Also known as N-Relay Chess, this interesting chess variant was invented by Mannis Charosh around 1972.
The standard Chess rules are used in this game, with the following important exceptions:
- Any piece (except a king or a knight) which is guarded by a knight of the same color can add knight moves to its own moving abilities. This extra feature is in effect as long as the piece is guarded by a knight. The picture below shows all possible moves of the e2 pawn, which is guarded by the g1 knight in the start position:
- A pawn powered by the previous point does not extend its moving options to the 1st or 8th rank. For example, a pawn on c6, guarded by a knight on e7, cannot jump to b8 or d8.
- If a pawn moves back to its initial rank, it can do the two-step standard move again.
- Knights cannot capture enemy pieces and cannot be captured by them. It also means that a knight cannot give a check or a checkmate. This rule applies to the promoted knights as well.
- There is no en passant capture.
A good way to learn a new game is to observe other people play it. Let’s go through the Knight Relay Chess game that was played on BrainKing.com in 2008.
1. f4R (A relayed move notation ends with R to distinguish them from the standard ones. As the pawn is guarded by the knight on g1, White decided to test these abilities at the very start.)
1. … ♞f6 (Black follows a different strategy to prepare relayed moves by advancing their knights first. It is a sound plan, as the reach of pieces powered by a developed knight is bigger.)
2. ♘e2 (White knight moved to the original position of the pawn. Not the best move, as it blocks the queen and the bishop from developing. The idea probably was to empower the f4 pawn to reach the 6th rank, ergo make the black army advancement more difficult. However, the most probable outcome of this approach would be the pawn exchange and the loss of the first move advantage.)
2. … d5 (Black counters the White’s initiative with a similar pawn placement.)
3. ♗b3R (White develops the queen-side bishop using the knight-way. Not a bad idea, the bishop stands in a safe place, and helps increase the pressure in the center. However, the pawn on f4 isn’t protected and Black will immediately exploit it.)
3. … dxf4R (And the pawn is captured. White doesn’t have a way to re-capture because knights cannot make such moves – see the rules at the page top.)
4. ♘bc3 (Now the disadvantage of the other knight standing on e2 is more apparent, as both knights limit their abilities by blocking each other.)
4. … ♞d5 (Black in on the right track to conquer the center, and blocks the white bishop from attacking the weak point f7. As a bonus, the black pawn on f4 is getting dangerously close to the white king, although it cannot endanger it directly yet.)
5. ♘g3 (I think 5. Nd4 would be more active and give White additional opportunities later.)
5. … ♞c6 (All knights are in the play. The black ones look more powerful.)
6. ♗a4 (This move doesn’t make too much sense. Thanks to the developed knights, Black has multiple options to attack it.)
6. … b6 (As expected, Black mobilizes their pawns to harass opponent’s pieces.)
7. ♘ge4 (And White doesn’t see this threat! This is the beauty of the Knight Relay Chess, as a new sort of tricks and traps can be applied because players don’t always adapt to the knight-powered thinking.)
7. … bxa4R (Not a surprise. Black is up a pawn and a bishop now.)
8. g4R (Opens the e1-h4 diagonal, which weakened the white king …)
8. … e5 (… and Black immediately seizes the opportunity, preparing the queen to charge.)
9. ♕f2R (White recognized the threat and protected the king with the relayed queen.)
9. … ♛f6 (The queen is safe there until White relays the g4 pawn, which is difficult in this position.)
10. ♗b5 (Oh no! Again, White forgot about the knight-relay rule. The bishop is lost.)
10. … axb5R (Black’s material advantage is enormous, and White could already resign the game. Let’s just list the rest of it.)
11. h4 ♛xg4R 12. f3R ♛xg2 13. b4 ♝e7 14. ♖g1 ♛xf2+ 15. ♔xf2 ♝xh4+
Black resigned. Despite the material loss, the only place the king can retreat to is f1 (e2 and g2 are being attacked by the pawn f4 relayed by the knight d5). After 16. ♔f1 ♝h3+ the rook would be lost as well.
So, what do you think? I say that Knight Relay Chess is an exciting and challenging variant of traditional chess that adds a unique twist to the game. With its emphasis on strategy and careful planning, Knight Relay Chess is sure to provide players with an engaging and entertaining experience.