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Comments by Joe Joyce

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Home page of The Chess Variant Pages. Homepage of The Chess Variant Pages.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2022-10-05 UTC

I'm playing 2 games with Kevin Pacey, and I accessed one of them, but I have the same problem with the other Kevin did in his games with Carlos, I only see a little box in the upper left of the screen that says Black and underneath that, Kevin Pacey. Hope this game can be retrieved as it's the one I'm not losing in!

Very Heavy Chess. A lot of firepower with all compounds of classical chess pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2022-05-05 UTC

While I'm pretty inactive these days, I do play the occasional game, and when I check for moves, I check what's new. First, thank you Kevin for pointing out names I've already used for pieces.

For your tentative 'high priestess', I think "grande prêtresse" is possibly a good choice.

Similarly, for 'hero' I think "héros" with both the accent and ending "s" is a decent choice.

The accents in the names mark them as non-English, and the spellings maintain the separation of your and my pieces without really changing the names you wished. I admit that I am naming deficient and no one except me may actually like the alternates, so feel free to ignore or delete this post.

Betza notation (extended). The powerful XBetza extension to Betza's funny notation.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-10-31 UTC

Are any of the ideas here: of any value to extended Betza notation or piece icon design, or are they too divergent? My iconology attempt was to define the move of the piece with the icon without using actual footprints or numbers, and I haven't seen any other attempts to do so, although I haven't been very active recently.

Lemurian Shatranj. Missing description (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-10-31 UTC

Belated thanks, HG, for the playable interactive diagram. I appreciate it and it may actually get a few more games of Lemurian played. I still greatly prefer David Paulowich's Opulent Lemurian. When I started designing new shatranj pieces I decided to stick very closely to standard chess formats because the pieces were so very different I felt I couldn't get fancy with the set-ups or the games would never get played. That the FIDE (Modern Shatranj) and Carrera/Capablanca (Great Shatranj) variants actually do get played seems to indicate I was at least partially right. And I would be remiss if I did not thank Christine Bagley-Jones here, because she designed several games right along with me, did her own designs, and put them in Zillions of Games, which got more played. And it was a blast collaborating with her! Collaborations are rare in any sort of artistic design and that collaboration was seamless!

semi-simultaneous step chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-08-31 UTC

Semi-Simultaneous Step Chess

This is a mutator. It should work across a broad range of variants.


Players make 1 standard move per turn. However, the pieces only make the smallest step possible each turn but turn after turn, each piece continues making the smallest step possible until it reaches its destination, where it stops and is once again available for movement. Sliders move 1 square/turn. Leapers make 1 leap/turn, so a knight gets to its destination in 1 turn, but a knight rider will advance only 1 knight’s leap/turn until it gets to its destination.

Who Moves First?

At the end of each player turn, each currently-stepping piece is moved in the same time order in which the moves were originally made. An alternate possibility is at the end of each player-turn, only that player’s pieces move, in time order. This change affects captures, see below.


During the stepping of the pieces, when a piece lands on another piece, the piece landed on is considered stepped on – it is captured and removed from the game immediately. Clearly the question of whether white and black interleave all their current steps, or if each side does all its own steps only, after its current move, has a huge effect on the game.


Yes, the rules allow for players to capture their own pieces. And the rules allow players to see things coming and move out of the way just before the attacks will strike their pieces. And they can schedule an attack on the square just after the opponent piece gets there.

So why do any distance moves? Well, the more distance moves you do, the more pieces you can have moving at the same time. So the more attacks you can make in any given turn. You can try “time on target” attacks where you launch attacks over the course of several turns that all land in the same area at or near the same turn.

And that brings up another point. Why not have indeterminate moves? A slider may keep going in the same direction turn after turn until it captures a piece, hits the edge of the board, or is ordered to stop. It is given only a direction in which to move, not a destination.

Comments welcome.

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]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-08-19 UTC

Actually, I agree with the idea that one page more or less per person makes a noticeable difference. I meant literally 1 page, kept for the specific comments and discussion, done by the few people who do wind up with a separate revised version. And it's kept for the discussion.

It's a personal thing with me. I hate seeing information lost. I argued with everyone from John Smith to Derek Nalls about deleting games. I lost both those particular arguments, and lament it. Both had interesting stuff that they later decided didn't live up to their standards.

But I admit to being surprised at how many game courier settings files I have. Some of them can go, being early attempts at something I did better or gave up on. Some are non-chess prototype designs used for playtests of other people's games. Game Courier can handle a lot of abstracts besides chess variants. Should they go, too?

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-08-19 UTC

I haven't been following this conversation, but I was in the same situation. Create the revised game using the new name but put links into it to the original page, and edit the original page to link to the revised rules, with notes that the original is being kept for the history and comments. One page more or less won't make that much difference to this site. And you haven't disappeared all that work.

Conservative Capablanca Chess. Alternative, more traditional Capablanca chess setup.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-06-30 UTC

This game has been anticipated. David Paulowich posted this in 1997:

This place needs a historian. Where is George Duke when you need him? Or Jeremy Good?

CwDA: the Shatranjian Shooters. Missing description (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-05-17 UTC

HG, I initially thought the Shooters were too strong. Dropping the Shooters' queen analog to a DWAF should do much to reduce the Shooters' total value.

Question: Are you giving the Shooters' pawns an initial double step? If so, try taking that away for the Shooters and see what that does. That alone might cause a big reduction in Shooter overall value.

Fwiw, the symbology of the pieces 'describes' how they move, and it's at least internally consistent.

Great Shatranj. Great Shatranj. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-05-10 UTC

HG, Christine, Greg, Fergus, I can't thank you enough. You all have made me and a lot of other people look good. It's a privilege to be associated with you.

I'm seeing the sort of activity this site needs. There are new people playing, and there is new software for playing that even dinosaurs like me can not only appreciate but use. This site needs both. There are a lot of people making variants online. One place is the ChessCraft Discord, where Stuart, the programmer, has created a very active design space for people who like creating chess variants. I found the site by accident, searching for shatranj variants. A member there credited a shatranj design of mine for inspiration, so I joined that discord to see what was there. It's an active site, and there have to be others around. If anyone knows about any such sites, I'd like to hear about them, although they should get their own comment thread, maybe just "Other Chess Variant SItes". It might be worthwhile to poll our members about other sites, and if not partner with some, at least we should share each others information.

Great Shatranj ZIP file. Shatranj style game on 10x8 board.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-04-22 UTC

Thank you, Christine, for all the work you've done on these games.

Lemurian Shatranj. Missing description (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-04-12 UTC

Thank you, Greg!

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-04-12 UTC

Greg Strong wrote on 2021-04-12 EDT

A promoted colorbound piece may not be placed on the same color as the promoting player's remaining piece of that specific type.

Can we please remove this rule? It needlessly complicates the game needlessly IMO. (Similar to recent discussion on Great Shatranj.)

No problem. While I was looking over the rules yesterday, I saw that and considered removing it, but got called away from the keyboard and never did it.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-04-12 UTC

"Are those now the ‘default’ versions of the Hero and Shaman then?" - Bn Em

Actually, the bent versions were the original design for those 2 pieces. They are made as literally half of the pieces I put in Atlantean Barroom Shatranj, but are about three quarters as effective. At that point I hadn't realized the knight was unnecessary in Lemurian because the hero did the knight's job. I'd put the heroes in the rook's positions and still had the knights in their positions, but they were too weak, and I was kinda stuck. Then the Muse granted me an inspiration.

I am more wargamer than chess enthusiast, and old enough to have been there at the beginning of the wargaming hobby. One thing those early games did was compare themselves to chess, and that idea of military chess stuck in my head for decades before I took a side track by considering the limited or linear (good naming choice!) hero and shaman, and Chieftain shatranj popped into my head. Since I still hadn't gotten Lemurian right, I wrote up and posted Chieftain Chess (it sounds better than Chieftain Shatranj) before Lemurian, thus making the linear versions of hero and shaman appear to have been designed first.

So, yes, courtesy of better naming and actual precedence, the "bent" versions are the default, and the linear versions are the "derived" pieces.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-04-12 UTC

Hi, Greg. No, I just noticed the piece descriptions for them were missing from the rules page. Then I got 404 errors while trying to see the alfaerie expansion sets 3, 4, and 5. So I grabbed a copy from Opulent Lemurian Shatranj (one of the very best chess variants "period!") Back when the 3 of us were kicking around ideas, David commented that the name "bent hero" might convey a little more than intended. He obviously "softened the name" by putting the "bent" part in parentheses after the piece name. And the move is still either or both of a step and a leap. The hero and shaman are powerful enough already. The necessity of taking 2 steps to go 3 squares is about the only real limitation on the pieces' ability to attack almost half the squares within 3 squares.

The ShortRange Project. Missing description[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-03-15 UTC

Very nice work, Christine, on the update!

Great Shatranj. Great Shatranj. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-23 UTC

Hey, Christine. The original piece set had the "+" on the wazir, but not the "x" on the high priestess. You did the H.P. icon with the "x", and I believe I at one time substituted that into the piece set, but if so, it fell out again. I have no idea whatsoever how the wazir lost its "+". All I can figure is someone went into the GtS piece set and changed that piece. I did not!

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-21 UTC

Actually I like all the suggestions: my pita original one, only generals, only pashas, any lost piece + generals. The vote is split with a plurality to any lost pieces plus unlimited generals. (And what if the first general could be a pasha and each subsequent general a mann?)

So I guess we go with any lost piece + "unlimited" generals. But I wouldn't mind if anyone managed to add one or more of the others as options, despite knowing simplicity is the best rule (in most cases.)

Origins of Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-21 UTC

Good grief! I walked right into that, didn't I! Thanks for the information. The short video was informative.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-20 UTC

I was shoveling snow this morning. Got something to eat an hour before start, and fell asleep on the couch from about 12:30 until a little after 14:00, neatly missing it myself. Maybe the 3 hours of sleep last night can take the blame. :)

Thanks for posting. Maybe it'll show up on youtube or some obscure website. But it was about western chess only. Looking at the Silk routes and the various forms of chess found along them gives bits and pieces of a few stories. The eastern chesses are fascinating in their similarities and differences. And the biggest mystery is the disjunction between western chesses and eastern chesses. The eastern chesses are obviously a family, and western chess is just as obviously a closely related but different family. I just want to know when, where, and how the original idea split into 2 related families. And how, of course, Japanese chess arose.

Great Shatranj. Great Shatranj. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-19 UTC

Any more comments or suggestions?

Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-19 UTC

My original idea was to restrict promotions to only 1 piece total of each pair, or to 'generals', non-royal kings. However, I've always considered a game a collaboration between the designer and the players. ... Okay, when a bunch of designers says 'change your promotion rules!' I'm amenable. Grin, anything to get a game played!

If I were to suggest one different rule, I'd say promotion to the pasha (jumping general) might make the original version better. It has the virtue of being a powerful piece not in the original game. However, if you're playing with HG's variant which uses the pasha instead of the man, you might want to expand the possibilities.

Now, what would you all like to see?

Origins of Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2021-02-18 UTC

There is a free seminar online on the origins of chess tomorrow, Friday, February 19th from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. eastern standard time (GMT -5)

Board games and aging[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2019-11-27 UTC

Game Courier. PHP script for playing Chess variants online.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2019-08-27 UTC

Thank you. I appreciate it


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