Circe Chess is an interesting and creative chess variant that introduces a unique rule related to the capturing of pieces. It is played on a standard 8×8 chessboard with traditional chess pieces. It was named after the enchantress from Greek mythology, and the variant was invented in 1967 by Pierre Montreal.
In Circe Chess, the key concept revolves around the “Circe capture” rule, which means that when a piece is captured, it immediately returns to its starting square on the board (its “home square”) instead of being removed from the game. The piece is reborn on its home square and retains its original color (white or black). This rule applies to all pieces, including pawns and kings.
However, there are a couple of exceptions to the Circe capture rule:
- If the captured piece’s home square is occupied by another piece, the captured piece is considered permanently captured and removed from the game.
- If a pawn reaches its promotion rank (the opposite end of the board) and is captured, it promotes before being reborn on its home square. The promotion can be to any piece, except for another pawn or a king.
The best way to showcase the particular rules of Circe Chess is through the following problem:
If it’s White’s turn to move, they could deliver an instant checkmate by moving the rook to e1 (the green arrow): 1. ♖e1# How is it possible? They only way to cancel the check would be to capture the rook by the black king. However, such a capture would immediately reincarnate the white rook on a1 (the same colored square as the one the capture occurred on) and check the black king again (the blue arrow), which would be against the rules, as no player can make a move that would put their king into a check.
A different situation happens if it is Black’s turn to move, as they have a clever way to counter the threat described above:
1. … ♝a1! The bishop blocks the reborn square, so if the rook makes the same maneuver, the black king would simply capture it permanently.
The Circe Chess variant adds an interesting twist to traditional chess, as capturing becomes more strategic. It also introduces additional complexity, as players must be mindful of the rebirth of pieces and the potential consequences of their captures. The game can lead to intriguing positions and new tactics not found in classical chess.
Like many other chess variants, Circe Chess is often played for fun and creativity. It is not as widely recognized or played as standard chess, but enthusiasts of chess variants often enjoy exploring its unique challenges. As with any less common variant, finding opponents for Circe Chess might be easier on dedicated chess variant websites or communities rather than traditional chess platforms.