The Chess Variant Pages

This page is written by the game's inventor, Glenn Nicholls.


TigerGo & TigerMarks (which has been renamed as Stake-out): © Copyright G. Nicholls 2011 TigerGo TigerGo is the name given to the study/assessment of deployment/opening moves and positions of TigerChess etc. and no time limits are set or Game Points scored. Although no Tiger’s-eye Game or Nominal Points (See Games by Groupings)are awarded for TigerGo there can be awarded “Openings-marks” for (and depending on) the quality of any analysis an individual may have made following his/her study of one or more Deployment/Opening moves/lines. TigerGo also has a much wider scope and Openings-marks can also be awarded for all appropriate Tiger’s-Eye Games where study and analysis has been made of one or more Openings. Efforts must be made to ensure the amount of such marks awarded is both reasonably comparable within Games and between different Games. Also included under TigerGo is what is often unofficially called “Petty Chess” or sometimes “Spin-off Chess” where various studies and analyses are made of endgames, tactics, mate-solving problems (there can be competitions for these type of problems) etc. for various Tiger’s-Eye Games (mainly of the Chess type). As with openings, no Tiger’s-Eye Game or Nominal Points are awarded but there can be awarded “Study-marks” or “Problem-marks” and efforts must be made here also to ensure the amount of such marks awarded is reasonably comparable both within Games and between different Games. Assessments of moves and positions are often by subjective opinion but a game(s) based somewhat on TigerGo can be played by using a playing/territorial scoring system called "Stake-out" as follows: Stake-out 1. The Stake-out playing/scoring system can be used for numerous Chess or Chess type games – standard (base) are LancerChess & Touchstone (under page "Springboard"). Games are then designated e.g. “Stake-out – Touchstone”. 2. The game (Touchstone, LancerChess etc.) is played as usual with usual boards and Pieces etc. and either ends as normal (by Checkmate or a Draw etc.) or is stopped (even if a Queen is in Check) then “Marked out” and scored after a fixed number of moves has been played by each player. The fixed number of moves is set at one per number of Pieces for each player and so for LancerChess is set at sixteen moves for each player and is also for Touchstone – this does not mean that each Piece has to be moved once. 3. Game Points scored are one for a win and a half each for a draw. 4. Clocks are single countdown but can vary a great deal in how much time is set. Suggested tournament/match time is sixty minutes single countdown for each player. 5. The Players are named according to the base game. 6. The Sides and Pieces are called by their usual names as in the base game being played. 7. After the fixed number of moves has been played it is considered that hostilities have ended and no more moves or capturing moves may be made by either player and also Queens are no longer vulnerable to Check or Checkmate. 8. . Territory is then “Marked out” with “Markers” and then “Claim-marks” are counted and the player scoring more Claim-marks wins the game. A win can also occur by Checkmate but this must be delivered before or at the end of the fixed move limit. Also a draw is possible in this way e.g. stalemate. 9. Territory is Marked out with Markers and counted/scored with Claim-marks for each player as follows and is as though each player were to move next (i.e. had the move): a) A Marker is placed on any Squares/Positions that are unoccupied but can be safely occupied by one or more of a player’s Pieces and also cannot be occupied and are not under attack by one or more of his opponent’s Pieces. Each player receives one Claim-mark for each of his Markers so placed and these Squares/Positions are called “Marked Squares/Positions”. b) Each player also receives one Claim-mark for each Square/Position occupied by one of his Pieces irrespective of whether the Piece is under attack by one or more of his opponent’s Pieces or defended by one or more of his own Pieces – this is because hostilities have ended and possession by occupation of a Square/Position is not now allowed to be disputed. These Squares/Positions are called “Occupied Squares/Positions”. c) Unoccupied Squares/Positions where both players could, were it their turn, occupy with or capture on with one or more of their Pieces do not have a Marker placed on them – this is because hostilities have ended and so it is not allowed for there to be Markers placed on unsafe or disputed Squares/Positions. d) Also because hostilities have ended Pikemen cannot have their capturing moves including en-passant capturing moves considered for placing their player’s Markers on (but such moves can prevent the placing of their opponent’s Markers) but only their non-capturing moves, which could include a Pikeman’s usual optional two-square initial move but not where this passes over an opposing en-passant capturing Square/Position. e) No more than one Marker can be placed on any one Square/Position. f) After Marking out is completed the total Claim-marks for each player are counted and compared and the player with the higher total wins the game or if the totals are the same the game is a draw. g) Players may have assistance with Marking out/counting/scoring. This part of the game is called the “Marking out Phase” and should be completed and agreed within a reasonable time – considered as no more than thirty minutes. h) As can be seen there are six categories of Squares/Positions that can occur during the Marking out Phase as follows: i. Those that are unoccupied and can be occupied only by South – these have Markers placed on them and are counted. ii. Those that are unoccupied and can be occupied only by North – these have Markers placed on them and are counted. iii. Those that actually are occupied by South. These are counted. iv. Those that actually are occupied by North. These are counted. v. Those that are unoccupied but “covered” by both South and North – these do not have Markers placed on them and are not counted. vi. Those that are unoccupied and not “covered” by either South or North – these do not have Markers placed on them and are not counted. i) When played as part of “A Sundry Trio” (see Games by Groupings) the players must play both LancerChess and Touchstone as base games but no other game can be played, first game played and first side choice (sides are reversed for second game) must be by a roll of a standard dice or coin. An Example: A famous game as an example for this scoring system can be the “Opera Game” played by Paul Morphy (white) v the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard. The first sixteen moves for each side led to this position: Morphy played 17. Rd8 Checkmate, but under the Stake-out system the game is stopped after sixteen moves each and the position is Marked out. Morphy still wins however, as follows: Under i) above, Morphy has thirteen squares – A4, B1, C3, D2, D3, E1, E3, F1, F3, G1, G3, H1, H4. Under ii) above, the Duke & Count have nine squares – A6, A5, B6, C8, C6, C5, G8, G6, H5. Under iii) above, Morphy has ten squares – A2,B2,C1,C2,D1,E4,F2,G2,G5,H2. Under iv) above, the Duke & Count also have ten squares – A7,B8,E5,E6,E8,F7,F8,G7,H7,H8. Morphy’s total of Claim-marks is then 23 compared to the Duke and Count’s 19 and so Morphy wins by 1-0 Game points.


Cannon-fire (Cannon-fire) Two-piece Pin, Triple Check and Quadruple-check with Checkmate It seems the Cannon was probably not part of the original game of Chinese chess and may not have been added to the game for some centuries – the Cannon’s (and Horse’s) move make possible several situations that do not occur in Western chess: Two-piece Pin A single Cannon can pin two pieces - for example, with South to move North Cannon e7 North Princess e10 South Horse e4 South Protector e3 South Princess e1 South must move his Princess since moving either his Horse or Protector would leave his Princess in check – both the Horse and Protector are then pinned. Triple Check An example, with South to move North Princess e10 South Horse e6 South Chariot e4 South Cannon e3 South Princess e1 Horse to f8 or d8 and North’s Princess is in check from South’s Horse, Chariot and Cannon. Quadruple-check with Checkmate The Quadruple-checkmate Puzzle makes a reasonably challenging Chinese chess puzzle and is: To set up a position where one side has four pieces and moves to Checkmate in one with a check from all four pieces – obviously both Princesses must also be placed on the board (or the position would be illegal) and there could be a further stipulation that no Chariot is allowed – an answer: North Princess f8 South Leading soldier (or Chariot) g7 South Horse h7 South Horse g6 South Cannon f5 South Princess e1 South is to move (North is not in check here - this would be illegal with South to move) Leading soldier (or Chariot) to f7 and North’s Princess is in Checkmate with a check from all four of South’s pieces - there are also variations where the four pieces give check but not Checkmate (for example if all the pieces were moved one square to the left though South’s Princess need not be, or just South's Princess could be moved one square left or right). This Quadruple-check with Checkmate could perhaps theoretically occur in a game, but it is intended as an amusing puzzle only rather than a study, and perhaps it should be added that the Horses are not necessary for Checkmate here but their unblocking gives rise to two extra checks that are necessary to answer the puzzle. Opening shots and The Quickfire gambit.....and Statistics When looking at the Traditional and Accelerated placements it can be seen that it is possible to make captures with the Cannons at the very start of the game: Opening shots With the Traditional placement South can start the game by exchanging both his Cannons for both opposing Horses, but the recapturing Chariots then come more quickly into the game and the Cannons are likely to be an advantage for the coming middle game – this opening possibility may scarcely have been played and were South to play it he would, I think, find himself at a disadvantage if playing against an equally strong North…..but this opening could be played by inexperienced players as practice games where South must make the most of his Horses and North the most of his Cannons – perhaps useful learning experience made more so by the focus on different pieces…..and perhaps it should have a name – ‘Opening shots’ seems passable. The Quickfire gambit With the Accelerated placement South also has possibilities to make immediate captures with his Cannons, but these are of a different type from the above Opening shots and the possibilities can collectively be named the ‘Quickfire gambit’ where the object is to use the Cannons to leave the opposing Princess with less defence and open to a subsequent attack, particularly by South’s Chariots…, keeping symmetry in mind, some moves are: 1. Cannon x Attendant f10 (One shot variation) The very first move is a gambit by South – Quickfire indeed 1… Princess x Cannon f10 This leaves North’s other Attendant undefended, and so 2. Cannon x Attendant d10 (Two shot variation) At first glance it appears South has captured both of North’s Attendants for the loss of one of his Cannons, and his second Cannon on d10 attacks both North’s Horse on b10 (though defended by the a10 Chariot) and his undefended Protector on g10…..but the Cannon cannot simply be extricated and escape being captured 2… Princess e10 North attacks the Cannon immediately 3. Cannon x Protector g10 (Three shot variation) The Cannon now forks the Chariot on i10 and the Protector on c10 – both are undefended 3… Chariot i8 North moves his Chariot out of the line of fire 4. Cannon x Protector c10 (Four shot variation) South has captured all four of North’s defensive pieces after four moves and his Cannon now forks the a10 Chariot and the h10 Horse…..and both are undefended 4… Chariot a9 North moves his a10 Chariot out of the line of fire - the Chariots have full control of their second and third ranks 5. Cannon x Horse h10 (Five shot variation) The Cannon captures the undefended h10 Horse and attacks North’s remaining Horse on b10 who is now himself undefended, and in addition also has a possible escape route back along the h file…..North here has a choice of moving or defending his remaining Horse, or cutting off the Cannon’s escape route 5… Chariot h8 North cuts off the Cannon’s escape route and attacks it while taking control of the open h file 6. Cannon x Horse b10 (Six shot variation) The Cannon captures North’s undefended remaining Horse and also now has a new possible escape route, this time back along the b file 6… Chariot b9 North cuts off the new escape route and attacks the Cannon and also takes control of the open b file 7. Cannon c10 South moves his Cannon out of attack This is probably the most radical line (perhaps rather an extreme one) of this opening and has led to the opposite of gambits generally with South here having a material advantage but not an initiative as all his pieces other than the Cannon are unmoved, whereas North has both his Chariots fully active, but North has lost all his defensive pieces and his Princess could be very vulnerable if South can bring his Chariots into the vicinity of her Palace.....but whatever of the above mentioned choices North continues with on his fifth move I think he would need to make full use of his more active Chariots with the support of his Cannons before South can use his own Chariots in an attack on the Northern Princess…..but there are other possible moves besides those shown.....first though it may be worth saying something of Initiative and Tempi: Statistics It is widely considered that at the start of a game of both Western and Chinese chess the first moving side has an advantage – how much of an advantage though…..well, there are now databases of many high level games of Western chess going back well over a hundred years and the statistics suggest an advantage to the first moving player of perhaps around 55%.....but I am not aware of such an amount of information being readily available for Chinese chess – however in his 1974 book Hsiang Ch'i (a fine introduction to the game) Terence Donnelly states that having first move in Chinese chess probably gives a greater advantage than in Western chess, and gives an example of a 50 game collection where First move won 33 and Second move 13, with the remaining 4 being draws (at 8% a much lower percentage of draws than in high level Western chess – over 50%)…..this gives a First move advantage of 70%*, but the number of games are far less than the Western chess numbers here – nevertheless I think it is worth keeping these figures in mind….. *The calculation for this is: add the number of wins to half the number of draws, then divide this by the total number of games, finally - multiply this by a hundred for a percentage…..and for Second move subtract this from a hundred – giving a 30% disadvantage here. To be continued

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By Glenn Nicholls.

Last revised by Glenn Nicholls.

Web page created: 2011-10-24. Web page last updated: 2011-10-24

Revisions of MSstake-out