Author Topic: Variant - Pope's Chess  (Read 140 times)

Yuryavic

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Variant - Pope's Chess
« on: February 10, 2018, 09:33:31 pm »
Hello,

This is a variant I created myself.

I have been enamored with the game of Chess. It is the product of many years of refinement and it is after those many years of trial and error that the modern game of Chess has evolved. As a product of years, and greater minds then myself, it is a very highly regarded game, and yet, I still want to make the ambitious attempt to make it better.

I originally shared the rules for the game on reddit /r/chessvariants a couple of years ago

https://www.reddit.com/r/chessvariants/comments/2xutys/new_variant_popes_chess/

I am restating the rules while also including more of the theory behind my decisions and the rule set.

THEORY

To make changes without including the reason for those changes, is a bit chaotic and makes the changes easily dismissed. So I will begin with the problems I see in modern Chess before describing my remedy. Each of these problems will be resolved with my changes after all problems are outlined.

  • Chess can end in a draw
    Any game which can end with no winner has a problem. If you just spent all that time going head-to-head and ending up drawing you have wasted your time. Yes, you saw two closely matched individuals vying for dominance and displaying their equal footing, but ultimately you are dissatisfied. Draws are nice because there is no loser. But when it comes down to it we want and need a victor. We want the cold pangs of death to sound and a dominant victor arising in the end. Even if both parties do tie they don't end the whole competition that way. They continue to battle it out until one stands victorious over the other.

    Chess needs a winner and a loser. No more draws.

  • White has 1st turn advantage.
    Especially considering Draws are no longer possible. It is very important to remove any unfair advantages that either player has. Statistically (varying depending on time of statistics taken), White wins roughly 55% of games played. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-move_advantage_in_chess This favoring of one over the other just isn't fair. To phrase it another way: Black is always playing catch-up. White moves then Blacks catches up.  55 moves in White make their 56th move and only then does Black make their 56th move. Black is eternally attempting to catch up and never moves ahead. While White is always ahead and never behind.

    Chess needs to get rid of 1st-turn advantage.

  • Movement isn't harmonious
    Okay this is more subjective, but some pieces are not meshing well with the rest of the game or are built up on rules to hide weaknesses in the game. In the clearest order: The Queen is too powerful/important, the Bishops are stuck on single color/cannot reach all squares, Pawns have a special 2-square move, & Castling is a special move for 2 pieces.

    The Queen holds too much power on the board. Where the Queen is, is also where your chance of winning is. This is not entirely bad, but I believe the game can get deeper if most of the game play doesn't revolve around one piece.

    If a piece like the Bishop is stuck to only half of the available squares it isn't a good thing. Now an early predecessor to the Bishop, the Elephant actually had it worse, being stuck to just 8 of 64 squares. Neither of these is good and so should be addressed.

    The very fact of pieces having special rules only hampers a game's cohesiveness. Optimally there should be a consistent rule for all piece's movement that doesn't change depending on the square a piece is on. The Pawn, King & Rook each have special movement rules and should be addressed. Now I do think that the Pawn's promotion rule should be kept as it is a reward for reaching the end, and not just a way to speed up the opening game as with the 2-square move, or to make it easier to hide a King as with Castling (although you'll see that with changes that this is also not even needed).

    Pieces should be fit for the game and consistent.



RULES/CHANGES FROM generic Chess

Now we have a similar starting point, here are the changes I have to fix the above issues. Note I'm listing them in reverse order from above, and bolded the individual changes

  • I've given the Queen and Bishop new movement rules (same pieces, but new names and patterns). I've also removed the special movement rule of Castling, and Pawns only ever move 1 square never 2.

    The Queen is replaced by the Pope. The Pope combines the movement rules of the Bishop and the King. This means it can move 1 square in any direction and also run along the diagonals. There is overlap with those two definitions, so it can also be worded as 1 square on the orthogonality, and runs along the diagonals. However, it is probably easiest to describe using the 1st definition of King & Bishop. I've found its value just slightly higher than a Rook, but that value fades in the endgame.

    The Bishop is replaced by the Cardinal. The Cardinal walks one square on the orthogonality like the Pope and can jump akin to the Elephant: to the 2nd square on the diagonal. This leaves the a piece similar in strength to the Knight that has influence on a maximum of 8 squares. Its movement is hardly as graceful and is a bit more brutish. But I find it effective nevertheless.

    Castling and the Pawn's opening double move are removed.

  • To remove 1st-turn advantage each player now moves two pieces a turn except for the very first turn in which the 1st player, white, only moves once. This is so the player with the higher turn count is always switching. On turn 1 White moves once and then Black moves twice, then White moves twice for a total of 3. This flip-flop happens until the game is resolved. Neither player has an extended advantage. While this may come out to a slight advantage for one side I am not capable of deciphering which. As far as I can tell it is equal.

    Now just as a note, you must move two separate pieces, one at a time. Not one piece twice or the two pieces through each other. Each move in turn must be legal.

  • Finally with the above changes the victory conditions have also changed. Instead of playing to mate the opposing King, you play to achieve one or more of the following conditions, in order:
    • Capture the opposing King
    • Force the opponent to be unable to legally finish a turn
    • Move your King to your opponent's base row.

    When these interfere with each other, the order declares winner. So...
    Anytime you can take your opponent's King, even if you cannot move a second time, you still win.
    Even if you can move your King to your opponent's base row, if you can't also move a second piece to finish your turn, you lose.


My experience playing with these rules creates a different paced game then regular Chess. Because of the differences, pushing Pawns ahead to gain ground is paramount. Actually capturing the King is quite hard with the double move, so it is more a fight to push your King forward without losing pieces, instead of grabbing ground from which to strike at the opposing King. I do think it has more depth than regular Chess although it moves a bit slower. I definitely recommend giving it a try and I would love to hear your thoughts and criticisms.

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John_Lewis

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Re: Variant - Pope's Chess
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2018, 03:35:20 pm »
I find your solution to these problems fascinating. I agree with your assessment and have even created variants to address the exact same problems, but they didn't involve creating new pieces, rather I removed rules from Orthodox Chess until I had a simple version of chess.

Do you have example games of Pope Chess?

Greg Strong

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Re: Variant - Pope's Chess
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2018, 07:56:50 pm »
Just to note, your two new pieces, the Pope and Cardinal come from historic Shogi games.  The Pope is a promoted bishop in modern Shogi and is called a Dragon Horse.  The Cardinal is from Chu Shogi and is called a Phoenix (also present in Chess with Different Armies where Betza called it a "Waffle", but I use "Phoenix" instead.)  The name "Cardinal" usually refers to a Bishop + Knight compound as in Grand Chess.  I am not familiar with the name "Pope" being used before.

Yuryavic

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Re: Variant - Pope's Chess
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2018, 10:44:38 pm »
Just to note, your two new pieces, the Pope and Cardinal come from historic Shogi games.  The Pope is a promoted bishop in modern Shogi and is called a Dragon Horse.  The Cardinal is from Chu Shogi and is called a Phoenix (also present in Chess with Different Armies where Betza called it a "Waffle", but I use "Phoenix" instead.)  The name "Cardinal" usually refers to a Bishop + Knight compound as in Grand Chess.  I am not familiar with the name "Pope" being used before.

Yeah, I didn't think I was reinventing the wheel with the movement patterns. I did know the promoted Bishop moved like that in Shogi but I actually was inspired by this site:http://www.pathguy.com/chess/ChessVar.htm (needs Java enabled) for both the movement and name of the Pope. One or more of the variants on that site has a Pope piece that I basically borrowed for this.

Once I had decided on the Pope, my Bishop replacement thematically needed a church order name and Cardinal seemed best to fit. I've seen so many political maneuvers having Chess references that a Cardinal seemed best to fit the bill. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Schism in particular is the historical period that inspired the theme.


I find your solution to these problems fascinating. I agree with your assessment and have even created variants to address the exact same problems, but they didn't involve creating new pieces, rather I removed rules from Orthodox Chess until I had a simple version of chess.

Do you have example games of Pope Chess?

I tried without changing the Bishops and Queens, but the double move forces a more methodical advance of pieces. It is definitely different and I don't expect it to ever encompass Chess, but I do think it is objectively deeper. I find it much harder to plan ahead as there is so much more that can happen.

I recorded a game I recently played and I have the notation below:

  • e3 | f6, Cf7
  • Pf3, Ne2 | d6, c6
  • d3, Nc3 | d5, e6
  • Kd2, g3 | e5, Ce6
  • e4, Ce3 | d4, Kd7
  • Nd1, Cc5 | Na6, Pa5
  • Ca3, c3 | Ne7, R(a)c8
  • g4, h3 | h6, b6
  • b3, Ng3 | dxc3, c5
  • Ke3, Rc1 | Rc6, b5
  • Nxc3, Rg1 | Kd6, b4
  • Ca4, Nd5 | Pb5, R(c)c8
  • Nxe7, Nf5 | Kd7, C(e)xe7
  • h4, Ch3 | Rc7, Rd8
  • d4, R(g)d1 | exd4, Ke6
  • Kf4, Cg3 | c4, Rc5
  • g5, Pg4 | fxg5, Kf6
  • e6, hxg5 | Cxg5, Kg6
  • Nh4, Pf3 | Kh7, Rf8
  • Nf5, Pe4 | Cxf5, g6
  • Ke3, Pxd4 | Cg5, Cd5
  • Ke4, Pxc5 | Cxc5, c3
  • Cc2, Rd6 | C(c)e7, Nc5
  • Kd5, Ce4 | Nb7, Cf5
  • Rxg6, Rh1 | Cg5, Rd8
  • e6, Ke5 | Cxg6, Pe8
  • Cxg6, Kf6 | Pxg6, Cg5
  • Ke5, Re1 | Cf5, Rd6
  • Ke4, e7 | Ce5, Pxe4#

It was actually the first time it ended in the Capture of the King with someone not just giving up. Most of the time it ends with the King reaching the other side hence why both Kings were charging. (P is Pope, C is Cardinal; I still marked the end of game with # even though it isn't Mate)

ubersketch

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Re: Variant - Pope's Chess
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2018, 06:28:45 pm »
Weird, I was just making a Chess variant where I had a Wazir and Bishop compound called the Pope.  ???
Anyways, I made some Alfaerie graphics for it.

Of course, there's already graphics for the Cardinal.
 

"Okay now I can't stop staring at that alien crotch." ubersketch 2k17