Review of Pritchard's *Encyclopedia of Chess Variants*
On January 17, 1995, Philip M. Cohen posted this review on Pritchard's book Encyclopedia of Chess Variants on rec.games.chess.
I belong to NOST, a postal (and now email) gaming club that is primarily chess, but which has offered chess variants and non- chess games from the start some 30 years ago. The NOSTmaster is trying to get more CV players in, in part because of worries about computers and postal play. Email me if you'd like further information.
In the latest issue I did a review of the greatest reference ever for chess variants, far surpassing the excellent 10th issue of *World Game Review*, which covered 677 variants in generally rather less detail. I quote:
David Pritchard's *Encyclopedia of Chess Variants* (Godalming, Surrey:
Games & Puzzles Publications), ISBN 0-9524142-0-1, is finally out,
and worth the wait! This is, to my knowledge, the biggest CV publishing
event of all time, in any language. 384 pages in 6¼"x9½"
format, 540 diagrams, 350 game scores, about 1450 variants including notes
on about 160 proprietary games. Pritchard produced the book himself but
the production values (layout, paper quality) are up to the standards of
the big companies (well, aside from proofreading). Everyone interested
in CVs should order a copy now.
The price is UK£21.99, DM 63, or
US$41, postpaid anywhere up to 1 March 1995. That's if you pay with a US
bank check; if you pay by credit card he doesn't have to pay exorbitant
bank fees, and the price will be closer to $36. Just send credit card number
and expiration date as usual to Games & Puzzles Publications, PO Box
20, Godalming, Surrey GU8 4YP, United Kingdom. Do it now. (Incidentally,
G&P Pubs. is not directly connected to the newly revived *Games &
Puzzles*.) [Editor's Note: Price information out-of-date. Book out-of-print.]
The book contains virtually every CV ever played in NOST as well as the thousand-plus that haven't been. (Well, not all the combined games like Doublemove Dynamo Shatranj, but almost everything else.) I haven't been able to think of a significant game, aside from the most recent innovations, that isn't in the book.
To give you an idea of the thoroughness of this book: the 'four-handed chess' section is almost 7 pages long, covering 26 variants, two of them (Verney's and Hughes-Hughes's) in detail, including discussions of openings and endings; there are cross references to three of the four-handed commercial games, and individual sections on nine other four-handed CVs follow. (Also over 3 pages on three-handed variants.) The 'hexagonal chess' section is 5 pages, 6 variants (those of Glinski and Brusky discussed in some detail), with cross-references to 6 more. The 'three-dimensional chess' section is 4 pages, discussing 16 variants, with cross-references to 8 more, and yet another 3 immediately following in their own sections. Among the other major sections are those on kriegspiel (4 pages), progressive chesses (8 pages), shogi (10 pages), and XiangQi (9½ pages). There are 1½ pages on Avalanche, with six sample games; almost 2 on Dynamo, with 3 sample games, and 2 of Doublemove Dynamo; 1½ on Knight Relay, with 7 games; and so on. The section on Losing Chess (Giveaway) is 3 pages long; it may be a lot shorter in the next edition, because someone claims in *Variant Chess* (see below) to be on the verge of demolishing the game. There is a good short article on 'Designing a chess variant', and the entry for Wildebeest Chess summarizes Wayne Schmittberger's thoughts on the topic.
Always carry a grapefruit, Philip M. Cohen
Written by Philip M. Cohen.
WWW page created: 1995. Last modified: June 26, 1998.