Omega Chess review by GM Michael Rohde

the champion, the wizard, and tactics

When I was first introduced to Omega Chess, I spotted immediately that while all the elements of chess are preserved, new tactical twists are created by the extra pieces, larger board and extra corner squares. The Wizard and the Champion complement very well and quite entertainingly the different strengths of the Knight, Bishop, Rook and Queen. But even I was not prepared for Omega Chess’ mushrooming in popularity – it is a spectacular hit among teenagers, Omega Chess groups have spawned in places as diverse as Toronto, New York and Budapest, and internet technology has brought us the Omega Chess java script game sample player, and the Omega Chess play-by-email server.

Omega Chess, whose evolution is based on what already works, features a 10-by-10 board with 4 extra corner squares (104 squares in all) and two new chess pieces, the Wizard and the Champion, which combine unique and exciting elements of the other pieces, to form a super-tactical game which will improve your standard Chess ability!

Special piece movements in Omega Chess

On the 10-by-10 board, the Champions line up next to the rooks. The Wizards start in the extra corner squares, one square diagonally behind the Champions.

The Champion, like the Knight, is classified as a leaper. It can move one square forward, backward or to either side. Or the Champion can jump two squares forward or backward or to either side, or jump two squares diagonally in all four directions. The Champion can jump over pieces and it can control up to twelve squares.

The Wizard is also classified as a leaper. It can move one square diagonally in all four directions. Or, like an exaggerated Knight move, the Wizard can jump three squares horizontally or vertically and then one square to either side. The Wizard is bound to the color of its starting square. The Wizard can jump over pieces to also control up to twelve squares.

From its initial position, a Pawn in Omega Chess can move one, two or three squares forward and after that, only one square at a time. A Pawn cannot move one square initially and then two squares afterward. When making an initial double or triple move a Pawn cannot jump over other pieces. While Pawns move directly forward, they can only capture an opposing piece by moving one square forward diagonally.

End Rules Discussion, Start Strategy Discussion

After checking out the Omega Chess website, you might want to note the following, just so that, in your first game of Omega Chess, you are not just mated immediately!? The Scholar’s Mate in chess (1.e4 e5, 2.Bc4 Bc5, 3.Qh5 Nc6?? 4 Qxf7 mate) has a direct parallel in Omega Chess. Using the Omega Chess notation this checkmate runs 1.Pf4 Pf5, 2.Bc4 Bc5, 3.Qj5 Ng7?? (defending the pawn on f5) 4.Qxg8 mate!

The message here is quite clear – you still better defend your king’s bishop’s pawn! An interesting point here is that a reasonable move after 3.Qj5 is 3…Ch7 (Champion to h7) – as the Champion can move two squares diagonally, it attacks the White queen on j5, defends its own pawn on f5, and blocks the queen from attacking the sensitive king’s bishop’s pawn on g8.

However, after 4.Qg5, for example, don’t overlook that the Scholar’s Mate is still being menaced, as the Champion does not move in a one-square diagonal, so there is still no protection for g8. But 4.Qg5 is not objectively strong, because Black can now play 4…Ng7, and, much like proper defense against the Scholar’s Mate in chess, in Omega Chess, White will suffer because the queen has really been brought out too early.As far as a parallel to the classic Fool’s Mate (1.f3 e5, 2.g4?? Qh4 mate) goes, Omega Chess has this feature, although it would take a lot longer – for example [Omega Chess notation] 1.Pg2 Pf5, 2.Ph3 Nc7, 3.Pi4?? Qj4+, 4.Ri3 Qxi3+, 5.Ch2 Qxh2 mate!However, Omega Chess has its own distinctive Fool’s Mate: 1.Wa2 Ng7, 2.Wb5 Ni5?? 3 We6 mate!! as the Wizard with its elongated knight qualities checkmates the opposing king entirely on its own.

More on Omega Chess

Omega Chess review by GM Alex Sherzer