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Messages - HGMuller

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1
Constructing Homemade Sets / Re: An eclectic chess variant set
« on: February 10, 2020, 03:34:04 am »
Are you aware of the Superchess pieces? ( https://superchess.nl/indexengels.htm , click on ' available pieces' in the left-marginal menu)

e.g.


2
General Discussion / Test thread for new forum features
« on: June 16, 2019, 03:08:56 am »
This tests whether the 'diag' tags are recognized:

[diag]This text is in diag tags[/diag]

If so, it should appear green

3
General Discussion / Re: IS THE CHESS VARIANT FORUM DEAD?
« on: October 10, 2018, 08:55:00 am »
HGMuller I have made you a temporary admin to insert the code. Thanks so much!
Unfortunately this seems not to have worked. I am 'global moderator' now, which probably means I can edit other people's postings, but I have no access to the admin control panel where I could change the looks of this forum.

In the mean time I developed a server-side CGI program that can render pieces and whole-board images from SVG image files for the pieces. (This type of graphics is scalable without loss of image quality, so the user can request any size he wants.) This produces images that are static on the client-side; to have anything interactive there you really would have to embed a JavaScript program in the forum pages, which could then run client-side. But the latter is non-standard, while the forum does allow to embed images.

So let me try if it also allows embedding of images from a CGI 'script':



[Edit] It seems to work, but not very reliably. Sometimes the image does not appear, and I have to refresh the page with Shift pressed to make it appear.

What I had to do to get the image is put the URL

http://winboard.nl/my-cgi/fen.cgi?f=tyevxkoeyt/llllllllll/10/10/10/10/PPPPPPPPPP/RNBAQKDBNR

into my posting, and put img tags around it. So one just has to specify the FEN of the desired position after the 'f=' CGI argument. And know what letter to use for which fairy piece.

4
General Discussion / Re: IS THE CHESS VARIANT FORUM DEAD?
« on: October 03, 2018, 08:31:54 am »
Yes, the forum is totally dead. The initial activity might have seemed large, but it was due to very few people. When you were not offering something they could not do just as well or better (and for a larger audience) elsewhere, they left. It takes effort to keep people returning to a forum, you need to offer them something that makes it worthwile. This could be a large and active community, giving fast and knowledgeable response to your postings, but initially you won't have that. When the technical possibilities of the forum then also are inferior to what is offered elsewhere (no support for diagrams or games as chess.com has, upload quota saturated, making it extremely cumbersome to show images), there is no incentive to stay here.

As to having diagrams: the technical support for this forum hosting site ensured me this would be possible, and in fact rather easy. The catch is that you have to be forum admin to do it. I have done a similar thing on www.talkchess.com , where, after an upgrade to phpBB 3 they had lost the old functionality for embedding diagrams. But there they were willing to let me become a board admin, so that I could perform the necessary actions (defining 'custom BBcode tags', and put some text in the header of forum pages). I can only make a difference when people allow me to make a difference...

5
Variant Theory / Kyoto Shogi: theoretical win for sente?
« on: July 30, 2018, 10:42:48 am »
Kyoto Shogi is a very peculiar chess variant, because the pieces change identity every time you move them. E.g. a Rook turns into a Pawn, and when the Pawn moves it turns again back into a Rook. Similarly a Gold General toggles to Knight, a Silver General to Bishop, and a Tokin (which also moves as Gold) to Lance. Only the King always remains itself. A weird property of the game is that pieces can get stuck (i.e. left without moves) when they advance too far, and that for some pieces this cannot be avoided: in Shogi a Knight always moves two ranks forward, and the Gold it morphs to then can at most move one rank back. A Tokin on last rank can stay alive arbitrarily may moves, but only if it moves back an forth (the latter as Lance) betwee two squares, which also isn't very useful.

For this reason the value of pieces is very much dependent on their location on the board. A Knight on the forelast rank (which has no moves) might even have negative value, as the enemy King can shelter behind it, and it would bind one of your other pieces to keep it protected against being taken by that King (which would give him the piece in hand).

I taught my engine CrazyWa (which was really designed to play Wa Shogi on an 11x11 board with 31 piece types) to play this game. I used hand-picked piece-value guestimates, so there is no guarantee its evaluation is very accurate. But when I use it to analyze the start position, it sees a big advantage for the sente player. When I analyze the positions to which the suggested moves lead, this advantage grows even more. This is indicative of a won position.

For CrazyWa the value of a piece in hand is slightly over 3. (It doesn't matter very much which piece; in hand they are about equally useful.) I could easily find lines of play for sente against any possible defense that would lead to a position that would analyze as above +6. Now I am working on demonstrating that from each of these positions an analysis score above +9 can be forced against any defense. Even if the scores given by CrazyWa are not very accurate, +9 must be way beyon the threashol for a certain win.

6
General Discussion / Re: Should this Forum have an Off-Topic section?
« on: June 12, 2018, 01:44:05 pm »
You can already do that. In zillions of places on the net. Just don't do it here...

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General Discussion / Re: Should this Forum have an Off-Topic section?
« on: June 11, 2018, 01:34:25 pm »
What good would it do to have a thousand off-topic posts? They have zero benefit for the chess-variants section. And they would just eat away resources (like bandwidth and space for uploaded files) from the things that matter.

8
I don't see how multiple moves per turn shortens the game. It will decrease the number of turns, for sure, but you still have to make all the moves. It only changes the order of the moves.

If you have very many pieces, it seems a big problem to have them all participate in a meaningful way, and still keep a reasonable game duration.

9
Variant Theory / Re: Design Considerations for Very Large Games?
« on: April 25, 2018, 04:00:26 am »
About Tenjiku Shogi:

As it happens I am currently participating in a Tenjiku-Shogi correspondence competition, on the gamerz.net PBeM server. (Time control: 120 days sudden death.) I have heard that the average length of all games played there is 6 moves. This of course is mainly because player strength wildly differ, and most people do not know any opening theory. I won one game there in 2 moves (3 half-moves), as the opponent (a novice) failed to deal with the mate threat I brought to bear with my first move (although this is the most-common opening move). This is a bit like fool's mate in Chess, but the difference is that for fool's mate the opponent has to do two really poor moves out of many, while in Tenjiku you just have to not do the only move that will prevent it.

All games can be seen on http://www.gamerz.net/pbmserv/List.php?TenjikuShogi ; For a more typical game between players with some experience, see game 2010 and 2015. (Unfortunately even the 'western' representation of the pieces is awful; a Rook is not even depicted as a Rook, but as some silly military insigne.) Those games were won by checkmate in 14 and 10 (full) moves, respectively. The opening phase of Modern Tenjiku Shogi is like a mine field; in many positions there are only 1 to 3 playable moves, and any other move loses the game quickly. Even experienced players make mistakes; in my game against 'kokosz' (last year's champion), game 2039, we both overlooked a mate-in-3, and then a mate-in-2 threat until kokosz finally spotted it, and I was mated on move 24. Between good players, which do not grossly blunder, games can be long. Last year kokosz took 115 moves to beat my AI (game 1903), and 63 moves to beat me (game 1885). This year's game between kokosz and my AI (game 2047) is already going on for 45 moves, and although the AI thinks it is leading, by about two Queens, the game is long from being decided. (The pieces that can cause breakthroughs, i.e. Fire Demons and jumping generals, have all been traded, so now the main breakthrough event will be promotion of one of the Water Buffaloes to Fire Demon.)

About multi-moving:

I see what you mean with the short-range pieces, an I am of course aware of your great invention 'Chieftain Chess'. But if the range of the pieces and activators really factorizes the game into inependent sub-games, it really makes very little difference whether you allow a player to move in all of the sub-games, or just in one at the time.

Perhaps this is just a matter of taste, but I don't consider factorization into sub-games a very attractive trait. Why have a large game if they are really just a number of indepenent small games? Furthermore, trying to force the factorization by board zoning fails in the presence of long-range sliders, and factorization through activator pieces (as in Chieftain Chess) seems to encourage contracting the entire army to be in range of all activator pieces at once, so that in practice it becomes an unrestricted multi-move game. (Perhaps the need to defend a promotion zone can counteract this.)

What I mainly worry about is how non-factorize multi-moving affects tactics; there seems to be no viable defense against many pieces ganging up on you. This woul make the game degenerate into a 'capture as much as you can' game, as on the next turn you would lose the material anyway. This doesn't really require much planning, and loses the subtleties normally involved in playing Chess. You have this in Progressive Chess, which really is a poor game IMO.

Perhaps multi-move games work well if the moves are non-captures, and making a capture ends your turn. (Just as delivering check in Marseillais Chess ends your turn.)

10
Variant Theory / Re: Design Considerations for Very Large Games?
« on: April 24, 2018, 01:33:18 pm »
I don't like multiple moves per turn very much as a matter of principle. Turns are an artifact in the first place; in real life time elapses continuously, and adversaries do their thing simultaneously. Alternating single moves is the closest approximation you can get to that if you don't want the game to emphasize dexterity, rather than mental ability.

Games on large boards tend to 'factorize' in nearly independent sub-games anyway, and it makes very little difference if you would play these sub-games simultneously (doing a move in all of them in a single turn), or just play them out one after the other. The latter is more orderly. If I would make a Chess variant that is just 8 orthodox Chess games in parallel, where both players are playing as if it were a simul, would that really add anything? If the players were allowed only one move on a board of their choice, before the opponent could do the same, it seems much more interesting. Forcing players to think about many unrelated things at once is just annoying.

Castling is a multi-move, but a 'coherent' multi-move, which serves a single plan. You could also say that from Pawn double-pushes, which are basically two moves with the same piece. Such moves speed up the game, without creating a distraction. So I think such moves are OK. This is why I proposed a 'transporter piece' in the 50x50 thread, which could carry a bunch of slow pieces all at once over a large distance, again something that has a well-defined coherent goal. But a big time saver in achieving such a goal.

I am not sure if large games necessarily have to be games of attrition. Look at Modern Tenjiku Shogi. Because the jumping generals can check there, and the King starts badly suffocated, breakthroughs there can occur from the very beginning, and in fact are very common. I guess the trick is basically that Tenjiku Shogi is a game of 'levels', higher ranked generals living in more sparsely populated levels where they fly over all lower-ranked pieces. This way the board is both sparsely and densely populated at the same time, and the breakthroughs can take place on the sparse level. When the game progresses without a breakthrough, the sparse levels become empty levels, and the next-most populated level becomes the sparse one, and breakthroughs are now possible there. I guess this idea could be implemented in a more balanced way as in Tenjiku, where there are only 4 levels, and the upper two levels are only populated by a single piece (per player).

In a way this reflects the dynamics in orthodox Chess, where pieces do not really fly over each other, but where sliders 'fly' in between the other pieces. Presence of Queens provides a good opportunity for an early mate. Once the Queens get traded, and the board population thins, Rooks start to dominate the show. When these cannot finish off the game, it is up to the minors to battle it out, and finally the Pawns.

I think lengthy games get very boring when there is no chance to finish the opponent off quickly after having acquired an obviously decisive advantage.

[edit] Rather than introducing a 'ranking' to decide which pieces can jump over which others, you could create more powerful pieces than ordinary sliders by allowing the distant moves to jump over a limited number of pieces. E.g. a Queen is strong on a large board, but a piece that moves like a Queen but can optionally jump over a single piece (QpQ in Betza notation) is even stronger. If a game starts with, say, 5 filled ranks of pieces, the King cowering somewhere in the back, you could include some sliders that can jump over (up to) 3 pieces, their aim only falling just short of the back rank. An then you would have a larger set of sliders that can jump up to 2 pieces, etc. The numbers should be tuned such that there typically are enough deeply penetrating sliders to provide an realistic opportunity for a checkmate at any stage of the game.

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General Discussion / Re: Should this Forum have an Off-Topic section?
« on: April 18, 2018, 04:00:01 am »
Orthodox Chess is a variant of Chess (known as the Mad Queen variant).

12
The status is "no progress, and not being worked on". Creating this possibility requires an action of the board admin.

13
If such a rule can be developed where players are asked to name a theoretical number, and the moves can be predicted by player's intentions, wouldn't it just be easier to call the game result right away? (i.e. don't make a rule where players are required to communicate with each other and name theortical figures to call a draw. Just call the draw).
Wouldn't it be easier still to declare the game a draw in the start position? Then they wouldn't have to play at all!

The purpose is not to make rules that are easy, but rules that are good. And arbitrarily declaring a draw in a position that is a forced win is just badly interfering with the spirit of the game.

The point is that people would only 'call out' a number when they intend to break the pattern at some point, because if they don't they will eventually reach that number of repeats and (according to te proposed rule) forfeit. So if a forced win is possible, it would never get out of reach, no matter how many pseudo-repeats are needed to execute the winning plan.

A famous situation in infinite chess is when there is an unavoidable mate threat against you, but you can stall by checking with a Rook from a distance. Eventually that will not work, because the checked King will steadily walk towards the checking Rook (which is supposed to be unprotected), so that the latter evantually will have to refrain from checking or get captured (after which the mate unrolls). But by deciding how much distance the Rook will take on the initial move, the number of moves needed to break out of the checking can be made arbitrarily high. This is the famous 'mate-in-infinite'.

Many of the problems you mention with duration are intrinsic to having an infinite board. But the rule I proposed solves many of them. If in the Rook-checking example the defending player moves the Rook 1000 squares away, the King would need 1000 moves to reach it to break the checking. Allowing the King to move there in one step, based on the pseudo-repeat rule (where the King is the only translating piece) would be a great time saver.

 As I explained, no communication is required by this. Just move the King next to the Rook from the pseudo-repeated position.

14
Verbal communication is usual for draw offers, and repeating positions is equivalent to an automatic non-verbal draw offer, which the opponent can take (= claim), or decline. So it doesn't seem very much out of line with existing custom to allow a player to explicitly state that a 'pseudo-repeat' is NOT a draw offer (so it cannot be claimed). OTOH, this is sort of implied by the fact that he does not claim the draw himself.

It seems that between non-malicious players no rule is needed at all; if one of the players can force a draw this way, and expresses his intention to do so by offering a draw, the other would sooner or later see there is no way avoiding the draw, and accept. So a rule would only have to address the problem of a malicious player, which insists on prolonging the game forever without a chance of winning. The type of player that doesn't resign in a lost position, but just abandons the game, forcing the opponent to wait out the time forfeit out of spite.

Making a rule that specifies an automatic draw will alter the game result for non-malicious players, in some cases. In general, I think that this is too high a price for dealing with malicious players; a good rule would only penalize the latter, without affecting the former. A player should always be allowed to play on if something is to be achieved, within the limits of the 50-move rule. (And even the latter is dubious on an infinite board.) To prevent abuse of that right, it seems reasonable to force a player that wants to exercise it to mention how many more pseudo-repeats he needs before he is going to break the pattern, and penalize him by a loss instead of a draw when he pseudo-repeats the position after that. This still would allow the possibility of abuse, by mentioning an impossibly large number, say a billion. But this can be solved by allowing the game to 'fast-forward' the number of mentioned repeats, and continue from there. This would in fact be a rule that would also benefit normal play.

A draw offer in a pseudo-repeat position can be seen as expressing the intent to keep repeating forever. The opponent can then decline, (like usual for draw offers), but in the case of a pseudo-repeat he must decline by mentioning a number. (Which then puts a limit on how often he can keep pseudo-repeating that position without forfeiting.) Or by doing a move silently, implying the number 0 (i.e. not being allowed any future pseudo-repeats of the position). When he mentioned a number he must then move the translating group of pseudo-repeating pieces by the mentioned number of steps before pressing the clock, and the game will continue from there with any further pseudo-repeat of the position now being a loss for him. In fact there is no verbal communication needed at all, as the declining player shows on the board how often he intends to repeat, by moving the translating sub-set of pieces.

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General Discussion / Re: POLL: Off Topic Section?
« on: April 14, 2018, 12:43:11 am »
No

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