must agree that the move notation does take a bit of getting used to, and would prefer that the designer had used conventional chess notation.

      I have yet to use the rules, but hope to do so in the near future. When I do, I will hopefully be able to make some sort of judgement about what constitutes good (and bad) moves.

      All the best,


  2. Preparing to give this one a try. Made a sheet of stickers that are now attached to some 2x2 cm wooden tiles last week, and also got a cheap chess board to play on. Just have not had an opportunity to play yet. Here is the sheet of stickers anyway:

    Many thanks for posting this. Must be so many more obscure 19th (or early 20th) century games waiting to be discovered (and played).

    1. Planatree,

      I'd be interested to read how you efforts to play the game turn out. I've thought about creating a set of pieces myself, but never quite got around to doing so as other projects intervened!

      I suspect that there are a whole raft of early wargames out there waiting to be re-discovered and recreated. I just wish that I had the time (and money) to look for them.

      All the best,