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Subject: Nine and a Half New Checkers Variants rss

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Benedikt Rosenau
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hartunga wrote:
Its my experience that games with similiar structures will give rise to similiar innovations and mechanics.
Bright minds think alike, often leading to innovations being re-invented. I agree in general. Yet, the history of Checkers variants shows that many solutions against the death by draws have been found.

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Speaking of crowded - I wonder what you think of this. Every form of Checkers, whether it be International, Turkish, Anglo-American - even Harzdame - is set up so there are only two rows between the two sides. Therefore its quite possible for conflict to occur by just the second turn. I think this is a remnant from Alquerque, where the entire board is filled with pieces and only the center is left empty. So the focus is on jumping and capturing right from the start.

This is not the case. In Harzdame, there are three empty rows between the players, and it is part of the design.

There is a lot of variety of space between the ranks in the variants. Alquerque and relatives (Zamma, Fanorona) have the fewest. Lasca and Ossetian Checkers come next. Two ranks are the most common, as in your examples. Harzdame has three, as mentioned; Dameo has even more; and Thai Checkers sports four empty ranks. In their own way, the Checkers variants with a setup phase go even beyond this.

In my not so humble opinion, the quality of the game grows with the number of empty ranks. Take that with a grain of salt, however. For one, there is a limit in the usefulness of free rows, for another, there is more to the games anyhow. Yet, Thai Checkers were a revelation. One well known bane of Checkers is the number of draws. Another, often overlooked aspect - maybe because some people even like it - is the dependence on openings. Most Checkers game start with a small number of legal moves. Add forced capture and a small number of open ranks to that, and you get opening books with long lines that make your eyes water. In some variants, notably Lasca, there is little game beyond the opening preparation.

Thai Checkers just delete one rank of men, introduce a demoted king that helps against draws, and give it special capture capabilities in order to make up for the demotion. The result is Checkers in a nutshell - all of the specifics of the game are still there, in particular the usual balance between achieving breakthrough and avoiding zugzwang. Yet, there is far less dependence on prepared openings and much more how you set up the game yourself. Games tend to be fairly quick - around 20 moves - and decisive. One of my favorite Checkers variants at the time being.
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Chris Huntoon
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Zickzack wrote:
hartunga wrote:
Speaking of crowded - I wonder what you think of this. Every form of Checkers, whether it be International, Turkish, Anglo-American - even Harzdame - is set up so there are only two rows between the two sides. Therefore its quite possible for conflict to occur by just the second turn. I think this is a remnant from Alquerque, where the entire board is filled with pieces and only the center is left empty. So the focus is on jumping and capturing right from the start.

This is not the case. In Harzdame, there are three empty rows between the players, and it is part of the design.

There is a lot of variety of space between the ranks in the variants. Alquerque and relatives (Zamma, Fanorona) have the fewest. Lasca and Ossetian Checkers come next. Two ranks are the most common, as in your examples. Harzdame has three, as mentioned; Dameo has even more; and Thai Checkers sports four empty ranks. In their own way, the Checkers variants with a setup phase go even beyond this.


Shortly after writing that I realized my mistake and that Harzdame has three empty rows between the players. Sorry about that. But my basic point remains: that in Checkers the focus seems less on developing pieces and more on conflict right from the start.

Speaking about Dameo, I realized something recently. If you take the opening set up of Cherokee Checkers/Europa and look at it from a 45 degree angle, it is peaked high in the middle, but low on either side. This is roughly the same set up as Dameo and HexDame (which, despite it ostensibly being International Checkers transfered to a hexagonal board, is actually a form of orthogonal Checkers, not diagonal.)

In orthogonal Checkers it is possible to progress pieces along the outer columns (or, in this case, along the free corners) without - as Christian Freeling puts it - "entering the field." I was so used to this element in orthogonal Checkers, that I arranged the opening set up to suit it without consciously realizing it.


Quote:
Thai Checkers just delete one rank of men, introduce a demoted king that helps against draws, and give it special capture capabilities in order to make up for the demotion. The result is Checkers in a nutshell - all of the specifics of the game are still there, in particular the usual balance between achieving breakthrough and avoiding zugzwang. Yet, there is far less dependence on prepared openings and much more how you set up the game yourself. Games tend to be fairly quick - around 20 moves - and decisive. One of my favorite Checkers variants at the time being.


One thing I like about the demoted King in Thai Checkers is that it is consistent. Pieces always land on the space just beyond the piece being captured - whether they are Men or Kings. Unlike Killer Draughts, which only handicaps the King under a specific set of circumstances. So it becomes a rather obvious band-aid to a situation -addressing the symptoms rather than the underlying causes.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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I got a message to check this thread out, so I did. I don't have too much to comment here (not sure if people were awaiting any comment to me), but I do find it interesting that games develop certain ways, and their development has an impact on the future evolution of a game. Like in chess, the pawns got changed due to the Bishop and Queen going mad.

Anyhow, on another note, I ended up coming up with "Double Draughts" which I did years ago, pondering what happens if you double the number of pieces in the game, and the checkers are on both colors. Here is the entry, if anyone is interested:
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/102855/double-draughts

I found the King seemed best to become like a chess King, during promotion, unless another level of promotion is added. Well, carry on with the thread here....
 
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Chris Huntoon
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docreason wrote:
Anyhow, on another note, I ended up coming up with "Double Draughts" which I did years ago, pondering what happens if you double the number of pieces in the game, and the checkers are on both colors. Here is the entry, if anyone is interested:
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/102855/double-draughts


First, the bad news. Sorry to tell you this, but the game you describe already previously exists. It's called Gothic Checkers. It is actually one of the oldest form of Checkers known to exist and originates from Germany. The main difference between your Double Draughts and Gothic Checkers is that you have a third row and 24 pieces while Gothic Checkers has two rows and 16 pieces.

Now, the good news. Despite the fact that someone already came up with the same ideas - that doesn't take away from appreciating that these ideas of yours are still good. Making use of the entire board and combining orthogonal captures in with the diagonal game are both excellent concepts. Gothic Checkers is my favorite form of the "short" game precisely because of this.

Quote:
I found the King seemed best to become like a chess King, during promotion, unless another level of promotion is added. Well, carry on with the thread here....


Speaking of adding in another level of promotion, there is a game by David Parlett that does just that. It is called "Double-Cross". It is played the same as Anglo-American Checkers, except when a King reaches its own home rank it is crowned with a third piece and becomes a flying King.
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Benedikt Rosenau
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hartunga wrote:
First, the bad news. Sorry to tell you this, but the game you describe already previously exists. It's called Gothic Checkers. It is actually one of the oldest form of Checkers known to exist and originates from Germany.

The rules have been presented before indeed. They are quite similar to a Dutch game called Babylonic Checkers.

However, I do not believe the claim to the age of Gothic Checkers, unless somebody provides us with a contemporary - e.g. really old - source for the rules.
 
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Zickzack wrote:
hartunga wrote:
First, the bad news. Sorry to tell you this, but the game you describe already previously exists. It's called Gothic Checkers. It is actually one of the oldest form of Checkers known to exist and originates from Germany.

The rules have been presented before indeed. They are quite similar to a Dutch game called Babylonic Checkers.


Babylon Checkers is also known as Frisian Checkers. The main differences between Babylon Checkers and Gothic Checkers is that in Babylon the pieces are played on only a single color of the board and that the flying King is used.

Quote:
However, I do not believe the claim to the age of Gothic Checkers, unless somebody provides us with a contemporary - e.g. really old - source for the rules.


I tried going back and looking through my reference material, and you're right - I can't find an old source for the rules.

On a separate note, you might be interested to learn I'm developing a new Checkers variant. This discussion has sparked some ideas. I wanted to create a variety of Checkers that included backwards capturing that would appeal to a player like myself. The game has a couple other unique elements to it. I'm just finishing play testing it and putting in a few final tweaks. I have a different game that I've been working on at the same time that I want to get done first. So I should publish the new Checkers variant in a couple of weeks.
 
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Benedikt Rosenau
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hartunga wrote:
Babylon Checkers is also known as Frisian Checkers.

Not sure about that. Or rather, not sure if the marker Babylonian Checkers sticks to one set of rules only. One source says it is a game played on a 10x10 board, with 30 men each, empty backrow, maximum capture, long distance kings, and captures into all eight directions. The source further says it is a crazy mess.

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Quote:
However, I do not believe the claim to the age of Gothic Checkers, unless somebody provides us with a contemporary - e.g. really old - source for the rules.


I tried going back and looking through my reference material, and you're right - I can't find an old source for the rules.

Thanks. Ralf Gering has referred to some older sources, about a century old. But then, I do not know if anybody has access to these sources at least.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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Zickzack wrote:
hartunga wrote:
First, the bad news. Sorry to tell you this, but the game you describe already previously exists. It's called Gothic Checkers. It is actually one of the oldest form of Checkers known to exist and originates from Germany.

The rules have been presented before indeed. They are quite similar to a Dutch game called Babylonic Checkers.

However, I do not believe the claim to the age of Gothic Checkers, unless somebody provides us with a contemporary - e.g. really old - source for the rules.


Are these rules wrong?
http://www.di.fc.ul.pt/~jpn/gv/gothic.htm

As far as I can tell by JP Neto's site, Double Draughts is NOT the same as Gothic Checkers, outside of it adding another row of pieces. In Double Draughts, the unpromoted checkers move as they do normally in Anglo-American checkers. So, as far as I can tell, it isn't the same thing. If someone wants to find something the same, please post it. Like, please find the rules for Babylonic Checkers. If it exists, prior to what I have, it needs an entry on here for that, and Double Draughts point to it.
 
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Benedikt Rosenau
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docreason wrote:
Like, please find the rules for Babylonic Checkers. If it exists, prior to what I have, it needs an entry on here for that, and Double Draughts point to it.


It is from the book "Dame: das Brettspiel in allen Variationen" by a Claus D. Grupp and published by Falken-Verlag (1979) Leinfelden. ISBN: 3-8068-2028-7. Babylonian checkers is from a section covering variants for the 10x10-board (p. 98).

Quote:
Babylonische Partie

Bei dieser Spielvariante geht's wahrhaft babylonisch zu, nämlich verwirrend. Die Aufstellung ist normal, das einzig Normale am ganzen Spiel. Gezogen und geschlagen wird in sämtlichen nur möglichen Richtungen, also vorwärts, rückwärts, seitwärts und beliebig diagonal. Dadurch entstehen alsbald schier undurchschaubare Schlagsituationen. Und da absoluter Schlagzwang herrscht und überdies Mehrschlagzwang, verläuft die Partie nicht selten am Rande der Komik.

In einer Variante der babylonischen Partie spielt man mit 2x30 Steinen, die zu Beginn auf sämtliche Felder der Reihen 2,3,4 sowie 9, 8 und 7 gestellt werden. Die beiden Damenreihen bleiben also zu Beginn frei.

The book is not particularly exact in so far as rules are concerned. The German text here says that there is a normal setup, whatever that means, the only thing normal about the game. Movement and capture is in all (i.e. 8) directions. Maximum capture is enforced. There is a variant of this variant where the lines 2-4 and 7-9 are covered with stones only, with the back rows being free. The only other source I have seen mentioning the game says (sorry, don't know anymore where it was) only mentions the latter setup.

If Grupp is to be trusted, then the Babylonian game is a checkers variant in which normal men may move backwards. I find that unlikely, to say the least.
 
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Added these to my geeklist, Games playable with a Table Gype Set
 
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Abstract Games » Forums » General
Re: Nine and a Half New Checkers Variants
Zickzack wrote:
docreason wrote:
Like, please find the rules for Babylonic Checkers. If it exists, prior to what I have, it needs an entry on here for that, and Double Draughts point to it.


It is from the book "Dame: das Brettspiel in allen Variationen" by a Claus D. Grupp and published by Falken-Verlag (1979) Leinfelden. ISBN: 3-8068-2028-7. Babylonian checkers is from a section covering variants for the 10x10-board (p. 98).

Quote:
Babylonische Partie

Bei dieser Spielvariante geht's wahrhaft babylonisch zu, nämlich verwirrend. Die Aufstellung ist normal, das einzig Normale am ganzen Spiel. Gezogen und geschlagen wird in sämtlichen nur möglichen Richtungen, also vorwärts, rückwärts, seitwärts und beliebig diagonal. Dadurch entstehen alsbald schier undurchschaubare Schlagsituationen. Und da absoluter Schlagzwang herrscht und überdies Mehrschlagzwang, verläuft die Partie nicht selten am Rande der Komik.

In einer Variante der babylonischen Partie spielt man mit 2x30 Steinen, die zu Beginn auf sämtliche Felder der Reihen 2,3,4 sowie 9, 8 und 7 gestellt werden. Die beiden Damenreihen bleiben also zu Beginn frei.

The book is not particularly exact in so far as rules are concerned. The German text here says that there is a normal setup, whatever that means, the only thing normal about the game. Movement and capture is in all (e.g. 8) directions. Maximum capture is enforced. There is a variant of this variant where the lines 2-4 and 7-9 are covered with stones only, with the back rows being free. The only other source I have seen mentioning the game says (sorry, don't know anymore where it was) only mentions the latter setup.

If Grupp is to be trusted, then the Babylonian game is a checkers variant in which normal men may move backwards. I find that unlikely, to say the least.


Ok, thanks. It is likely possible that people do reinvent games. Double Draughts ended up coming out of logically following normal checkers if you doubled up the pieces. You then are left pondering what to do with the King in the games. So, I would say it is possible someone did invent it earlier. I have seen games approximating it, but then people go off in different directions.

What I will say about Turkish Checkers is the back row needs to be empty or there is a deadlock. I found this out playing around with Turkish Tafl and having the back row not empty.
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