I recall being approached by numerous individuals inquiring about Avalanche Chess and proposing its incorporation as an alluring variant on BrainKing.com. Regrettably, I never acted on that suggestion, and it’s a missed opportunity since the game is unquestionably deserving of exploration, particularly due to its captivating “avalanche” feature. In reality, any chess variant playable on the conventional 8×8 chessboard with the standard set of pieces holds merit and warrants thoughtful consideration.
What makes this game truly captivating? Well, it was crafted by Ralph Betza in 1977, and its most intriguing aspect lies in the two-part move system. Each turn involves a standard chess move, along with an advancement of the opponent’s pawn by one square. As you might imagine, such a setup initially grants White a notable advantage. To address this imbalance, a supplementary rule is commonly applied: White refrains from moving any opponent’s pawn during their first move. This unique combination of rules adds a fresh and stimulating dynamic to the game, making it a compelling variant worth exploring.
Let’s take a look at a sample game:
1. ♘f3 ♞f6/a3 (the slash denotes the opponent’s pawn movement)
Before we proceed, let’s clarify the other rules that are specific for the Avalanche Chess:
- The initial part of a move must adhere to the standard rules of chess. It implies that a player cannot execute a move that puts their own king in check or leaves it in check, intending to remedy the situation through a subsequent pawn move.
- The second part of the move is mandatory, except in cases where the opponent possesses no pawns that can be advanced.
- If a player advances a pawn in such a way that it puts their own king in check, they immediately lose the game. This outcome holds true even if the player simultaneously delivers a check or checkmate to their opponent in that same turn. The act of placing their own king in check is considered a forfeit, as it exposes the possibility of their opponent capturing their king on the next move.
- In this variant, when a pawn is advanced to the last rank, the player who owns the pawn gets to choose the type of piece it promotes to. However, if this promotion results in a check to the player who advanced the pawn, they still lose the game, following the same rule as before.
- There is no en-passant capture.
2. ♘c3/c6 d5/h3 3. d4/a6 ♞e4/a4 4. ♕d3/h6 ♝f5/a5
5. ♘h4/f6 ♝h7/g3 6. ♘xe4/g6 dxe4/c3 7. ♕xe4/e6 ♝b4+/c4 (Note that the check was valid after the “avalanche” move, as the pawn vacated the diagonal to the white king.) 8. ♗d2/b6 ♝xd2+/f3 9. ♔xd2/h5 ♛d6/b3
10. e3/c5 cxd4/b4 11. ♕xa8/d3 ♛xb4+/g4 12. ♔xd3/f5 ♛b5/c5+ 13. ♔c2/e5
13. … ♛xc5+/e4 14. ♔b2/f4 ♛b4+/g5 15. ♔c1/b5 ♛c3+
White resigned. Since there is only one mobile black pawn left, they will be forced to advance it in every move until the pawn reaches the last rank and promote, while the black queen persistently delivers checks to the white king.