The name “Siomega” gets its origins from the two words “Si” and “Omega”, in that the game is a blending of Omega Chess and the chessgnastics of “Si” Jepps.
The game of Siomega is played very similarly to Classical Chess, in fact it borrows all of the same pieces, only in Siomega we also play a little magic and borrow one more piece, the Omega Wizard.
I have always loved the Wizard, ever since I first heard of its invention by the great Daniel MacDonald. Indeed MacDonald’s Omega Chess, whilst a recipient of some criticism, is a fairly well designed game.
However, the “Champion” piece has never settled well with me and also I never could quite surrender to an extended 104 square board.
Yet the Wizard… what a marvelous piece.
Honestly, in the last twenty years of designing and constructing Chess variants, I have never witnessed such a beautiful piece. Its grace and wisdom the pure artistry of its creator.
In fact what may have never been mentioned before is a very magical trait I believe to have discovered about the Wizard.
I will describe its movement shortly, but when I do, be sure to observe its pattern. For if you look closely you will see, a crescent moon within its reach and a pointed star within its stride.
Here then is my final contribution to the Omega Chess conceptual variantism. Yet regard my game not as a final embracing of Omega Chess, but instead behold it as a toast unto the future.
For what I believe to have created here, is the answer to the Wizard’s dilemma. He knows he is meant to exist and he knows he was created to bring great joy unto the world.
Yet he doesn’t quite know his worthiness, for he exists only in a foreign land, born into an artificial world where his comrades and friends are likewise misplaced.
Siomega Chess is then, I believe, where the Wizard belongs.
This, my final salute to the ever turning, ever swirling chaotic pool of Chess Variant fanatiscism, is what I truly believe to be the Final Frontier Of Checkered Warfare.
Siomega Chess then, presents to you many wondrous yet easy to embrace, magical twists to the laws of the game, yet which whence applied rationally and logically, ignite with thunder the ultimate strategical conundrums of this ancient art.
Of Pieces & Powers
There are two players or opponents, each with either the White or Black pieces, just as in Chess.
See the diagram on the right to understand how the pieces are initially set up.
Each player has each the following number of each piece:
- King (1)
- Pawn (10)
- Knight (2)
- Bishop (2)
- Rook (2)
- Wizard (2)
- Queen (1)
All pieces move as they do in original Chess, except for the Pawns, Knights and of course, the Wizard.
The Pawn in Siomega may actually move sideways a maximum of one square, but only if the file moved to is vacant of other friendly Pawns and providing the Pawn itself has not yet passed the center of the board.
The example here would be notated d4e4.
The reason for this unique rule is because it serves as remedy to the fact that 100 square boards weaken the collective strength of Pawns, since vast spaces will grow between them reducing their ability to form defensive communities.
Enabling a Pawn to move sideways one square, provides a counter balance to the impediment of the 100sq arena, in that it enables Pawns to re-establish a realm of control over the newly found vacant spaces about their community infrastructure.
» NB: The Pawn may still only capture one square diagonally forwards and may not ever move backwards.
Pawns may move 1, 2, or 3 squares forward on their first move, or one square sideways, providing the rules of such movement are honoured.
From their next to home rank, (3rd/8th), Pawns may move a maximum of 2 squares forward, but from any other rank thereafter only 1 square forward.
Pawns of course are the soul of any Chess game and so it should be noted that their conversation with the one hundred square arena is inevitably of a different character.
One such conversation is the early hand to hand combat found moreso in the 64sq game and less so in the 100sq game. This is not to say 100sq games are “boring” in fact far from it, for they present a completely different kind of conversation.
Yet it is of course this early hand to hand combat of the 64sq game which is so very much adored.
Siomega hopes to have replenished this diminishment of early engagement with these newfound rules of the sideways Pawn. Allowing the Pawn to move this way not only enables the solid occupation of vast open spaces and increased interconnected defenses, but it considerably improves the active engagement of hand to hand combat during the Opening and Middlegame.
This new rule for the Pawn and the following chosen roles of the Knight and Wizard collectively establish the founding traits of Siomega Chess.
The Knight in Siomega is actually granted a Knight Templar move, but it may not capture when moving so.
» The good Knight may move as Knight Templar on its first move and/or whenever it sits upon an edge square of its own colour.
For example, a White Knight on a5 may move without capturing as Knight Templar, or move and capture as a regular Knight. However a Black Knight on a5 may not move as Knight Templar because a5 is a White square.
Knight Templars move like a regular Knight, in an “L” shape, only their range is increased by one square. As such the Knight Templar move is identical to the Omega Wizard “L” shape move.
The ancient “Camel” piece is another name for the Knight Templar, but herein different Chess variants harbour different concepts.
This granting of Knight Templar movement is applied in addition to the Knight’s regular move. Thus at the beginning of any game, the player has many more choices of how to enter their Knight into play.
The reason for this new rule of “Knight Templar” is because the beloved Knight piece becomes tremendously devalued when placed on a 100 square board. If you imagine the Chess board to be 100,000 squares instead, you will notice the Bishop, Rook and Queen still retain their values because they can still traverse the board as easily as a 64 square board.
Yet the Knight on a 100,000 square board is effectively worthless.
Thus the same principle can be digested and understood whence working with a 100 square board. Here then, allowing the Knight a greater range replenishes its power and value, perhaps to even rival the others in certain positions.
The creation of a Knight Templar dimension is Siomega’s solution to this conundrum.
The Wizard was invented by Daniel MacDonald for his Chess variant Omega Chess and whilst the game itself has diminished over time, its iconic piece, the Wizard, has nevertheless continued to fascinate players of all calibres and from all corners of the world.
The Wizard moves much like a Knight, yet with a greater range and the additional ability to move one square diagonally. The Wizard sits on the corner squares at the beginning of each game and may enter play as freely as any other piece.
See the diagram on the right for a clearer demonstration.
Whilst the grandmasters of history often debated where a new piece should sit, the pieces they discussed were very different and perhaps then more appropriately placed more centrally, say beside the King and Queen, or between the Knight and Bishop.
Yet the Wizard is of course a modern evolution and indeed itself a somewhat otherworldly character. Therefore since Wizards are generally thought to be “not of this world”, yet at the same time a most adorable friend in the triumph of good over evil, we place the Wizard at the far corners of the board where it may embrace our comrades like a guardian of the stars.
When any Wizard makes its first move, vacating its home square, any or all of the three adjacent pieces, Rook, Knight & Bishop, may each “shuffle” one square horizontally along towards the Wizard’s home square.
» To perform a “shuffle”… First enter the Wizard into play. Then and in the same turn, take one of the three adjacent pieces and place it on the Wizard square. You may now optionally slide any or both of the two remaining pieces one square towards the Wizard square, completing the manoeuvre.
The reason pieces shuffle one square along rather than completely reordering themselves is because it would be impossible to notate any other way. Also, “shuffling”, say a pack of cards, does often display an incremental character of movement, such as described here.
Shuffling is performed in the same turn as the Wizard’s first move. However any piece “shuffling” must likewise have not yet moved to be allowed to do this.
» NB: At least one piece must occupy the Wizard’s square for shuffling to be legally initiated.
If the Bishop assumed occupation, no other piece would be shuffled since the King & Queen may not shuffle. Yet occupation itself still counts as shuffling, since it is merely a “one piece shuffle”, as if for example, you had instead only shuffled the Rook.
The singular Bishop shuffle demonstrated here, would be notated Wb4(B), as will be clarified shortly.
After assuming occupation, the remaining pieces may only be “shuffled” into adjacent vacant squares. For example, the Knight cannot shuffle unless the Rook also shuffles and the Bishop cannot shuffle unless the Knight also shuffles, or unless the Knight has vacated its square.
Castling is still permitted once a Rook has shuffled, but the King must now move one extra square towards its corner in order to complete the manoeuvre.
We notate “shuffling” by writing the Wizard’s move followed by the pieces shuffled in brackets. So for example, if we shuffled only the Rook we would write Wi4(R). If we shuffled both the Rook and Knight we would write Wi4(RN). If we shuffled the Bishop as well we would notate all three as Wi4(RNB). Basically whatever pieces were shuffled are placed in brackets.
» NB: The piece occupying the Wizard square is always the first letter written after the Wizard’s move.
Thus if the Rook has been CAPTURED, or we just wish to “shuffle” only our Knight and Bishop, this could be notated Wi4(NB), whereby the Knight assumes occupation and the Bishop slides one square across.
If the Bishop assumes occupation instead, then the Knight can only shuffle if the Rook is absent.
Another example, if the Knight has already entered play and we wish to “shuffle” both the Rook and Bishop, we can still do this, by moving the Rook to the Wizard square and the Bishop to the Knight square. This would be notated Wi4(RB).
Understand, this last notation could not be misinterpreted as moving the Bishop to the Wizard square because if it did so, the Rook would be unable to “shuffle”. Thus a reasonably learned player should eventually realise how Siomega shuffling notation makes absolute perfect sense.
A Knight may still move as Knight Templar if it has been shuffled.
Usually one will probably find only the Rook to be the piece most often shuffled, next often the Knight and least often the Bishop. This is because in order of usefulness, a Rook is more attractive to Castle in the corner and Bishops are more effective if each of different colour squares.
The reason for this new rule of “shuffling” is quite simply yet paramountly to re-establish Classical piece placement and cornerwards King Castling.
The ability to Castle the King comfortably into a tucked corner and also perhaps to fianchetto close to its location is one of the most fundamentally profound characteristics of classical Chess.
I have always attempted to preserve this pinnacle feature of the game when designing my variants and so therefore, “Shuffling” is my solution to this ailment.
Besides, it’s a Wizard and shuffling… is wizardy stuff.
Of Wizards & Brooms
People love Chess not only for its immense strategic appeal, but for its Classical grace and charm amidst an otherwise chaotic arena of conflict and nerves.
Anyone who has ever spent serious time studying Chess Variants will know their success is not merely an equation of playability, or aesthetics, but is sincerely connected to the variant’s relationship with the original Classical game.
For the problem with “evolving” Chess is just as much an “equation” as it is an “adoration”.
Many variants have been invented throughout history and even today there is a continued dedicated effort to evolve the game unto a new powerful and popular dimension. These games, created from the hearts of many hard working people like Daniel MacDonald, number in the thousands, if not millions.
Yet it does not take one a moment to realise that regardless of all this… Chess is still the same old game, played in the same old way… by the same old people.
This, is the ever growing conundrum… why has it not successfully evolved?
With an honorary salute to all those great masters and great inventors, I believe that I can say I know why and it is because, as I said earlier, it is the problem of evolving both “equation” and yet also “adoration”.
It is easy to evolve a popular equation. Yet it is very hard to change popular adoration.
Siomega does not wish to change the popular adoration for the Classical game. Instead it hopes to have demonstrated how an equation may evolve into something so much more profound, that its newly found powerful existence is both exquisitely advanced yet at the same time a most adorable paradox of its own Genesis.
I hope to play you some time.
Siomega Chess © Simon Jepps