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The Chess Variant Pages

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Game Reviews by Sam Trenholme

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Diamond Chess 306. Missing description (22x24, Cells: 306) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2009-12-31 UTCGood ★★★★
It’s nice to see people moving beyond simple square and hex boards, but I think a 22x23 game is the rhombic equivalent of Tai shogi. Perhaps a smaller version of this variant would be good.

Of course, David’s next challenge is to make chess variants for all of the regular polygon tilings. Or, if that’s too ambitious, how about a chess variant for this tiling.

The possibilities are nearly endless...

Penturanga. Chaturanga on a board with 46 pentagonal cells. (8x5, Cells: 46) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2008-11-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I love it when people break the mold and come up with an alternate tessellation for a chess variant (such as Parachess).

Speaking of which, is there any interest in my inventing a variant using an alternate tessellation. I have an idea that has been bouncing around my head for over a decade which I should make a variant out of, but only if people would be interested in looking at it.

- Sam

Gustavian Adjutant ChessA game information page
. Standard chess with empty extra corner squares and extended castling (with zrf).[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2008-11-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I like this variant; it's a classic 'How close can we be to normal FIDE chess while throwing out the opening book?' variant. Another variant along the same lines that Mr. Winther has proposed is chess 256, where we randomly move a pawn up one square for the eight squares on both sides of the board.

Another idea I like along the same lines is to keep black pieces where they are, but swap White's queen and king. Now, in White's OO move, the king moves right two squares (from the d file to the f file) and the h rook moves left three squares, and in White's OOO move, the king moves left two square (from the d file to the b file) and White's a rook moves right 2 squares to the c file.

Any other ideas for modest chess variants that keep the game the same as much as possible, while throwing out the FIDE opening book?

Delta88 Chess. Chess on a Trigonal Board. (11x8, Cells: 88) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-08-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I like seeing variants move beyond the usual square and hexagon boards. Another interesting board is the board used in the ParaChess variant. Not to forget the Crazy 38s board. Some other boards that may make for good chessvariants are some of these boards or these potential boards.

- Sam

Capablanca Random Chess. Randomized setup for Capablanca chess. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-08-13 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
It saddens me to see that the excellent SMIRF chess variant engine is no longer available for download. Fortunatly, I was able to download a copy of SMIRF when it was still free downloadable, and have finally had a chance to give this chess engine a test spin. The variant I have SMIRF play is my own 'Schoolbook Chess' (CRC setup #27621 with different castling rules).

SMIRF has a very romantic style of play, making bold sacrifices. For example, in thie game against Zillions of Games, where both sides have five seconds to make a move on a Pentium Core Duo 1.5Ghz, SMIRF has the black pieces and makes several bold sacrifices before finally delivering the mating blow to white:

1. e4 Ng6 2. f3 Nd6 3. d3 Af6 4. NI3 e6 5. Ng4 Ah5 6. I4 AI6 7. Nb3 h5 8. Nc5 Qc8 9. Ixh5 Axh5 10. NI3 Af4 11. g3 Ah6 12. h3 b6 13. Ng4 Aj5 14. Nb3 Mh8 15. Af2 BI6 16. Bj4

SMIRF gets ready to make his first sacrifice.

16... Mh5!? 17. NI3 Mxj4 18. Nxj5 Bxj5 19. Ag1 Mh5 20. Kf2 Mg5 21. f4

SMIRF now sacrifices both of his knights to continue the attack on White's King.

21... Nxe4+! 22. dxe4 Mxe4+ 23. Kg2 Nxf4+! 24. gxf4 Mxf4+ 25. Kh2 KI8 26. c3+ f5 27. MI5

SMIRF sacrifces his bishop in order to keep his attack lively.

27... j6! 28. Mxj5 Qb7 29. Bf3 Qxf3 30. Axf3 Mxf3+ 31. Kg2 Mf4+ 32. Kh2

Black can now force mate; finding this mate is left as an exercise to the reader.

In another game, SMIRF plays ChessV, with SMIRF having the white pieces and each side given 30 seconds to decide their move on a Pentium Core Duo 1.5Ghz. Here is how that game went:

1. Ng3 e5 2. Mh3 Ne7 3. Nd3 Neg6 4. e3 d6 5. f4 exf4 6. exf4 Ad7 7. Af2 Axh3 8. Axh3 Ke8 9. Bg4 Bh4 10. Bd7+ Kd8 11. Qe1 Ne7 12. Bf2 Nhg6 13. Nf5 Bxf2 14. Kxf2 c6 15. Nxe7 Nxe7 16. Qe2 d5 17. Nc5 Ng6 18. Rje1 Kc7 19. Bxc6 Kxc6

At this point, even though White is down material, he can force mate. The mate, again, is left as an exercise for the reader.

Sunflower HexChess. Hexagonal Chess in-the-round. (Cells: 120) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2006-12-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I like the new tessellation that this variant uses; there are so many
possible tessellations out there, yet most Chess variants use a plain
square tessellation.  Only sometimes do we use a plain hexagonal
tessellation; far rarer is something radical such as a board using
triangles, parachess [1], or this board.  

I applaud you for trying out a new tessellation!

- Sam


Dragon. Missing description (9x15, Cells: 135) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2006-09-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I agree that Andy crossed the line of being civil and it seems to me that he is just looking for a flame war. Andy: If you want to flame people, there are many sites which are flamer-friendly. isn't one of them.

I think the problem is that Andy wasn't fully able to see that he hurt Glenn's feelings when he was critical of his chess variant. It is very hard to be critical of a chess variant; see this discussion where I was critical of a variant.

In terms of Dragon, as I said before, I won't play it until a computer implementation is made, and Glenn is currently unwilling to make one. But, yes, I think this kind of Chess + wargame hybrid is a good idea. The rules are a bit complicated for my taste to try and learn this game unassisted, however. Then again, I never played anything more complicated than Axis and Allies without a computer.

I'm adding an excellent rating mainly to counterbalance Andy's poor rating.

- Sam

Royal Amazon Chess. Queens are replaced by Royal Amazons. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2006-03-02 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
The idea of having two royal pieces, where checkmating either piece wins (or forking both pieces with a defended piece), I think makes for a game with more tension than FIDE Chess. I especially like one of the royal pieces being very powerful; an Amazon usually is too powerful, but making it royal is a brilliant way of restraining its power.

- Sam

Storm the Ivory Tower. A Smess adaptation of Chinese Chess. (9x10, Cells: 90) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2005-12-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I have a black and white version of the board here:

- Sam

10 Minute Melee. Score as many points during 10 minutes of time with regular chessset. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2005-04-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Very innovative idea. May be hard to keep score while the game is playing (without a referee), but this would make an excellent networking game played with computers.

Feeble Chess to Weakest Chess. Pieces are weakenend as they must use a turn to change direction or flip between taking and non-taking mode. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2005-02-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I think this game will make a basis for a game that will be very difficult for computers to play. In fact, I have made a balanced four-move variant of the game that works like this: <ul> <li>White makes one move <li>Black makes two moves <li>White makes three moves <li>Black makes four moves <li>Both sides make four moves for the rest of the game </ul> This somewhat speeds up the game, while making the number of possible moves per side so large that standard alpha-deta searches that computer chess games use completely ineffective in this variant of the game. <p> It is the same idea as Arimaa, but not bounded by the copyright/patents that Arimaa has.

Grotesque Chess. A variant of Capablanca's Chess with no unprotected Pawns. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2004-09-25 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I think this is a great idea! As it turns out, I independently came up with my own opening setup with leaves no piece undefended in the opening: RQNBKABNMR (where A moves like Bishop + Knight; M moves like Rook + Knight). There are actually a number of such possible setups. <p> - Sam

Towers Chess. Win by pushing towers to the Kings' squares. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2004-06-30 UTCPoor ★
I think this game has potential, but the rules as posted here are incomplete. What is does it mean to move a tower to the king's position? When a captured piece is moved from the hand to the board, does this take an entire turn, or is the player allowed to do this while making a normal move? On what squares can a pawn be placed? If a pawn is captured, is it moved back to the player's hand? Do pieces change side when captured (as in Shogi)? How does a knight move (first orthogonally then diagonally, or first diagonally then orthogonally?), so we can determine if a tower blocks the knight's move?

Grand Chess. Christian Freeling's popular large chess variant on 10 by 10 board. Rules and links. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2002-12-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Excellent game; unlike most other Chess variants there is actually some analysis of the game out there. Not only does <A href=>Abstract Games Magazine</A> have a regular column on it, but the current Grand Chess world champion has an annotated game (<A href=>Word format</A>; <A href=>PDF format with diagrams</A>) which discusses opening and mid-game strategy. <p> The game is a lot more sharp and tactical than FIDE Chess. Since the opening only has pieces on 40% of the board (as opposed to FIDE's 50%), it is harder to set up a closed position difficult to break in to. If you like playing quiet, strategic games, Grand Chess may not be for you. <p> Then again, if you long for another golden age of Chess, of the likes of when Morphy or Capablanca was world champion, this is an excellent game. Draws are less common in this game; stong attacks on the enemey king and sacrifices are common. <p> Of course, this is a game that computers can also play well; The Zillions engine was able to defeat an Interational Master (2500 range) at Grand Chess, even though the same engine is about a 1900 player in FIDE chess. Since very few people can defeat a strong computer these days, this should not matter for anyone except the strongest of players. <p> - Sam

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