Taking all the power without blood. Belarusians came up with new chess

Our compatriots from the IT company PRAS have come up with a new game, Belarusian Chess. They are based on the classic ones. The aim of the game is not to defeat your opponent, but to take all the power

publish date
23.12.2020

According to Mikalaj Tamaszevicz, who developed the rules of the game, its idea dates back to the 1990s.

— The idea belongs to Aliaksandr Astrouski, professor at Grodno Medical University. In the late 1990s, he invented chess based on classical ones, and also introduced the concept of a throne - a symbol of supreme power. In 2010 I finalized the rules of the game by adding political and cultural peculiarities from the history of Belarus and Eastern Europe and also revived the ancient names of pieces together with Astrouski. Aliaksej Kulbicki was responsible for the visuals.

As Mikalaj explains, the main feature of the game is a very different objective than in classical chess.

The rules require the player to occupy the central square of the field - the throne - with one of the two pieces and hold onto it until the Kniaz is proclaimed Rokosz. This can be done without blood - i.e. without knocking down opponents.

Rokosz is the military opposition of the gentry. Translated into modern language, it can even be called a peculiar form of impeachment. In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (a federative state, of which the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a part) the gentry had the right to refuse to obey the king. There were such examples in Belarusian history (e.g. Sandomierz Rokosz of 1606-1609).

The rules of the game allow the Kniaz (the King in classical chess) or the Kniazyc (a new piece, there is no equivalent in classical chess) to occupy the Throne. It is assisted by pieces such as the Hietman (Queen in the classical version), the Harmata (Bishop), the Ratnik (Knight) and others.

Pieces at "noble set" of Belarusian chess
Pieces at "noble set" of Belarusian chess

Where do these names come from? These are the Belarusian names of the pieces in chess, which was widespread on our continent from the 8th-9th centuries.

- The game was so liked by medieval Europeans, that already in the 11th century chess was considered one of the most widespread pastimes of the nobility, and was even included in the program of chivalry education. In Belarus they were found during archaeological excavations in all our ancient towns. Barbara Radziwill and Leu Sapieha played chess, says Mikalaj.

There are other peculiarities of the game. The size of the board has been changed to 9x9 squares, and the pieces are placed asymmetrically.

Why did the Belarusians come up with new chess?

- Aliaksandr Astrouski claims that he dreamed about them, - Mikalaj Tamaszevicz smiles. - That is, it happened by chance. But if you think about it, we have classical chess, which is played all over the world, as well as many other variants (including round ones and three-player chess). Since Belarus has a rich chess history, we have the right to our own vision of this game. And if it is tied to our history, then we get a game with great potential. That is, it's such an attempt to establish ourselves as a chess (intellectual) country and, in addition, to draw attention to history.

Belarusian chess can be played on a computer using a Windows app, as well as live.  You can buy the set on the company's website here and here. You can find out the rules of the game here.

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