Mann (chess)

A man (German: Mann) is a fairy chess piece often used in chess variants. It moves like a king, but is not otherwise treated as one (i.e., it has no royal power).[1] In diagrams in this article, the man is represented by an inverted king. Chess moves in this article use M as notation for the man.

Movement

The man moves as a king in chess (one square in any direction) but is otherwise treated as a normal chess piece (i.e. can be captured; is not subject to check or checkmate).

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8
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Possible moves of the unhindered man

Value

A man is approximately equal in strength and value to a knight, generally. Often it takes a few moves to get the man properly developed in the opening. It is effective at close proximity, where its striking power is considerable. Although it is rather slow, the man is excellent at both attacking and defending nearby pieces and pawns, similar to the king (Ward 1996:13). The man reaches its peak strength during the endgame, in which its value is slightly more than a knight, despite being slightly less than a knight in the opening.[2] It is possible to force checkmate with a mann and a king against a lone enemy king. Since the enemy king cannot move to attack either, it is quite easy to box the king into a corner.

History

The Sage as how it may have appeared in Courier chess.[3]
Illustration of the chess piece "Man" by Gustav Selenus from the book Das Schach-Oder Konig-Spiel (1616)

The man is one of the most simply described chess pieces and as such has a long history and has gone by many names.[lower-alpha 1] A similar piece was described c. 950 in a form of chess on a 10×10 board and called a dabbaba.[1] The man has been used since at least the 12th century in Courier chess, and continued to be played in this game for at least six hundred years.[3] Many chess variants have used the mann, for example these modern variants:

Examples

The archers, or men, are represented by inverted kings in the following examples.

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8
8
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefgh
Knightmate starting position. To win, the royal knight must be mated.
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1010
99
88
77
66
55
44
33
22
11
abcdefghij
Roman Chess starting setup. White's archers are on c1/h1; Black's are on c10/h10.

Notes

  1. Names including: Man (in Courier chess), der Mann (im Kurierschach), Rath, Counsellor, Sage.

References

  1. Hooper & Whyld (1996), p. 244. Mann.
  2. Betza, Ralph. "The WF (or Commoner)". The Chess Variant Pages.
  3. "Courier chess". The Saint Thomas guild. June 21, 2014.

Bibliography

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