Racing Kings

 

Racing Kings is a race-style game, where two players try to cross the board with their kings, and other pieces try to stop opponent, while supporting own king. The game was invented by V.R. Patron, also the inventor of AliceChess. It is available on SchemingMind since November 2006.

1. Game rules

Here is the game starting position:

 

8/8/8/8/8/8/krbnNBRK/qrbnNBRQ

As you can see, it is changed in the following ways:

  • There are no pawns
  • All pieces start on White's first 2 ranks.
  • White's King starts on square H2 and Black's King on A2. The Queens are behind the Kings on the first rank.
  • Rooks start one in front of the other on the G and B ranks.
  • Bishops start one in front of the other on the F and C ranks.
  • Knights start one in front of the other on the E and D ranks.

The pieces move and capture as in standard chess. There is no check or mate. You are forbidden from checking your opponent or walking into check yourself.

The first King to make it to the 8th rank, anywhere, wins.

Draw rule: to compensate for White's first move advantage, if the white King gets to the 8th rank, but the black King can go there on the very next move, then the game is a draw. 

There were some discussions, whether the RacingKings draw rule (if black king can reach last rank immediately after white, then the game is drawn) is fair. Initial playing experience seems to confirm this is the case. White is usually able to initiate exchanges and simplify position, up to the level where stopping any of the kings is impossible. In such symmetrical case, draw seems to be fair result. In the absence of this rule, black - who is already handicapped by the fact that white moves first - would be forced to search for complications, not to win, but even to draw the game.

Stalemate also counts as a draw.

 

2. Tips and tricks

The game is still very new, so the players are yet to develop its understanding. But here are a few basic suggestions.

Do not forget that you are allowed to take opponent pieces.

The fact that checking is forbidden creates quite a lot of new unique tactical patterns. In particular, you are forbidden to take (or recapture) opponent piece, if that would mean giving a check. For simple example see this position - not only white couldn't take black queen, but black could take white bishop for free.

There even exist interesting case of self-pin, for instance here white can not capture the black queen because its knight is pinned by its own bishop.

Do not fall into the trap of rushing with the king without paying attention to the remaining pieces. If the opponent wipes out your pieces, he would be able to cut your king from the back rank easily. See this game for canonical example.

The exact piece value is yet to be determined, but the fact that queens and rooks can horizontally cut the king give those pieces significant advantage over bishops and knights. The knights are of any value only if they manage to follow the action. Two rooks are surely better than the queen (see simple example). Sacrificing pieces for tempi is frequent, especially if the king is already advanced.

 

3. Example games

rook versus knight endgame - see how knight can shield the king and let it pass the rank protected by the rook,

non trivial assymetric draw - also some pins, forks and different shielding methods.

precise defense at the very last moment - white sacrifices material in order to gain ground for the king, but narrowly fails

sacrifice to win - the opposite case, where neglecting pieces allowed the white King to advance

an almost bare king winning - if white captures the queen, a win can be held by a bare king.

draw by stalemate - it is possible.

Note: more example games, played by different players, are really welcome


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