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Yangsi. A very playable chess variant with 12 different pieces on a 10x10 board.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Ben Reiniger wrote on 2019-01-09 UTC

I don't see the "either side can move first" as being particularly noteworthy.  You've eliminated the white/black advantage, but the first/second player advantage isn't changed.

Personally, this seems to just be a decimal subvariant of Fergus's Gross Chess; the rule adjustments seem to just be conforming to the smaller board.  The further piece reduction to your other game (in particular using the Leo in place of the Pao and Vao) seems a more separate variant (while still clearly inspired by Gross, with the compounds and Omega pieces and hopper[s]).

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2019-01-10 UTC

Deciding who moves first: In Chess and most chess-like games, the first move is always given to one side. In Chess, the side with the first move is always White. However, the side with the first move also has first-move advantage. In Chess, White has a slight statistical advantage over Black simply because White always has the first move. Because either side can move first in Yangsi, that slight statistical advantage is eliminated.

You make it sound like this is an advantage of this game, but it isn't. The first move advantage still exists. While it no longer belongs exclusively to one color, the new rule concerning who moves first doesn't change how frequently the actual players each have this advantage. I would recommend scrapping this rule, because it does not actually make the game any fairer. It is simpler and better to just follow Chess on this one and let White move first. How the players decide who will move first would then simply come down to how they decide who will move as White.

While I'm glad that Gross Chess has played a role in igniting your interest in Chess variants, I have my doubts that reducing the size of the board while keeping the same pieces will make for a better game. The opening setup in Gross Chess is designed to give most of the pieces a little bit of freedom of movement from the very beginning. That gets lost with all the pieces crammed together. Also, this game has 60% piece density at the beginning of the game, which is higher than the 50% in Chess or the 64/144 = 44.4% in Gross Chess. This might make the game more cramped. However, I haven't done any extensive study on how piece density affects game quality, and I'm only guessing that higher piece density could have a deliterious effect. Some actual gameplay is required before I can make a more considered judgement on this matter.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2019-01-10 UTC

Indeed, this first-move business is just the usual method for randomization of the right to move first, except that it now has a the side effects of renaming the colors and swapping King and Queen to play the game in mirror image. It adds nothing but confusion.

John Davis wrote on 2019-01-10 UTC

Sac Chess has the same piece density and is a popular game. Play testing is always a good idea.

Adam DeWitt wrote on 2019-01-11 UTC

When I designed Yangsi, I did so with the principles in Fergus Duniho's On Designing Good Chess Variants in mind. I have actually playtested this game several times. The people I played the game with all thought it was fun and very playable. I remember one particularly enjoyable game I played where I had a bare King and my opponent had a king and two pawns. That game ended in a draw via stalemate.

Adam DeWitt wrote on 2019-01-11 UTC

The rules for deciding who moves first after deciding who controls which pieces is no longer effective in Yangsi or Hectochess.

Adam DeWitt wrote on 2019-01-11 UTC

Increasing the board size does give the pieces more freedom of movement, Mr. Duniho, but it also does another thing - it makes it harder to keep track of everything. You yourself have stated this in your article "On Designing Good Chess Variants" in the section "Don't make your game too small or too large."

"Small games can finish too quickly, and large games can last too long. Note that the three classics are on moderate sized boards, ranging in size from 8x8 for Chess to 9x10 for Xiang Qi. 10x10 has proven a good size for many games, though 12x12 and up might be too large. I have recently (November 2009) created a 12x12 variant called Gross Chess. To some extent, this is an experiment with a board of this size. The only pieces it adds have been tried and tested in other variants, which allows the game to be a test mainly of the increased board size. Games against Zillions of Games suggest that the game is enjoyable but the larger size makes it harder to keep track of everything. I haven't yet won a game against Zillions without taking back moves. I have played a couple games on Game Courier, drawing one game and losing the other."

As for your comments on piece density, I don't think that cramming the pieces together within a 10x10 space will create too many problems. Kevin Pacey's Sac Chess also has a piece density of 60% at the start of the game, and is one of the top 50 games on Game Courier.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-06-12 UTC

I changed some H2 tags to H3 tags, and I moved one section from Rules to Notes. The script for displaying member-submitted content normally adds the appropriate H1 and H2 tags, and tags entered by the author should begin with H3.

Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-07-02 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Having implemented this variant in Ai Ai and having played it a bunch of times, I really enjoy this game. Being a large Shogi fanatic, the higher piece density of Yangsi doesn't bother me in the slightest :)

For me this game is an improvement on something like Sac Chess, as the pieces in Yangsi are more interesting to use. In fact I was inspired by this game to make what I called 'Heavy Shako', an extension of Shako that fills in all the gaps in the back rank with other pieces used in the larger variants by Jean-Louis Cazaux. The original concept was much improved by some excellent advice from Jean-Louis, and the resulting game has been a lot of fun.

I'd enjoy seeing an extension of Yangsi to 12x12 with a high-density setup, too.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-07-02 UTC

I think Heavy Shako would deserve a page of its own.

Adam DeWitt wrote on 2021-09-30 UTC

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed Yangsi. I'd love to see a CVP article on your Heavy Shako game - it sounds like a very interesting concept.

The 12x12 Yangsi idea could be interesting, but I think Gross Chess kind of already has that covered.

Also, what is Ai Ai? I've never heard of it before.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-30 UTC

See the Ai Ai tag at the bottom of the page.

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