The Chess Variant Pages

The Piececlopedia is intended as a scholarly reference concerning the history and naming conventions of pieces used in Chess variants. But it is not a set of standards concerning what you must call pieces in newly invented games.

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George Duke wrote on 2008-08-13 UTC
Author Bodlaender says in first sentence, ''Probably tens of thousands fairy chess problems have been composed using the Grasshopper.'' T.R. Dawson's (1889-1951) fairy pieces appear in problems to solve in Chess magazines. Dominant style for all the centuries of Chess was infrequently to embody entire Rules-sets. That is, until artists Boyer and Betza trended towards designing personal collections of CVs never particularly to be played. Chess Variant Page now pursues artistic free rein, only half-mindful of prior similarities, to absurd extreme with hundreds rules-sets, mostly mediocre and poor to outsiders familiar with OrthoChess and standard alternatives like FRC.  To historians, it is self-evident that Dawson, Sam Loyd, J.R. Capablanca, GM Emanuel Lasker and other variantists 100 years ago (before Boyer and Betza) could easily have made a thousand different Rules-sets if so inclined. Rather, they had the sense and courtesy to discriminate, self-select, and forbear. It becomes difficult after 2000 to find the 1-2% that are potential gems, or solutions, when proliferation begins in earnest. Strewn about are all the false leads and red herrings taking investigators up the garden path  [MIXED METAPHORS galore!] , once personal artistic expresssion is the normal object. Now Dawson's most famous pieces out of many dozens are surely Nightrider and Grasshopper. Grasshopper invented 1912 moves along Queen-lines, jumps and stops at the next square, capturing if possible. The jump is mandatory (unlike Schmittberger's 
Airplane 70 years later). Grasshopper cannot move at all unless it can jump. Grasshopper is first piece of its kind altering Xiangqi Cannon -- unless someone finds earlier example(s). Please correct, if knowing of other past use of jumping along radial lines. It is very possible, as for example Winther's research finding Pasha from Paulovits' Game around 1890, as the earliest precedent for Winter's own Mastodon ( a legitimate solution on 8x10). Otherwise we assume Dawson is first with this genre of chess piece, consciously and respectfully differentiating from ancient eastern Cannon; and follow-up will look at Schmittberger's Airplane (1981) in the same class.

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