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Comments by Michael Nelson

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Two Move Chess. Designed to alleviate the first move advantage for White using double moves, while retaining the tactics of international chess.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2021-08-29 UTC

Correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't rule 3 imply that a player with a bare king is stalemated, even if he has legal moves, since he's not allowed to move his king twice in the same turn?

Pandemonium (Surajang修羅場). Capablanca chess + Crazyhouse.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2021-07-24 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

A very well thought and pleasing out blend of a Capablanca's Chess and Shogi. I am curious about the rule against having identical promoted pieces other than promoted Pawns. I consider it a small wart on a otherwise perfect design.

Sign in to the Chess Variant Pages. Sign in to the Chess Variant Pages.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2020-02-05 UTC

It suddenly started working :)

Michael Nelson wrote on 2020-01-30 UTC

 I was able to sign in using Microsoft Edge with blanet permission to accept all cookie anywhere (the default for Edge).

Makarenko's Chess. Pieces are stacks which can be split and combined to create other pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2019-03-06 UTC

Definitely reverse the values of bishop and rook. I suppose the prohibtion on splitting the last king even to form another king is to limit the king's mobity, else last king facing capture could move as a split off a bishop and fuse with a rook all the  way accross the board. I wonder if this prohibition is needed for playabilty. My guess is that the case where my king is captured, I capute the enemy king, but opponent can't form a new king on the next turn would be a draw. I think I would prefer the simpler rule "a player who has no king at the start of his turn loses."

Backlash. Play on two boards, but capturing on one board leads to a backlash on the other! (8x8x2, Cells: 132) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2016-05-01 UTC
The rules concerning the pocket squares are reminiscent of the piece in hand rules of my own Wizards' War (2002). I haven't found anything earlier on this site, but prior art may well exist. I would be the last person to claim any kind of copyright--and the idea works extremely well in this game.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2016-05-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A pleasing blend of several variant ideas into a unified game, it should play very well.

Decima. Variant on 10 by 10 board where you win when you have 10 points on the 10th row. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2016-04-22 UTC
The page cleaned up nicely!

Pocket Mutation Chess. Take one of your pieces off the board, maybe change it, keep it in reserve, and drop it on the board later. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2016-01-07 UTC
Thanks, H. G.

I will try promoting only the Cardinal and related pieces by one class, returning the SuperBishop to class 3, and adding the SuperKnight to class 4. Hopefully, its value is close enough to the SuperRook to be playable--exactness is not required, just as long as it is a fair amount closer in value to the SuperRook than to the Cardinal, Chancellor, or Queen. 

It is an important design goal of mine to have more than one piece in every value class except 1 and 8 (and I wouldn't object to additional pieces in these classes, if any come to mind). Any addition piece suggestions are welcome if there are good numbers available about their values.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2016-01-05 UTC
I am playtesting the following changes to the Pocket Mutation Chess value classes:

Class 1: Pawn

Class 2: Knight, Bishop

Class 3: Rook, Nightrider

Class 4: SuperRook, SuperBishop*

Class 5: Queen, Chancellor, Cardinal*

Class 6: SuperChancellor, ChancellorRider, SuperCardinal*, CardinalRider*

Class 7: Amazon, SuperChancellorider, SuperCardinalRider*

class 8: AmazonRider

Those pieces marked with * have been move up one class.

I have been motivated by H. G. Muller's research which shows a higher value for the Cardinal than Betza's Atomic Theory would predict--it is essentially equal to a Chancellor or Queen, rather that about halfway between a Chancellor and a Rook as Betza suggested.

I am contemplating adding a SuperKnight (KN, class 4?) and maybe a SuperNightrider (KNN, class 6?). Any thoughts?

Wand Chess. Pieces have a magic wand, that gives random outcomes.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2015-07-21 UTC
The rules as given make the answer to the first question clear: checkmate ends the game immediately (if the checkmating move is legal) per the FIDE rules which apply to this game unless otherwise stated; so what would have happened after is irrelevant. Win for the checkmating player.

The second is unclear--an already stoned piece ignores the effect of being zapped, but does stoning undo the effect of a wand which the piece had been zapped with on a previous turn? This is not limited to the sickness case. For example, does stoning a pacifist piece allow it to resume capturing after the stoning wears off?

I would answer no to the second question, but am far less sure than in the firs question that my understanding of Ralph Betza's intent is correct. If my interpretation is correct, a stoned King will die at the appointed time, as it is now immune to a wand of healing--so the only recourse available to the king's owner is to checkmate, stalemate, or create a second king before the king dies.

Chess on a Really Big Board. Game that introduced rose and knight-camel-zebra...[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2015-04-17 UTC
There is an error in the initial setup in this preset (taking Betza's page as correct): exchange the k-file bishop with the l-file piece to get the setup Ralph intended.

Fairy-Max: an AI for playing user-defined Chess variants. A chess engine configurable for playing a wide variety of chess variants.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2014-10-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A question for you, H. G.: is there a document somewhere describing your latest research into the value of chess pieces?

The Excellent is both for Fairy-Max itself, and for your work on Chess engines and piece value.

Fugue. Based on Ultima and Rococo this game has pieces that capture in unusual ways. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2014-10-12 UTC
Yes, in the position cited, either of the the Cannon Pawns on a2 and e2 can act as spotters for Archer on c1 shoots Pushme-Pullyu on c3. No other friendly pieces can spot in this position.

Suggestions of how to reword the rule to make this clearer are in order--as well as any other rewording: I plan to revise this page for clarity (no change in substance).

Perhaps a general statement before the specific piece description such as
"All pieces act on orthogonal or diagonal lines in any direction (though in some cases, limited by distance)."

I'm also thinking it might make the capture rule clearer to phrase it in terms of all shots require a spotter, but if close enough, the Archer can spot for itself.

Editors, which would be easier for you: to review submissions for revised pages, or to grant me editing rights to my own game pages--I am comfortable with either.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2014-10-12 UTC
Jeremy, your interpretation is correct. I will state the rule more completely for the benefit of others. 1. The Archer moves without capturing as a FIDE Queen (like most pieces in Ultima family games). 2. The Archer captures an enemy piece by shooting, that is, the player owning the Archer declares that a particular enemy piece is to be shot, then removes that piece from the board. 3. An Archer may shoot in any direction in which it may move. 4. An Archer may shoot an enemy piece which is adjacent to it without restriction. 5. An Archer may shoot an enemy piece two squares away from it in a straight line provided that the intervening square in that line is empty. 6. An Archer may shoot an enemy piece more than two squares away from it in a straight line if a) the intervening squares in that line are empty, and b) another piece friendly to the Archer is located adjacent to the enemy piece or two squares away from it in an unobstructed straight line (in any direction). It is not relevant whether or not the other friendly piece could move to the enemy piece's square.

Upgrade chess. Upgrade initially weak pieces by capturing. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2014-08-24 UTCGood ★★★★
RPG themed chess has been around at least since Betza's Way of the Knight from 1995. ( Like your idea for earning upgrades, which need to be more liberal than those in Betza's game, since his upgrade ranks increase power more with each upgrade. I can't rate this game "excellent" without playtesting it, but a solid "good"
for your idea.

AnandvCarlsen13[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2014-06-20 UTC
I think Joe Joyce's post on "male predominance at chess" make more sense
than the study itself. The explanation of gender differences in Chess may
be simpler yet.  **On average**, men are more likely than women to purse
activities that have no social utility apart from the pleasure of doing
that activity. Chess is in that category (as indeed are checkers, card
games, etc.) No insult intended--I am interested in Chess variants for my
own pleasure and no other reason and feel no need to apologize to anyone
for that fact, and neither judge nor wish to judge anyone else for doing
the same.

I have considered that Chess can teach critical thinking, strategic
planning, etc. Yes it can, but so can a myriad of non-game things useful in
themselves apart from teaching.

"Male predominance at chess" is a current fact of reality. I suspect
there are males who believe this has 1) always been true, 2) always will be
true, and 3) SHOULD be true. A significant number of such males will then
reason by analogy about "male predominance in science", etc.

I won't touch of the idea of a female human being who argues for "male
predominance ...", the very idea terrifies me.

Not-so colorbound cylindrical chess. Game only with pieces, that would be colorbound on normal board. (7x8, Cells: 56) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2014-02-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Excellent thematic variant! I've not seen the idea of imposing colorboundness on all pieces but removing it by the odd number of files on a cylindrical board, thought I recognize component ideas.

A small quibble about promotion:

Promotion to a Knight is needed in FIDE Chess, as its moves are not a subset of the Queen's move. In some positions, the Knight can checkmate when the Queen can't even check. This factor does not apply to this game; but there is one case where underpromotion to Rook or Bishop in needed (rather than merely allowed) in FIDE--when promoting to Queen would result in immediate stalemate, but the lesser promotion could force checkmate on a subsequent move. With three combination pieces to choose from, it is much less likely in this variant,  but analysis is needed to determine if it is possible: if so, underpromotion must be allowed (if and only if stalemate is a draw).

Double Chess. Two sets of pieces on 16 by 12 board. (16x12, Cells: 192) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2013-09-07 UTC
Assuming that the laws of check follow FIDE rules (which is a reasonable assumption for a variant player by orthodox chess masters) Checking both Kings simultaneously is quite possible by discovery or fork, it is not automatically mate in the case of the fork, as the checking piece is potentially capturable, but cannot be answered by interposition or King move. Discovered check whereby each King ends up checked by a different piece is checkmate: there is no possible way to answer both checks. A line piece can also check by pinning one King to the other, for example Kings on a1 and c1, b1 and d1 vacant, enemy Rook moves to e1. This can be answered by capturing the Rook or interposing on d1 (not b1).

KINGDROPS: new game and design goals[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2012-09-29 UTC
I've been corresponding with Matteo about programming this most
interesting game, but I thought I would share with the Zillions programmers
among the CV community. I have solved the first problem: rather than using
last-to? (which would allow the movement of the same piece on the first and
third moves of a turn) I set a has-moved attribute for the piece whenever
it moves, and verify that this attribute is clear before allowing the
After each turn (three moves), I have a random player scan the board and
clear all has-moved attributes, so that all pieces can move freely on the
next turn. This technique will work for any number of multiple moves.

The drops restriction will require a board scan to find the friendly King.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2012-09-27 UTC
Matteo, I didn't take the fact that Black chooses his arrangement after
White is finished with his into account. My error in not noticing this.
In this case, if any balancing is needed, limiting White to two moves on
the first turn should be quite sufficient. I think my rule is about right
for a triple move game with a) fixed setup b) random setup or c) players
choose setup by placing one piece at a time in turns.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2012-09-25 UTC
Congratulations on a fine first effort, Matteo! The triple move idea is
untried, so far as I know, and will need play testing to see if it makes
the game too explosive. If that is the case, this game should still keep
most of its flavor as a double move variant. (Hope triple move works out, I
really like that.) In any case, a balance rule to reduce the first move
advantage is in order. For a double move game, the rule is well
known--White may make only one move on the first turn. I propose a triple
move analog to that rule: 

On the first turn, White makes one move.
On the first turn, Black makes one or two moves.
On the second turn, White makes one or two moves.
On subsequent turns, the player on move makes one, two, or three moves.

Every Man a Pawn. Each piece has the powers of a Pawn (except promotion) in addition to its normal powers. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2012-04-07 UTC
Mr. Zanotelli raises an interesting point. His is indeed a possible way to apply the FIDE Pawn rules to the changed circumstances of this game. But Peter Aronson's way is equally valid. In the case of FIDE Chess, they are equivalent statements of the same rule, as a Pawn cannot make its first move from any place other than the second rank, and a Pawn on the second rank cannot have moved previously--neither of which conditions apply to the Pawn moves of other pieces in this game.

On Designing Good Chess Variants. Design goals and design principles for creating Chess variants.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2012-02-18 UTC
IMHO, Muller's 7 criteria look quite useful for estimating how chess-like a game is--a continuum, rather than a binary is/isn't categorization. They would provide a conceptual framework for observations such as (to intentionally cite an extreme example) Capablanca's Chess is more chess-like than the Game of Nemeroth. Where the line is between chess variant and non-chess games cannot and indeed need not be determined exactly. The question is, is a given game chess-like enough for it to be useful to consider the game a chess variant--can a useful number of Chess concepts be helpful in playing and analyzing the game?

But drawing lines can be fun and useful if it isn't absolutized. Approached in a spirit of 'reasonable people can disagree', everyone should be free to chime in.

As a starting point for looking at some edge cases, I offer my own game Wizards' War for consideration: 
1. It has royal pieces, though capturing them is not the only method of victory.
2. It is entirely pawnless (in the Muller sense--many games are pawnless in the sense of 'this game has no piece that moves like an FIDE pawn').
So is it a chess variant or not and why? Bonus points for citing games that are clearly but not hugely more/less chess-like.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Michael Nelson wrote on 2012-02-02 UTC
George,is the mate# also one for pieces such as the Amazon which can force
mate without the assistance of the friendly King? Is there a need to
distinguish these pieces from mate number 1 pieces such as the Rook which
can easily force mate with the help of the friendly King but not without

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