The Chess Variant Pages



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Fergus Duniho wrote on 2005-03-12 UTC
While I'm not usually a Platonist, I tend to think of Chess as a Platonic form of which Chess variants, including FIDE Chess, are just reflections or shadows. In this respect, FIDE Chess, Chinese Chess, Shogi, and the other games on this site are equally Chess variants. Plato's analogy of the cave conveys the difference between how I view Chess verses how most people view Chess. In this analogy, most people live in a cave watching shadows cast by fires, and they take this for reality. But one person escapes from the cave. During his escape, he sees the fires and what have been casting the shadows, and on leaving the cave, he sees the world illumined by sunlight and the sun itself. But on returning to the cave, he cannot adequately describe his experience to the others, because it is fully outside their frame of reference. Like the people in the cave, most people know a single game called Chess and consider this, in all its particularity, to be all that Chess is. When something differs from it in any respect, they consider it to not be Chess. But my experience of Chess has not been limited to this single game, and I know Chess to be something that transcends the particular rules and equipment of a single game. So, when I speak of Chess variants, I don't simply mean games derived from FIDE Chess, I mean different expressions of the form (or general concept) of Chess.

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