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I guess it could be an interesting game for two (either with neutral queen or with swapping instead of moving to empty space, with prohibition on undoing opponent's moves in both cases), where players have to get certain poker-like combinations in a limited number of turns or to be the first to achieves several goal.
I like it. I wish there were more solitaire variants. I also like Queen's Quadrille, and already submitted some solitaire variant similar to it.
Just to reply to Doug's comment from 11 years ago - no! I've been playing with the related game Queen's Quadrille recently, and there are many starting arrangements that are not possible to win from, and many that have some moves available.
For example, one moveable piece:
- R B ?
N N R B
B Q K ?
? ? ? ?
Two moveable pieces:
- Q B ?
K N R B
B R K ?
? B ? ?
In Queen's Quadrille I don't think it's possible to have three moveable pieces, as you can't connect four squares together without allowing a knight's move from next to one of the empty squares to a different empty square.
Going back to Hippodrome, however, the above layouts don't work because the knights are all at the bottom of the board. The failure starting positions in Queen's Quadrille depend on using knights in places where horizontal and diagonal movement is possible.
The only positions that start with an empty square next to a knight also have a different knight able to jump into that square - and in that situation there is *always* one piece in the middle that can move either horizontally or diagonally depending on the position of the knight, so there's no piece you can put there without it also being moveable.
I wrote an implementation of Hippodrome for Android with some alternative game modes. One of these was where the knights start in the middle four squares and need to be moved to the corners. It's an interesting mode that depends a lot on luck - it's possible to complete in just seven moves, but it requires a very specific starting arrangement. A side effect of the initial knight placement, however, is that it's dramatically less likely to start with an impossible position.
Andy, I only just now peeked in and saw that Hippodrome was listed here. I'm so glad; I thought it was a great game when you described it to me back in '02. Karen Robinson
I've tried this several times and it was quite enjoyable. A variant I tried was placing all four bishops along the opposite sides that the knights were on, then removing a rook, king, or queen. Then, you had to swap the knights and bishops. A bit harder, but still very possible. It is interesting how different pieces work in this game. Rooks adjacent to each other are quite mobile and work well, whereas the bishops can be inconvenient. Kings and Queens are the most mobile, so it is more difficult and interesting if you remove one of them.
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Another thought on possible 2 players Hippodrome variant.
A few days ago I've read about an "L-game":
They say, it was ivented as mathematician and psychologist in their speech concluded that the chess game is to complicated, which obstructs it's elegance, and so the psychologist decided to invent an L-game instead. We have to admit that chess game is really quite artificial and heavy, and so are most of chess variants (despite the fact that European chess set is pretty logical compared to it's Indian ancestor or Chinese and Japanese sisters).
But it bothered me that they actually came to quite different game - why they had this answer to chess if there are already many games that are quite modest and mathematically-elegant, like, say, Go? (Let alone that this L-game seems solvable and have a perfect play.) And I thought that there shold be some game that gives the actual essence of chess, while being mathematically-compact, not enheavied by artificial things.
There are two main features that make chess the chess. Different piece movements and a special role of the King. Second one actually seems more artificial, but I guess there is game that could give the mathematical essence of checks and checkmates, but let's leave it for further thinking now.
And suddenly it stroke me that some 2-player variant of Hippodrome actually could be that mathematical essence of "different piece movements". See - it consists of different moves, brought to 15-game. It also gas the perfect size - it brings practically all these most basic pieces, not more or less in sane sense (consider all these camels and dababahs rather derivative things).
Yet, I can't say about it's solvability. It have muuuch more possible setups than L-game, but it seems that in most of situations it have less possible turns.
What do you thing on all that matter?