Valeriy Trubitsyn - HEXOFEN (Hexagonal Chess)

   Lord Baskerville is considered to be the author of the first hexagonal chess version, which dates back to 1929. The game was played on a square board with 83 hexes. The game was far from being perfect, but Vladislav Glinsky considered the invention of this new game an untimely action.

   V.Glinski's doubtless merit is his complete refusal from dogmatic interpretation of the great game of chess. His project was courageous and interesting, containing some flaws though. He partly updated it later, making the design more attractive, but an absence of independent competent critics had a negative effect on the final results. And the fact, that the game was hastily "canonized" by the British doesn't mean anything. That action was untimely- not the first publication of lord Baskervil, as search of the best variation of a new chess game was far from being completed.

   Russian geologist Isaak Shafran was trying to create hexagonal chess approximately at the same time with V. Glinski. We do not know, if he was familiar with V.Glinski's first patent. Anyway, 10 years later I. Shafran received the copyright certificate for a very similar game (see copyright. ¹ 106.997 from 24.04.56 ). It seems that I.Shafran, trying to avoid copying V.Glinskis's patent, was compelled to select a less suitable irregular-shaped board, because it is not the rules of a game that are patented, but layouts only. In I.Shafran's game the rules were more important than layouts: unlike V.Glinski he used an absolutely correct hexagonal one-sided pawn, which parameters strictly corresponded to the orthodox chess system for all structures. At that time in Great Britain 2 federations of Hexagonal chess were organized:

   BHCF - British Hexagonal Chess Federation - 1976

   IHCF - International Hexagonal Chess Federation - 1980

   And still both of the aforementioned variations of the game contain some flaws which for some reason are persistently ignored in publications in Russia (see "The Science and Life " ¹ ¹ 3 for 1979 " Bases of the theory of Hexagonal Chess ", by V.P. Volkov, Kalinin, Kalininski oblsovet VDFSO trade unions, 1989, page108 ). The first publication on the game by I.Shafran was edited in the same magazine issue " The Science and Life ", the title was far from being perfect: it is known there are no "sides" in hexagonal chess.

   V. Glinski version is flawed in the following ways:

-  the use of pawn with free parameters which moves and attacks like a rook (!) on orthogonal directions
-  the initial ratio of  the figures in the game is lowered (0,39 instead of 0,45)
- the number of light figures -bishops and knights- is not  the same in a players set
- the king's flanks are located opposite to each other, which results in a so-called mirror reflection position
- an exotic initial position of chessmen is chosen to the detriment of a free board space;(it has returned the chess to the epoch of medieval times (the parallelism of pawn fronts is broken as well))
- the chess notation doesnt suit  the new structure of the board because of its fixed central symmetry

   I.Shafranss version is flawed in the following ways:

- the board of an irregular extended shape is used (due to a wrong assumption that the shape of the board, not the structure, increases the pieces dynamics)
- the initial ratio of the number of figures to the number of squares is increased (0,51 instead of 0,45)
- pawns fronts are not parallel
- the number of light figures bishops and knights- is not the same
- the pawns are located so that the distance to the points of their transformation into other pieces is not the same (the difference is up to 4 moves)
- the chess notation is archaic and doesnt suit the new board structure, it can be read only from one side of the board (like in Glinskis version)

   Americans joined the intellectual competition in this area only in 1975 when D. Jenkins got a patent for his version of the game for two and three players. He used a larger board to avoid any similarity with Glinskis version, which significantly reduced the initial ràtio of the total number of pieces to the number of squares.

   According to the aforementioned St. Petersburg can have its say in reaching the agreement on the final official version of the game. The first article on hexagonal chess by Valery Trubicyn was published in the newspaper Igrok(September issue (Player)) in St.Petersburg in 1997. All the flaws of the previous versions of the game were eliminated. The main parameters of Hexofen are described below:

   The present chess game for two players is played on the board designed by V. Glinski, that is a three color hex-shaped board with 91 cells. Each of the players has the following set of figures: king, queen, 2 rooks, 3 bishops, 3 knights, 11 pawns. The number of all figures on the board is 42. Thus, the initial ratio of the total number of pieces to the number of squares is: 42 : 91 = 0,46 (0,39 in Glinskis version).

   To make easier the drawing of the multiple chess diagrams, the author of the new version of the game offers new universal symbols for chessmen based on the basic geometrical figures:
Pic. 1.

   It is obvious that the traditional chess notation is not suitable for hexagonal chess play boards. This is why the author considered it necessary to introduce his universal notation system for hexagonal chess ACEK which suits many types of games with large board size. This system is centrally symmetrical and uses only 3 letters of Latin alphabet and 6 digits, which are available on any keyboard. The traditional chess notation uses 8 digits and 8 letters. But, what is more important, ACEK notation can be read from any side of the board, this is very important in multi players chess games, which we will describe later. There are some other advantages as well.

   The structure of ÀÑÅÊ - see pic.1.

   First we should imagine the board divided into three diamondshaped sections marked by the three letters A, C, E. Then we put the letters and digits along the perimeter of the board. The digits mark the zero line of cells located at the sections junction. When reading the coordinate first comes the letter marking the section, then the left digit from the letter and then the right digit. For example, the three corner cells of the board will be marked as follows: à55, ñ55, å55. Now we can mark the positions of all figures.

   White: King-å05, Queen-å15, Rook-à52, Rook-å25, Bishop-à51, Bishop-å04, Bishop-å35, Knight-à53, Knight-à41, Knight-å14, pawns: à55, à54, à43, à42, à31, å03, å13, å24, å34, å45, å55.

   Black: King-ñ55, Queen-ñ54, Rook-ñ35, Rook-ñ53, Bishop-ñ45, Bishop-ñ44, Bishop-ñ52, Knight-ñ25, Knight-ñ34, Knight-ñ43, pawns: ñ05, ñ15, ñ14, ñ24, ñ23, ñ33, ñ32, ñ42, ñ41, ñ51, à05.

   Three zero lines of cells proceeding from the central cell of the board can be marked with coordinates of either left or right section, but to make the marking system a fixed one it is recommend to refer the zero line cells to the right section and to mark the central cell as a00. It becomes clear then why the black pawn on the far left side was marked as co5, and not as e50.

   The problem of pawns location was solved by V. Glinsky. To put all the pawns on the same distance from the points of their transformation into other figures, he located all pawns on the same distance from the corner side of the board. We chose another method. The pawn may be transformed into any piece in case it will reach the final rank (beyond the opponents pawns) by means of 5-6 moves. That is the row where the most important pieces are located. This line is marked as follows: white pieces: à53, à41, å14, å35. black pieces: ñ25, ñ34, ñ43, ñ52.

   The rule that the number of knights and bishops must be the same is caused by the fact that if this rule is not kept therell be too many unchanged bishops by the end of the game. The hunt for knights will reduce their number even more during one game.

   Not being familiar with general chess laws V. Glinski repeated the traditional opposition of kings flanks in the initial position. The most advanced chess players of the third millennium consider this a mistake. (If you try to locate the kings in the game with odd number of players, you will see that they can be placed either on the right or on the left spiral and this is true for all games with any number of players. A game for two is just a special case from the general rule: we have to choose either right or left chess world. So, what did we choose?) By the way, I. Shafran understood it very soon.

   The moves of the chessmen are shown on the pic.2 - 5.

   The rook and the bishop are the basic pieces in all orthodox chess systems, the rest of the chessmen are derivative figures.

   The rook moves and attacks on the orthogonal directions of the board. The rook can only move on the cells of different colors in any direction. If starting from a cell that is not on the far side, it can move along the six lines of the three directions (pic 2.)

   The bishop moves on the 6 lines of the three diagonal directions on the cells of the same color. In hexagonal structure these cells of the same color are not adjacent to each other, thats why the bishop is so penetrative and his way looks like the dotted line. The bishops moves look very colorful and bright. (pic. 3.)

   The queen is a geometrical combination of two basic figures. It moves and attacks on 12 lines of both directions. (pic.4)

   The king is a mini-queen, it can move one cell at a time. (pic.5)

   The knight moves and attacks on the points unreachable for the queen (and not like letter "z", as grand masters and chess experts use to say). (pic.6)

   The pawn is the derivative piece from king. The super pawn has a circle radius of action with different directions for move and for capture. It is used in a multiplayer game. In the games for two players its better to use a pawn with a limited area of action (it is used quite often). In hexagonal chess for two players, like in a traditional game, the pawn moves only forward on orthogonal direction and attacks on two adjacent diagonal directions. (Its strange why V. Glinsky was confused by that). All the peculiarities of traditional pawn moves and captures are preserved, including its transformation into other pieces (pic.7)

   Castling in hexagonal chess is not needed because of the unusual board shape and high figures dynamics. This is why that rule was abolished. Thus we easily got rid of the most ridiculous rule of the traditional chess.

   It takes time, of course, to get used to the new game of hexagonal chess, but even the beginning players will evaluate the game highly very soon. Not only the power and penetration ability of the figures have increased the pace of the game and the combinations character have changed as well. And what is the most important: finally a new multilevel and flexible structure was introduced into the game of chess, new ways and levels of thinking, which can be compared only to the mans step into the outer space. The only thing left is to come to consensus about the final officially adopted version of this wonderful game. But its not that easy at all! The supporters of V. Glinskis flawed version have already made some fortune on it and pretend to be deaf and mute not answering the questions concerning the flaws of the game. And indeed- so much was done already: books published and awards given and so on. So what is left to do for those who oversees the future perspective? We seek the solution in the Internet. And let the millions of chess fans themselves distinguish between advertised dilettantism and the highest harmony. And let them surpass us in the games of the third millennium.