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Messages - ebinola

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1
General Discussion / Re: IS THE CHESS VARIANT FORUM DEAD?
« on: October 01, 2018, 06:42:20 am »
For me, life has picked up again and I've not got a lot of time to play chess and variants. I've been lurking, just not posting. Honestly, what catches my attention nowadays is when Steve starts posting about Final Wars again on the forums or on reddit and then disappears off the face of the earth. Say what you want about him and his mannerisms and his opinions, I think the game's brilliant and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves in the future.
I think I've also said this before - most people that want to play correspondence games are either going to use the Chess960 forum on chess.com or Jocly. There's no reason not to use them at this point. Correspondence games make up to 95% of all activity on the forums, which, while I've said how I feel about that, is an impressive statistic.
Holistically, this forum's a node that makes up a larger active network of people that share a common interest. Sure, it's inactive for the time being, but I can't think of going to any other forum to discuss historical chess variants. Can't deny yourself the fact that you've connected people.
Something that I think would make the site better - and I'm going to say it to save H.G. from banging on about it any further - is to have interactive diagrams. I don't know the limitations of Create a Forum's software but if you just had some kind of widget or extension to set up a board in a post like chess.com, that would significantly increase this forum's functionality. People wouldn't have to go through the falderal of editing the board in Paint (or however it's done nowadays) and you'd save storage space. Start simple with chess, or thai makruk, don't stress about move legalities, then build up to more complex games. H.G. has shown that it is technically feasible - but if it's not doable within the limitations of Create a Forum, then I'd consider hosting the forum with some other forum software, like phpBB for example.

2
Variant Theory / Maths question: How many possible setups...?
« on: September 22, 2018, 06:35:09 pm »
Returning to chess variants, I've got an idea in the works that so far has posed a number of questions. One particular question requires some maths work that I can't wrap my head around, and I'm wondering if someone could help me.

The starting position for this game is identical to orthodox chess (pppppppp/rnbqkbnr...), but the player has some power over how their army is set up. The game has 5 piece classes (Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen), and 18 piece sub-classes (with their own unique properties). This makes for 90 unique pieces (excluding the King): 18 different Pawns, 18 different Knights, and so on. Multiples of pieces are allowed, i.e. you can have multiple Pawns of one sub-class. The King in this game has no special properties like the other pieces, it's just the same as any old King.

This setup phase is done blindly before the game begins, so neither player knows their opponent's setup until they see the starting position. Which leaves me with the question: how many possible setups exist with the above parameters?

3
General Discussion / Re: POLL: Off Topic Section?
« on: April 20, 2018, 02:41:16 pm »
No.

4
General Discussion / Re: Fake Medieval Chess
« on: April 06, 2018, 05:10:32 am »
The video with that title is certainly misleading but a look at the website shows the guy is interested in medieval warfare, and that Medieval Chess is a new form of chess that is fun and challenging. It's not really clear, however, if trebuchets use igui capture or not but I assume they do.
Wouldn't hurt to put in a disclaimer, though; good concept but the name unfortunately clashes with what already exists.

5
(although, the spread of shogi in Europe can hardly be compared to the spread of contemporary variants on the web).

Actually, I wonder - we've got a forum for xiangqi, why not offer a place to discuss shogi? I don't think that'd be too much trouble.

6
General Discussion / Re: An Anti Variant Facebook Page: @Chesspolice
« on: March 31, 2018, 10:44:57 am »
It's probably tongue-in-cheek. I doubt whoever's running that handle sincerely denies the existence of courier chess and other variants branching off from chess.
Could be wrong. Eh, that's Twitter for you.

7
First, lowered activity shouldn't discourage you. For what this site is, it's an excellent hub to discuss the different ways to play chess. You've managed to collect some of the great 'aficionados' of the chess variant world; if I hadn't joined this site, I don't think I would have ever gotten the opportunity to interact with the likes of Ed Trice, for instance.
However (and this has become apparent in the past couple of months) this site faces competition from chess.com, particularly the 960 forum. The forum is flooded with correspondence games that get the attention of people quickly. If we remove all connotations of spam, it's the greatest tool available to anyone to promote their variant, and get it out there to the main audience you're trying to appeal to, the chess players. Before, I ranted: Hang on. This is spam. You guys need to get out of here, this isn't what a forum is for. But now? Not a lot I can really say, other than this is the way the forum is now, another phase in its life-cycle.
So, one of the main attractions of this forum is beaten by the top dog. Really, it's a no contest - threads over here are hanging in the middle of games while games over on the 960 forum are updated hourly.
But I've noticed something that occurs on the 960 forums that I find really strange. The games are mostly contemporary variants, like bulldog; infinite chess; musketeer chess; event chess, the list goes on. You never hear a word about the 'traditional' variants, such as shatranj, or xiangqi, or shogi, or larger shogi variants, or makruk, or knighted variants... If users aren't as interested in traditional variants they'll scarcely talk about them, that's true. Likewise, if people don't want to play shogi via correspondence, they won't (although, the spread of shogi in Europe can hardly be compared to the spread of contemporary variants on the web).
What follows from that is while this site faces competition from the 960 forum in terms of correspondence games, it offers proper discussion of chess variants, whereas on the 960 forum, that's not possible because the threads are updated rapidly. Here threads are slower, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. This site can be offered as one where traditional variants and resources for those variants (books, videos, etc.) can be discussed and shared.
Try and gather people who would want to learn these traditional variants. Offer this place as a hub for discussion and to share resources. Ask about on sites that you frequent, get in touch with people like you've done already. I know a couple of places where I could ask people for interest in moving here.
Include diagrams, too. That would greatly increase the site's functionality.

8
This is a simple variant that has been thrown about in my mind for a while. I have no idea if this has been put up elsewhere, but here goes.
In shogi, you can drop captured pieces back onto the board as one of your own, with a few exceptions (nifu, uchifuzume, can't drop pieces where they'll have no legal moves on subsequent turns).
The thing is, you can't drop pieces on occupied squares. But what if - you could drop pieces on squares occupied by your own pieces to make it stronger?
Here's how I think 'stack shogi' would work:

In addition to the drop rules present in shogi, a player may drop a piece onto a square that is occupied by another friendly piece. These pieces will fuse into a compound piece - a stack that moves as its two constituent parts. You cannot drop on a square occupied by a stack.
When promoting, only the piece on top of a stack promotes (which makes a knight on a gold different to a gold on a knight). Placing a piece that is forced to promote on the last rank on top of another piece that is not lifts the forced promotion rules.
When a stack is captured, it splits into its constituent parts, and the player receives both pieces in hand to drop back onto the board. So, capturing a stack (which is technically one piece) gives you two pieces. And if you know your shogi - having the right pieces in hand can turn the tables really quickly.

You cannot drop a piece on the king, and like shogi, you cannot drop a pawn on a friendly piece to give checkmate.

As for applying nifu to this new rule, two options are possible:
  • You cannot drop a pawn to form a stack on a file that already has a pawn on it
  • You cannot drop a pawn to form a stack on a file that already has a stack that consists of a pawn and another piece.


Here's some interesting pieces that can be formed:

Ninja (忍者/忍): pawn+knight. If the pawn is on top, tokin+knight can make a very scary frontal attack. If the opponent captures it, he will only get a knight and a pawn:
Spoiler (hover to show)

Queen (奔王/奔): rook+bishop. Everyone's favourite FIDE queen. Can it break through traditional shogi defenses? Probably.

Gold Sword (金剣/剣): gold+lance. It can target the opponent's camp from afar and threaten a frontal attack:
Spoiler (hover to show)

Silver Spear (銀槍/槍): silver+lance. Can do the same as the gold sword, but its silver move allows it to move past pawns more easily:
Spoiler (hover to show)

I think it's doable with a regular shogi set, but there is the problem of notation, the fact that a stack with piece A and B is not the same as a stack with piece B and A, and also, a player might forget the piece on the bottom of a stack. Online, you could use respective kanji to represent the pieces, but this won't do for Western players who will find learning the kanji more difficult.
With combinations that are the same regardless of who's on top (e.g. the queen, gold+silver) you only need one set of kanji characters, not two.

What do you guys think?

9
A testament to how well this forum has done, considering it's been around for 3-4 months.
I'm eagerly anticipating the results, though I hope every entry gets its own spotlight.  :)

10
This one's been inactive for a while. A draw?

11
General Discussion / Re: Tarka
« on: March 04, 2018, 02:10:24 pm »
Great! I got a response from the support team but not the e-mail left on their facebook page.

12
General Discussion / Re: Should this Forum have an Off-Topic section?
« on: February 28, 2018, 05:31:43 pm »
We can certainly have an off-topic board, but most of what you said should be off-limits in terms of discussion points. While I love a good debate on politics, religion, etc., it can prove to be very dividing, especially in places where people originate from all different schools of thought.
Asher would also have to assign moderators to handle the forum, since 'off-topic' will still attract political/religious posts regardless of whether or not it's stated that these are off-limits.

13
General Discussion / Variants with Environment Modifiers.
« on: February 18, 2018, 05:45:37 pm »
Are there any variants that successfully utilise environment modifiers to alter the scene on the board? When I say 'environment modifiers' - let me take a couple of examples from Knightmare chess:
  • A card called 'Forbidden City' allows you to place a new piece on any unoccupied square. This piece cannot move and cannot be captured.
  • One card allows you to demarcate a square as holy ground. If a piece moves onto this square, it gains the power to move as a bishop.
  • A card called 'Man-Trap' (IIRC) requires the holder to secretly write down a square on the board. If a piece occupies that square in the future, the trap springs and that piece is captured.

There are also variants that use portals that can give slower pieces a lot of mobility. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_Chess

14
There's also handicaps to think about. The elephant, on its own, is the weakest of the pieces. Stronger than a gold but not as strong as the others.
I just read Asher's comment, the deadline has been extended, so... would it even be fair for me to revise the rules?

15
I think I will do the same as H.G. has done and give a wee introduction as well.

SAMURAI SHOGI

Samurai shogi started as a tongue-in-cheek comment in response to Zied Haddad's musketeer chess:
Could you imagine if someone went as far as to make such a thing as samurai shogi? I think the Japanese would go absolutely mental.
And, well, here it is. Samurai shogi takes inspiration from two variants: musketeer chess, and okisaki shogi, which introduces the chess queen and knight to the shogi board. I'm not a huge fan of okisaki, because I think that the queen and knights upset the balance of material strength, and while the golds and silvers still hold some significance, they just aren't as important as they are in shogi. But, I liked the idea of introducing pieces that were between/greater than the values of the bishop and rook, so I decided to tone it down a little bit.



The setup of samurai shogi is just like the setup of regular shogi but on a 10x10 board (the black side is promoted just for the sake of showing their sprites). This size increase affects the speed of the generals, and the race to mate in the endgame. You can see that the square adjacent to each king is empty; before a game of samurai shogi begins, Sente chooses one piece from a pool of six to add to the game:

  • The Platinum General (白金将/白/PG): Moves as a king, but is not subject to check or mate. Promotes to the Promoted Platinum (成白/首1/+PG), which moves as a platinum, a knight, or jumps 2 squares diagonally forwards
  • The Jumping Horse2 (跳馬/跳/H): Moves as a chess knight. Promotes to Horse General (駒将/駒/+H), which moves as a Horse or 1 square orthogonally.
  • The Drunk Elephant (醉象/醉/E): Moves as a king, but cannot go directly backwards. Promotes to the Prince (太子/太/+E), which moves as a king. The Prince counts as a second king, and must be captured to win, if present.
  • The Gold Chariot (金車/3/GC): Moves an unlimited number of squares as a gold general. Does not promote.
  • The Silver Chariot (銀車/3/SC): Moves an unlimited number of squares as a silver general. Does not promote.
  • The Samurai (武士/武/SA): Moves 1 square orthogonally or jumps 2 squares diagonally. This is the move of the phoenix in larger shogi variants. Promotes to Daimyo (大名/大/+SA), which moves as a samurai or jumps 2 squares orthogonally. This is the move of the champion from omega chess.
Here are the moves, in spoilers (unpromoted on left, promoted on right):

Spoiler: Platinum General (hover to show)
Spoiler: Jumping Horse (hover to show)
Spoiler: Drunk Elephant (hover to show)
Spoiler: Gold Chariot (hover to show)
Spoiler: Silver Chariot (hover to show)
Spoiler: Samurai (hover to show)

HOWEVER. Gote has the power to refute sente's choice. When sente chooses the piece, gote can respond with either はい (hai/yes, I agree), or ノー (no/no, I disagree). If gote refuses sente's choice, the samurai will be used as a default. If the samurai is the piece being refuted, the platinum general. Players then place the selected pieces next to their kings, remove the other extra pieces from play, and the game begins.

DROPS

It seems unusual that in larger shogi variants, the iconic drop rule is all but absent. Experiments with these variants have shown that incorporating drops make many of the weaker pieces innocent bystanders as the more powerful pieces are constantly dropped back onto the board.
Samurai shogi, however, features shogi's drop rule, and for sake of clarification I will explain drops here.
With the exception of the prince, captured pieces are not removed from play. Instead, they go into your hand. If you have pieces in your hand, instead of making a move, you can drop a piece from your hand back onto any unoccupied square of the board as your own! There are a few exceptions to this, however:
  • You cannot drop a pawn to give checkmate.
  • You cannot drop a piece where it would be stuck for the rest of the game, i.e. you can't drop a pawn/lance on your last rank, or a knight on your second of last rank, because they can't go anywhere.
  • You cannot drop a pawn on a file that already contains one of your pawns.
  • (for sake of reiteration) Princes cannot be dropped, they are removed from play entirely. Drunken elephants, however, can be captured and dropped as normal.

Drops drastically increase the complexity of shogi (and any variant, for that matter). Don't be fooled, though - samurai shogi, with its extra major piece and bigger board, is drastically different from vanilla shogi.
A 9x9 variant is possible with the extra piece being placed anywhere on the second rank of your camp, but all the same, the extra piece means that not only does a lot of Ranging Rook theory need rewriting, but Static Rook suffers as well. Anyone who has an intimate knowledge of shogi will be able to identify all the things that you break with the addition of these things. But hey, that's chess variants for you.

Other rules are exactly identical to that of shogi: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shogi for more info.

1 - I'm cheating a little bit here. This character means chief, one who leads, etc. but it bears resemblence to 白, so it shall be used in its place.
2 - Originally 'white horse,' but to avoid confusion with the white horse in chu shogi, and the fact that another piece has 白 in its name, I changed it to the name used for the knight used in okisaki shogi. This allows for 2 unique characters that can be used to notate this piece in traditional Japanese notation.
3 - Yeah, I couldn't find a character for these guys. I don't know if in larger shogi variants people have to write both characters to notate which piece is being moved (due to the large variety of pieces), but I hope this isn't too jarring for people who use traditional notation.

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