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Zillions-of-Games: Review. Missing description[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-25 UTC
Update: I now have a copy of Polgar Star Chess for Zillions. It can be downloaded here

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-12 UTC
Hey, Derek, do you have Zillions? You should check out the Schoolbook.zip file, available at my Zillions mirror. It has balanced double move Schoolbook with your choice of the goal of capture or checkmate, as well as a balanced doublemove version of Schoolbook using Betza's much weaker "Half-Shell" pieces.

It also has a version of Schoolbook with Mats Winther's hacks to make Zillions not always start out with moving knights before pawns, albeit without the doublemove variants.


Derek Nalls wrote on 2013-08-12 UTC
ST:  Although I haven't studied it, you can probably salvage Schoolbook Chess by changing its turn order to white-black-black-white.  This will reduce white's advantage to a tolerable level.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-12 UTC
Also, since lurkers are asking, here is some of my look at why 1. c4! is so strong in Schoolbook.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-12 UTC
OK, I have added all of your Zillions files to my archive. If anyone knows of any other web pages out there with Zillions rules I haven't archived yet, let me know.

Since my archive does not have nearly enough Chess Variants (there are over 30,000 total variants on my archive right now), I have resolved the problem of which Capablanca opening setup is best by simply making a 500k Zillions file with all 36 of them with the King on the F file, rooks in corners, bishops on opposite colors, and symmetrical knights and bishops. Proposed Capablanca 10x8 setups usually follow the above conventions, so why not have all of them in one zip file (using Mats Winther's improvements for better Zillions play). There are two castling rules and five different pawn movements for each setup, giving us a total of 180 variants for everyone to try out. If a desired Capa setup is missing, I also have the tools for easily making a Zillions file for a new opening setup included in this zip file (A C compiler is needed).

The interesting question is this: Which of these 36 Capablanca setups minimizes draws as well as White's advantage? Right now, RANBQKBNMR looks best, but I will leave it to others to continue this research.

George Duke is probably right that the W-flyer (forward like Bishop, forwards and backwards like a Rook) which I invented in 1994 is probably a more interesting piece than coming up with yet another Capablanca opening setup.


(zzo38) A. Black wrote on 2013-08-11 UTC
The domain name has changed to zzo38computer.org, therefore the URL should be http://zzo38computer.org/Zillions/ instead.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-11 UTC
You know, before getting grandiose plans which will probably go nowhere, let's start simple. I've notice that Zzo38 used to have a Zillions site which is now down. Yes, I checked, and the files aren't on Zzo38's Gopher server either. Perhaps we can get those files back up again. I’m perfectly willing to archive any and all Zillions-related files, but only as raw .zip and .zrf files.

I used to have my own Gopher server myself actually, but that's neither here nor there.


(zzo38) A. Black wrote on 2013-08-11 UTC
Maybe it should be time to make open-source clone of Zillions of Games. Improvements can then be made too (such as support hidden information, and better keyboard controls) and it can be not only for Windows.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-11 UTC
While Schoolbook is probably still a variant worth playing, when H.G. Muller gave us a free Capablanca Chess engine with decent strength, I discovered that the game is unbalanced in favor of White because of 1. c4! I spent weeks trying to find a decent Black reply to that opening move without success. I have put Schoolbook on the shelf until someone finds better defenses for Black.

As I recall, I did test the Gothic Chess setup with Muller's program and it appeared to really favor White. I never liked the Gothic setup because of how the Knights are so far out on the flanks and how moving the center pawns forward two squares blocks the bishops.

Before I gave up chess variants, my research shows that the Modern Carrera opening setup: RANBQKBNMR, where "A" is the Knight + Bishop Faerie piece and "M" is the Rook + Knight Faerie piece appears to be more balanced. Of course, there may not be a Capa opening setup without a big advantage for White on account of how much power is on the board. Carrera Chess has been around almost as long as Chess itself (Carrera, Bird, Capablanca, Grand Chess on a 10x10 board, Gothic, and most recently Seirawan Chess on the 8x8 board) and has never caught on...but, quite frankly, that's true of pretty much any western Chess variant with the possible exception of Bughouse Chess.

In terms of the En Passent argument I had, the club in question was not a Chess club. It was a casual social club -- something that has sadly gone out of style with the Internet taking over everything -- where people usually played card games. There were only three of us there who ever joined the USCF or went to a real Chess club.


I have been working hard the last few days hunting on the Internet for any and all Zillions files still extant out there for me to preserve. I have been unable to get a Zillions rule file for Polgar Star Chess; if anyone has a copy of it, please send it to me for hosting on my Zillions archive.


George Duke wrote on 2013-08-10 UTC
I certainly noted in comments several times Sam's incredible opening theory developed for Schoolbook Chess, as he was doing it here, and it is why Schoolbook is ranked about #10 at NextChess threads, not yet an article. However, Ed Trice did more than Sam probably for important possible Next Chess in Gothic Chess analysis of another array of the same piece-mix. Both men did more than Jose Capablanca that's for sure, who revived original Carrera's 400 years old.

As for paragraphs 3 and 4 of the editorial linked, ''Why Not Play...,'' I respectfully take great exception.  En passant is also 400 years old and f.i.d.e. entrenched 100 years, and anyone ignorant of it shouldn't even be playing. It's ridiculous to consider it discourteous to invoke standard E.P. The unread and unwashed should just be laughed out of the local club.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2013-08-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
While I no longer play Chess variants, since Zillions is slowly languishing -- the Zillions developers currently have the same interest in their masterpiece as Morphy did in Chess after being established as world champion in that late 1850s; it is difficult, if not impossible, to contact the original developers about the game, and the database of games for Zillions games on their web site is down -- I have set up a mirror of all of the game rules files for Zillions that I can find (both from my own archives and from sites on the internet which still host Zillions rules files):

http://microblog.samiam.org/ZoG

On a personal note, I like Zillions because it has an adjustable difficulty slider and can be set up to play some really fun club-level chess games full of cheesy mistakes (I have a file showing Zillions weaknesses when defending as Black against the Evans). Grandmaster-strength chess programs are like the master at the local chess club you never enjoy playing but who gives you great analysis to improve your chess. Zillions, on the other hand, is your fun-loving buddy at the local chess club who you love to play with because he will play whatever line (or even variant) you feel like playing, and because you can defeat him about half the time.


Javier wrote on 2002-12-11 UTCGood ★★★★
A demo of version 2 of Zillions is now available.

Javier wrote on 2002-12-11 UTCGood ★★★★
A demo of version 2 of Zillions is now available.

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