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The Chess Variant Pages

2007-2008 Chess Variants Design Contest

Greetings, fellow chess variant enthusiasts!

It's time to have another variant design contest.

This year, we are going to open the process up a little bit and instead of stating the nature of the design from the beginning, we are asking you to take the month of August to submit ideas for our next design contest and then vote on them.

In addition to first prize this time, we will also be having a number of other prizes, including: "most beautiful / aesthetically pleasing" -- "most creative / most original" -- "best new concept / piece" and "best classic style variant"

I am presenting you with several ideas up front, but also presenting some categories as possible frameworks for submitting proposals. In each category, I submit concrete proposals, but we are definitely open to more and I will update as additional ideas come in, and also record votes.

Besides the contests listed below for numbers of squares, there have been some other themed contests. Other contests we have had have been a large variant contest, a 32 turn or less contest and a contest using theme of "10"

I. Number of Squares (Traditional)

Traditionally, we have had design contests for varying numbers of squares, not necessarily confined to one shape or size of geometry. Here is one concrete proposal:

A. 45 Square contest.

This would seem to be one logical next step as the previous contests we've had have been for 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 84 and 100 squares.

II. Geometric

A. Hexagonal

B. Triangles (not necessarily equilateral or a flat board)

C. Pentagons

III. Within a Fixed Parameter.

A. David Howe suggests 3 x 3. Knight's Court is one example. Can you create others?

B. I myself suggest three very traditional and classical frameworks:

1. 12 x 8 -- which was the basis for classic variant Courier Chess and continues to be a popular format for presenting chess variants, e.g., Greg Strong's Sosorian Chess, several variants by Eric Greenwood and a great example is G.W. Duke's Falcon Chess with Dragon and Scorpion.

2. 8 x 8 -- perhaps the most familiar? But what intriguing new game can you develop using this classic format?

a. Tony Quintanilla recommends the following: "a variant using the traditional 8x8 board and classic pieces, k, q, b, n, r, p; this would allow inventors to dwell on the mechanics of the game rather than its details. "

3. 9 x 9 as in Shogi.

IV. Dimensionality:

A. 1-D

B. 3-D

C. 4-D

D. Simply: Multidimensional.

V. Piece Types:

A. Pieces are all of one type.

David Howe suggests a contest where all the pieces are of one type.

Good example of a chess variant with just one type of piece might be Gess.

Peter Aronson adds some ideas about how this might be done:

"Well, until you move a piece, V.R. Parton's Identific Chess only has one type of piece; and Dave's Potential Chess is similar. Not to mention games like Wolfgang Gro�kopf's Chameleon, where how a piece moves is determined by what square it stands on: just add a type of square that makes a piece royal, and require at least one to be occupied at all times, and then you have a CV!"

B. Pieces capture by means other than replacement. As in Ultima, Roccoco, Maxima, Fugue, etc.

VI. Overall Size:

A. Large, at least containing the number of squares in a 16 x 12 variant, 192. Greg Strong has demonstrated a very playable such game with his Cataclysm. At 256 squares, Tenjiku Shogi is another example of a playable large variant.

VII. Conceptual:

A. Love.

A while back, John Kipling Lewis and I tossed ideas for a Valentine's Day Chess theme. We talked about what a cupid piece might be.

B. Mythology.

C. Historical

D. Sci-Fi

E. Geographical

F. Animal theme

Like Demian Freeling's Congo, or Betza, Lawson and Aronson's This Game is for the Birds

VIII. Pieces that occupy less than one square or more than one square:

Examples are to be found in Karakus's Dev Chess, Peterson's Cobra Chess, my own Tiling Rider Chess and Hullabaloo and Mark Hedden's Ganymede, Immunology Chess and David Howe's Bifold Halfi.

IX. Multimove Variant

A. Who can create a variant best suited to what ever multimove method you can wish to utilize or create?

X. Games with Drops

Shogi, Chessgi, Crazyhouse, Duniho's Shatranji and Gifford's Shatranjian Shogi

XI. Multiplayer Variants

A. 3-Player Variant

XII. Games with specific number of pieces.

A. 45-Piece Contest.

XIII. Chess with Varying Squares

For example, Amoeba, Wormhole Chess, Building Chess or Tiled Squares Chess.

XIV. Multiple Boards

A. Fixed number. *Two boards *Three boards *Four boards *More?

B. 1+

More than one board, but not specified how many...

XV. Confined King in Xiangqi, Congo by Freeling, Seenschach by Knappen, Sphinx Chess by Parton.

XVI. Specific Type of Board

A. Crazy 38's board.

B. Central Squares Board

C. Icosahedron

XVII. Royal Piece Movement Differs from King (guard) movement.

As in Aronson's Horus, Duniho's Caissa Britannia, Gifford's Heavy Gravity Chess, Troyka's Wuss III or Glenn Overby's veSQuj: Chess with 21st-century armies where the royal piece - president - can only move when checked.

XVIII. Pawnless Games

Such as Half Chess and Pawnless Ecumenical Chess.

XIX. Pieces can't capture one another.

Such as in Replacement Chess.

XX. Incomplete knowledge

As in Kriegspiel or The Invisible Man by Namik Zade.

XXI. Winning Conditions other than mate.

As in Nemoroth where opponents' failure to flee the Ghast is one winning condition.

XXII. Tie Free (Draw Free) Chess

"... a Chess variant with a playing mechanism which can't lead to repetitions. A simple example would be that pieces can move only forward, as in the game of Breakthrough."

What other categories or specific variants might you like me to list?

Combining Themes?

To the above, Graeme Neatham adds the very intriguing suggestion that we combine a few of these conditions, rather than select just one. He offers the following mechanism, which I've asked him to elaborate:

"Might I also suggest a contest with more than one theme? Say have 3 themes e.g. one Piece based (no FIDE pieces say), another special Criteria/Rule based (restricted King, say), and the third Conceptual (sci-fi/fantasy)

Each contestant could then enter any or all themes with the same or different games and have a vote in each theme entered. The theme winners would then be voted on by all contestants other than the theme winners to decide the overall winner."


The initial intent of this post is just to inform you of the contest but it will also act as a springboard for ideas on future discussions about the nature of this contest. Please make new proposals in the comments section where you can also vote. You can rank them all but I urge you to rank at least 3 - 5.

I will be updating this page frequently adding links and new information as it comes in.

The issue of how the contest will be judged is not resolved yet, but I would like to invite any previous winner of a design contest to be on the panel of judges and ask for further nominations. I nominate Abdul-Rahman Sibahi to be a judge.

Perhaps though, instead of a panel of judges, we could just vote on which variant we like the most. If we do it this way, I don't think you should be allowed to vote for your own variant. Which I think is unfair in a way so I prefer a panel of judges who are themselves not submitting designs. I offer to be one myself if someone will nominate me. :-)

For this contest, I'd like to propose that people make only one serious submission either by themselves or in collaboration with someone else.

The deadline for deciding the nature of the contest design theme is going to be September First. The deadline for the design submissions themselves will likely be February First (though Hans Bodlaender suggested if we choose the concept of "love" as our variant theme, entries should be submitted by February 14th).

This 'user submitted' page is a collaboration between the posting user and the Chess Variant Pages. Registered contributors to the Chess Variant Pages have the ability to post their own works, subject to review and editing by the Chess Variant Pages Editorial Staff.

By Jeremy Gabriel Good.
Web page created: 2007-08-01. Web page last updated: 2007-08-02