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Subject: A new shogi-like chess variant rss

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Michael Howe
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I see that chess variants are being posted here somewhat more frequently. Here's one that I hope is an improvement on Crazyhouse and Chessgi. A lot of thought, playtesting, and revision went into this, something I hope I can claim for all of my variants I currently endorse. I have invented many over the years, published in various places including Pritchard/Beasley encyclopedia, but I would revoke most of what's I've done over the years as indulgent and lacking in clarity, and leave only four endorsed variants: Nova Chess, Senary Chess, Breakthrough Chess, and Renegade Chess. I will try to post all of them soon. For each of them, a Zillions implementation is available by request.


Renegade Chess
by Michael Howe
Portland, CT, USA
2016

This variant is intended to take chess in the direction of Shogi but be playable with one or more sets of standard chessmen.

The goal is checkmate. Threefold repetition is forbidden -- the player about to repeat must vary or the other player can claim the win. Stalemate is a draw but is next to impossible.

The pieces:

King: as in orthodox chess

Rook: as in orthodox chess on home half of the board, adds a single square diagonal move to the rook move when on the opposing half of the board.

Knight: as in orthodox chess on home half of the board, adds a single square orthogonal (i.e., rook-like) move to the knight move when on the opposing half of the board.

Bishop: leaps one or two squares (not blockable) on home half of the board, adds a single square orthogonal move to the diagonal moves when on the opposing half of the board. A bishop on the home half of the board can also swap positions with any adjacent friendly piece; this is an inherent power and can be done any number of times, and it can also be used to deliver check or to get out of check.

Queen: slides three like a rook or two like a bishop, does not gain power on the opposing half of the board.

Pawn: orthodox on home half of the board, no double step option; moves and captures like a single-square rook (4 directions) on the opposing half of the board, no last-rank promotion.

The board sizes:

A 32-square board (four files by eight ranks) allows the game to be played with a single set of chessmen. Each player has 4 pawns on his third rank. K, N, B on the first rank with K on the right half. Rook goes on the second rank square that is in front of the empty first rank square. There are 12 possible arrangements. Black is symmetrical by rotation. Each player starts with R, N, B, 4P of the opposing color to his left (this is called the "pool").

A 64-square board allows the game to be played with two full sets of chessmen. Each player has 8 pawns on his third rank. K starts on the right half of the first rank. Each player has 2N, 2B, 1Q on the first rank and has 2R on the second rank in front of the empty first rank squares. There are 2520 possible arrangements. Black is symmetrical by rotation. Each player starts with Q, 2R, 2N, 2B, 8P of the opposing color to his left (this is called the "pool").

A 72-square (9 files by 8 ranks) game can be played with three full sets of chessmen if extra queens are available; otherwise four full sets are needed. Each player has 9 pawns on his third rank. K starts on the right half of the first rank. Each player has 2N, 2B, 2Q on the first rank and has 2R on the second rank in front of the empty first rank squares. There are 12,600 possible arrangements. Black is symmetrical by rotation. Each player starts with 2Q, 2R, 2N, 2B, 9P of the opposing color to his left (this is called the "pool").

Capture and reentry:

When a player captures an opposing piece he puts it into the pool to his left and moves an man of the same rank from his opponent's pool to the right side of his board. The right side of the board constitutes a player's "reserve". The reserve will always consist of friendly men and the pool will always consist of opposing men.

A player may, as his move, drop a man from his reserve onto any empty square. There are no restrictions regarding pawns as there are in Shogi. Also note that man dropped onto the opposing half of the board immediately has is enhanced movement; there is no requirement for that piece to move in order to be "promoted".

Unlike Shogi, whether a piece has its enhanced movement is strictly a function of where it stands on the board, and pieces that return to the home half of the board revert to their original movement.

Games tend to be fast and tactical. On the 64-square board, testing by Zillions shows that games typically run 20 to 30 moves although longer and shorter games have been recorded. The 32-square game is challenging and not at all trivial despite the small board size. The extra queens on the 72-square board make that game, if anything, even sharper. Draws are all but impossible.
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Corey Clark
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I appreciate that you derived your own piece movement for this game. a lot of the time people just assume FIDE is the starting point for a Chess variant.
 
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Joe Joyce
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Hi, Michael. Nice to see you active again. This looks like an interesting variant. A quick read indicates you've eliminated any necessity for knowledge of a previous game state to determine current legal moves. Nice touch; lets us kibbitzers walk into the middle without potentially being lost. Did I miss anything?

I like your R3B2 queen; haven't seen one of those before that I recall. Grin, needless to say, I'm very happy to see short range pieces featuring here. The promotion line and rules showcase pieces that have more local area affect than FIDE, which is nice, too. But it leads to another question.

Does the game lean toward offense strongly? Seems as it would have to. FIDE, at high levels, is a very defensive game despite the individually rather strong pieces. The number of draws "proves" this. Your game here, with the opponent's pieces always being stronger than yours when attacking on your side and vice-versa, free drops... it seems to imply the harder, faster puncher wins. I imagine you want to make some exchanges in the opening to get some droppable material, then it's airborne time! "Death from Above."

Are you considering making a Game Courier preset for this? I hate to admit it, but when I've been playing for a while, I play much better against people. Zillions always kicks my butt, even though I've beaten people that beat Zillions.
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Michael Howe
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Thanks. It's not completely correct that no knowledge of previous game state is required because there is a prohibition on threefold repetition. I really don't see a way to avoid have some kind of rule, either draw or loss, regarding repetition in any chess variant with pieces that can return to a given square; I did manage it with breakthrough chess, which has nonretreating pieces and which I will post soon. Renegade is indeed a very offense oriented game with attack being stronger than defense and initiative being extremely important. The winner often delivers mate with little left in hand and sometimes a minority of force on the board, while the mated player is looking at a powerful army in reserve that he never got a chance to use. The short range queens and bishops were necessary in order for the game to have a positional opening rather than extremely early exchanges of material followed by drop assaults. It also makes all of the random starting positions playable since initially undefended pawns are not much of a problem when there are no long range diagonals. I have no plans to make a game courier version of it, since I'm no longer involved with TCVP (too many borderline personalities over there) but anyone who wants to make one has my permission.
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Richard Hutnik
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CoreyClark wrote:
I appreciate that you derived your own piece movement for this game. a lot of the time people just assume FIDE is the starting point for a Chess variant.


FIDE Chess is the default starting position for Chess. The moment anything gets called a "Chess variant", it ends up making FIDE Chess the starting point for anything. If another term is used, say "abstract armies", then maybe you have a shot at something else.
 
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Michael Howe
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docreason wrote:
CoreyClark wrote:
I appreciate that you derived your own piece movement for this game. a lot of the time people just assume FIDE is the starting point for a Chess variant.


FIDE Chess is the default starting position for Chess. The moment anything gets called a "Chess variant", it ends up making FIDE Chess the starting point for anything. If another term is used, say "abstract armies", then maybe you have a shot at something else.


If I understand what you wrote, which I'm not sure I did since it seems muddled to me, then I don't agree. FIDE is just another form of chess, admittedly the most popular one in most, but not all, of the world; but. there is no reason to assume it is the "default" for all chess variants.
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christian freeling
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mhowe wrote:
docreason wrote:
CoreyClark wrote:
I appreciate that you derived your own piece movement for this game. a lot of the time people just assume FIDE is the starting point for a Chess variant.


FIDE Chess is the default starting position for Chess. The moment anything gets called a "Chess variant", it ends up making FIDE Chess the starting point for anything. If another term is used, say "abstract armies", then maybe you have a shot at something else.


If I understand what you wrote, which I'm not sure I did since it seems muddled to me, then I don't agree. FIDE is just another form of chess, admittedly the most popular one in most, but not all, of the world; but. there is no reason to assume it is the "default" for all chess variants.

In Chess variants are easy I've suggested to distinguish between a "chess variant" - which actually should be named a 'checkmate variant' but factually isn't - and a "variant of Chess".

Grand Chess is a variant of Chess while Shakti is a chess variant. Of course the distinction leaves room for an opaque category, but it would nevertheless appear useful to be made.
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Michael Howe
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It is of no matter to me whether Renegade is classified as a chess variant or a variant of chess. I was rejecting Hutnick's idea that FIDE was the default. When I designed Renegade I started much closer to Shogi than to FIDE, wanting a Shogi-like game playable with FIDE pieces. In fact, for a long time I used Shogi-like pawns but rejected them because the FIDE piece set does not provide for enough general-like pieces to defend them and there was too much advantage to the first player in some of the initial arrays. What I ended up with is a good game that stands somewhere between Crazyhouse and Shogi.
 
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Joe Joyce
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mhowe wrote:
Thanks. It's not completely correct that no knowledge of previous game state is required because there is a prohibition on threefold repetition. I really don't see a way to avoid have some kind of rule, either draw or loss, regarding repetition in any chess variant with pieces that can return to a given square; I did manage it with breakthrough chess, which has nonretreating pieces and which I will post soon. Renegade is indeed a very offense oriented game with attack being stronger than defense and initiative being extremely important. The winner often delivers mate with little left in hand and sometimes a minority of force on the board, while the mated player is looking at a powerful army in reserve that he never got a chance to use. The short range queens and bishops were necessary in order for the game to have a positional opening rather than extremely early exchanges of material followed by drop assaults. It also makes all of the random starting positions playable since initially undefended pawns are not much of a problem when there are no long range diagonals. I have no plans to make a game courier version of it, since I'm no longer involved with TCVP (too many borderline personalities over there) but anyone who wants to make one has my permission.

I would like to put up at least a board and pieces on game Courier, with a link to the rules here.

Yes, the 3 repetitions rule is a forced breaking of the "play it the way you see it now" principle that seems irreducible. So it seems chess can never be perfect in that sense.

It would seem reasonable that short range leapers, like the knight or the game's upgraded elephant AF(+W/2) are more potent in this game because they get their "long range" move from the drop, and they bypass the first defender in close to the king.

As for dealing with borderline personalities, I fit right in, for my sins, I was a postal supervisor on night shifts in a somewhat ghetto location... Happy New Year, Michael!
 
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Michael Howe
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Hey, Joe, I want you to know I wasn't referring to you or to Fergus or many others when I wrote about some of the difficult personalities over at TCVP. And it's not like other sites including this one don't also attract difficult personalities. I guess my tolerance for such things is not what it once was. If you want to put up a Game Courier page for anything I post here, you have my permission, and thank you for your interest.
 
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Joe Joyce
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mhowe wrote:
Hey, Joe, I want you to know I wasn't referring to you or to Fergus or many others when I wrote about some of the difficult personalities over at TCVP. And it's not like other sites including this one don't also attract difficult personalities. I guess my tolerance for such things is not what it once was. If you want to put up a Game Courier page for anything I post here, you have my permission, and thank you for your interest.

You're welcome, and I understood exactly what you meant... although I wouldn't necessarily rule out Fergus or me - after all, I think I've designed the world's best 4D chess game!

Anywhere that attracts creative types is going to have all kinds of prickly personalities there, that's the nature of the beast. And even the most "normal" and stable people in such an environment are generally outliers of the billions of us. The good part of that is that even if each of us is literally 1 in a million, there are still 7000 of us worldwide. So with a little luck, there will be somebody who wants to play our games, no matter how esoteric! Happy New Year!
 
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Russ Williams
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Question/feedback about the wording concerning piece movement, which I wasn't sure about.

mhowe wrote:
Rook: as in orthodox chess on home half of the board, adds a single square diagonal move to the rook move when on the opposing half of the board.

Does "when on the opposing half of the board" mean "when it starts its move on the opposing half of the board"? I suppose so, but am not sure because I am not quite sure whether "adds a single square diagonal move to the rook move" means "can move one square diagonally instead of making a rook move" (like a promoted rook in shogi) or means "after making a rook move, if the piece is now on the far half of the board, then it can then make/add one diagonal step (all as part of a single move)".

Quote:
Knight: as in orthodox chess on home half of the board, adds a single square orthogonal (i.e., rook-like) move to the knight move when on the opposing half of the board.

Bishop: leaps one or two squares (not blockable) on home half of the board, adds a single square orthogonal move to the diagonal moves when on the opposing half of the board. A bishop on the home half of the board can also swap positions with any adjacent friendly piece; this is an inherent power and can be done any number of times, and it can also be used to deliver check or to get out of check.

Similarly here, the wording was not quite clear to me, in the same way as the rook. (Choose one of 2 move types when on the far side? Or make one type of move, and then if you are on the far side, add a second (final) type of move?)

I suppose that these 3 all mean that if the piece starts its move on the far half of the board, then it has a choice of 2 different types of moves, right?
 
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Michael Howe
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When white pieces start on ranks 1-4 (home) they move one way and when they start on ranks 5-8 (away) they move another way. Black similarly by symmetry. Rooks are orthodox at home and promoted shogi rook away. Bishops are one or two square diagonal leapers at home and away they can do that or go one square like a rook. Knights are orthodox at home and away they can go like orthodox knight or one square rook. Pawns are orthodox at home and are one-square rooks away. Kings are orthodox both home and away. Queens are rook-3 or bishop-2 both home and away. Hope this clarifies. Thanks for your interest.
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Russ Williams
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Cool, thanks for confirming! The idea sounds interesting. Coincidentally, I just played Crazyhouse for the first time a few days ago; small world!

I hope to give this a try sometime, if I can convince my wife to try a new Chess variant instead of traditional Shogi...
 
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