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Discussions[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
David Howe wrote on 2002-04-06 UTC
Ok guys, I've created a minimal discussion system. Feel free to start using it (and breaking it). I still have more work to do, but it's basically functional. Please do let me know if you have any particular requests or criticisms (or kudos :)...

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-06 UTC
Great idea David -- thanks!

John Lawson wrote on 2002-04-07 UTC
I know I'm just being a pest, but maybe the default number of comments that are on the new comments page should be rather less than 100. It loads really fast, but if there are 100 long comments, it could take a while for us poor benighted souls who live too far out in the boondocks to have DSL, and don't wish to pay our cable companies triple per month. If they were just 'Excellent, great job!' it would be OK, but when some of those wordy people start writing, and talking about things that aren't even chess variants, well.....

David Howe wrote on 2002-04-07 UTC
Good point John -- I have changed the default to 25. Now the question is, should the default be summary mode or detail mode??

John Lawson wrote on 2002-04-07 UTC
Detail mode.  This is how I use the comments:

   I arrive at the What's New page via bookmark.

   If there is a new topic of interest, I investigate, and comment if

   If the 'last comment' time is more recent than the last time I logged
on, I review the recent comments. 

A minimal visit is two clicks (What's New, recent comments).  Usually I
visit at least every other day.  If the comments were in summary, I would
have to expand each one to see what it's about.  

By way of explanation, I attempt to reduce the amount of typing and mousing
I do to a minimum.  Many of my older, professional IT colleagues have
become diabled due to repetitive motion injuries.  I have many years left
to work, and I spend 8 hours a day in front of my workstation earning a
living, then come home and play with my personal computer.  I would like to
be able to enjoy my computer in retirement without wrist braces and voice

gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-08 UTC
I agree with John Lawson.

Chess eBooks[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
David Howe wrote on 2002-04-08 UTC
I'm considering adding a section to the Chess Variant Pages for chess eBooks. Right now I'm aware of only two: Chess History and Reminiscences by H.E. Bird, and Edward Lasker's Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership. Both are Project Gutenberg files. Does anyone know of any other online chess eBooks?

Rook-Level Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-10 UTC
The discussion of piece values and the purpose of the variant for <a href='../diffsetup.dir/chigorin.html'>Chigorin Chess</a> reminded me of a conceptually-related idea I had a while ago I called Rook-Level Chess. <p> <h4>Rook-Level Chess</h4> <p> The idea I wanted to explore in Rook-Level Chess is: how would the play of Chess be affected if the Rook, the Knight and the Bishop all had approximately the same value? It seemed to me that threats would be harder at the very least. Anyway, drawing on Ralph Betza's work on the value of Chess pieces I selected stronger Knights and Bishops that retained some of the character of the existing pieces: for Knights I used NW (Knight + Wazir or Marquis), for Bishops I used BD (Bishop + Dabbabah or Bede). These pieces retain the color behavior of the pieces they replace: the Marquis is color-changing, and the Bede is colorbound. <p> I sent this to David Paulowich, and asked him how he thought this would affect exchanges. He replied that we would still prefer a Rook to a Marquis and a Marquis to a Bede, as you could mate with a Rook + King vs King, but not with Marquis + King vs King or Bede + King vs King, and he still though color-switching pieces more valuable than colorbound ones, other things being equal. <h4>Rook-Level Chess II</h4> <p> Given the above comment, I wondered if the powered up Knight and Bishop could retain <i>different</i> characteristics of the base piece? So, for Rook-Level Chess II I replaced the Knight with ND (Knight + Dabbabah or Vicount) and the Bishop with BW (Bishop + Ferz or Dragon-Horse). In this case I retained that the Knight was a strictly leaping piece not attacking adjacent pieces, and I retained that the Bishop was a non-jumping piece. Are these pieces of equal value? And could you mate with Vicount + King vs King? (Dragon-Horse + King vs King is a win.) <h4>Discussion</h4> <p> I've played around with Rook-Level Chess a bit with Zillions for what it is worth, but I strongly suspect it loses somethings that Chess has. If nothing else, weak pieces can be fun since they can harass stronger pieces. <p> Other versions are of course possible. Given that Ralph has settled down to rating the Crooked Bishop (zFF) as equal to a Rook (there being a brief point where he was rating it at 1.5 Rooks), a Crooked Bishop might replace the Bishop nicely. <p> I should eventually add these as modest variants.

David Howe wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
It's an interesting idea, but would make for a more positional game with more trading off of material. I would recommend these Rook-level pieces perhaps for larger variants which would still include the usual knights and bishops.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
Of course, there is the issue that on a larger board, since leapers are weakened, most of these pieces are probably not quite Rook-level anymore. One piece I do want to try in a larger variant someday is the NH (Knight + (3,0) leaper), since the H portion of the move would allow it to move around a 10x10 board slightly faster than a Knight moves around an 8x8 board.

MonoChrome Alice[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
David Howe wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
Continuing Peter's idea from his 'Alice Chess' comment on <a href='../diffmove.dir/monochro.html'>Monochromatic Chess</a>... <p>I don't like the idea that Bishops would be restricted to their initial board. Perhaps giving the bishops a non-capturing wazir move would fix this. Option 3 is also a nice idea (the switch-a-roo). <p>On the whole, I like this set of ideas. Perhaps it can be developed, with some play-testing, into a workable variant of Alice Chess, although Alice Chess itself is difficult enough to play... :)

Rook-Level Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
gnohman wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
Rook-Level Chess is a very nice idea. Of course, the Queen isn't

As for K+ND versus K, confining the K is tricky but it can be done.

Example: BKb8 WKc6, White ND e4, Black's move 1...Kc8 2. Nd6+ Kb8 3. Kb6
Ka8 4. NDc8+ Kb8 5. NDc6+ and 6. ND a6 mate.

MonoChrome Alice[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
There's an idea for the Bishop's move -- give it a colorbound Wazir's move, so that it can only use it to change boards. Just repeat that term: <i>A colorbound Wazir's move</i>. I love to be able to say that and have it mean something

Rook-Level Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
Thanks for the end-game! I deliberately left the Queen out of the leveling so as not to make thinks <strong>too</strong> uniform. <p> I wonder if the the <b>Rook-Level Chess I</b> army vs the <b>Rook-Level Chess II</b> army would be a balanced form of Chess with Different Armies? I would think so, but the <b>RLC II</b> army does have a significant 'can mate' advantage. Does it matter?

YellowJournalism[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
Dear 'Editor in Yellow',

Programmers who have junketed to i18n fora know that col[u]rs have various
meaning in various cultures. For example, in Italian, yellow is the color
of mystery.[1] is a text which should be added
as a supplemental and corrective link, but not just yet. My apologies for
having made so many errors and rewrites and addenda. should be read and criticized
by our critical public until a critical mass of agreement is reached, and
then the editor should step in, whether yellow or dark sea green 3. should soon be on the cv pages,
but first the multitude should fish in it for errors and omissions. should someday be
authoratative, but meanwhile, please allow me to grovel and cringe, O great
Editor who knows not his ablative from his elboh, may I humbly beg you to
please change for me one great omission in the original Nemoroth file?

As stated in, repetition of
position is forbidden! Your humble supplicant is humbled with shame, how
can I have omitted to say this? I be so ipse dissed that I'd almost seppuku
but no, so much better to tofuku. I have disemboweled a bean curd to
express my embare-ass-ment.

By all means, treat as
authoritative, and please accept from this humble supplicant a case of root
beer, or if you prefer, a single bottle of Hennepin.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
Yellow is the color of mystery in Italy? I wonder if Robert Chambers knew that. (Robert Chambers was an early writer of supernatural horror who's work, particularly <u>The King in Yellow</u>, was cited as major influence by Lovecraft and his circle.) <p> Repetition is now forbidden! <p> I have printed out your screed to study in the morning, when the sap rises and the brain cells go off strike. <p> Forget the root beer or the Hennepin, what I want is a case of Diet Moxie. It's the one form of soda that my kids will not filch. <p> (I have actually recently dived into the seas of i18n, actually -- talk about your eldritch horrors! The subtle distinctions between UCS-2 and UTF-16 will drive me mad, <strong>mad</strong> I say! <i>Mua, ha, ha, ha . . .</i>)

Piece Values[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Hatch wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
Various and sundry ideas about calculating the value of chess pieces.

First off, it is quite interesting to instead of picking a magic number as
the chance of a square being empty, calculate the value for everything
between 32 pieces on the board and 3 pieces on the board.  Currently I'm
then just averaging all the numbers, and it gives me numbers slightly
higher than using 0.7 as the magic number (for Runners - Knights and other
single step pieces are of course the same).  One advantage of it is that it
becomes easier to adjust to other starting setups - for Grand Chess I can
calculate everything between 40 pieces on the board and 3, and it should
work.  With a magic number I'd have to guess what the new value should be,
as it would probably be higher since the board starts emptier.  One
disadvantage is that I have no idea whether or not the numbers suck. :) 
Interesting embellishments could be added - social and anti-social
characteristics could modify the values before they are averaged, and
graphs of the values would be interesting.  It would be interesting to
compare the official armies from Chess with Different Armies at the final
average and at each particular value.  It might be possible to do something
besides averaging based on the shape of the graph - the simplest idea would
be if a piece declines in power, subtract a little from it's value but
ignore the ending part, assuming that it will be traded off before the

Secondly, I'm not sure what to do with the numbers, but it is interesting
to calculate the average number of moves it takes a piece to get from one
square to another, by putting the piece on each square in turn and then
calculate the number of moves it takes to get for there to every other
square.  So for example a Rook (regardless of it's position on the board)
can get to 15 squares in 1 move, 48 squares in 2 moves, and 1 square in 0
move (which I included for simplicity, but which should probably be left
out) so the average would be 1.75.  I've got some old numbers for this on
my computer which are probably accurate, but I no longer know how I got
them.   Here's a sampling:

Knight: 2.83
Bishop: 1.66 (can't get to half the squares)
Rook: 1.75
Queen: 1.61
King: 3.69
Wazir: 5.25
Ferz: 3.65 (can't get to half the squares)

This concept seems to be directly related to distance.  Perhaps some method
of weighting the squares could make it account for forwardness as well.

Finally, on the value of Kings.  They are generally considered to have
infinite value, as losing them costs you the game.  But what if you assume
that the standard method is to lose when you have lost all your pieces, and
that kings have the special disadvantage that losing it loses you the game?
 I first assumed this would make the value fairly negative, but preliminary
testing in Zillions seems to indicate it is somewhere around zero.  If it
is zero, that would be very nifty, but I'll leave it to someone much better
than me at chess to figure out it's true value.

YellowJournalism[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
'Yellow is the color of mystery in Italy' is an arcane little i18n joke. A
paperback pulp mystery story is colloquially called 'un giallo' (a yellow)
because of its yellow cover. Even the publisher Mondadori uses the term, as
its series is titled 'Il Giallo Mondadori'. Number 1331, 'Quella Bomba di
Nero Wolfe' (Please Pass the Guilt) was published in 1974 and it is weekly,
therefore the series began around 1948; but it also says 'new series', so
the usage of a yellow in this sense may be older.

This is *not* the sort of color usage that can get you into i18n trouble,
though it sounds like the typical 'White is the color of death in China'
warning, and that's the little joke.

For true madness and horror, you should look into the methods of
internationalization that were used in the days before the current
standards existed....

Piece Values[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
'First off, it is quite interesting to instead of picking a magic number
the chance of a square being empty, calculate the value for everything
between 32 pieces on the board and 3 pieces on the board.  Currently I'm
then just averaging all the numbers,'

I've done that, too. The problem is, if the only reason you accept the
results is because they are similar to the results given by the 
magic number, then the results have no special validity, they mean
nothing more than the magic results. So why add the extra computational

If, on the other hand, you had a sound and convincing theory of why 
averaging the results was correct, that would be a different story.

'This concept seems to be directly related to distance.' Actually, I
I'd call it 'speed'. I'm pretty sure that I've played with those numbers
but gave up because I couldn't figure out what to do with them. 
Maybe you can; I encourage you to try.

YellowJournalism[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
Some initial thoughts upon reading <b>The Official Rules of Nemoroth</b>. (Some of which should have been raised by the previous article.) <p> <ul> <li>The Ghast. How is 'two squares' defined -- does a Ghast frighten a piece a Knight's move away from it?</li> <p> <li>Compelled Moves. It is really unclear reading both documents just <i>who</i> moves the fleeing pieces, the owner or the player who causes them to flee.</li> I'm assuming the following sequence: <ol> <li>A's Ghast is move; A's turn is over.</li> <li>B moves all compelled pieces, in the order they choose; B's turn is over.</li> <li>If B caused any compelled moves, then A must make them as necessary, otherwise, A may move as they please.</li> </ol> If the above is the case, if B's resolution of compelled moves caused further compelled moves for B (by screaming 'Go Away' at an opposing Ghast), are they resolved in that turn? If there are multiple such moves (as B 'ping-pongs' A's Ghast between two Go Aways), could a piece make multiple compelled moves in a turn this way? <p> For that matter, if you are compelled into a square which you must move off of, is that resolved the same turn or the following turn?</li> <p> <li>Petrified Leaf Piles. I think I would have assumed a petrified Leaf Pile could still engulf if pushed, but the rules state otherwise. I guess that the assumption is that it isn't mobile enough to engulf anything anymore.</li> <p> <li>The Interaction Matrix. If you actually created a matrix of all the possible interactions, it might be nice to include it in document as a table.</li> <p> <li>A simplified version of this game could have it when any piece is pushed into an occupied square, all pieces in the square are crushed and eliminated, and when a piece is pushed onto an ichorous square, it and the ichor are also eliminated. This might be useful for starting players.</li> </ul> How do you plan to combine the documents? Take the first part of the original followed by the new? Or perhaps a detailed merging? Or perhaps just bring the first into compliance with the second, and then have the second as a link from the first? <hr> I am just as glad to have missed the early days of i18n (I was aware of all the weirdness, but was involved more things like the stability of floating point numbers through multiple operations in those days).

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-12 UTC
A couple of tangental issues: <hr> Is <b>The Game of Nemoroth</b> a Chess Variant? It would rather depend on who you asked. On one hand the game is clearly derived from Chess, but on the other, some believe that a Royal Piece is the sine qa non of a Chess Variant. Thus, one person classified V.R. Parton's game <a href='../parton/100Squares.txt'>Damate</a> as not a Chess variant, even though is played with Chess pieces (albeit using capture by overtaking), while classifying my game <a href=''>Towers</a> as a Chess Variant, which I did not. Myself, I like a loose definition of Chess Variant. <hr> Why is it that when I encounter an Ultima variant, it inevitably seems more complex than Ultima, not less? (This includes David Howe's and my as-yet-unpublished game of <b>Rococo</b> (I haven't forgotten about it David!)). I guess there something about the game that says: 'this could be even more complex, try it!'

gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-13 UTC
'Is The Game of Nemoroth a Chess Variant?' I believe it is, though it
stretches the boundaries. For me, the telling point is that there's a kind
of checkmate (provided by compulsion).

Because the basic condition of victory is stalemate, and because the pieces
all have different moves, it would also stretch the boundaries to call it
an ultima variant.

The complexity of interactions of the pieces feels a bit Ultima-ish,

gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-13 UTC
1. 'B moves all compelled pieces' Oh, no. I'll have to read closely and try
to see why you could have possibly thought that. Instead, 'B moves one
compelled piece (or makes a saving move for it).' One move at a time.

If you have compelled pieces, your moves are restricted, just like being in
check except that compulsion is more powerful because if you have several
compelled pieces the opponent has several moves of free action (can go
around engulfing everything while you are helpless).

2. 'if you are compelled into a square which you must move off' no, the
compelled move must be a legal move. You can't move onto ichor just because
you're compelled.

3. petrified Leaf Pile could still engulf if pushed -- I like that, it's
more consistent, I have made this change.

4. Simplified version of the game. Ah yes, a game for demon toddlers. I
like that idea, too.

5. I planned to integrate the documents by making the official rules a link
from the first doc; and therefore removing most of the Interactions section
(just keep a few highlights).

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-13 UTC
How did I come to that conclusion? It wasn't a sin of commission, but perhaps a sin of omission, or perhaps just my mistake. You wrote: <blockquote> There are cases in which pieces are compelled to move. When you are under compulsion, you may make any move which removes the compulsion, but if you cannot satisfy the compulsion of at least one piece, you lose. (Think of it as checkmate.) </blockquote> Somehow it didn't occur to me that unlike the Go Away, the Ghast's compulsion (and other compulsions) just affected what moves were required and legal. An alternate wording might be something like: <blockquote> There are cases in which pieces are compelled to move. If you have any compelled pieces, you must move one of them as your move, although you may choose among your compelled pieces with legal moves. If you have compelled pieces, and none of your compelled pieces have legal moves, you are stalemated and thus lose. </blockquote> Strangely enough, compelled moves are a bit like capturing moves in checkers, being higher priority than other moves.

Sung Dynasty[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Matthew wrote on 2002-04-13 UTC
I am attempting to locate one variant from the Sung Dynasty China (0960),
Which has an extended king row, forward of which are two rows of pawns,
forward are two major power pieces  [ either named lance or archer] ,
forward of the archer is yet another row of pawns. Any info you might
on this game would be greatly appreciated.
			Thank You

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