Experiments in Symmetry
Derek Nalls maintains that perfect symmetry is required to completely minimize the starting advantage of White. He also makes more grandiose claims that any asymmetry ruins a game. I will not address the latter here but only the former. These games were designed as experiments to test the notion that perfect symmetry makes a game better. With one exception, each game is very much like Chess with only some slight difference to make it perfectly symmetrical. The exception makes the smallest change to Chess, introducing diagonal symmetry without orthogonal symmetry. So, if perfect symmetry does make a game better, we should expect that some or all of these games will be better than Chess. Here are the games.
There are three variants played on a board of 7 files by 8 ranks.
- Bachelor Chess
- Removes the Queen file and the Queens. Pawns may still promote to Queens though.
- Spinster Chess
- Removes the King file and the Kings. Queens are royal, the object being to checkmate the Queen. The royal Queen may not move through check or face the opposing Queen. The checking power of the Queen is undiminished by attacked squares. Pawns may promote to Princesses, which move like Queens but are non-royal. No castling.
- Narcissus Chess
- Removes one of the middle files and replaces King and Queen with a hermaphoditic Monarch. The object is to checkmate the Monarch, which moves like a royal Queen unless it is checked, in which case it moves only as a King. Enemy Monarchs may never face each other. Pawns may promote to the same pieces as in Chess.
56 Square Variants
These are played on a 7x8 board with the middle file extended by one space on each side.
- Dominatrix Chess
- Kings go on the back space, Queens in front.
- Patriarchal Chess
- Queens go on the back space, Kings in front.
These are all played on the regular Chess board, with most replacing the usual heterosexual couple with a gay or hermaphroditic couple.
- Homolateral Chess
- Replaces Queens with Kings in opening array. Object is to checkmate one of the Kings. Pawns may promote to Queens, as in Chess. Both Kings may castle.
- Boston Marriage Chess
- Replaces Kings with Queens in opening array. Both Queens are royal, and the object is to checkmate one of the Queens. Queens may not castle. Pawns may promote to Princesses, which move like Queens but are non-royal.
- Hermaphrodite Chess
- King and Queen are replaced by hermaphroditic Monarchs. The object is to checkmate one of them. One Monarch may castle, but both may not. A Monarch moves as a royal Queen unless in check, in which case it may only move like a King. Pawns may promote to non-royal Queens.
- Symposium Chess
- King and Queen are initially replaced by hermaphroditic Monarchs. As soon as one makes a move that can be made by only a King (castling) or only a Queen (moving further than one space), the two pieces differentiate into King and Queen, with the piece that moved turning into what it moved as. If one Monarch is captured before they differentiate into King and Queen, the remaining Monarch becomes King. The object is to checkmate the King.
- Sinister Queens Chess
- The Black King starts on d8 and the Black Queen on e8, so that Queens start to the left of the King for both players. This variant loses north/south symmetry and does not gain east/west symmetry, but it does gain ne/sw symmetry and nw/se symmetry.
These variants extend the width of the board to add more pieces.
Zillions of Games
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- Bigamous Chess
- Extends the board to 9 files by 8 ranks, so the the King has a Queen on each side. White's first rank is RNBQKQBNR, and Black's is symmetric to it.
- Episcopal Chess
- Extends the board to 9 files by 8 ranks, removing Queens, but adding two more Bishops. White's first rank is RNBBKBBNR, and Black's is symmetric with it. There are 9 Pawns on each side, and Pawns may still promote to Queens.
- Mormon Chess
- Extends the board to 11 files by 8 ranks, giving each side an extra Queen and two extra Bishops. White's first rank is RNBBQKQBBNR, and Black's is symmetric to it. Each side gets 11 Pawns.
You can also play this game by email,
using the web-based Play by Mail system on this site.
Written by Fergus Duniho.
WWW page created: February 15, 2005.