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Even Chess

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Steve Brown:
Imagine a duel between Adam and Bart, who stand a hundred feet apart and take turns shooting at each other. Adam wins a coin toss and shoots first. He has the advantage of the first shot because if he kills Bart, he has had one more chance than Bart had to kill his opponent. If Bart could somehow take a shot at Adam after being killed, the duel would be fought on even terms. An analogous situation exists with chess. If white checkmates black, the game is over, and the number of moves white has played exceeds the number of moves black has played by one. If a game ends with "20 Qg7 mate ...", white has moved 20 times and black has moved 19 times. White has the advantage of the first move. This does not mean that chess is inherently unfair, because in a match or tournament, players alternate playing white and black. I devised a variant named Even Chess so that a single game can be played on more even terms, not to make chess more fair but to modify the game in new and interesting ways. Even Chess allows black to develop more aggressively in the opening and to have less reluctance to counter-attack, instead of defend, when under attack by white.

Even Chess is played as orthodox chess but with a few changes to the rules. The first is that the game ends only after both players have made the same number of moves. Instead of checkmate, the object is to capture the opponent's king. The game ends after black's move when one or both kings have been captured. If both kings are captured, the result is a draw. A player is not required to get out of check but may respond to a check on his king by placing the opponent's king in check, or by making some other move. For example, if white places the black king in check, black may respond by placing the white king in check. If white then captures the black king, black may capture the white king, and the game is a draw. White can avoid the draw by getting his king out of check, leaving the black king in check. Then if black does not get out of check, white may capture the black king and wins if black does not then capture the white king. Exposing one's own king to check, or leaving it exposed to check, is a legal move. In the case where white responds to a check on his king by checking the black king or making some other move, he loses immediately if black then captures the white king. In Even Chess, it is possible to blunder into a loss by overlooking a check on one's own king and making a move that does not parry the check. Announcing "check" is not required but may be done as a courtesy. 

Another rule concerns castling. In orthodox chess, a player may not castle out of check. In the opening, an important consideration is to castle before losing the right to castle because of a check. Losing that right can inflict serious weakness in the player's position. Playing one move behind white, black is more susceptible to losing the right to castle, so has to attend to king safety more diligently than white. That gives white an edge in developing his pieces in the opening. In Even Chess, that edge is countered by the rule that black, but not white, may castle out of check or move the black king over a square attacked by white. That gives black more latitude to counter white's development in the opening, and it opens new territory for opening lines to be explored.

Do the rules make Even Chess an equal game? That can be debated and tested. Moving first is also an advantage in terms of capturing material, because when white captures a piece, black has one less piece with which to capture a white piece on the same move. However, the rules may be adequate to compensate black for that advantage.

John_Lewis:
King's Capture rules are not new, but this is the first time I have seen Black given the chance to move an extra turn at the end of the game as a way to reduce the first move advantage.

Further, the right to castle out of check or through check dynamically changes how the game is played and is interesting in its own right... does it result in parity for black and white.

I find the ideas both fascinating. However I fear they will not compensate for White's initiative with their first move.

Perhaps restrict White so that their first move may NOT be a two space pawn move? With this addition you might reach parity. However you'd need a computer to test by playing millions of games.

Steve Brown:

--- Quote from: John_Lewis on April 23, 2018, 06:34:09 pm ---King's Capture rules are not new, but this is the first time I have seen Black given the chance to move an extra turn at the end of the game as a way to reduce the first move advantage.

--- End quote ---

Of course, black's guaranteed final move is "extra" only in the sense of equalizing the number of moves for white and black.


--- Quote from: John_Lewis on April 23, 2018, 06:34:09 pm ---
I find the ideas both fascinating. However I fear they will not compensate for White's initiative with their first move.

--- End quote ---

I thought of naming the variant "Equal Chess," but the goal is not absolute parity but to give black more latitude to develop aggressively and more incentive to counterattack.


--- Quote from: John_Lewis on April 23, 2018, 06:34:09 pm ---Perhaps restrict White so that their first move may NOT be a two space pawn move? With this addition you might reach parity. However you'd need a computer to test by playing millions of games.

--- End quote ---

Adding that to the existing rules could hand black an advantage,  ;D
but that could be a rule in a different variant.

John_Lewis:

--- Quote from: Steve Brown on April 23, 2018, 07:56:27 pm ---

--- Quote from: John_Lewis on April 23, 2018, 06:34:09 pm ---Perhaps restrict White so that their first move may NOT be a two space pawn move? With this addition you might reach parity. However you'd need a computer to test by playing millions of games.

--- End quote ---

Adding that to the existing rules could hand black an advantage,  ;D
but that could be a rule in a different variant.

--- End quote ---

Then maybe that's the only rule you need... again, you'd need to test with something like LeelaZero.

Steve Brown:

--- Quote from: John_Lewis on April 23, 2018, 09:37:56 pm ---Then maybe that's the only rule you need... again, you'd need to test with something like LeelaZero.

--- End quote ---

Restricting white's first pawn move to a one-square move is a radical departure from orthodox chess in the opening phase of the game. The intent of Even Chess is to be like orthodox chess, but more even, not necessarily an equal game. Feel free to create a variant with any rules and any name you like.  You would need a computer to play millions of games to ascertain if equality is attained.

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