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Fantastic XIII. A bizarre large odd chess variant with the weirdest men from Cazaux's family.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Bn Em wrote on 2022-01-15 UTC

At a first couple glances, this looks nice!

It's nice to see the Ship back again after you took it out of your mainline larger games, and ofc the snake fits logically with it. The Cheetah (aka the Beaver for those who are into Gilman) is nice too (and much rarer than the squirrel) and the Sabre‐tooth I've never seen before — it's kinda terrifying!

A couple of notes: afaik the name snaketongue (whence iirc your shortened snake) goes back to Betza's Bent Riders article — which also mentions the ship (under the name twin tower — arguably in bad taste but acknowledged as such in the original version; I think Greg accidentally(?) removed that when he added his own footnotes).

And regarding your question at the beginning, one argument for even ranks is that otherwise a pawn reaching the middle rank has an advantage over its counterpart that can't be trivially made up for. Idk if i've seen it said this way round (maybe in the comments on H.G.'s Elven Chess) but certainly there was a proposal by Rich Hutnik that on boards with odd ranks the pawn should be able to capture straight forwards to balance that advantage (by discouraging a move to the middle rank). Ofc that hasn't stopped people, and it may well matter less than it was made out to. And indeed (other than a kind of symmetry) there's nothing in particular to suggest any advantage for even files.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2022-01-15 UTC

Thank you BnEm. I don't understand all what you say. English is not my mother tongue and I don't get the meaning of "Idk","afaik","ofc", "iirc" which are probably shortcuts but I don't know for what.

Also, I don't get this sentence "Otherwise a pawn reaching the middle rank has an advantage over its counterpart that can't be trivially made up for." What do you mean "trivially made up for", I'm lost.

Concerning the Ship, I used it only in my Tamerlane II, not on my other variants. Actually, I adopted it long long time ago, in the very first CV I created (and fabricated, pictures exist in, in 1978, Of course in that time we had not Internet, I had no computer, it was prehistory, I was not speaking English at all, and I didn't know Betza (smile).

Bn Em wrote on 2022-01-17 UTC

‘Idk’ and the others are indeed abbreviations: ‘Idk’ itself is ‘I don't know’; ‘Afaik’ ‘as far as I know’; ‘Ofc’ ‘Of course’; and ‘Iirc’ ‘if I recall correctly’.

As for trivially making up, a pawn on the central rank stops the opponent's pawn from making the same move (as that space is now occupied) and the opponent can't immediately do anything equivalent, and so has won a (potentially) better position with little effort — and since White can force this more easily than Black, the argument goes that normal pawns of an odd‐file board might give White more of an advantage. Here is the formal write‐up of Hutnik's idea, which he first proposed here, and the first few comments on Elven Chess(/Elven Shogi) also touch on it.

I seem to remember the old versions of some of your larger games (Gigachess ⁊c.) had the Ship, before you updated them. And ofc I wasn't accusing you of ‘stealing’ the ship ;) just noting that it also exists where the snaketongue was first named (I expect Eric probably got it from there, though it's certainly possible he came up with it independently).

KelvinFox wrote on 2022-01-23 UTC

Today I thought of a piece combining the snake with a Vertical rook, that would feel very nice

Eric Silverman wrote on 2022-02-10 UTC

Just for the record, I did indeed get the Snaketongue name from Betza's article on bent sliders :) It's a really enjoyable and interesting piece.

Likewise, Fantastic XIII is an enjoyable and interesting game, I just need to find some time to get the promotion rules right in Ai Ai!

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