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The Chess Variant Pages

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Ninth Century Indian Chess. Differs from Shatranj in the setup and the Elephant's move. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2008-12-16 UTC
You know, looking at how this game has regional variants makes me realize that chess is like language. Like languages, there is a thriving conlang community. In other words, we chess variant inventors are like people who create constructed (artifical) languages; we spend a lot of time and effort making our variants, but, just as constructed languages have few or no speakers, constructed chess variants have few or no players.

Like languages, many people are most comfortable learning just one variant (normally, the standard 'FIDE'/'Mad Queen' variant), and mastering it. Like a language, learning to play a variant well is a lot of work that most chess players are not willing to invest time in doing.

The most popular Chess Variants are ones where we don't know who originally 'created' the variant; they just came in to being the way a natural language comes in to being, and ended up dominating the world for cultural reasons as much as for the quality of the variant itself.

So, yeah, inventing Chess variants is a fun, but is also, IMHO (in my humble opinion), ultimately pointless exercise.