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Nomic Chess

The following set of rules constitue an initial rule-set for a game I call Nomic Chess. The rule-set is a modification of Peter Suber's (inventor of Nomic) rule set combined with the rules for Ralph Betza's Chess For Any Number of Players. I've marked in blue the sections where the initial rule set differs from the Nomic initial rule set.

Initial Set of Rules

Immutable Rules

101. All players must always abide by all the rules then in effect, in the form in which they are then in effect. The rules in the Initial Set are in effect whenever a game begins. The Initial Set consists of Rules 101-116 (immutable) and 201 - 222 (mutable).

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102. Initially rules in the 100's are immutable and rules in the 200's are mutable. Rules subsequently enacted or transmuted (that is, changed from immutable to mutable or vice versa) may be immutable or mutable regardless of their numbers, and rules in the Initial Set may be transmuted regardless of their numbers.

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103. A rule-change is any of the following: (1) the enactment, repeal, or amendment of a mutable rule; (2) the enactment, repeal, or amendment of an amendment of a mutable rule; or (3) the transmutation of an immutable rule into a mutable rule or vice versa.

(Note: This definition implies that, at least initially, all new rules are mutable; immutable rules, as long as they are immutable, may not be amended or repealed; mutable rules, as long as they are mutable, may be amended or repealed; any rule of any status may be transmuted; no rule is absolutely immune to change.)

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104. All rule-changes proposed in the proper way shall be voted on. They will be adopted if and only if they receive the required number of votes.

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105. Every player is an eligible voter. Every eligible voter must participate in every vote on rule-changes.

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106. All proposed rule-changes shall be written down before they are voted on. If they are adopted, they shall guide play in the form in which they were voted on.

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107. No rule-change may take effect earlier than the moment of the completion of the vote that adopted it, even if its wording explicitly states otherwise. No rule-change may have retroactive application.

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108. Each proposed rule-change shall be given a number for reference. The numbers shall begin with 301, and each rule-change proposed in the proper way shall receive the next successive integer, whether or not the proposal is adopted.

If a rule is repealed and reenacted, it receives the number of the proposal to reenact it. If a rule is amended or transmuted, it receives the number of the proposal to amend or transmute it. If an amendment is amended or repealed, the entire rule of which it is a part receives the number of the proposal to amend or repeal the amendment.

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109. Rule-changes that transmute immutable rules into mutable rules may be adopted if and only if the vote is unanimous among the eligible voters. Transmutation shall not be implied, but must be stated explicitly in a proposal to take effect.

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110. In a conflict between a mutable and an immutable rule, the immutable rule takes precedence and the mutable rule shall be entirely void. For the purposes of this rule a proposal to transmute an immutable rule does not "conflict" with that immutable rule.

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111. If a rule-change as proposed is unclear, ambiguous, paradoxical, or destructive of play, or if it arguably consists of two or more rule-changes compounded or is an amendment that makes no difference, or if it is otherwise of questionable value, then the other players may suggest amendments or argue against the proposal before the vote. A reasonable time must be allowed for this debate. The proponent decides the final form in which the proposal is to be voted on and, unless the Judge has been asked to do so, also decides the time to end debate and vote.

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112. The state of affairs that constitutes winning may not be altered from eliminating all other players from the game to any other state of affairs. The rules for determining how a player is eliminated from the game may be changed, and rules that establish a winner when play cannot continue may be enacted and (while they are mutable) be amended or repealed.

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113. A player always has the option to forfeit the game rather than continue to play or incur a game penalty. No penalty worse than losing, in the judgment of the player to incur it, may be imposed.

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114. There must always be at least one mutable rule. The adoption of rule-changes must never become completely impermissible.

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115. Rule-changes that affect rules needed to allow or apply rule-changes are as permissible as other rule-changes. Even rule-changes that amend or repeal their own authority are permissible. No rule-change or type of move is impermissible solely on account of the self-reference or self-application of a rule.

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116. Whatever is not prohibited or regulated by a rule is permitted and unregulated, with the sole exception of changing the rules, which is permitted only when a rule or set of rules explicitly or implicitly permits it.

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Mutable Rules

201. Players shall alternate turns according to which army or armies they control. Turns may not be skipped or passed, and parts of turns may not be omitted. All players begin with a half chessboard (4 rows by 8 columns) and a standard half-set of FIDE chess pieces placed upon it in the standard initial array.

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202. One turn consists of three parts in this order: (1) proposing one rule-change and having it voted on, (2) moving one's army (see rules 217 and 219), and (3) taking control of any other players' armies if that army's king has been checkmated.

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203. A rule-change is adopted if and only if the vote is unanimous among the eligible voters. If this rule is not amended by the end of the second complete circuit of turns, it automatically changes to require only a simple majority.

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204. If and when rule-changes can be adopted without unanimity, the players who vote against winning proposals shall be allowed (immediately after the rule is enacted) to promote one of their pieces to the next most powerful piece (pawn to knight, knight to bishop, bishop to rook, rook to queen, kings and queens cannot be promoted).

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205. An adopted rule-change takes full effect at the moment of the completion of the vote that adopted it.

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206. When a proposed rule-change is defeated, the player who proposed it must (immediately aftter the proposal is defeated) demote one of their pieces to the next less powerful piece (queen to rook, rook to bishop, bishop to knight, knight to pawn, pawn to empty square, kings cannot be demoted).

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207. Each player always has exactly one vote.

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208. The winner is the first player to eliminate all the other players from the game.

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209. At no time may there be more than 35 mutable rules.

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210. Players may not conspire or consult on the making of future rule-changes unless they are team-mates.

The first paragraph of this rule does not apply to games by mail or computer.

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211. If two or more mutable rules conflict with one another, or if two or more immutable rules conflict with one another, then the rule with the lowest ordinal number takes precedence.

If at least one of the rules in conflict explicitly says of itself that it defers to another rule (or type of rule) or takes precedence over another rule (or type of rule), then such provisions shall supersede the numerical method for determining precedence.

If two or more rules claim to take precedence over one another or to defer to one another, then the numerical method again governs.

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212. If players disagree about the legality of a move or the interpretation or application of a rule, then the player preceding the one moving is to be the Judge and decide the question. Disagreement for the purposes of this rule may be created by the insistence of any player. This process is called invoking Judgment.

When Judgment has been invoked, the next player may not begin his or her turn without the consent of a majority of the other players.

The Judge's Judgment may be overruled only by a unanimous vote of the other players taken before the next turn is begun. If a Judge's Judgment is overruled, then the player preceding the Judge in the playing order becomes the new Judge for the question, and so on, except that no player is to be Judge during his or her own turn or during the turn of a team-mate.

Unless a Judge is overruled, one Judge settles all questions arising from the game until the next turn is begun, including questions as to his or her own legitimacy and jurisdiction as Judge.

New Judges are not bound by the decisions of old Judges. New Judges may, however, settle only those questions on which the players currently disagree and that affect the completion of the turn in which Judgment was invoked. All decisions by Judges shall be in accordance with all the rules then in effect; but when the rules are silent, inconsistent, or unclear on the point at issue, then the Judge shall consider game-custom and the spirit of the game before applying other standards.

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213. If the rules are changed so that further play is impossible, or if the legality of a move cannot be determined with finality, or if by the Judge's best reasoning, not overruled, a move appears equally legal and illegal, then the first player unable to complete a turn is the winner.

This rule takes precedence over every other rule determining the winner.

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214. Except as otherwise provided in these rules, the rules of FIDE chess apply.

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215. Each player is provided with half a chessboard and a normal setup of pieces.

Clarifications: Of course, every player's pieces should be distinct from all the others'; I find that a dab of paint works wonders for this. For the half-boards, simply bisect some old cardboard boards.

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216. Before starting to play, the players choose which army goes first, which goes second, and so forth. This "batting order" is never changed.

Clarifications: According to Rule 220, players may come to be playing different armies than the ones they started with. It is important to remember that the batting order applies to the armies, not the players.

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217. Whenever you move a piece, you push two half-boards together, and make any legal move.

Clarifications: You get to choose which half-boards you use for this, no restrictions at all, but even if your move takes place entirely on one half-board, you must still push two half-boards together.

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218. You are allowed to talk to the other players, and make informal alliances.

The alliances are "informal" because allied pieces can still give check to your King.

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219. An army makes one move for each half-board on which it has pieces at the start of the turn. When you push two half-boards together, and you already have pieces on both half-boards, you've used up your move for both half-boards at once.

Clarifications: This rule means that you can't move the same piece twice in one turn, and you can't "bombard" one board by making captures into it from several other boards at once, and you can't move one piece onto a board and another piece off of the same board.

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220. When you checkmate a King, that King's army becomes yours, and that army's turn will now be played by you.

Clarifications: Armies controlled by the same player don't give check to each others' kings.

Clarifications: Allied pieces, controlled by other players, can still give check to your King, so they can be part of a mating net.

Clarifications: An army may change hands several times. You may gain some other army, lose your original army, and still be in the game.

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221. If, when you push two boards together, an enemy King is in check, that counts as checkmate, and you still get to make your move.

If, when you push two boards together, your own King is in check, you must defend it: if you are checkmated, you lose! If the only two boards you can push together result in your being checkmated, you must do so anyway, and then cry.

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222. A player who loses his only army by being checkmated is out of the game. The last remaining player is the winner.

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Written by David Howe. Thanks to Doug Chatham for calling to my attention certain contradictions between the Nomic rules and the multiplayer chess rules. I have made corrections, but please note, the above rules still may contain contradictions or may not be as precisely stated as they should be.
WWW page created: 16 Dec 2000. Last modified on: 28 Dec 2000.