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Comments by John Ayer

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Archabbott Chess. Introduces the Archabbott piece which moves like Bishop + Wazir + Dabbaba.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 03:16 AM UTC:
This makes me wonder: have the combinations rook+ferz+alfil, bishop+dabbabah, rook+alfil been invented and tried?

Report here any pages that are not showing up[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
John Ayer wrote on Mon, May 7, 2012 12:37 AM UTC:
I finally took a look, and, yes, the height seems to be about a quarter
greater than the width.  I am using Firefox.

Military Chess. 19th century commercial chess variant. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 07:47 PM UTC:
By George, you're right! The tank was developed during World War I; the bazooka too but not deployed until World War II; the jeep during World War II. Either this has been updated or someone is floating a hoax.

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John Ayer wrote on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 02:11 AM UTC:
To be perfectly clear, I am thinking of a piece that bears the same
relationship to the gold that Peter Aronson's great elephant bears to the

White Elephant Chess. Four variants pitting the white Elephant army against black with the normal FIDE array. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 02:07 AM UTC:
Has anyone used a piece that moves in the same six directions as the Gold General, or a second square in those same six directions? I don't see it.

Turkish Great Chess VI. Large variant adding an Archbishop and a General (Amazon). (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
📝John Ayer wrote on Sat, Jan 21, 2012 03:46 AM UTC:
Yes, there is a Turkish Great Chess, Variation One. I don't know what happened to it. I will try to write it up (again?) next week, unless someone else gets to it first.

Chess 2. Different armies, a new winning condition, and duels. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 01:38 PM UTC:

Chaturanga. The first known variant of chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 10:24 PM UTC:
'I often read in places, that Shogi and Xiangqi are not as good and appealing as Chess.' I don't know where you saw that, but I don't think it was in this forum. Our header for Xiangqi says that it is played by millions or tens of millions of people around the world. Our header for Shogi says that it is distinguished for its immense popularity and rich history. So 'appealing' is established. 'Good,' we agree, is subjective. Please do not blame us for something published elsewhere, maybe by someone now long dead.

John Ayer wrote on Wed, Jan 4, 2012 03:54 PM UTC:
My, my, my!

Jason, I never said that Chinese chess is derived from shatranj. I suggest that both are derived from Shatranj al-Kamil, V.1 (John Gollon's listing), which was played on a 10x10 board. My reasoning is at .

I think the names 'India' and 'China' are having an undue effect, making people think of the modern nation-states, which are rivals. Gerhard Josten, of the Initiative Group Koenigstein, postulates that proto-chess was invented in the Kushan Empire, fusing elements of Greek origin (from the game of poleis or petteia) brought by the Macedonian army with elements of Indian origin (taken from a race game) and elements of Chinese origin (from liubo). His essay is at in a pdf. I would like to hear what you think of it. Myron J. Samsin, also of the IGK, argues for a somewhat earlier date in the same area .

I would also like to hear why you think that the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period are a particularly likely setting for the origin of chess.

John Ayer wrote on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 07:42 PM UTC:
Charles has said several things that I had in mind when I was obliged to break off. I want to add that I think the concept of 'a game that has finished its development' is unsound. Shatranj/medieval chess was played for at least eight hundred years, and during that time most people probably considered it a finished game. A few restless minds kept tinkering with it, usually to no effect.

Lastly, Jason, you should stop claiming racial grievance and imputing improper motives to everyone else. We mongrels of the western world have explained repeatedly that we have nothing to gain or lose by whether chess originated in India, China, Egypt, or Antarctica. Nor is it true that we have announced a doctrine and then refused to reconsider. We have made an interpretation of the (alas! imperfect) evidence, but eagerly examine every new bit of evidence, and every new argument. This is why we consider everything you have to say, and keep asking for evidence.

John Ayer wrote on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 12:20 AM UTC:
Jason, I admire the patient courtesy with which you maintain your position toward people who still don't see things the way you do. My copy of Prof. Li's book is miles away at the moment, so I can't give a full reply this evening.

I think it is adequately established that both the ashtapada and the Chinese chess board were taken from previous uses, so trying to derive either from the other is pointless.

You say that 'the Spring and Autumn period is the most agreed upon period of time that Xiangqi was originally developed. One of the reasons was because the pieces and the palace concept is from the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. That is 5th-2nd century B.C. That means Xiangqi's believed timeline among Chinese historians who study Xiangqi's history or supposed history, believe the game was first developed around 700-1000 years before Tang dynasty.' This is new to me. Please explain how the pieces and the palace concept are specific to the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period.

More later.

Arrow Pawn Chess. Pawns do not promote but have expanded moves.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 04:42 AM UTC:
Am I correct in thinking that the move to the second square is not a leap?

Man. Moves to any adjacent square, like a King, but not royal.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 12:00 AM UTC:
I agree with Joerg for games in which 'Mann' is used.

Chaturanga. The first known variant of chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Sat, Aug 13, 2011 01:02 AM UTC:
Certainly! On page 36, in footnote 31 to Chapter 1, Murray writes, 'Careless translators have represented the game as chess.' After quoting a text very similar to yours, he continues, 'The same passage was translated by E. W. Hopkins (_Journal Amer. Or. Soc._, New-haven, 1889, xiii. 123): 'I shall become a dice-mad, play-loving courtier, and with the bejewelled holders fling out the charming beryl, gold, and ivory dice, dotted black and red.' On reference to the original Sanskrit, it is perfectly clear that there is no term that necessitates chess. The word used for _board_ is the perfectly general term _phalaka_.''

John Ayer wrote on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 12:26 AM UTC:
Murray argued, and I agree, that if the chessboard had been meant, the text would name the ashtapada, rather than using the general term phalaka (gameboard). One of the most engaging facts about chess in any form is the variety of shapes and characters and names of the various pieces, and in a colorful description of the game--'of blue and yellow and red and white hue, by throws of black and red dice'--the author would, I think, have mentioned the variety of pieces, if there had been any variety, instead of using a single word that is not specific to chess at all. I agree that it is possible to apply this description to chaturaji. I think it is a very bad fit.

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John Ayer wrote on Sat, Jul 2, 2011 12:10 AM UTC:
Congratulations on your partial recovery!

Courier-Spiel ZIP file. This is a more modern variant of Courier Chess in 19th.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Mon, Apr 11, 2011 10:43 PM UTC:
The pawn promotion rule is unknown. The rule given is from another game; its application to this game is a guess by Murray.

Chaturanga. The first known variant of chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Sun, Mar 27, 2011 02:23 AM UTC:
Jason, you say that chariots were not used in Chinese warfare beginning with the Chin Dynasty, about twenty-two centuries ago, and that this suggests that chess in China is older than that. Interestingly, chariots seem to have been disused in Indian warfare since the invasion by Alexander of Macedon and his mixed army twenty-three centuries ago, and some have used that fact to argue that chess in India dates from before Alexander.

'Anyway, Li's book presents all the Western arguments which are always based on the indisputable assumption that India is first or else the white man loses face...' It seems to me that the British might have felt (not that I can discuss this with any nineteenth-century British) that they would lose face if they had chess from their own Indian subjects. I get the impression that they thought China more civilized and respectable than India.

As for Dr. Li's assertion that chess survived underground at the Imperial Court for eight hundred years, this is as completely unsupported as everything else he says about chess before the Tang Dynasty.

The two supposed chess pieces from Russia from the second century are actually from Uzbekistan (Dalverzin Tepe). They are an elephant and a bull, so they are not generally accepted as chess pieces. The earliest generally accepted chess pieces are also from Uzbekistan (Afrasiab, right by Samarkand), from the eighth (Christian) century. There are seven of them, covering all six ranks.

As for the Chinese naval expeditions of exploration some six centuries ago, I accept that they happened; they left archeological evidence here and there. We wicked westerners didn't destroy the records, the Chinese did. I have already stated that the Chinese originated gunpowder, rockets, and printing with movable type, and we have them from China. By the way, I have a Chihuahua. According to sources including the Wikipedia, archeology has found remains of dogs of this type, but larger, in Mexico in the centuries before the Spanish Conquest. Our small Chihuahuas are supposed to be derived from the pre-Conquest dogs crossed with Chinese miniatures brought by the Conquistadors. I asked for any evidence that the Conquistadors, or for that matter the Spanish of that period, had Chinese miniature dogs. Profound silence. I suggested that the Chinese miniature dogs had more likely been brought by the Chinese in the generations before the Spanish Conquest. Continued profound silence.

Jason, the rest of us have disclaimed any investment in whether chess originated in China, India, Iran, Bactria, or Antarctica. You are the only one--the only one!--who has suggested that pinning down the location where chess originated would say anything about the superiority of one nation over another.

Variants with Queens. Some variants, mostly dealing with queens, and mostly modest. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Sun, Mar 20, 2011 12:59 PM UTC:
Blue Queen Chess: A third queen, painted blue (or otherwise uniquely marked), starts on one of the central squares, and can be moved by whichever player has the move.  According to the novel in which I first heard of this, it is also possible to capture the blue queen.  Finally, confirmation that the game was not a fiction of the novel:

Rose. Can make consecutive knightmoves in a circle.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Sun, Mar 6, 2011 02:47 PM UTC:
1: A half-rose is the same as a rose on an endless and empty board.

2: I agree that a rose, like a reflecting bishop, should not be permitted to return to its square of origin.

3: Considering how many pieces comprise a nightrider, I am puzzled that no one seems to have fused the rose with anything else. The bishop, the rook, the queen, the alfil-rider, the dabbabah-rider, the dayrider, the nightrider, the Mann, the alibaba, the dragon king, and the dragon horse all occur as obvious possibilities.

Chaturanga. The first known variant of chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Ayer wrote on Sun, Mar 6, 2011 02:15 PM UTC:
Charles, if you were replying to me, 'ashtapada' is not only the name of a race game, it is (primarily) the name of the 8x8 board on which it was played, and on which chaturanga was also played.

John Ayer wrote on Fri, Mar 4, 2011 06:01 PM UTC:
Christine, I'm butting in here. Murray commented on that passage on page 36. The word rendered 'chess-board' is not 'ashtapada' as you expect but 'phalaka' which is a general term for a game-board. The word rendered 'pawn' is also much less specific. So we have a gameboard, dice, and pieces of four specified colors but NO MENTION OF DIFFERENT TYPES. Not chess, probably pachisi.

John Ayer wrote on Tue, Mar 1, 2011 11:49 PM UTC:
Jason L. writes, 'A Chinese person (not me) really needs to bring all the relevant and credible documents towards so-called early designs of Xiangqi to the world so the rest of us don't have to get into these discussions over whose culture is superior or whatever.'

I have no notion that the question of when or where chess originated in Asia will prove anyone's culture superior. Bringing relevant and credible documents forward would indeed do a good deal toward settling this question. According to Dr. Li, General Xan died in political disfavor, and his papers were destroyed, and his game fell into disuse for eight hundred years. How, please, was it then restored to use and favor?

John Ayer wrote on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 03:13 PM UTC:
I see that I didn't quite write what I meant. I meant that no one has suggested that chess was invented in Tang-dynasty China. I cannot evaluate Jason L.'s apparent meaning that if chess had been adapted to Chinese use in that period, it would not look like the Chinese chess that we know.

John Ayer wrote on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 10:56 PM UTC:
As for what the Courier Game may have contributed, on the comments page for that game H.-G. Muller suggests that, in addition to the modern bishop, the Courier Game may have given us the optional double first move of the pawn. In the Courier Game the queen's pawn and the two rooks' pawns on each side (and the queen) must each make a double step forward at the start of the game. Now, when the optional double first move of the pawn was introduced, it was limited to the king's, queen's, and rooks' pawns. It was then extended to the bishops' pawns, and lastly to the knights' pawns.

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