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Victorian Chess. Capablanca variant with the most powerful pieces starting on the outside. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-11-01 UTC

Something I just don't get about Victorian Chess (or Schoolbook) is how fairly strong players might often get safely castled, say on either flank against each other. The two major pieces posted on each of the 1st+2nd/9th+10th files might somehow (often?) be used as a battery in back of a pawn storm against an enemy king castled on their flank, for example. In any case, in Victorian Chess (or Schoolbook), the queens seem too far off to one side to be used in many different ways for many moves into the opening, in typical games that might happen.

Nevertheless, Victorian Chess (and Schoolbook) has been played considerably often on Game Courier - no doubt having all the pawns protected in the setup, and keeping the usual arrangement for the minor piece positions, are optical attractions.

Greg Strong wrote on 2020-07-13 UTCGood ★★★★

I updated this page heavily...

  • Added graphic of setup (was just ASCII)
  • Updated intro to provide detail about chronology of invention
  • Changed format to be more consistent with other game description pages
  • Added information about Game Courier play/computer play
  • Added interactive diagram

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-02-28 UTC

Here's a photograph of Victorian Chess, using equipment from my Chess Variant Construction Set.

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-10-02 UTC

John, Victorian Chess is a good name for this variant. I have no plans to post a page of my own. You should add a link to Greg's ChessV program. Your idea of adding new pieces (and pawns) to the edges of the FIDE setup has been the starting point for several chess variants from Shako to Rose Chess XII.

An example of checkmate underpromotion:
H. Reinle - M. Lange (Murnau 1936) 
1. e4 e5 2. f4 f5 3. exf5 e4 4. Qh5+ g6 
5. fxg6 h6 6. g7+ Ke7 7. Qe5+ Kf7 8. gxh8=N# 1-0 

[EDIT] If you are interested in promotion puzzles, take a look at my 2006-01-10 comment to Bruce Zimov's Knightmate.

John Lewis wrote on 2007-10-02 UTC
I wonder if I can come up with a puzzle where there's a two move stalemate where only a knight or bishop (or rook!?!) would prevent the stalemate.

In any case I will wait and see.  I do like that name so if you aren't going to use it, I have dibs. ;P

Greg Strong wrote on 2007-10-01 UTC

Hi David,

You crashed two hard drives? You really should stop taking out your anger on the hard drives with a rubber mallet. Smash the mouse instead - they are much cheaper :) I am not surprised that you don't remember the Capablanca variant. We had been discussing unicorns on 80 squares, and I was in the middle of adding support for all the various Capa variants to ChessV, and I asked you if I could replace the unicorn with an archbishop and add it, and you said something like 'sure, why not.' Then I don't think we ever discussed again. But since it's your logic, philosophy, and vision behind the design, I consider it your game. So I leave it entirely to you to respond to John and decide what to do about Capablanca Chess, Paulowich Variant and/or Victorian Chess. Victorian Chess does have a better ring to it :) I'm surprised that that name hasn't been used before. (And that it never occured to me, either.) If you would like a page made for C.C.P.V., I'd be happy to make one.

John, David can probably explain better than I can the reason for the promotion rules, but basically it is because promotion to any lesser piece would be completely pointless. In Chess, you may want to under-promote because promotion to a Queen would cause stalemate. (This has happened several times in grand-master level play.) So, in this game, if it is the Queen's Rook-move that stalemates, you would promote to an Archbishop. And if it's the Queen's Bishop-move that stalemates, you promote to a Chancellor. No other promotion makes any sense. In Chess you might want to promote to a Knight if it just happens to provide a nice fork, but since the Chancellor and Archbishop make Knight-moves, that isn't necessary either. Now you might well believe that promotion to a lower piece should be allowed even if pointless. That is, of course, more of an artistic judgement. As a writer of chess variant software, I don't like the pointless moves, simply because difficulty the computer has playing any given variant grows exponentially with the number of legal moves, so I don't like extra moves in there clogging it up.

Douglas S wrote on 2007-10-01 UTC
and I have already made up a .zrf game file for zillions-of-games if you guys would like me to submit that. Just agree on the rules(pawn promotion, castling, etc) and who invented what :) and let me know if you want me to upload it!

be well all!


John Lewis wrote on 2007-10-01 UTC
We should definitely create a page and add credit for the concept to you guys.  I would hope that a pawn could promote to any piece.  I assume castling was as listed (2 squares).  I'm more than happy to add in you guys as creators and me a developer for this... since I do think promotion should be any piece.

What do you guys think?  Or do you want to create your own page and I'll just delete this one.

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-09-30 UTC

See Recent Posts and Older Posts from the 72 Capa variants thread for an informed discussion, by several game inventors. On [2004-09-21] I posted a comment with a link to the game published in 1617 by D. Pietro Carrera. On the same day I commented (on the Carrera page) that my favorite opening setup in 'Carrera Random Chess' was: CRNBAKBNRQ. [EDIT] I assume Greg Strong's program has 'King moves two squares' castling and promotion to one of the 'big three' pieces, similar to the rules in Lions and Unicorns Chess. John: different promotion rules means that Victorian Chess is a different chess variant.

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-09-30 UTC

Opening EPD: “qrnbkubnrc/pppppppppp/////PPPPPPPPPP/CRNBUKBNRQ”

for Unicorn 80 can be found in this EXT: Chess Diagram PDF file. I played a game with David Howe from Aug. 24th to Sep. 5th, 2001, which is listed on the old PBM Game Logs page - sadly that PBM system is no longer functional.

Back in January, 2002 Fergus Duniho created a Unicorn Great Chess Preset for me - with the more usual 'mirror symmetry' on the 10x10 board. I have crashed two hard drives since then and cannot remember my discussions with Greg Strong about replacing the Unicorns with Archbishops on 80 squares.

Greg Strong wrote on 2007-09-30 UTC
This exact setup was invented in 2004 by David Paulowich and myself, (mostly David.)  No page was posted about it, but it has been in ChessV for years, under the name 'Capablanca Chess, Paulowich Variant.'  The only difference is that pawns may only promote to Queen, Chancellor, or Archbishop.

It is always interesting to me the way good ideas tend to be reinvented independantly.  This is a very good arrangement of pieces.

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-09-30 UTC
Aha .. something new to add to the Capablanca Chess page in Wikipedia :-D

(I won't add it. I've already been in enough quarrels there.)

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