English Progressive Chess

by Peter Wood
From Variant Chess, 3, Issue 22, Winter 1996-7, pages 43-44,
Back to: Home Page See also Italian Progressive Chess

A Review by Peter Wood of the book:

by Tony Gardner

Rules as for Italian Progressive, but in each turn every mobile piece must have moved once before any can move a 2nd time. A player giving check loses any other moves in that turn. A player may not expose his own King to check with any of his moves. If a player moves into a stalemate position before completing his series, the game is a draw.

This is a small 18-page stapled booklet giving many of the author`s games, and advice on the strategy and tactics of the variant. The author is the world's number 1; since John McCallion introduced ENPR to him in 1987 he has won over 100 games.

It is not that obvious how a player should conduct a game of ENPR; for example it is difficult to construct a mate compared with say Italian Progressive. What then should a player be looking out for? This book tells you. As Tony Gardner himself says: “I henceforth reveal, by illustration and instruction, my methods of success in this extremely marvelous game.”

His discussion about pieces is valuable, and he reaches some not too obvious conclusions. For example: “Queen - A strong piece which may diminish in power as a game unfolds .... she should not be guarded as a royal, but rather used to lead attack and gain something, like a well-posted enemy piece or certain territorial compen- sation.” Rooks appear to be preferred to Queens, for example “they .... possess the practical ability (unlike diagonally moving pieces) to provide turn continuance by moving in front of your pawn that would otherwise be compelled to move forward and check”.

Knights are preferred to Bishops, which are classed as “good Knight- killers”.

“Opening moves are not critical”, the author says, “but minor pieces should be developed for ensuing play ... 2-step pawn moves in the opening tend to be counter-productive”.

Coming to the middlegame (turns 7 to 14), he says that these moves are critical. “The objectives are: a) Win by checkmate, b) Establish a dominant board position that makes continued play by the opponent futile, c) Place your units so that your opponent can do minimal damage ... you must decide which of these goals is attainable and move accordingly”.

There is advice on ‘numbers' — the calculation of one's own and the opponent`s number of possible moves, when it is beneficial to voluntarily shorten your turn, and much else. The earlier diagram shows where to place the King vis à vis a pawn so as to force a sequence ending with check. The author points out an even better method, which can limit your opponent`s turn to a single move: “forcing your opponent to respond to a check with a check”.

I recommend this book to players who wish to improve their understanding of, and results in, English Progressive.

I give some games from the book. In the first White is a victim of ‘domination strategy'.

Vito Rallo - Tony Gardner 1994

1.e4 2.g6 Bg7 3.Bb5 c3 Nf3 4.c6 d6 Be6 Nd7 (A common opening formation of Black`s.) 5.Ng5 Bd3 Ke2 a4 h4 6.Nc5 Nf6 h6 Rf8 Qc7 Kd7 7.f3 N:e6 b3 Bb2 Qg1 Bc4 e5 8.f:e6 Nh7 Bh8 Rg8 Raf8 b6 Qb7 Kc7 9.g4 Qg3 d3 Nd2 Rae1 Rhf1 e:d6+ 10.Kd8 Qd7 b5 a5 Na6 g5 Rf4 Bd4 Nf6 Rf8

11.b4 Bb3 Nb1 Rd1 c:d4 Ke3 Qh2 d:e7+ (White is forced to give check with his pawn, and thus prevented from making a second sequence.) 12.K:e7 g:h4 Nh5 R:d4 R8f4 e5 c5 b:a4 N:b4 Qb5// Kf6 Ng3 White resigns.

In the next game White adopts what might be termed a direct approach.

Warren Ball - Tony Gardner 1992

1.b4 2.g6 Bg7 3.a4 c4 d4 4.Nf6 d6 Be6 Nbd7 5.a5 b5 c5 d5 Ra3 6.N:c5 Nfd7 a6 Bf5 Rg8 Kf8 7.e4 f4 g4 h4 Rh2 Nd2 Kf2 8.b6 Nb7 Ndc5 Bc8 Qd7 Ra7 f6 Kf7 9.h5 g5 f5 e5 Re3 Nb1 Bd2 Qe1 Rh1 10.a:b5 Ra6 d:e5 Q:d5 Nd6 Bd7 Rd8 Nce4+ 11.Kg2 Bc1 g:f6 h6 f:g6+

12.K:g6 B:f6 Be6 Rg8 Nf5 Qd6 Nf2 e4 b4 b:a5 Rc6// Qg3+ (Forcing a one-move sequence. ) 13.R:g3+ 14.Kf7 Nd3 Nd4 e3 Be5 Bb3 R:h6 Rg7 e6 c6 a4// Nf4#

(Tony Gardner writes: White`s strategy was to rid himself of pawns and get to second sequence turns mostly with pieces. But it fails, since his wood makes easy target fodder for Black.)

The following game has good Rook and Knight play, and includes Q sacrifice.

Tony Gardner - Vito Rallo 1992

1.Nf3 2.d5 Nf6 3.b3 e3 Bb5+ 4.c6 Ne4 g6 Bg7 5.c3 Qc2 Kd1 Bb2 Bd3 6.Bg4 Kd7 h5 f6 Qc7 a6 7.Ba3 B:e4 Qd3 Kc2 Ne1 g3 h4 8.Ke8 Nd7 Rd8 Be6 f5 g5 Bf6 d:e4 9.Bb2 Na3 Rd1 Kc1 f4 Rg1 Ng2 Q:d7+ 10.Q:d7 a5 b5 Rb8 Kd8 Bd5 e5 Be7 Rf8 g:h4 11.Nc4 Ba3 b4 Kc2 d3 Rd2 f:e5 g:h4 Nf4 Rg6// N:a5 12.Ra8 Bf7 Qe8 Kd7 e:d3+

13.Kb2 Re6 e4 Nd5 R:d3 Nc4//R:c6 Na5 Nf6#


The author points out that King-placement is difficult to master, but “ironically the best way to develop the King is to keep it fairly centralised and moved off the back rank.” However he warns against moving it too far afield. Here is an extreme example.

Tony Gardner - Rodolfo Cortenesi 1993 1.Nf3 2.d5 Kd7 3.e3 b3 Bb2 4.Kd6 Bg4 h5 Rh6 5.Bb5 b4 Ng5 f4 Be5#

The book can be obtained from: Tony Gardner, 1444 Meadowind Court, Conyers, GA 30207 USA . Price is $3, with perhaps another $2 to cover the postage. Reviewer: Peter Wood.

For the sake of the few who are unfamiliar with the rules of Progressive Chess and its variants, the following has been culled from David Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. Those who know them can skip this and go directly to the Review above.

Basic Rules.
Orthodox board (8x8, normal array)

  1. White starts with one move; Black plays 2 consecutive moves, either with the same man or two different men: White then plays three moves and so on, the number of moves increasing by one each time the turn changes.
  2. A player's turn ends if he gives check, regardless of how many moves he may have made.
  3. A player may not expose his own king to check at any time during his turn.
  4. A player whose king is in check must get out of check with the first move of his turn otherwise it is mate.
  5. A player who has no legal move or who runs out of legal moves during his own turn is stalemated and the game is drawn.
  6. An e.p. capture is admissible on the first turn of a move only. Any pawn that made a two-step move during the previous turn sequence is liable to e.p. capture unless it was then moved again.

AISE additional rule

  1. A player giving check before the last move of his turn forfeits the game - see rule 2 above.

English version – as above plus:

  1. No man may be moved twice on a turn until every mobile man has been moved once.
  2. Similarly every man must move twice before any man moves three times, and so on.
  3. Castling counts as one move but both pieces are credited as having moved; and a pawn that has been promoted cannot then be classed as a piece and moved in the same series.
  4. The game is drawn if a player is unable to complete his turn, and it is permissible to block one's own men in order to do so, or to earn extra turns for other men.

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