Magnetism
(first published in the Games and Puzzles Journal issue 17)

This is a game I have designed based on 'The Colchester Game' which was unearthed in an archaeological dig at Colchester in 1996 and was extensively reported in the press at the time. The find was unusual in that the pieces were found apparently in position for a game that had already started. An account was published in Variant Chess issue 23 (Spring 1997).

The rules for Magnetism are as follows: (1) A 12×8 board is used, each player has 12 playing pieces and one magnet piece. Each player sets up their pieces as in Figure 1.

(2) On a piece of paper each player secretly records the square they wish to place their magnet piece on: anywhere in their own half of the board, except on the already occupied back row. The squares are then revealed and the magnets are placed on the board.

(3) The object of the game is simply for a player to be the first to occupy one of the opponent's back rank squares. Once a player achieves this the opponent has one move to place a piece on the 'winning' player's back row. If this occurs the game continues until a player has two pieces on the opponents back row, and so on. However, once a player places all 12 pieces on the opposite back row the game ends and that player wins. There is no capturing and only one piece may ever occupy any square. The final positions of the magnets have no effect on the ending of the game.

(4) All pieces, including magnets, move as the queen in chess, restricted only by the other pieces and magnets and the edge of the board.

(5) A move consists of two parts, both of which must be made. In the first part the player's magnet piece is moved (we show in round brackets the square moved to) and in the second one of the player's twelve pieces must be moved either towards or away from that player's magnet piece (we show the coordinates of the two squares). For example in Figure 2 White's magnet is at c4 and White's piece at d5 could be pushed to e6, f7 or g8 (if these squares are vacant) or White's piece at c1 could be pulled to c2 or c3, and White's piece at f1 could be pulled to e2 or d3. A player who at any time is unable to complete both parts of a move has lost the game.

(6) A magnet's influence may pass through other pieces but not through the opponent's magnet. No piece or magnet however may move through or be pulled or pushed through an occupied square. For example, in Figure 2, if a Black piece was at f7, White's piece could not be pushed to g8 but would have to stop at e6.

Example Partial Game: White magnet g4, Black magnet d5. 1. (f5) j1-g4 (g2) a8-e4 2. (f4) g4-h4 (g6) e8-f7 3. (g3) h4-i5 (g5) j8-h6 4. (h4) i5-j6 (g6) e4-f5 5. (j4) j6-j8 (e6) f5-j1. Each player now has one piece on the opponent's back row. Player B's magnet is slightly better placed. Note White's move 5 shows it is not necessary for the magnet to be adjacent to a piece in order to move it away.