Games that are almost but not entirely unlike chess
The replacement of pieces in Exchange Chess reminds me of the game of
Japanese Chess, properly called Shogi, the generals' game. The flat
pieces are marked with kanji characters that are confusing for most people
brought up with the Roman alphabet, but I do own a German-made version
of the game which uses pieces marked with their powers of movement.
You can play a Shogi-style game of chess with reversible counters:
Ethan and I last week discussed Chinese Chess, xiang-qi, the Elephant
Game. Again, the traditional flat pieces have traditional Chinese
characters, but can be substituted by other symbols or even 3-D symbolic
Previously I have discussed Luzhangqi, the Land Army Game, with Ethan
and Edmund and Taylor.
Edmund and Taylor were speculating about a version of chess with the
rule that a lesser piece cannot take a greater piece - a rule that is
part of many games, including another Chinese game, Do Shou Qi,
sometimes called Jungle Chess. I haven't found a Luzhangqi set that is
easy for a native English speaker to play, but the game has several
Westernised derivatives, including Stratego and the Tri-Tactics
My favourite of all the more-or-less-chess-like variants is Don't Take
the Brain, where Ninnies and Numbskulls do battle on a curious board. I
have the German version, called Schlaukopf (featuring pieces like the
Dumm-Kopf and the Schlitz-Ohr), and have made a couple of sets using counters.