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Abstract ChessA game information page
. Pieces are represented by stacks of different heights.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Derek Nalls wrote on 2005-02-13 UTC
[Comment voluntarily deleted.]

João Neto wrote on 2004-07-22 UTC
Well, 14 knights is indeed a powerful army, but takes time to make it.
The other player may develop is own pieces in comfortable positions. But
that's the spirit of abchess, see the position and reshape your own army
accordingly.

Greg Strong wrote on 2004-07-21 UTC
This game is very interesting.  It does look like the knight is a heck of a
value at only 2 stones.  I would make 14 Knights and a Rook.  I bet that
would be hard to deal with!

João Neto wrote on 2004-07-21 UTC
That's a good idea. But it probably would mean that both players would try
to keep their queens near an adjacent piece, so they can create a new King
while demoting the previous King (if attacked) to a queen and escape the
attack. And this tactic could continue in a cycle.

Usually, I don't like this type of thing (ie, multiple Kings, demoting
royal pieces, ...).

Jared McComb wrote on 2004-07-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Why not have 7 be the limit, and make a stack of 7 be a King, instead of having a royal stone? (Then you only have one type of piece, making the game much, er, abstracter, as well as adding more strategies!)

John Lawson wrote on 2003-06-05 UTC
This is an interesting general mutator. Imagine it appplied, for instance, to Ralph Betza's Chess with Different Armies.

Joao Neto wrote on 2003-06-03 UTC
First, I want to thank you for the ZRF! Btw, L. Lynn Smith also made
another ZRF of Abstract Chess :) I'm happy to see that many of you like
this idea.

About the 7+ stacks, I didn't think of them as valid stacks, but I
didn't say anything against either. Indeed there are tactical
considerations, because it means queens able to give extra powers to
adjacent friends with losing their abilities. However, it seems that the
cost and tempo is too great. I believe it's best to keep 6 as the max.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-05-31 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Great idea. Its simple and elegant, yet add the mutability of pieces that many game designers have sought. The idea of simplifying the rules of Chess is also intriguing. It should be quite playable.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2003-05-30 UTC
João, I just had a thought -- can a stack have more than six stones in it? The rules don't seem to forbid this, but neither do they describe how such a stack would move. If a stack of 7+ moved like a Queen, I can see some tactical conditions where it might (rarely) make sense to make such a stack. On the other hand, I could easily see limiting stacks to 6 stones.

Joao Neto wrote on 2003-05-30 UTC
I acknowledge that the gradient is not that smooth... however, pieces with
4 or 5 stones and not quite equal: a stack of 5 just needs one tempo to
become a queen *and* can give away one stone and still be a rook. I think
that may be more than the value of one unpromoting pawn.

About the knight->bishop step, I agree that there's a larger cost for
such smaller gain, but bishops can travel faster and they only need one
tempo to become a rook. We should not forget that the promoting/demoting
possibilities of each piece adds to its own standard chess value.

If a player shifts stones between two stacks he's giving initiative to
the adversary. If that is used to achieve a closed draw position, I
believe it's ok, if we think it's ok for FIDE Chess.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2003-05-30 UTC
I hacked together a crude ZRF for the game last night (I'll clean it up and post it today or tomorrow), and it was interesting. Zillions, with its usual preoccupation with material, seemed to head to armies of 13 Knights, 1 Queen and 1 King per side. Nothing very surprising there. <p> However, on reflection I find myself wondering if the game doesn't make it too easy to make passive moves. A pair of Knights, for example, could pass back and forth a stone all day without substantially changing the board position. I wonder if a two move approach, as used in many of Ralph's recent board connecting games might be better. Each player would have two moves a turn: the first is obligatory, and requires moving a stack from one space to another; the second is optional, and consists of moving a stone from one stack to another. Or alternately, maybe a player could be forbidden to make two transfers in a row. <p> Another issue (and this one was illuminated both by Zillions' play and John's earlier comments) is that the relation between the number of stones in a stack and the power of a stack is very irregular. Two stones are much more powerful than one stone, but three stones are hardly any stronger than two, while four stones are a fair bit stronger than three, and five stones are no stronger than four and six stones are much stronger than five. I wonder about this approach: <table border=1> <tr><td><b># of Stones</b></td><td><b>Piece Type</b></td></tr> <tr><td align=center>1</td><td>Pawn (mfWcfF)</td></tr> <tr><td align=center>2</td><td>Mao</td></tr> <tr><td align=center>3</td><td>Bishop</td></tr> <tr><td align=center>4</td><td>Rook</td></tr> <tr><td align=center>5</td><td>Cardinal</td></tr> <tr><td align=center>6</td><td>Queen</td></tr> </table> Yes, I realize it isn't FIDE Chess anymore, but at least there's a more even power gradiant.

John Lawson wrote on 2003-05-29 UTC
'Now, promoting a Rook to Queen, dispite the gain of 1.5 to 2 Pawns is
less obviously a good idea because of the leveling effect.'

And because it takes two tempi, not one.  You can use two tempi and two
Pawns to change a Rook to a Queen, two Bishops and two Pawns to two Rooks,
or a Rook and two Pawns to three Knights.  Or two Bishops and two Pawns
into four Knights.  Which would you rather have?  That is a question
anawerable only by playtesting.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2003-05-29 UTC
While merging all of your Pawns into the pieces behind them may limit your mobility some, just converting the Bishops into Rooks only costs you two Pawns for an increase of 1 or 2 Pawns in force (depending on if you rate Rooks at the more common 5 Pawns, or Spielmann's 4.5), and still leaves you 6 Pawns <strong>and</strong> gives you some very impressive attack lanes, allowing you free use of the new Rooks in the opening and midgame. Now, promoting a Rook to Queen, dispite the gain of 1.5 to 2 Pawns is less obviously a good idea because of the leveling effect.

Joao Neto wrote on 2003-05-29 UTC
Hi Michael,

Well, about single 'protons' powers, I wanted to keep the flavour of
FIDE Chess. It would be possible to imagine many Betza's Diff Chess
configurations. That would mean that 'abstract chess' would be more than
one game, it'd be a game system.

The reason of keeping single protons is related to the fact that it's not
valid to place a proton on an empty square. I do think that this rule
should be enforced, because there's a cost of creating an army of few
powerful pieces: you lose flexibility!

About the idea of transferring protons based on the move range, it sounds
good (I didn't think of it) but (maybe) there's a drawback: powerful
pieces get even stronger. But hey, we are here to try new ideas :^)

I wish to keep as many open possibilities as possible, but without opening
any nasty Pandora box (and there lies the art of game design, imho).

Joao Neto wrote on 2003-05-29 UTC
In fact, when you take a Pawn and use it to promote a piece,
then you lose one piece (you cannot demote to an empty cell). 
It's not very good to have very few pieces because that 
implies on little manoeuvrability: one would be playing abstract
chess, the other just chess.

About Lawson's suggestion, it sounds good. That's the beauty
of new games, many open and unexplored possibilities, even 
if we always have to face that the game can be broken in the 
long term.

I've played two face 2 face games with a friend and the games
went ok. That's not enough to judge a game, but it is a good 
start :)

John Lawson wrote on 2003-05-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I think many people would be tempted by the strategy Peter mentions, of the 'pawns' getting combined into the back rank pieces early on to build more powerful pieces. The approach I would try in my first game, however, would be to combine pairs of pawns into knights, resulting in having a total of six knights. There's even some logic in demotion: you start with a rook and two pawns, and end with three knights; or a queen and four pawns, and end with five knights. If you carry this idea to its conclusion, you get two bishops, and thirteen knights. In the endgame, you can recombine into whatever more powerful pieces you need. Of course, all this conversion carries a cost in tempo.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2003-05-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This is a real neat idea, which is why I'm giving it an excellent rating. However, I find myself wondering how it would play in practice. There seems to me that there would be a certain tendency for the Pawn line to get sucked into the back line at the start, producing a mess of attack routes.

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