4- The initial setup
At the beginning of the game, the light color pieces occupy the bottom two ranks of the board and the dark color pieces occupy the top two ranks. One may then referred to the lower four ranks as white’s territory and to the upper four ranks as black’s territory. As for the central rank, it is a “neutral zone”.
In the initial setup, the main pieces occupy the players’ first rank which is viewed as their “castle”. The kings are positioned on the central file and face each other. On their left is the queen, on their right the paladin. The rest of the setup is identical to that of standard chess: on each side are a bishop, a knight and a rook and the pawns occupy the players’ second rank.
Note that both queens are on their king’s left and so they do not face one another as they do in standard chess. Also note that all four bishops are on dark squares, an important detail since bishops move along the diagonals and in doing so always remain on the same color squares. (One should point out however, that in Chess 99 it is actually possible – via the special play called “castling” – for the bishops to move to the squares of the opposite color.)
Unlike standard chess, there is no “king side” since the kings are on the central file. And there is no “queen side” either since the queens are on opposite sides. One may refer to the first four files (a to d) as the left side, and to the last four files (f to i) as the right side. As for the central file (e), it is simply the “central file”.
The initial setup of Chess 99 differs from that of “Modern Chess” invented by Gabriel Vicente Maura in that the positions of the queen and paladin (or prime minister) are transposed. (And the rules of the game most certainly do differ.)