Despite my desire, I have yet to incorporate numerous chess variants into my gaming website. However, I would like to take this opportunity to describe them here. Among the assortment of variants, one intriguing option is called Patrol Chess. This particular variant falls under the category of games that do not necessitate a unique board or pieces; rather, it only requires a standard chess set alongside a few additional rules.
Patrol Chess is a captivating chess variant that introduces a unique twist to the standard rules. In this variant, captures and checks can only occur if the capturing or checking piece is protected (or “patrolled”) by a friendly unit. All other moves, such as non-capturing and non-checking moves, follow the regular rules of chess.
The innovative concept of Patrol Chess originated from the inventive mind of Frederik Hendrik von Meyenfeldt, who introduced this variant through a chess problem published in 1975 in The Problemist, the esteemed magazine of the British Chess Problem Society.
Patrol Chess has gained significant recognition as a condition in chess problems, allowing enthusiasts to explore strategic scenarios within its distinct framework. Furthermore, it is entirely feasible to engage in complete games using the rules of Patrol Chess, providing a fresh and engaging experience for players.
Take a look at the following diagram:
In Patrol Chess, there are specific instances where the usual checks and threats do not apply due to the absence of protection from friendly pieces. For example, even though the white knight positioned on f7 would typically pose a check to the black king, in Patrol Chess, this is not the case since the knight lacks the necessary protection. Similarly, the black rook located on e3, despite sharing the same rank as the white king, does not constitute a check since it is not supported by any friendly piece. These restrictions highlight the unique dynamics and constraints that Patrol Chess introduces, leading to intriguing and distinct gameplay scenarios.
If White chooses to move 1. ♘bd8 in Patrol Chess, an interesting situation arises. This move results in a check because the knight on d8 now serves as a protective unit for the previously inactive knight. As a result, the second knight becomes “activated” and gains the ability to check the black king.
However, Black seizes the opportunity to launch a decisive blow with the move 1. … ♚e4#, delivering a checkmate. This impressive checkmate is made possible by the strategic utilization of the black king. By moving to e4, the black king empowers the black rook on e3, which becomes an active threat. The restricted space for the white king in Patrol Chess eliminates the possibility of retreating, leaving it vulnerable to the fatal checkmate. In standard chess, the white king could have potentially captured the black knight on b4, but in Patrol Chess, this option is unavailable as the white king lacks the protection of another white piece, rendering it unable to capture anything. This example showcases the distinctive dynamics and intriguing possibilities that arise from the patrol concept in Patrol Chess.
Although Patrol Chess is primarily employed as a thematic element in chess problems, it also offers a delightful and engaging gameplay experience as a standalone chess variant. Despite the introduction of the “patrol” concept, the majority of standard chess strategies remain applicable, making Patrol Chess accessible and enjoyable for chess players. Skilled chess players are likely to excel in Patrol Chess, as their proficiency in traditional chess tactics and strategies carries over effectively to this variant.