Rules of Arnold Transfer Chess Tournament Please note that these rules are not necessarily identical in all respects to rules which might be used elsewhere for Transfer Chess or "Bughouse" Chess etc. These rules have been drawn up with the spirit of the occasion in mind!
Definition of Transfer Chess Transfer chess is a chess variant played on two chessboards by four players in teams of two. Each team member faces one opponent of the other team. Partners sit next to each other and one partner has black, while the other has white. Each player plays the opponent as in a standard chess game, with the exception of the rules specified below.
Captured pieces A player capturing a piece immediately passes that piece to their own partner. The partner keeps such pieces "in reserve". Pieces in reserve should be kept on the table, visible to the opponents. On a player's turn they have a choice either to play a regular chess move, or else to "drop" one of their pieces in reserve onto the board. A piece in reserve may be dropped onto any vacant square, including squares where the piece delivers check or checkmate. A piece in reserve may also be dropped onto a square which blocks a check that would otherwise be checkmate.
Pawns and Promotion There are some rules in relation to Pawns:
Pawns may not be dropped on the first or last rank.
Pawns do not promote to queens or anything else. If a pawn is advanced to the last rank, it will be removed from the board and given in reserve to the opponent on the other board (note that advancing a pawn to the last rank can be a useful move, for example if the pawn is capturing an opponent's piece on the back rank)
A pawn which has previously been dropped on the second rank may move two squares on its first move
Tournament format, and explanation of "Matches", "Contests" and "Games" The Arnold Transfer Tournament will take the form of a Swiss tournament over an appropriate number of rounds.
In each round a partnership will be drawn to play a "Match" against another partnership. A Match involves playing against the same opponents two times, each referred to as a "Contest" A Contest consists of two simultaneous side-by-side "Games" of transfer chess.
Once the result of the first contest has been determined, the pieces are replaced on their starting squares, the clocks are reset, and then the two players from the losing partnership swap seats. A second contest is then played with each player playing a game against the different opponent from the opposing partnership.
At the end of the second contest, one player from each partnership should come together to the results table to report the outcome of their match on the basis of contests won. The score is usually 2-0, or 1-1. But in the event that a contest has been drawn (see below), 1.5-0.5 is also possible
Clocks Each contest will be played with chess clocks to prevent players from waiting indefinitely for a piece. Clocks are placed on the outside so that each player can see both clocks. Each player will have 5 minutes for their full game. At the start of the contest, the players with the black pieces start the clocks simultaneously.
Touch move and completion of one's turn The "touch move" and "touch take" rules will not be applied. A move will be considered to be complete if a piece from on the board or in reserve has been placed on a square and the hand has been taken off the piece. After that moment the move cannot be withdrawn regardless of whether or not the clock has yet been pressed. And before that moment the move can be withdrawn and an alternative move played with the same piece, or a different piece on the board, or by a piece in reserve, or indeed by a new piece received in reserve whilst ones hand is touching the piece originally planned to be moved
The result of the game Winning A partnership will win the contest in one of two main ways:
By delivering a checkmate in either of the two games
By their opponent running out of time in either of the two games
A checkmate or a win on time should be claimed out loud to the opponents, in order to demonstrate that the win has occurred prior to any potential opposite result on the other board.
Sometimes a checkmate is only mate because, when it is claimed, the opponent does not have a piece in reserve that could be used to block the check. In such a situation the checkmate is valid, ie a player is not allowed to wait to receive a captured piece from their partner after checkmate has been announced.
Other ways that a contest may be won are:
If one of the opponents resigns their game (not recommended as the players on the other board may be enjoying their game!)
If one of the opponents makes an illegal move and presses the clock, and this is claimed before any additional moves are made on that board. This rule will be applied if, and only if, the opponent of the player responsible for the infringement has less than 1 minute left on their clock. Otherwise, in the friendly spirit of this event, the illegal move should be pointed out and corrected (or alternatively a move can be played and the game will continue). If a player makes an illegal move, and discovers this prior to pressing the clock, they are permitted to withdraw the illegal move and make a legal move, even if their opponent has less than one minute left.
Drawing Transfer chess is very seldom a draw. A contest can be drawn in one of the following ways:
By agreement of all 4 players at the same time and without further moves being played in either game (not generally recommended, and definitely not by the agreement of only two players)
Where valid checkmates are standing on both boards (with opposite match outcomes) and there is a genuine acceptance by the players that both checkmates were claimed simultaneously
Where a loss on time is evident on both boards (with opposite match outcomes) and there is a genuine acceptance by the players that both losses happened simultaneously and were claimed simultaneously
Where there is one checkmate and one loss on time (with opposite match outcomes) and a genuine acceptance by the players that both events happened simultaneously and were claimed simultaneously, then the win will be awarded to the team that achieved the checkmate.
Stalemate does not occur in transfer chess. A player who is in a stalemate position and has no pieces in hand must wait with their clock running until their partner passes them a piece that they can place on the board as their move.
Other drawing methods such as 50 move rule and 3-fold repetition and perpetual check also do not apply in transfer chess.
Communication Partners are allowed to talk to each other and advise each during the contest. They can for instance ask for a specific piece, for more trades, ask to hold a piece, suggest moves, remind their partner to press their clock or ask their partner to stall. Communications like "A Knight mates!" or "Don't let him have a Rook!" are common, and can lead to seemingly absurd sacrificial captures on the other board. Partners are not allowed physically to touch any pieces on the other board, or to touch the clock on the other board
Fun Transfer chess is fun, and not too serious. Please have fun and enjoy your contests with your opponents!!