Repatriation Chess

At the beginning of the US War for Southern Independence captured prisoners were exchanged. This helped the South more than the septentrional invaders because the Rebels could not replace their soldiers as easily as could the North. Not only did the yankees have a much larger population from which to draw, they also fielded many thousands of mercenaries while the Southern soldier was fighting to protect home and family. It is written that the yankees would take a poor immigrant right off of the ship, promising him citizenship if he would fight for the yankees. Yet the so-called historians have blamed the South for ending the practice. The victor writes history and does so in such a way as to distort the truth in order to make themselves look good, and the vanquished to look bad.

“The war, begun with noble pronouncements, sentimental loyalties, rash heroism, and codes of gentlemanly honor, soon takes a turn. For two years, prisoners are captured on the battlefield and repatriated according to conventions as old as wars between nations, formalized in the summer of 1862 in an agreement called the Dix-Hill Cartel ( After he captures Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is appalled to learn that his 37,000 rebel prisoners — all exchanged according to the Cartel — have returned to their regiments. He expresses his frustration succinctly: “If we commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated.” He refuses to fight the same men over and over till they are all wounded or killed.

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton heeds Grant’s wisdom: There will be no more prisoner-of-war exchanges. Grant has effectively condemned many captured soldiers to suffering and death — ironically for the most humane of reasons, to end a greater suffering and death as quickly as possible.” (

In chess a piece is captured, not killed. I pondered this while reading the wonderful “Grandmasters at the Shogi Forum” By Peter Heine Nielsen on the Chessbase website. ( Shogi has a “drop rule”; it was the first chess variant wherein captured pieces could be returned to the board to be used as one’s own.” ( This has been described as allowing a previously captured piece to “parachute” back into the field of battle. What if a form this were allowed in chess?

Allowing a piece to “drop back in” seems a little too “buggy” for me. But what if a captured pawn or piece could be sent back into battle by having to be placed on the exact square where it began? For example, what if, as the General of the White pieces, you contemplated exchanging your Kings Knight for Black’s Queen Knight, but you had previously castled Kingside and your King occupied the g1 square? That would mean moving your King before being able to place the Kings Knight on g1. If Black’s b8 square were unoccupied, then after the exchange of Knights you would have to move your King, allowing Black to play his captured Knight to b8 before you could play your previously captured Knight to g1. Would you still make the exchange?

Combine this with not allowing an agreed draw or a threefold repetition and draws would almost be eliminated. Chess would then have more credibility in the eyes of those who play Wei-Chi and Shogi, for whom the idea of offering a draw is anathema.

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