The Berolina pawn, named after its inventor Edmund Hebermann from Berlin, was introduced in 1926. This unique chess piece has gained popularity in various chess variant circles and has been featured in numerous fairy chess problems. Additionally, it has found its place in a game that has gained significant popularity.
The movement rules of the Berolina pawn are distinct: it advances one square diagonally without capturing, and has the option to move two squares diagonally on its first move. To capture, it moves one square straight. Notably, en passant capture is allowed, such as when a black pawn occupies b4 and a white pawn moves from a2 to c4, enabling the black pawn to capture the white pawn by moving to b3.
In Berolina chess, the initial arrangement mirrors that of traditional chess, except all pawns are treated as Berolina pawns. Let’s take a look at a sample game from our database:
1. hf4 (The notation must have been altered to take the diagonal move into account. As two pawns could reach the square f4, we must add the initial file as a prefix). 1. … ♞c6
2. ac4 df5 3. ef3 ♞f6 4. ♘c3 fxf4 (As pawns capture straight, the black pawn at f5 just took the white one at f4.)
5. fxf4 ♛d4 6. gf3 ♞g4 7. ♕e2 ♞b4 8. de3 ♞e5 9. ♕d2 ♞bd3+ 10. ♗xd3 ♞xd3+ 11. ♔e2 ♞xc1+ 12. ♕xc1 ♛xc4+ (After a sequence of exchanges, Black is up a pawn, their queen is in an active position, and the advantage of keeping the bishop pair is important as well.)
13. ♔e1 eg5 14. ♘ge2 ♝g4 15. ♘e4 ♝e7 16. ♘2c3 ge5 17. ♖a4 ♛c6 18. ♘d2 ♜d8 19. ♘c4 ♛c5 20. ♘a5 ♜d3 21. ♘b3 ♛b6 22. ♘d1 ♝d7 23. ♖a2 ♝e6 24. ♔f1 gh4 25. ♖g1 ♝c4 26. ♔g2 ♜g8+ 27. ♔h1 hg3 (White resigned, as the only way to avert a checkmate at h6 would be to give up the rook.)
Berolina Chess offers a different dynamic compared to traditional chess due to the altered pawn movement. The diagonal pawn move encourages a more tactical and strategic style of play, and the opening positions are somewhat different from traditional chess.
While Berolina Chess is not as widely played as traditional chess, it has gained a small following among chess enthusiasts interested in exploring different variations of the game. Online platforms and computer programs are available where you can play Berolina Chess against other players or against computer opponents.