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Game Reviews by JT K

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Sovereign Chess. Ten neutral armies can be activated on this 16 x 16 board. (16x16, Cells: 256) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Sat, Mar 3, 2018 09:25 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

I've recently had the pleasure of playing a full correspondence game of Sovereign Chess, so I'm now ready to review.  The overall concept is excellent, and I know through conversations that the creator put much thought into all the principles of good game design.

Despite my five star rating I do need to mention a few criticisms, though they are minor - and a person could probably adjust the rules in their own house games anyway:

- I'm not sure if the colored square setup is ideal for creating a lot of different opening sequences, though I could be proven wrong in time.  Although I made a mistake in my game, I do feel that my original idea of occupying red as White was pretty strong and difficult to fight against (for whomever goes 2nd).  The pie rule was implemented to control this, but not sure how well that would pan out in practice.

- The board is 16 x 16, so it can definitely get a bid tedius to use pawns or knights in a genuinely effective way - except for defense.

- The rules about coup d'etat and pawn promotion regime change don't do much for me- and the less rules the better in my opinion.

Having said all that, Sovereign Chess has a lot of well-crafted rules.  The creator made sure that only one piece can control a color at a time, to make things easier to grasp and also prevent stagnant/stalemated positions.  Sliding pieces cannot go too far and gives knights a chance to thrive - or at least control the center.  The varient seems to have a lot of candidate moves at any given stage.  One could abandon their color, could try capturing the controlling piece, or simply attack the controlled pieces as needed.  Defection is a good "regime change" rule, where one decides to abadon his/her controlled pieces in favor of a better army color.  It's a lot of fun to determine the actual VALUE of certain pieces and colors, especially when trading.  An interesting tactic I found was actually abandoning a color to "neutralize it" and create an uncapturable wall around the king as needed.

Overall, I have to say that I'd play it online a lot if available.

Diagonal pawn chess. Pawns always move diagonally, whether capturing or not.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 01:59 AM UTC:Good ★★★★

I'm not sure if it exists already as a modest proposal, but I like the creativity of the promotion rule (and simplicity of the general idea).  Trying to "aim" pawns toward the central files for a queen sounds interesting.  My only concern would be if an obvious advantage for either side occurs due to some open files very early on in the game.

Mimic Chess. Chess on a larger board with 3 new pieces with constantly changing movement capabilities.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Tue, May 9, 2017 09:22 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

That makes sense, very interesting.  It would require some pretty deep thinking, even for just the next move or two, if all three of those pieces are interacting.  I'll have to try this sometime.

Cylindrical Chess. Sides of the board are supposed to be connected. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Sun, Apr 23, 2017 02:15 AM UTC:Good ★★★★

I've heard of non-edge variants of chess, but I hadn't read this specific page until just recently.  The game seems interesting and might eliminate the usual "going for the center in the opening" strategy.  Still, I can't help but wonder if the king might be tough to mate if there are no right and left edges.  Can a knight, bishop and king mate the lone opponent king?

Maybe they should make a restriction on the king - he is restricted to the usual board edges perhaps?

SquireKnight. Squire Knight combines Knight and Forward/Backward Pawn like moves. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 08:54 PM UTC:Average ★★★

On a standard 8x8 board, the knight and bishop are already very close in material value, so I'm not sure that this new rule would be welcomed by many players.  Perhaps the uncertainty of its value would make the game interesting to some.  Somewhere on the level of a rook or close to it?

I will add, however, that a "squire knight" would probably work very well on some of the large board variants to give knights more power and purpose.

Fischer Random Chess. Play from a random setup. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 06:45 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

Kevin, you raise a good point about book sales, etc., but as for the "one year per setup" idea, I think Fischer's original plan was to avoid the opening theory discussion altogether.  If everyone studied one particular random setup for a year, I'll bet White's advantage would be exploited even moreso than it is in the standard setup.

With a random setup, determined just before the game starts, you can just look at a random position between two players and enjoy the actual battle of minds in that moment.  The match would be 100% performance-based, instead of being so preparation-based.

Building Chess. Variant that starts with a board of 25 squares, but each player adds a square after their move. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 06:00 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

Sounds interesting.  I suppose players could do this on a standard board if marked properly.  I think there are many sub variants that could stem from this.  I would wonder if the squares keep adding to make a bigger square or if there could be a long line of empty squares in one direction.

Unachess. Start with empty board and begin with dropping pieces. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 11:54 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

I just finished entering a variant of my own called Chessembly that is almost identical to this!  It hasn't been posted to this site yet, but probably because Jeff Miller apparently beat me to it by many years.  I was a bit upset to see it already in existence, but then I should have known this type of variant would be invented by now.  In fact, in my version I was thinking of adding certain restrictions that I also see here in Unachess 2 and Parachute.

The main difference between my version and this (which would greatly influence the opening of the game) is that a person cannot drop ANY piece past the first four ranks, not just the pawns.  This would make dropping an army on one side of the board the most likely opening for both players (then some movement would start to happen gradually as the overall assembly becomes apparent).  It basically means that each player has their own "drop" territory (on their own side of the board).

Ready Chess. Pieces cannot capture right after capturing, they have to be restored first. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 01:29 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

Looks interesting!  It's almost as if each piece becomes a remorseful pacifist after capturing... a person should capture wisely then :)  I assume that you can give check by mutating a Ready Piece "aimed" at the King?  I would be curious to see how ready pieces can be used to prevent or force a stalemate in the endgame.

Alice Chess. Classic Variant where pieces switch between two boards whenever they move. (2x(8x8), Cells: 128) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 01:07 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

What a great classic variant I've only recently discovered!  This description mentions that you can use only one board.  I agree and think it's easier visually. After each piece is moved, you could just mark it with some sort of large poker chip underneath (or clip something onto the top) and vice versa - when a marked piece is moved it loses the marker. 

Then, the players could simply have an understanding that marked pieces and unmarked pieces are not in each others' way and cannot capture each other.  So a game could go like this:

1. d4  Nf6

(now the white pawn and black knight are both marked)

2. Qd6 now possible for White because White knows the unmarked Queen can go "through" his/her marked pawn.  Then the Queen becomes marked at d6, threatening the marked Black knight.  The Black knight then moves to e4 and loses its marker. 


Falcon Chess. Game on an 8x10 board with a new piece: The Falcon. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 01:39 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

The falcon is an interesting piece!  Arriving at the same square in different ways is a clever concept.  I would be curious to know how a top computer would rank them compared to a knight.

Fusion Chess. Variant in which pieces may merge together or split apart. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
JT K wrote on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 02:18 AM UTC:Good ★★★★

Disregard my question about pawn promotion there... I see it in the description.

JT K wrote on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 01:51 AM UTC:Good ★★★★

Very interesting variant!  I'd love to play it on a real board, if I had the special pieces...  Question though: can a player's original queen "split" (fission) or is that piece permanently a regular queen?  Same question for a promoted pawn... if a pawn promotes to queen, is splitting an option on that queen? Can a pawn promote to a fused type such as marshal or is queen the only option? 

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