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Vao. moves like bishop but must jump when taking.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-10-23 UTC

@Ben: yes, the simplest I could do is to edit this page in the CVP format: http://history.chess.free.fr/cv-set.htm


Ben Reiniger wrote on 2021-10-22 UTC

@Jean-Louis, those carved pieces look great! Would you mind sometime adding an article including the images? (You can start it as a Game page, but we'd change the type over to Craft before publishing.)


Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-10-22 UTC

Yes this one. As I said it is the only representation we have of Grant Acedrex. When you see on a good definition, it can be seen that Aanca, Unicornio and Cocatriz are not represented as chimeras, compound monsters of different parts of different animals as it was the tradition in Middle Ages for gryphons, sphinx, etc. They are depicted as very simple silhouettes. A big fat bird with a curved beak, a horned big animal on its legs, a flat sort of lizard. Sonja Musser sees them as a giant prey bird, a rhinoceros and a crocodile. For me, it is the best interpretation.


Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-10-22 UTC

yes Fergus. Take it easy, don't be so bad with me. Let me play with my Crocodile, it is not a crime. It is not so stupid either with the diagonal move. Bow, Arrow are also good choices, maybe better and I don't pretend to force anybody to use Crocodile. At least I hope Crocodile was not used for something else. Naming pieces is difficult because it may create confusion. For example Champion in Omega Chess. They were different Champions before in history of CV. Or the numerous Hawks and Falcons, all different. Before Crocodile I was using Bow. I stopped using Bow because I discovered the Hunter of Hunter/Falcon chess where the Hunter was represented by a Bow. That's it. Later I've made my own set in wood and my Crocodile is cute! http://history.chess.free.fr/zanzibar.htm I can't throw it away, I have to use it now


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-22 UTC

I have moved this discussion to the Vao page.

I assume JL means this one?

Okay, I missed that, because I was looking for an illustration of the piece itself and didn't realize he meant the illustration of the board. The piece in the Bishops's position has four legs and the general shape of a crocodile. So, crocodile may be a fair translation. But my other point still stands. Since the piece that could be translated as crocodile was a Bishop and not a Vao, it doesn't set any precedent or provide a good enough reason for using that name for the Vao.


Bn Em wrote on 2021-10-22 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

I assume JL means this one? His page includes it thrice: that ‘close‐up’ at the beginning of the Rules section, the full page featuring it after the list of volumes in Alfonso's book, and a reproduction on a commemorative stamp at the end of the page


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-22 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

The depiction I was talking about, and S.Musser is talking about, is the unique illustration that is known of this game, the one on the codex

Link, please. I already hunted for a picture yesterday and came up with nothing. Your website included a link to another site, but that site was down, and archive.org wasn't very helpful.


Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-10-21 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

Dear Fergus

I'm glad you accept my first point.

For the second, you just repeat what I said, it is a name consistent with my tree of CV, so I don't see why you insist it is only consistent with myself. It is what I said. To elaborate more, I don't want to give another name to a piece I have used under this name on 6 or 7 other variants.

For the last and most interesting point, sure your objection is valid. Indeed a Bishop is not a Vao. But both are diagonal and this is just the starting point of the association I'm making. It is a thin point, but it is better than nothing and there are plenty CVs where there is no logic at all behind the naming of the pieces. The way you had chosen Arrow is very elegant, really. I have nothing against that. Few years ago when I was using a Vao I used to call it a Bowman, which is not so far from your idea. I have no problem you call this piece an Arrow, just let me call it a Crocodile if I like. (And Vao is not a good name imo, I would have say a Xao to look more Chinese and the X is better bearing the diagonal character than the V)

For the last point on Alfonso's codex, I worked very closely with Sonja Musser who got her PhD on this text and together we studied carefully the Spanish text (hablo español). Of course a Cocatrice is a mythical beast, and a Crocodile is a real animal. I know this. But in 1283 they didn't have Wikipedia, and behind many mythical beast there is sometimes a real animal, living in very remote lands, that could have inspired the legend. Interestingly, this is the case in this Codex with the Aanca, for the Unicornio and for the Cocatriz. About this animal the text says: E la otra que esta dell otro cabo del Rey a la mano derecha es a semeianca dela Cocatriz que es bestia & pescado. & esta es fecha como lagarto. & cria en las aguas dulces & sennalada mientre en el grant rio que llaman nilo. & ha tan grant fuerca que teniendo los dos pies de caga o la cola en el agua; no a cosa que tome en seco que non tire assi por fuerte que sea. & quando quiere tomar alguna cosa;

Sonja Musser translates as this: To the right of the [white] King is a Crocodile [The crocodile's piece is very realistically drawn] which is a beast and a fish like a lizard. It lives in fresh water, notably in the great river called the Nile. It is so strong that with two hind feet and its tail in the water that nothing it grabs on land can escape. Whenever it wants to grab something it pretends that it is looking somewhere else to lull it into a false sense of security and then it turns quickly and obliquely and goes after it until it captures it.

If you see a better description than a crocodile, tell us. The depiction I was talking about, and S.Musser is talking about, is the unique illustration that is known of this game, the one on the codex. Please refer to it, the drawing is small but it really looks like a crocodile. Everyone can check with good faith. We have this and no more than that.

Also you may understand that a given name of a mythical animal could refer to different representation for different people, different places, different times. A gryphon could have goat's legs here, a snake's tail there, etc.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-21 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

this is my variant. I name the pieces as I like. Plenty of other chessvariants have names for their pieces that I don't like. I beg you to respect my choice

Agreed. I respect the right of game creators to use the piece names they wish to.

I use the name of Crocodile for the Vao for several of my variants already published here and on my site. So, I wish to be consistent in the tree of my variants. See Zanzibar-S, Zanzibar-L, Maasai Chess, Teramachy, Gigachess II, Terachess II, etc.

While consistency makes sense, it is only consistency with yourself, and you retain the right to rename the piece in all your variants if you desire to.

Saying it has no sense is wrong and upsetting.

It would be wrong to say that you had no reason for the name, because of course you did. I can't speak for Theresa, but I was aware, more or less, of your reason for the name Crocodile. I just don't think it is a good one.

In Grant Acedrex (from 1283) there is a Crocodile, named Cocatrice to be precise in medieval Spanish but which is depicted as a crocodile in that codex. This piece plays as a modern Bishop. The diagonal move is the inspiration for the name of Crocodile in my variants. You can estimate that this reason is weak but it is not "no sense".

Okay, it is weak, and I will now back that up. First of all, I disagree with the principal that it is a good idea to intentionally name a piece after a different piece that moves similarly to it. To be clear, this is different than accidentally giving a piece the same name as another piece or intentionally giving a piece the same name as another piece despite that name already being in use. I consider a name already being used for another piece a prima facie reason against using the name. But as long as you have other good reasons for using a name, these reasons may override this reason against using the name and independently justify the use of the name. In this case, though, you have no independent reasons for using the name Crocodile. Your only reason is that the name was used for the Bishop, which moves in the same directions as the Vao. Since I would count this as a reason against using the name rather than as a reason for using it, I do not consider this a good reason for using the name.

Second, you are using a translation of the original name, and I do not trust your translation. Cocatrice (or cocatriz as I actually found it spelled in the text of the Grant Acedrex) is not the Spanish word for crocodile, which is actually cocodrilo. Both spellings, cocatrice and cocatriz, are suspiciously close to cockatrice, which is a mythical serpentine beast or dragon with two legs and the head of a rooster, and when I search for either term, that is what I get articles on. Although you claim that the Grant Acedrex depicts the cocatrice as a crocodile, I did not find any depiction of it in the images we have of it on this site. But if you have images we don't have, I would be happy to see them. Additionally, the Grant Acedrex has included the names of other mythical animals that you have translated into the names of real animals, such as AAnca and Vnicornio. I am suspicious of those translations as well. Naming pieces after mythical animals has not been uncommon. So, if a name in a historic text looks like the name of a mythical animal, that may well be what it is.

Finally, I did have very good reasons for selecting the name Arrow. My first idea for a name was the punny name of Canon, which is a kind of cleric whose name sounds like Cannon. But it's not really a good name for the piece in a game that already includes a Cannon, and I also decided to give it a Chinese name. For that, I chose the character , whose meanings include both arrow and vow. The idea of an arrow fits with the idea of a cannon as a long-range projectile weapon that can go over the heads of others, and vow is a homonym for Vao, the name that the piece goes by in fairy chess.


Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2021-10-21 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

Dear all. Few elements of answer:

  1. this is my variant. I name the pieces as I like. Plenty of other chessvariants have names for their pieces that I don't like. I beg you to respect my choice
  2. I use the name of Crocodile for the Vao for several of my variants already published here and on my site. So, I wish to be consistent in the tree of my variants. See Zanzibar-S, Zanzibar-L, Maasai Chess, Teramachy, Gigachess II, Terachess II, etc.
  3. Saying it has no sense is wrong and upsetting. In Grant Acedrex (from 1283) there is a Crocodile, named Cocatrice to be precise in medieval Spanish but which is depicted as a crocodile in that codex. This piece plays as a modern Bishop. The diagonal move is the inspiration for the name of Crocodile in my variants. You can estimate that this reason is weak but it is not "no sense".

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-21 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

Calling the diagonal Cannon a “Crocodile” makes zero sense. I prefer Gilman’s term for the piece: Arrow.

Agreed, except that I introduced the name of Arrow in Yang Qi, and Gilman copied it. See Comment 14476 on the Yang Qi page.


Theresa Dubé wrote on 2021-10-20 UTC

Originally posted on Pemba, where this piece is called a Crocodile.

Calling the diagonal Cannon a “Crocodile” makes zero sense. I prefer Gilman’s term for the piece: Arrow.


Anonymous wrote on 2010-05-03 UTC
Actually, something like Vao was already invented... in ancient Korea! In Changi, Korean variant of Xiang-qi, most of pieces, icluding cannon, can move along diagonal lines in palaces! Of course, this diagonal cannon is not Vao, it also moves without capturing only by leaping, but these pieces are very close-related, so we can think that Vao was invented long time ago!

Charles Gilman wrote on 2004-08-03 UTCGood ★★★★
The rating is mainly for coming up with a meaningful name, which works in English and Chinese, for this piece. Can you think of any similarly suitable, perhaps again weapons based, name for the Leo? It occurred to me that Tank would combine the power of a cannon with the mobility of a bow and arrow, but it might be very cumbersome in Chinese characters. My reason for asking is that I am considering a hybrid of Wildebeest Chess and Eurasian Chess. It would seem logical that such a variant, having Rook and Bishop and their compound, and Knight and Camel and their compound, should also have Cannon and Arrow and their compound.

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