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Captain Spalding Chess. Find an Elephant in your Pajamas.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
George Duke wrote on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 08:10 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

Half or more of Betza's 150 games in CVPage have, as Captain Spalding does, realistic opening moves or entire game scores annotated for examples. Here too are couple pieces in Betza Notation by Betza himself that Muller and Florea have been revisiting. Captain Spalding is character by Groucho Marx in 1930 'Animal Crackers'. The first talkie at all was 1927, and most European countries had first talking movie production in same 1930. Marx Brothers play Chess: Chess.

Harpo Marx watches Chess in Moscow: Chess_Match_in_1931

Anonymous wrote on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 12:54 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Wed, Jul 8, 2009 11:42 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
The theme of this variant is fantastic enough. I like these imaginative power.

Charles Gilman wrote on Sat, Jan 21, 2006 07:37 AM UTC:
My modest variants
( now
include 'A Knight at the Hoppera', in which Knights can hop and thereby
lose the move.

Charles Gilman wrote on Sat, May 10, 2003 07:12 AM UTC:
On reflection it occurs to me that variants with Rook-Knight hybrids (Marshal is my preferred term for them) cover 'Horse Feathers', and most forms of Chess have a King or equivalant, and so could be considered 'Monarchy Business'!

gnohmon wrote on Sun, Apr 20, 2003 02:26 AM UTC:
Marx brothers variants: well, Fredonia is mentioned in one variant of mine,
and there's always Tutti Frutti Chess.

The games with multiple pieces on one square seem related to the stateroom
scene, sort of, a little bit anyway.

Aside from that, it's difficult. Remember the scene in Monkey Biz where
Harpo impersonates Chevalier with a portable windup phonograph strapped to
his back, then goes crazy with the rubber stamps (I've always yearned to
do that!). How could one make a chess variant of that??

Charles Gilman wrote on Sat, Apr 19, 2003 07:48 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
I notice that you have not used the initial G for any piece. Surely using G for Great Elephant, E for Elephant, and L for Lint would make the notation easier. The game is quite a departure from standard Chess, and the more intuitive the notation the better. I look forward to variants based on other Marx Bros. characters.

Ben Good wrote on Tue, Aug 20, 2002 03:05 AM UTC:
i think you may be misjudging the value of the great pajamas.  in an
endgame where the rhinos, headless rhinos, and great elephants have been
traded off, winning with just an elephant and bats can be difficult.  in
such a situation, if you are the only one with great pajamas, it means you
control where the dust demons appear on the board.  since they are
neutral, this is critical.

Peter Aronson wrote on Mon, Aug 19, 2002 03:54 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
After playing around with this game a bit, it seems to me that the Great Pajamas are somewhat disadvantaged: the Box can pull out unlimited Bats, as long as the one per column rule is followed, and the Pajamas can keep pulling out Elephants, as long as there is only one of your color on the board at a time, but once the Great Pajamas have pulled out the Great Elephant, all they can do is generate Dust Bunnies and Dust Demons. It doesn't seem fair. <p> Perhaps the Great Pajamas should also be able to pull out an Investigator and/or a Cook. Cooks, as we know from Cheskers, are Camels (Long Knights). An Investigator would be a Nemesis -- a piece that moves like a King, but only towards the opposing Royal piece. Now, in Captain Spalding Chess that would be too powerful, so perhaps it could have a Nemesis that moves like a Wazir, but can only makes moves that would leave it closer to the opposing Box. If an Investigator is captured, it may be pulled out by the Great Pajamas again.

gnohmon wrote on Fri, Jul 5, 2002 02:20 AM UTC:
> may it play a Bat on the 8th

Please add to Rule Zero the following: 

'<H?>Drops and Placements</H?>

In games where pieces may be dropped or freely placed, the 
following <A HREF=???>Shogi</a> rule should apply: placing 
a piece in its promotion zone does not promote it, and placing 
a piece where the end of the board prevents it from moving
(for example, dropping a Pawn on its 8th rank) is forbidden.'

Notice that I adopted the Shogi rule of not having two Bats on the same
file; however, this generalization does not belong in rule zero.

Peter Aronson wrote on Thu, Jul 4, 2002 07:46 PM UTC:
Another question: if the Box moves to a square adjacent to the 8th rank, may it play a Bat on the 8th rank? If so, is the Bat stuck there, or does it instantly promote to a BOOH?

gnohmon wrote on Sat, Jun 29, 2002 03:55 AM UTC:
'If you move a piece next to two or more Cookie Monsters simultaneously,'

Good question. Cookie Monster not so smart, does not know other Cookie
Monster gets awakened. All of the awakened Cookie Monsters leap on to the
moving piece and gobble up both it and each other;

at least, that's the rule that I think is consistent with the nature of
Cookie Monsters in this game (in real life, Cookie Monsters are erudite and
charming and well-behaved; the piece in the game was not intended as an
ethnic slur).

John Lawson wrote on Sat, Jun 29, 2002 01:59 AM UTC:
My opinion would be that the Cookie Monster's primordial nature would preclude any such politesse. I would expect that both Cookie Monsters would pounce on the mutually adjacent piece, devouring it, and each other, like the Kilkenny cats. We must await gnohmon's ruling for a definitive answer, however.

Peter Aronson wrote on Fri, Jun 28, 2002 04:08 PM UTC:
If you move a piece next to two or more Cookie Monsters simultaneously,
what happens?  Do they all leap on it and devour it, and disappear?  Or 
does the moving player choose one?

C&I Editor wrote on Sun, Jun 23, 2002 04:34 AM UTC:
The diagram matches <strong><u>now</u></strong>!

gnohmon wrote on Sun, Jun 23, 2002 02:25 AM UTC:
It was pointed out to me in email that the ascii diagram of the starting
position, which the readers should know is not my work but was added by the
clever and industrious editor of the page, does not correspond to the
suggested notation added by the update.

Every good deed shall be punished.

gnohmon wrote on Fri, Jun 21, 2002 04:29 AM UTC:
''If there are Headless Rhinos, why are there no Rhino heads
   in the Box?' I suggested that they had been reduced to Crumbs, but
   this explanation was rejected on the grounds that the rest of the
   Rhino would also be Crumbs.'

The first question most people ask is whether my mother was Morticia,
because who else would have Bats in their box of animal crackers?

However, asking about Rhino Heads is certainly valid. The true answer is
that the game could include many more types of animal crackers and many
more types of things to be found in Pajamas; but I stopped when I thought
that I had just enough things in the game.

I am sure that it would also be a good game if you could find a Zebra in
your Box and a Flashlight in the pocket of your Pajama (one must always
have a Flashlight in order to be able to stay awake and read in bed when
one is supposed to be sound asleep).

However, my artistic decision was that I had enough elements in my game.

Where are the Schnorrers? They are in somebody else's game, perhaps
somebody else's variant of Capt. Spalding Chess; for I have seen Good and
Lawson play Spalding by email and I know that it is good as it is but also
that there could be as many 'Captain Spalding Variants' as there are Chess

I have said enough and now I must be going. I may stay for a line, I may
stay for a paragraph, but I must be going.

Ah, but I hear you say 'Yes, but you don't go!' and so I will tell a little
story before I go.

June 2 I went to see Carmen at the Amato Opera, and who was there but Tony
Randall, the superannuated star, with his subannuated daughter of a mere
half dozen years or fewer. We peasants noticed (who could fail to notice?)
and there was a rumbling and grumbling of talk among us; and many and many
a stakeless wager was placed on who would draw the tickets for the raffle.
But we are all NewYorkers and so nobody bothered the famous person.

Sure enough, it was the offspring of the star who drew the winning ticket
from the accustomed tin. Pity, pity, do you not feel it, for the Chelsea of
the Hillary?

I have daughters too, I have daughters two, and they do not follow the path
of the great chess variant genius (which is good because there ain't a
penny to be made from it!) but instead follow paths I can only envy.

A small daughter who asks about Rhino Heads? Be proud, and beware. This is
no ordinary person. The youthful asker of such questions may grow to be a
mature -- who can guess? There are no rules for the promotion of Human
Children when they reach the Rank of Maturity. Unless, of course, one
considers it a rule that they will never turn out to be quite what you

In case you have not understood my answer, let me make it clear: if you
want a game with Rhino Heads, nothing stops you from making it yourself!

gnohmon wrote on Fri, Jun 21, 2002 03:45 AM UTC:
'As for Lint to Dust Bunny to Dust Demon -- you may have found another
   great train of evolution to rival Paperclip to Coathanger to Bicycle.'

? And what about Crumb to Cookie Monster???

Sometimes I'll write a scientific exposition of all the possible variations
of multiple pieces on the same square, and other times, I'll just write a
game with many unused types of neutral pieces. It's all the same in some
abstruse way.

Did you notice that lint and dust bunnies are usually grey, perfect for a
neutral piece? This had much to do with the choice of names, although of
course, 'what else would one find in a Pajama but lint?' had more

I guess it was the greyness of lint that made me make them neutral. The
thinking behind these things happens in a flash that I can't remember
later; for example, the idea of lunch in SGL312 Chess (which I hope to get
written up in a couple of weeks; unlike Capt Spalding, it needs some

Peter Aronson wrote on Thu, Jun 20, 2002 06:09 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
This does look like fun! It's an interesting question if it is better to play your Rhino and Headless Rhinos early, or to keep them safe in the box. Elephants and Great Elephants of course should come out and play as soon as possible. <p>As for Lint to Dust Bunny to Dust Demon -- you may have found another great train of evolution to rival Paperclip to Coathanger to Bicycle. <p>As for the credits, your stuff has long and often had a light-hearted (and erudite) touch -- you didn't really get it from me.

John Lawson wrote on Wed, Jun 19, 2002 12:15 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
My daughter has raised the question, 'If there are Headless Rhinos, why are there no Rhino heads in the Box?' I suggested that they had been reduced to Crumbs, but this explanation was rejected on the grounds that the rest of the Rhino would also be Crumbs.

Jason Shields wrote on Sun, Jun 16, 2002 12:02 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
ROFLMAO!! I gotta play this =D

John Lawson wrote on Sat, Jun 15, 2002 03:24 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
But where is the Schnorer? Or the Bromeliads?

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