Author Topic: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess  (Read 106 times)

John_Lewis

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One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« on: January 20, 2018, 01:59:19 am »
The rules are deceptively simple and were invented by children playing for the joy of playing.

http://www.blankchess.com/

Rules in a nutshell:
1. Start with an empty board. The board is divided into two sides of four rows.
2. Each player starts the game by placing their King on any square on their side as their first move.
3. Play continues with the option to drop an unplayed piece on your side of the board, move, or capture as in normal chess.
4. We played with King Capture as the victory condition, but Checkmate works equally well.

The elegance of the game is obvious if you try a round (as with all variants, you should try it before you make claims, right?) I've played many games with my children and I've enjoyed it much more than playing standard Chess with them. The games are dynamic, fast paced and often surprising. It doesn't require extra pieces or a special board!

For face to face Chess Variants, it's probably my favorite.

I'm curious if anyone else here has played and of course I'm eager to hear people's thoughts on such a novel idea.

Two notes:
  • If you are not playing King Capture, the second player may not place their King into check on their first move. This is theoretically possible if a player placed their King on the far edge of the board, giving them attacking squares on the opponents half.
  • The rules are a bit vague about placing Bishops on opposite colors when you drop them. While it's not outright forbidden in the rules, they seem to suggest it complicates things. We have played hundreds of games and prefer allowing players to place on any square, but that's our preference.

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McGoohan

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2018, 07:12:42 am »
I really like the idea and will try this next Friday with a friend OTB.
One question: May a Pawn be used on the baseline, even though he can never be there in the FIDE Chess?
And what would be the rules for the pawn after that? d8-d7 and then d7-d5 possible?
Or d8-d6?

John_Lewis

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2018, 10:43:59 am »
I really like the idea and will try this next Friday with a friend OTB.
One question: May a Pawn be used on the baseline, even though he can never be there in the FIDE Chess?
And what would be the rules for the pawn after that? d8-d7 and then d7-d5 possible?
Or d8-d6?

  • Pawns can be placed on the first rank although this rarely is required with the exception of a desperation block.
  • You may not move your pawn two spaces and there is also, therefore, no en passant.

Would love to hear if you enjoy the game.

McGoohan

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2018, 11:40:23 am »
A pawn inserted on the 2nd (or 7th line) can not move directly to the 4th (or 5th) line either?

John_Lewis

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2018, 02:30:37 pm »
A pawn inserted on the 2nd (or 7th line) can not move directly to the 4th (or 5th) line either?

Correct. No two space moves for pawns, regardless where they are located or drop.

elephant

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2018, 04:17:47 pm »
Have never heard of this variant, though does seem second player has a big advantage i will have to try it out

John_Lewis

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2018, 05:48:23 pm »
Have never heard of this variant, though does seem second player has a big advantage i will have to try it out

It seems paradoxical that this would give the second player enough of an advantage, but it really depends on where the players place their Kings and if they go for an attacking strategy or a defensive strategy. A first player can immediately put his opponent in check by placing a slider. Since you can't capture the second dropped piece, you have to either move your King or interpose by dropping something next to your King. The interplay is interesting because there comes a moment where the attacking can't be sustained and a counter attack can happen... how the second player places their defending pieces shapes the counter attack.

Greg Strong

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2018, 09:48:24 pm »
Interesting.  This game would be pretty resistant to computer play at least in the opening because the branching factor is so large.  For white's first move, there are 40 options.  For white's second move, there are 195 options!  It would require some special techniques to achieve any respectable depth, probably very similar to what is done in Shogi engines.

John_Lewis

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2018, 10:14:35 pm »
Agreed! I think the fact that this game will likely not be studied by computers any time soon and the branching structure of the moves exploding so quickly in the early game probably make it one of the most expansive variants around.

Now I have to check your math...

First move 32 moves.
Second move ~32 moves (it's possible that the opposing King was placed on the 4th rank, removing up to 3 squares.)

Code: [Select]
((3*8)*(4*8) + (6 * 5) + (2 * 6)) / 2  = 405 (The division by 2 is to remove mirrored positions.)

Code: [Select]
(((64/2)-1)*5) + 8 (Half the board, minus one space where the King sits, one of 5 pieces -OR- moving the King is also still an option... in this case I didn't bother do go all the way out to remove illegal moved for the King.) Maybe I'll do that in the morning.

Slightly less than:
405 * 35 = 14175 moves for white on the third move.

Strangely, the number may narrow significantly for Black's second move, based on if the placed piece by White put the Black King in Check.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2018, 10:22:43 pm by John_Lewis »

Greg Strong

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Re: One of my favorite Variants: Blank Chess
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2018, 11:51:48 am »
Yes, you are correct, for some reason I was thinking of an 80-square board