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The Chess Variant Pages

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Sam Trenholme wrote on 2009-10-21 UTC
Somehow, I get the feeling that this posting is an extension to the discussion we had in this thread.

The best way to really study the opening of a given chess variant is to have a lot of games played with said variant, and analyze how the games went. Since no chess variant has traditionally had the popularity to have enough games played to say anything meaningful about the variant’s opening, H.G.Muller suggested having a chess engine play thousands of games with a given variant to get a sense of the opening.

After some 30,000 Schoolbook games, I got two significant pieces of data from all this simulation:

  • Some strong black replies to certain opening moves by white. 1. f4 c5 looks good for black, and 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nb6 looks to equalize. It was somewhat problematic to find a fully satisfying reply to 1. c4, and, indeed, 20,000 of the games were played to see how to minimize black’s problems after white makes this move; I finally settled on 1. c4 Mh6. One line of research I was not able to complete in the timeframe I allocated this project was to see if black had a reasonable reply to minimize his problems after 1. c4 e6 2. g4 (1. c4 e6 2. Bc2 f5 equalizes for black, but we can not depend on white cooperating so); I was not able to find a fully satisfying reply for black.
  • Over 100 mating positions, which can be downloaded and looked at in Winboard; go to to download them. I hope to one day make an inexpensive book with nothing but Schoolbook mating problems, a la Reinfeld’s classic 1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate (without the tactical errors the original book had)

The nice thing about the technological age and the ready availability of powerful home computers (did you know that an inexpensive netbook has as much computational power as a then start-of-the-art Cray XMP from 1984?) is that we can research information that previous generations could never dream of. I would like to thank H. G. Muller for making all of the software freely available so I could do a meaningful in-depth study of a chess variant. Indeed, I have coined 1. c4 in Schoolbook the “Muller attack” since it was his software that first showed me how powerful this line is for white.

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