Check out Chess with Different Armies, our featured variant for July, 2024.

Person Information

On Contacting Me

If you have content to contribute to this site, sending it directly to me is not your best option. I focus more on maintaining and programming the site than I do on editing and approving new contributions. See How to Design and Post Your Own Game for details on how to add your own content without asking me to do it for you. If a PHP script is buggy, or you need help programming Game Courier, I'm the one to ask, but it's best to do it in a comment, not through email.


Taking over from David Howe in 2015, I am the webmaster for the Chess Variant Pages. I now control the domain and pay for the web hosting. I have been with this site since 1999. When I first started, I helped with the editing and programmed various games for Zillions-of-Games. I then shifted my focus to working on Game Courier, which I created for playing Chess variants online. In these capacities, I mainly work with HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, the Zillions-of-Games language, and Game Courier's own language, GAME Code. I also have experience with BASIC, Pascal, Commodore 128 Machine Language, C, Lisp, Rexx, C++, Perl, and Java. I programmed the menus that appear in the headers, the login system, the favorite games system, and the script for displaying email addresses as captchas, among other things, and I have updated most PHP scripts on this site to keep up-to-date with changes to PHP. I have also invented several Chess variants, programming many of them for both Zillions-of-Games and Game Courier.

Statement of Purpose

Some people feel their interest in Chess variants arising from a dissatisfaction with Chess and a desire to reform it. That's not me. Chess is a great game. My perspective is that Chess is only the beginning, and my interest in Chess-like games doesn't stop with it. I'm not in search of the King of Chess variants. I'm interested in exploring the variety of possible Chess variants, of trying to figure out what strategies work best in different games, and of tinkering with rules and making something I can be proud of and happy to play. My keywords are tinkering, exploration, and building blocks. I like to play with rules and make things. While I'm not out to reform Chess, I do care about the quality of my games, and I have written on what makes a good Chess variant. Besides my Chess variants, I have also made Game Courier for playing Chess variants online.

Biographical Notes

The first Chess variant I ever played besides Chess was Smess, which I came across at a flea market, and my first formal introduction to Chess variants was John Gollon's book Chess Variations. I did create a Chess variant in high school called Life Force Chess, which used D&D dice for battles between pieces, and I would sometimes play this in study hall with a friend. But I have since lost the rules to it. I did not pursue my interest in Chess variants very much at this time, though, because I usually had no one to play them with, and all I could play against the computer was Chess.

Also, I was very much interested in computer programming. I first learned BASIC on the Apple ][ at the local library. I continued using BASIC on my first computer, a Commodore Vic 20, and at school on a TRS-80. I got a Commodore 128 in college on which I continued to use BASIC and also learned machine language. Although I took a detour into Philosophy instead of following my original interest in computer programming, I did take a Pascal class as a senior, which introduced me to structured programming. Between college and graduate school, I used both BASIC and machine language to write a real-time synthesizer for my Commodore 128. While in graduate school, I moved on from the Commodore 128 to the Commodore Amiga. I taught myself C, and I did some C programming on the Amiga and on Unix. After I got a Windows 95 computer, I learned about Perl and PHP and did some web programming in each, eventually abandoning Perl in favor of PHP.

Around this same time, my interest in Battle Chess, a Chess program with animated Chess pieces, led me to discover Battle Chess II, which was based on Chinese Chess. This led me to discover other Chinese Chess programs and Steve Evans' Shogi Variants program. My emerging interest in these games led me to the Chess Variant Pages, where I soon learned about a new program called Zillions-of-Games. Purchasing this program, I used it to create Cavalier Chess, which become the first original game submitted to the Zillions-of-Games website.

I got involved with the Chess Variant Pages in 1999. Noticing that David Howe's email address was with my local phone company, I contacted him and asked if he was local. He was, and from then until I moved in 2002, we regularly met to play Chess variants together at a local cafe. These included our own games, games in design competitions, as well as Hostage Chess, Xiangqi, and Shogi. We even played Chess together once. The game we played most was Nightmare Chess. In 2001, in anticipation of moving away, I began working on PHP scripts to enable the playing of Chess variants online. Over time, this grew into Game Courier, which has become the most configurable game server for Chess variants on the web.

My Chess variants fall into two main periods. During my early period, my main tool was Zillions-of-Games, I routinely met David Howe to play Chess variants together, and I regularly entered design competitions. Some of my best games from this period include Grand Cavalier Chess, Clockwork Orange Chess, and Wormhole Chess. During my later period, I began programming games for Game Courier, played games mainly online, and eventually stopped bothering to enter design competitions. Some of my best games from this period include Kamikaze Mortal Shogi (created in online collaboration with Roberto Lavieri), Storm the Ivory Tower, and Eurasian Chess. In 2009, I created Gross Chess, which I was so pleased with I stopped feeling much urge to create new variants.

Not long after this, I started maintaining some YouTube channels, which used up a lot of my free time. I eventually stopped doing this as much, because I got demonitized for not being popular enough, and I don't really have the temperament or personality to regularly make videos. In 2011, I got my first ereader, which helped me spend more of my time reading. By 2018, I was reading 52 books a year, and I've kept up or exceeded that pace through 2023. When I took over this site in 2015, I had to make many fixes to the scripts on this site. This was mostly to keep up with changes to PHP, though it was also to use resources more efficiently. In 2023, I started getting into AI art, and I combined this with my interest in making music playlists.

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