The Chess Variant Pages

Interview with Tony Quintanilla

Tony Quintanilla won the contest to design a chess variant on 41 squares, held in 2000/2001, judged by author David Pritchard.

Here is an interview with Tony, held by email in the summer of 2001.

Congratulations with winning both the first prize in the contest to design a chess variant on 41 squares and thank you for letting me have this interview with you.

Thank you for the opportunity, and for a great web site!
Can you tell something about yourself: which year were you born, how old are you, where do you live, what is your occupation, etc.?
I am 42, and I live in Chicago with my wife and two kids. I am an environmental engineer in the field of wastewater treatment.
Do you regularly play chess, e.g., in a club, or by email? How did you learn to play chess?
I am a member of the Internet Chess Club where I play on-and-off. I learned Chess when I was 10, pretty much on my own from Edward Lasker's classic "Modern Chess Strategy". I even started a small Chess Club at school!
And chess variants - do you regularly play chess variants, and how?
I was always fascinated by Chess variants. I remember reading about variants when I was a kid. One sometimes thinks of Chess as an objective fact, when in reality Chess is completely arbitrary. So, as a kid, I was fascinated with the idea of different forms of Chess. Not until I found the Chess Variants Pages have I really been able to develop variants and play them. Thanks again! Now, I do develop variants and play variants by e-mail frequently, using Zillions of Games. The addition of a web-based Chess variants e-mail server is another excellent venue.
What are your favourite chess variants?
I really like the original "variants" such as Chaturanga and Shatranj (). There is a great appeal for me in finding the source of Chess' appeal. I also like variants with interesting movement characteristics, such as Peter Aronson's "Mulligan Stew Chess".
How did you come to the design of Take Over Chess, your winning game?
I started to think about the word "capture". I thought that it was rather interesting that people use "capture" to mean removing a piece. Why not take "capture" to mean "taking over" a piece? I also borrowed an idea from Peter Aronson's "Jumping Chess" that requires "take-over" captures be done by jumping over a piece. I also was trying to come up with a solution to the problem of limited play options on small boards. So, I borrowed another idea from Peter Aronson, that of using two types of captures -- replacement as well as take-over capture, to essentially double the options.
Did you invent other chess variants or board games? If so, can you tell something about them?
There is Leandro's Chess, which is a multi-move variant, and Chameleon, in which a piece changes type depending on the color of the square it lands on.
In your description of Take Over Chess, you also write about the variant on a 64-square board. What form of board do you think is best for this game?
I like the 41-square version because it is more challenging to play well on a smaller board.
What was your reaction when you learned that you won?
I was completely surprised and thrilled! I am still thrilled! Thanks!
How do you now look at Take Over Chess after the contest. If you had to redesign the game, would you do it in the same way? What do you feel yourself are the strong points of this game?
Actually, I like it the way it is. The strong point is the "takeover" capture itself and the double means of capturing.
Do you play games other than chess and chess variants? What are your favourites? And how do you play them - with friends, over the Internet, against a computer?
I like games in general. An online venue such as the Chess Variants Pages is great. I also like traditional games, such as Monopoly (believe it or not!)
Do you have other hobbies?
I am also an astronomy buff and an amateur artist.
What do you think of the future of chess? Do you think variants will take over from chess once, or will people always mostly play chess with the FIDE rules, or will they stop playing chess and its variants after a while?
If you look at Chaturanga and Shatranj one realizes that Chess retains some ancient ingredients: the King on which the game depends, and the Knight, which is used in most variants, etc. I have a feeling that much of the charm of Chess lies in this stylized struggle between primordial kings. Variants will thrive. FIDE will too. Let's go for a revival of Chaturanga!
What do you think the role of computers will be for chess in the future?
Computers are great. Zillions, for example, is a brilliant innovation for game development and play. But, personally, I find little to motivate me to win against a computer.
Do you have some advice for people that want to design chess variants, or other board games?
Yes. Have fun. Let your imagination take charge. The sky is the limit. After all, games completely inventions!
Do you have an opinion about the other chess variants, submitted to this contest?
I have played a few of them, such as "Little Dragon Chess" and "Clash of Commanders" and really enjoyed them. I would agree with D. B. Pritchard that the developers really work hard to come up with wonderful games.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Thank you, Hans! Tony

Webpage and questions by Hans Bodlaender. Answers by Tony Quintanilla.
WWW page created: August 7, 2001.