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Comments by Jianying Ji

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Spartan Chess. A game with unequal armies. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jianying Ji wrote on Sat, Nov 6, 2010 03:43 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
I have followed the development of spartan chess in the comments, and I must say I am deeply impressed, especially by the collaboration of H.G.Muller and Steven Streetman. The use of applied computational variantology (to coin a phrase) is a tour-de-force. This is how computers should be used in this field that we are in. I see a bright future in this approach.

I also look forward to a bright future for spartan chess!

Locusts. Simple chess variant with only two set of pieces on each army. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jianying Ji wrote on Sat, May 22, 2010 03:27 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Simply brilliant!

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Jianying Ji wrote on Sun, Jul 13, 2008 03:48 PM UTC:
If you don't mind a bit of cutting, buy battle mats from chessex. You get
23x26 for $13.95, which means you get 4 10x10 boards, by cutting it up. so
that averages to about $3.49 per 10x10 mat. or 6 10x8 boards for average of $2.32 per board.

you can also buy reversible mats and double your pleasure for about 50% more in cost.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Fri, Jul 4, 2008 11:46 AM UTC:
Capital idea! Demo games would be great!

Nacht Schach. Missing description (8x7, Cells: 56) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
💡📝Jianying Ji wrote on Mon, Jun 16, 2008 08:58 PM UTC:

 I have a certain aversion to castling as I find the castling rules fiddly, but your point is well taken. For Nacht Schach, castling does make some sense. So it can be used as an optional rule. 

In other games of this yet unposted series of variants, the topology and rules is such that castling will be unnecessary. (i.e. there's room to move rook back.)

King's Guard Chess. Pawns move like kings and only Pawns may capture. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jianying Ji wrote on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 04:53 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Horray for the unique mechanism! (well some joe joyce's large variants has enabling pieces that allow other pieces to move or capture, but still that is very different from this variant) As for computer play, it does alter drastically the evaluation function, and depending on the subtlety and complexity of the function, the play will differ widely in quality. It certainly would spread it out some.

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Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 12:27 PM UTC:
I wouldn't go that far, those variants are 'new', at least to this page,
so they get played more. The question is which variants gets played after
they are off the front page...

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Fri, Jun 6, 2008 09:48 PM UTC:
One thing that makes chess easier to program for is the standard opening.
With a standard setup, there becomes the possibility of opening book,
which severely limits the search space of the computer. 

Go starts with the most options and the game simplifies as it approaches
the end. In fact computer can play near flawless Go, if starting from near
end of mid-games, yet starting from the first move, computers can only
reach low amature dan level.

Arimaa is hard bacause of high branching factor by employing multiple
moves and weak pieces.

Shogi is relatively hard because of the drop rule which increases
branching factor as well.

Jianying Ji wrote on Thu, Jun 5, 2008 11:19 AM UTC:
Actually games can make good contribution to computer science in pushing it
to create a good theory of practical complexity. Currently there's only a
good theory of worst case complexity and a passable theory of complexity
of approximating within certain percent of best or worst case. But
practical complexity has to be estimated without really necessarily
knowing the worst case. 

The practical significance is with such a theory computers can have a better feel for strategy, instead of either only planning for the worst case, or using more or less blind (actually guided) search.

Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, Jun 4, 2008 05:07 PM UTC:
Given enough time a well programmed computer will at least draw humans on
any finite game, that I certainly agree, but there still much utility in
creating games that at this point computers are woefully bad at. At this
moment at least computers think in many ways very differently than humans.
By throwing widely varying situations for computers to master, we develop a
fuller theory of cognition. I think humans should always strive to beat the
computer so as to improve both us and the computer. 

It took over a decade to solve checkers completely, humans are not over at
abstract games yet.

Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, Jun 4, 2008 12:13 PM UTC:
Humans are strategic players, computers are tactical players. Computers can
follow a few pieces in long sequences, humans are better at evaluation
whole board situations. Thus a game where strategy counts and that the
evaluation function quickly engulfs the whole board, would be the hardest
for computers. Another thing would be is that if the differences in the
relative worth of the positions are subtle, and that the resolution is
sufficiently in the end game that the program is forced to evaluate more
positions within any one ply. 

However there is another approach, that is to have a game of sufficiently
high complexity class and sufficiently scalable, then one just need to
increase the size of the board to keep it out of the computer's reach,
especially if the time complexity is beyond exponential, or space
complexity is beyond polynomial. In this kind of game one can think of
leveling as computer and humans battle at increasingly higher levels.

Chameleon (1). Take a piece in the way that piece is taking.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jianying Ji wrote on Sun, Jun 1, 2008 10:31 PM UTC:
please refer to this page for more info on similar pieces. I have found it useful, you might too.

Unfortunately a mimic that captures as attacker's move is not there, so we need new terminology, we can call it a conter-reflecting mimic

Nacht Schach. Missing description (8x7, Cells: 56) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
💡📝Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, May 28, 2008 06:43 PM UTC:
I think your second option is what I mean. But I'm not too sure, so let me clarify.

1st. standard checkmate would be a win, since the king is in danger so the player must aleviate the check (by king's rules), but since he can't he has no legal moves, thereby loses (by rule 1).

2nd. in addition to standard checkmate, stalemate would be loss as well, since by rule 1 the person with no legal move loses. A example would be if white king at A1, and black rook at B2, with white having no other pieces, and black having pieces elsewhere. If it is white to move, then white is lost, since his only piece the king can't move without placing itself in danger which is forbidden.

So checkmate in Nach Schach is a form of stalemate, and is still a valid way to win, however stalemate is sufficient, so sometimes there can be simpler way to win without explicit checkmate.

By the way it would be intersting to work out lone king win against lone king, hint it is a win by stalemate.

Finally I have a subvariant which I'll post later that adds a random setup on a slightly larger board, which I consider better than Nach Schach itself.

Mutators. Article discussing the concept of Mutators.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jianying Ji wrote on Fri, May 23, 2008 08:50 PM UTC:
Welcome back Joao!

On mutators, the way I look at it is that a game consists three things: A board along with its topology, A set of pieces along with their movements, and a set of mutators defining various aspects of the game not covered by previous two.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, May 21, 2008 07:44 PM UTC:
Gary, quite agreed. That actually is my point as well, that categorizations
are always arguable. Whether planets or CVs. (as for planets, I like to
think ceres and pluto as planets, but have to console my self with the
dwarf planet status :-) )

Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, May 21, 2008 12:12 AM UTC:
My analogy for this issue is the planets.

If FIDE chess is like Earth
and 8x10 chess is like Mars
then extinction chess is like pluto 
and Tzaar is then ceres.

Either neither Extinction chess and Tzaar are chess variants
or they both are. I don't think either is satisfactory to all, but that
is the way the knight jumps.

Piece Values[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Tue, May 13, 2008 03:28 PM UTC:
I really am completely lost, so I won't comment until I can see what the
debate is about.

Jianying Ji wrote on Tue, May 13, 2008 12:59 PM UTC:
Two suggestion for settling debates such as these. First distributed
computing to provide as much data as possible. And bayesian statistical
methods to provide statistical bounds on results.

Simplified Chess. Missing description (8x7, Cells: 56) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Jianying Ji wrote on Thu, May 8, 2008 03:02 PM UTC:
I think promote to captured piece rule slightly complexifies promotion rule but it simplifies number of pieces needed for a game, that one need only one set to play. For over the board games this is very useful thing.

Jianying Ji wrote on Thu, May 8, 2008 01:49 PM UTC:Good ★★★★
very sensible.  I like the odd rows between pawns, this has the effect of reducing first player advantage, since if first player presses its advantage the second player gets one tempo more to answer, where as with even rows between pawns the parity is such that first player gets the tempo.

The no draws rule needs more clarification, since there are many position in chess that a resolution is either impossible or too far in the future. Then there's stalemate. Each of these three cases has to be addressed to have the game become drawless.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, May 7, 2008 11:45 PM UTC:
It is a crossover

Piece Values[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Wed, Apr 30, 2008 04:39 PM UTC:
Interesting response by Derek Nalls, It does appear that the archbishop
will be getting a hearing and reevaluation. This will certain sharpen
things and advance our knowledge of this piece.

On piece values in general, I second Rich with the addition of Hans's
comment, that piece values are for:

1) Balancing armies when playing different armies.

2) Giving odds to weaker players (this is more easily done with
shogi-style variants, with chess-style variants the weaker player receive
a slightly stronger army)

3) To cancel out the first player advantage by giving the second player a
slight strengthening of maybe only one piece.

As for Joe Joyce's minister and Priestess, my initial estimate was
queenish but that is an overestimate, and is dependent on the range of
opponent pieces. One interesting feature that may impact value is that
minister is more color changing than color bound, while priestess is a
balance of both. This balance between color changing and color bound might
make a nice chessvariant theme.

Another general consideration for evaluating piece and army strength is
approachability, how many opponent pieces from how many squares can attack
a piece without reciprocal threat.

Jianying Ji wrote on Tue, Apr 22, 2008 09:40 PM UTC:

   I quite agree, knight is a great piece to normalize value to. I often
think the best way to valuate pieces is to normalize, with knight at
10pts, which is agreeable with the chess quanta at a little less than a
third of a pawn. Perhaps, some new standard can be worked out this way.

Jianying Ji wrote on Mon, Apr 21, 2008 09:29 PM UTC:
Hear Hear, Joe Joyce,

I guess I will throw my first two cents in on the question of the piece
value quanta question. I think the smallest difference on 8x8 board, is
about a third of a pawn or about a tenth of a knight. The larger the board
the smaller the quanta, I believe. Maybe by 12x16, the quanta may be as
large as a pawn, or more. The problem as alluded before in the other
thread is how to empirically test such things.

[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 04:40 PM UTC:

this suggestion, at least similar, has been documented here:

The sergeant is a good blockade piece, Four of them is enough to make any
particular rank untouchable to the opponent.

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