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H. G. Muller wrote on Sun, Oct 2, 2016 08:01 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
files=10 ranks=10 royal=18 royal=36 promoOffset=18 promoZone=3 maxPromote=18 promoChoice=QNRB graphicsDir= startShade=#339933 whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=png symmetry=none pawn::fmWfcF::a3,b3,d3,e3,f3,g3,i3,j3,,a8,b8,d8,e8,f8,g8,i8,j8 guard:Gu:mWcF:lance:c3,h3,,c8,h8 wazir::W:wazir:e2,,f9 firzan::F:ferz:f2,,e9 alfil::A:elephant:b1,,i10 dabbaba::D:cannon:i1,,b10 stork:St:AcW:duck:c1,,h10 goat:Go:DmF:marshall:h1,,c10 commoner:Co:K:man:g2,,d9 knight:N:::e1,,f10 camel::::f1,,e10 marquis:Ma:WN:unicorn:i2,,b9 priest:Pr:NF:nightrider:b2,,i9 wagon:Wa:yafW:crownedrook2:j1,,a10 chariot:Ch:R4:rook2:a1,,j10 dervish:De:ADxabafKxabsW:flag:g1,,d10 scirocco:Sc:BW:crownedbishop:c2,h2,,c9,h9 king::K::d2,,g9 tadpole:Ta:FcWH:butterfly:, zebra::Z:zebra:, zag:Za:FAcafmW:dragon:, zig:Zi:WDcafmF:tower:, bishop::::, genie:Ge:Q3cabK:wolf:, queen::::, lioness:Li:KNAD:lion:, wildebeest:Wi:CN:gnu:, rook::::, squirrel:Sq:NAD:hat:, abbot:Ab:NB4:archbishop:, duke:Du:NR4:chancellor:, spider:Sp:mWyafsW:owl:, octopus:Oc:mFyafsF:falcon:, harpy:Ha:mQ3xavspmafsK3:claw:, vulture:Vu:mBcRK:princess:, emperor:Em:WDA:champion:, HG dervish:HG:ADmWxabafK:flag::1


This variant, with its 36 piece types, is a good stress test for the Interactive Diagram generator. In fact I had to add a new feature to the diagram script, to implement 'relay power'. But first a list of clickable pieces to easily get their moves displayed (2nd click shows promotion):

  • Pawn
  • Guard
  • Wazir
  • Firzan
  • Alfil
  • Dabbaba
  • Stork
  • Goat
  • Commoner
  • Knight
  • Camel
  • Marquis
  • Priest
  • Wagon
  • Chariot
  • Dervish
  • Scirocco
  • King
  • (HG Dervish proposal)

color coding:

  • move or capture (sliding)
  • move or capture (jump)
  • non-capture only
  • capture only
  • locust-capture victim
  • The 'activation zones' of Dervish and Harpy (the K and Q3 squares, respectively) are not indicated in the move diagrams. When moving those the pieces they activate will be highlighted in cyan.

    (If you want to try out the alternative Dervish in the diagram, you can click here to get one.)

Move-power relaying

The Harpy relays Knight power to every friendly piece in its Q3 vision, and the Dervish relays limited Alfil / Dabbaba / Firzan power to any adjacent friend. It was a challenge to allow the diagram to do this, as how would one describe in Betza notation that, say, N moves are conditional, and what exactly that condition is? The solution I finally arrived at is to consider these relayed N moves as (multi-leg) moves of the Harpy, rather than simple moves of the piece that makes them. (To try that, drag a Dervish (the flag) to the promotion zone, and answer the promotion question above the board with 'Yes' to acquire a Harpy to move around. You can of course also try out the relaying power of the Dervish itself.)

So to make such a relayed move, one first clicks the Harpy (the 'activator' piece), and this highlights the simple moves of the Harpy (in green, as it is a non-capture-only piece), but it highlights all activated pieces in cyan, indicating that going there would just be the first leg of the move, and another leg may follow. Selecting a thus activated piece then shows the relayed N moves of that piece, and clicking one of those then moves the piece, rather than the Harpy.

That the first leg of a multi-leg move acts on friendly pieces to relay power, rather than on enemy pieces to capture them in passing, is indicated by an 'x' modifier for the first-leg modality in the Betza notation understood by the diagram. (This was one of the few characters not yet in use.) So the moves of the Knights in Knight-relay Chess would be written as mNxaN, where the xaN describes the relay of N moves to pieces an N jump away. For the Harpy it was a bit more complex, because the activation step (Q3) was different from the relayed move.

Locust capture

The diagram already did implement locust capture, also as a multi-leg move, where the possible locust victims are highlighted in cyan first. After selecting one, the final destination(s) get highlighted, so one can be picked to land on. In Scirocco the Zig and Zag pieces have Checker-like locust captures, where they have to land on an empty square. This move is indicated a cafmW or cafmF, the first leg (before the 'a') obligatory capturing, and the second leg in the same direction ('f') obligatory landing on an empty square.

Printable versions, a new general diagram feature

A good point raised by Fergus some time ago is that interactive diagrams are very nice when sitting behind a display, but very cumbersome for making printouts for later reference. I therefore equipped the diagram script now with a function to display the moves for all pieces on separate boards. This can be activated after opening the diagram legend below the diagram. Above the table one can then click 'print version' to make all move diagrams appear between board and piece table.

About the game

Based on studying the rules, the following characteristics struck me as imperfections, and are the reason that I did not rate it as 'excellent':

  • There is an annoying asymmetry in the promotions of Alfil and Dabbaba. If Alfil promotes to Bishop then surely the Dabbaba should promote to Rook!? A Genie seems excessively strong: rifle capture is devastating. It would not be out of line as promoted Knight, however. The other 8-way leapers (Commoner and Camel) also promote to pieces much stronger than a Rook.
  • Making the moves that could break severe color binding capture-only seems a bad idea, and makes the Stork a very awkward piece.
  • That one can win by forcing repeats through perpetual checking is very unsatisfactory. Even Chu Shogi has always made an exception for that.
  • The repetition rule prevents a losing side from halting progress of the future winner by checking, because sooner or later he would run out of new checks. But when the defender has a stong piece like Queen, this can basically take forever. Chu Shogi also suffers from that. A rule against roaming the board giving (ultimately) pointless checks is sorely needed.
  • The Dervish seems to start in a wrong location for its move. To really help development I would like to position it in front of the Pawn rank, to give the Pawns behind it forward A and D steps. But due to its high-order color binding the Dervish can never get there. To enhance the Dervish, it would have been better to add some extra non-capture moves to it that would break the color binding (like mW), then to make it activate more moves in its neighbors (as was done in this revision).

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