The Chess Variant Pages



This page is written by the game's inventor, AlfredO.Myers.

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Alfred O. Myers wrote on 2004-08-19 UTC
Michael Howe chided me for wanting to change the rules of an existing
chess
varianr without the inventor's approval. Excuse me, but isn't that like
leaving the science of aviation entirely in the hands of the Wright
Brothers? Chess as we know it eveolved only because different rules were
tried out with respect to castling, staelemates, repetition of moves, the
en passant capture, etc. until a consensus was reached and the results
were codified. Remember, Christian Freeling did not invent the 100-square
board or the Cardinal & Marshall. Even his admittedly excellent
innovations of the three-tiered starting array and the early pawn
promotion option were probably adapted from Shogi, though of course their
application in Grand Chess is quite different. In any event, Mr. Freeling
solved the dilemma of whether to use a 10x10 board as opposed to the less
satisfactory 10x8 alternative for an expanded version of chess.

I personally have no interest whatever in creating my own new chess
variant. What does interest me is improving a game which is so promising
that it has the potential to be the next step in the evolution of Western
chess itself. It certainly seems that standard chess at least at the
grandmaster level, not for the rest of us)is becoming moribund. More and
more matches & tournaments are becoming nothing but drawfests in which
all
the interest lies in tie-braking rapid-chess or even blitz-chess games.
Read the interview with Vladimir Kramnik in the June 2004 Chess Review
which teats that subject. It's really quite depressing. I think it would
be a long time before Grand Chess found itself in that position. I would
therefore like to restate my suggested change to the starting formation
in
Grand Chess:

THE STARTING FORMATION FOR THE MAJOR PIECES SHALL BE:

CARDINALS:D2 AND D9
QUEENS E2 AND E9
KINGS: F2 AND F9
MARSHALLS: G2 AND G9

The Queen is still the most powerful piece on the board, and she should
be
restored to her rightful place on a central file. I feel that Christian
Freeling simply made a mistake when he shunted her off to the D file.
This
braks with a thousand years of chess tradition. You might be interested
in
a new book on just that topic, 'The Birth of the Chess Queen' by
Marilyn
Yalom, which posits that the morphing of the medieval Vizier into the
modern Queen was due to the influence of several of the brilliant and
powerful women of the middle ages, such as Eleanor of Aquitane. the
proper
placement of the Queenon the E file would have the advantage of having
the
Kings and Queens of both sides start out on the same color as they do in
standard chess. It would also allow for smooth incorporation of the
Cardinal and Marshall into the standard Staunton chess set design, where
the height of the pieces except for Rooks)is proportionate to their power
or value, in a manner that would preserve the aestheitcall pleasing slopr
from the center of the board to the edges.

When I first made this suggestion, most comments were favorable. However,
another suggestiong to create a castling move drew some negative remarks.
In reconsidering, I thinkg I was wrong to include a rook's move when the
logic of Grand Chess did not require freeing or connecting the rooks. In
its stead, however, I'd like to propsed a 'KLing's Leap', as follows:

ON ITS FIRST MOVE, THE KING SHALL HAVE THE OPTION TO LEAP THREE SQUARES
FROM ITS ORIGINAL POSITION, WEITHER QUEENSIDE TO C2(OR C9)OR KINGSIDE TO
I2 (OR I9).

This move would apply to the king only (no Rooks!)but would otherwise be
subject to the same rules as castling in regular chess. Of the three
chess
games with large worldwide followings, Western Chess is the only one with
a
castling rule at all. In Chinese Chess, the King is restriced to his
fortress. With regard to Shogi, I am no expert, but in the very few games
I have played through, the first order of business of both sides has been
to tuck their kings safely away in a corner of the board. They can afford
the tempi to do this on account of the relatively restricted power of
most
of the other pieces. The 'King's Leap' would accompplish this
defensive
objective at a saving of two tempi and should be regarded as a
convenience
move analogous to a pawn's double jump. I also think it would add to the
strategic richness of the Grand Chess.

My suggestions my be considered analogous to changes in spolrts rules,
for
examplt the three-point shot in basketball, which improve but don't
alter
the nature of the game.

One last question: is anybody tabulating the percentage of white,
victories, black victories & draws in Grand Chess,. For standard chess,
Larry Evens cites a database (see the March 2004 Chess Review)in which
the
percentages are White 36.8% Black 26.4% and draws 38.8%

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