Gravitational Chess, created by Carlos Nafarrate in 1984, is a unique chess variant played on the traditional 8×8 chessboard with the usual set of pieces and standard starting positions. However, what sets this variant apart is the inclusion of an intriguing gravitational feature that enhances the gameplay rules:
- In Gravitational Chess, once a non-king and non-pawn piece completes its move, it is automatically drawn one rank backward towards its baseline due to the gravitational effect.
- The square it first moves to, as well as the square it is subsequently pulled back to, must be either empty or occupied by an enemy piece.
- If both squares are occupied by enemy pieces, both of them are captured, resulting in two captures with a single move.
- In Gravitational Chess, it is essential to note that the first move of a piece cannot nullify or cancel the second move due to the gravitational pull. This means that certain moves, like the typical initial move 1. ♘f3 in traditional chess, would be considered invalid in this variant. For example, if the square f2, where the knight should be drawn back to, is already occupied by a pawn of the same color, the move is not permissible according to the rules of Gravitational Chess.
Sounds like an enjoyable and intriguing variant. Let’s delve into a sample game to experience the unique dynamics it offers:
1. e4 e5 2. ♗c4/c3 (The gravitational rule doesn’t apply to kings and pawns, so the first move looks standard. However, the bishop was forced to drop from c4 to c3 in the second move.)
2. … ♛g5/g4 (The queen wasn’t allowed to develop to e7 or f6 due to the occupied pull squares e8 and f7. But g5 is fine.)
3. d4 (Neither piece – white bishop and black queen – cannot capture the pawn on the e-file because they wouldn’t be allowed to drop through the pawn of their color. So White decided to continue with the development.)
3. … exd4 4. ♗xd4/d3 ♛xe4/e3+ (Since the black e-pawn was captured, the black queen was free to get the e4-pawn, and check the white king in both parts of the move. Only the latter counts as a check, of course.)
5. ♗e3/e2 (To block the check, White cannot use the knight or the queen because of the gravitational pull rule, so they decided to do so with the queen-side bishop. As a consequence, both white bishops now move on the same colored squares.)
I think the explanation provided a clear understanding of Gravitational Chess. If you decide to try out this variant and happen to create an interesting game, I’ll be more than happy to publish it on this blog.