Augsburg Chess

Tip of the Iceberg?

by Ronald Turnbull
Back to: Home Page
Based on Variant Chess, Volume 3, Issue 25, Autumn 1997, pages 101-102 and (solutions) 106.

Pieces of the same side may combine (Problem A) and separate (Problem B). This simple definition conceals a multitude of disputable points: and while many will enjoy such dispute for its own sake, it`s a shame to spend a lot of time making up some chess problem only to find you`ve composed it within a non-existent stipulation.

(A) Arno Tüngler
Problemkiste 1996
(B) Erich Bartel
Diagramme und Figuren 1969
Augsburg Chess
Seriesmate in 3, 3 ways
Augsburg Chess
Helpmate in 2, 2 ways + set play

  1. A unit (excluding K) may move onto a square occupied by a same-colour piece, forming a combined unit. (Thus the P enters combination by orthogonal move, not by diagonal capture: also combinations such as S + S are quite OK).
  2. A combined unit may move as any of its components.
  3. Any part of a combined unit may move, leaving the remainder behind on the departure-square.
  4. CASTLING: any combination containing an unmoved game-array rook may castle.
  5. The game-array queen is considered as a combined piece and may separate into R + B. (The King, however, is not separable into Wazir + Fers). All subsequent combined pieces are separable, so that we may talk without ambiguity of Amazon (R?+ B + S) etc.
  6. PROMOTION: if a combination including pawn moves to the promotion-rank, each pawn-part pro- motes to S, B, R or Q (Problem C).
    (C) R. Turnbull & P. Fayers
    after H. Schiegl, Feenschach 1969

    Augsburg Chess
    Helpmate in 4
  7. *PAWN ON HOME RANK: A pawn on home rank may capture diagonally in the normal way, and move forward 1-sq. (So, of course, may any combination containing P.)
  8. *EN PASSANT: A combin- ation containing a pawn that moves forward two squares from the pawn rank can be captured en passant by any combination containing a pawn that can move (by a pawn move) to the intermediate square.
Rules 1 to 6 have been used extensively in German magazines. The material I have been helpfully sent by Erich Bartel, from the very city of Augsburg, is inconsistent as to rule 7. In Die Schwalbe 1997, a combination including pawn may not abandon its pawn on the home-rank. However, in Probleemkiste 1996, the power of Rule 7 is attributed to combinations including pawns, and by implication to solo pawns. Even if we forbid abandonment of pawns, we must attribute some (possibly null) additional power of movement to combinations including pawn on the home rank. So we don't actually solve anything by forbidding pawn abandonment. I therefore propose the adoption of *Rule 7.
No problem has been offered involving en passant: *Rule 8 is the simplest and most reasonable of various possibilities.

It now becomes clear that various problems, not all of them by Peter Fayers, seen in this magazine and elsewhere, are deviant Augsburg or worse. Rules used by Peter differ from Augsburg in three respects:

     E1:   Pieces may combine, but not kings, and NOT PAWNS either (not even when moving to promote).
     E2:   The game-array queen is not separable, and Qs are distinct from (R?+ B)s.
     E3:   A pawn may promote to any combination seen in the diagram, or generated during play.

I feel that, while minor variations of existing stipulations are to be discouraged, this particular non- Augsburg is sufficiently different from the real thing to deserve to exist; and Peter has named it 'Iceberg' on the spurious ground that 'Eye' is the English for 'Aug' (which it is) and that 'Berg' is homophonic with 'Burg' (which it isn`t).  Problems D and E.

(D) A. Bulavka & A. Mikholap
Problemist 1995
(E) R. Turnbull,
Helpmate in 2, zeroposition
(a) -Bh6 (b) -Rh1
Serieshelpstalemate in 4
(a) Augsburg, (b) Iceberg

Note that in Augsburg, combination is seen as a new way of moving orthodox pieces. In Iceberg, combination is a way of producing new fairy pieces. This difference may produce further distinctions between the two forms when they are combined with Madrasi, say, or Circe. It is, however, already established that in Augsburg Maxi, the move-length is not multiplied when a combined unit makes the move. King-Augsburg, and a hopelessly complex Augsburg-both-sides-at-once, have been seen in Germany and elsewhere. However, due to the corrupt nature of Peter Fayers` wordplay, there`s little space for hybrids between Augsburg and Iceberg. (Highbury?) Therefore, having contemplated problem F, you are requested to forget that you ever saw it as it spirals away to the limbo reserved for those composed in non-existent stipulations.

(F) R. Turnbull,

Helpstalemate in 6


Back to: Home Page