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Comments by Johnny Luken

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Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-06-26 UTC
Well the concept I've been mainly interested in contributing is "Infima" which is an extension of Ultima concepts. I would like to just submit piece articles with board descriptions of behaviour and case examples. I can program a little, but struggle with more involved things on this website. Any advice on how best I can do this?

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-06-22 UTC
I think users should freely be allowed to add piece concepts to this page. Rather than having adding to the heap of variants as the only outlet, why not allow users to extract the component parts and simply write on them, exposing more information that other designers can build off in the process? I myself have concepts for hundreds of pieces (mostly Ultima like), but no real interest in posting the endless variants that permute from them. I would however submit entries on the piece concepts. The piececlopedia page seemed to have been arbitrarily frozen at a certain point, as if its list is somehow exhaustive, and should no longer be tampered with. This goes against the spirit of this website.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2004-05-11
 Author: Terumi  Kaneyasu and Fergus  Duniho. Inventor: Robert J. Fischer. Fischer Random Chess. Play from a random setup. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-19 UTC
And yet the entire purpose of Fischer Random and like variants is in eradicating theory based openings altogether...

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-16 UTC
The popularity of chess over the other variants is clearly due to its more compact, logical and symettrical design. Its a more modern game, aesthetically more appealing and easier to learn. To celebrate first move advantage as the central selling point, to be preserved at all costs, is risible. Its a bug, not a feature, as it is in any other strategy game. As for "tension", white retains move initiative, but against a prepared 960 array of black. The "tension" is now dual. And as for some 960 arrays being awkward well, yes, but they wouldn't have to play them (in nonrandomised asymettrical).

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-15 UTC
Your version reduces freedom of array selection, and you artificially reverse moves in placement, forcing Black to place first to further enhance Whites advantage. "White first move advantage is necessary for strategic tension." Could you elaborate on this?

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-10 UTC
Regression to predetermined strategy would be countteracted by Blacks freedom to choose an answering array. This gives 921,600 starting positions. Depending on how much of a counteradvantage Black gains, moves could be staggered-White places a piece, Black answers. A constructive phase would add to Chesses itinerary, though how much genuine extra depth is added by such pregame metastrategy and how much real nuance these premoves would have I'm not sure.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-11-15
 Author: Peter  Aronson. Inventor: Peter  Aronson and David  Howe. Rococo. A clear, aggressive Ultima variant on a 10x10 ring board. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTC
In truth, Ultima pieces don't really have fixed values but rather discrete sets of values that vary based on the nature and composition of other pieces. Looping around to give the weakest pieces resistance against the strongest only enhances this "rock-paper-scissors" dynamic (not that that necessarily makes it a worse game).

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-09-29
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: W. B.  Seabrook. Rifle Chess. Pieces are taken by shooting: capturing without moving. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTC
This game is conceptually appealing yet famously poor. An improved subvariant is what I would call "Spotters" Chess, where a piece captures only when another friendly piece has the piece in its sight (the spotter). On playtesting this subvariant is decent, but still not great. Making captured pieces be converted adds complexity. Maybe that would make a worthwhile game for this concept.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-09-13
 By Michael  Nelson. Pocket Mutation Chess. Take one of your pieces off the board, maybe change it, keep it in reserve, and drop it on the board later. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTCAverage ★★★
I would have to extend my criticism of Crazyhouse to this game, and echo Mr Dukes sentiments. While I like the concept, I don't think its an actually good game. My proposed amendment of the drop in rule (pieces are played in with non capture from the spot they were captured) likely brings an improvement here as well. Non immediate promotion is also unsatisfactory; why not allow pieces to promote immediately on rotationally symmetric opposite squares? To me these are the most logical ways of importing Shogis mechanics into the more energetic game of FIDE.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-03-21
 Author: Fergus  Duniho. Crazyhouse. A two-player version of Bughouse. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTCPoor ★
A classic example of a game whose popularity exceeds its actual quality. The addition of conversion to chess is a worthwhile pursuit, but the brainless mechanic of dropping a piece wherever you want, is the least imaginitive possible implementation. More specifically the freedom to drop pieces produces a higher level of convergence in the game tree versus more restricted implementations, reducing strategic connotations of moves. Piece drops in Crazyhouse are always done on primitive grounds, check blocks, pawn promotion threat etc. That it merely borrows this from Shogi is not a defense; those games are 1) somewhat aged, 2) purposely designed towards such a mechanic. Were Chess capture performed by nonreplacement, pieces could simply be converted immediately and this would likely work well. As it is, I believe there are two main implementations. 1. allow pieces of like colour to occupy common space with immediate conversion. This is not satisfactory as it simply allows the second player in a trade cycle to gain all the pieces. 2. my proposition. Captured piece is immediately converted, continues to occupy its cell and can be played on as usual. However it may not be captured at this point, and may not capture on its first move after conversion. On playtesting this idea, I further propose that converted piece must wait one turn before being played into a game-this avoids attritional cycles with little change to the board.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2004-05-11
 Author: Terumi  Kaneyasu and Fergus  Duniho. Inventor: Robert J. Fischer. Fischer Random Chess. Play from a random setup. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTC
Some thing that mystifies me, is why the preference for a randomised setup in Chess 960. A game that had a "zeroeth move" allowing both players to choose their preferred 960 array has potentially richer strategy, and the potential for black to counterract white advantage, by having the "answering" array.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-11-15
 Author: Peter  Aronson. Inventor: Peter  Aronson and David  Howe. Rococo. A clear, aggressive Ultima variant on a 10x10 ring board. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTC
Incorrect. More accurately; Immobiliser 13 FIDE Pawns, Long Leaper/Advancer 8, Chameleon/Archer 7, Withdrawer 3.5, Swapper 2.5, Cannon Pawn 2. Certainly the Rococo Withdrawer and Rococo Swappers normalised values fall far below those of the minor FIDE Pieces, the Long Leaper alone benefits from the exotic board giving it comparable strength to the Advancer, while the Rococo Immobiliser, with its added abilities, is unmatched even by the Advancer+Withdrawer compound (the awfully named "Pushme-Pullyu"). The Withdrawer is not resistant to the Immobiliser so I'm not sure why you included that value. If we're talking hypothetical pieces in a Rococo setting I have already made far more logical and consistent amendments than such ad hoc tacked on rules.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-27 UTC
This games prides itself on conceptual simplicity, and indeed the 5 most fundamental Ultima types manifest themselves in some form or other, Replacer (x, y) => (0, x) Neutral (x, y) => (x, y) Codestructor (x, y) => (0, 0) Archer (x, y) => (x, 0) Swapper (x, y) => (y, x) although only the latterly added Archer exists as a standalone representation. Aronson attached codestruction to his swapper, but both concepts are better fleshed out separately in my opinion. My amendment to the swapper is specified below, while the Queen from Atomic Chess as representative of the latter concept seems a very natural addition to this game (albeit it requires staggered opposition pawn rank to prevent early slaughter). Its worth pointing out that the immobiliser in this game is stronger than the original concept of Abbots game. Abbott floated the idea of a "Neutraliser" (x, y) => ((y, x') => (y, x')) as a separate piece, which acts as the twin of the immobiliser (one disables movement, the other the effect). As its able to not only freeze but entirely disable the chameleon, swapper and archer, the Rococo immobiliser is really a compound of both, which goes towards explaining why its so overpowered.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-11-05
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Robert  Abbott. Ultima. Game where each type of piece has a different capturing ability. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-27 UTC
Of course one piece type may have several implementations. Abbott created the Long Leaper as a piece restricted by consecutive opponent blocking. There are several equally valid implementations; Skewer (x, x', x', x', 0, 0) => (0, 0, 0, 0, x, 0) which can capture consecutively but must land one place immediately after the last captured piece. Skipper (x, 0, x', 0, x', 0, x', 0, 0) => (0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, x) which captures consecutive equidistant opponents, landing beyond the last captured piece equal to their mutual distance. Crazy Hopper (x, 0, x', 0, 0, 0, x', 0, 0) => (0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, x) which captures pieces by landing an equal number of spaces behind them as it was in front of them, but has freedom to move 45 degress between captures. This piece is also the long ranged extension of the King from Turkish Draughts. All degenerate to the Leaper primitive (x, x', 0) => (0, 0, x) in the simplest use case.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-26 UTC
Camerons Brownes "Phwar", invented in 2003, isn't mentioned alongside Rococo, Fugue or Maxima, and indeed doesn't have a CV entry at all, yet is probably one the purest Ultima variants I've seen. Its played on a hexagonal board and all pieces have free (othogonal) movement. It has no pawns, one Decider-a Neutron-that wins the game by accessing the central square, or loses it by being captured. It has two Officers-the positron and the electron. Capturing is quite novel-pieces are captured when faced by enemy pieces whose charge cancels out. The piece is captured to make up the difference. If one were envision this as a standalone Ultima piece-a "Balancer", replacing charge with side, then this would be a piece that captured pieces in its line of sight when the piece had an equal number of pieces from each side in its line of sight. Whether such an technical piece is actually playable is another matter, certainly it would have no place among the tamer newer variants.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-26 UTC
Not in the sense that its behaviour is describable in the fewest number of cells. In that sense the Replacer, Archer and Swapper are the most fundamental. My list wasn't exhaustive admittedly. I could have also included; Long Replacer (x, x, x') => (0, x, x) most common example of which being the Chinese Cannon. Thrower (x', x, 0) => (0, x, x') Mats Winther describes several pieces using this ability, such as in Oxybeles Chess. And indeed the Pincer Pawn can interpreted as one of the 3 cooperative fundamentals; Pincer (x, x', x) => (x, 0, x) Connector (x, x, x') => (x, x, 0) Splitter (x', x, x') => (0, x, 0) Custodial (pincer) capture is the only one I've explicitly seen in a prior game, having been lifted from Hfenatafl (though the much less obscure Othello, and indeed Go, are built on similar mechanics). Capture through connection is exhibited in 3 mans morris, though by connecting like pieces, with arbitrary enemy capture. Capturing enemy forces by splitting them from the board is the principle form of capture in tile removal games, and one would think the Splitter most closely evokes this behaviour. Coordinator and hypothetical "triangulator" are a bit more wayward than all of these, but among the most fundamental as described by a 2D grid, certainly.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-25 UTC
In fact Ultima with Replacer and Advancer already exists as a variant (Ultimatum). The Ultima wikipedia page also mentions other variants not mentioned here, perhaps the most interesting being Renaissance. It features a Resurrector, and is the only Ultima variant I've seen to feature pieces that produce net displacement-the Pusher and Puller, although their incarnations in this case are ludicrously weak, being able to compel indirect capture yet only move one square while acting on other pieces. As yet no variant features the full set of Ultima fundamentals. Indeed several have never been featured at all. REMOVER Replacer (x, x') => (0, x) Advancer (x, 0, x') => (0, x, 0) Withdrawer ((0, x, x') => (x, 0, 0) Leaper (x, x', 0) => (0, 0, x) Archer (x, x') => (x, 0) DISPLACER Pusher (x, x', 0) => (0, x, x') Puller (0, x, x') => (x, x', 0) Attractor (x, 0, x') => (x, x', 0) Repeller (x, x', 0) => (x, 0, x') Swapper (x, x') => (x', x) EFFECTOR Immobiliser (x, x', 0) =/=> (x, 0, x') Converter (x, x') => (x, x) Protector (x, x') =/=> (x, 0) Blocker (x, 0, x') =/=> (x, x', 0)

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-25 UTC
As far as making the game more attacking, that requires little more than replacing the duplicate pieces with the Advancer (the conceptually missing piece of this game) and the Replacer (FIDE Queen), along with a few other tweaks which I elaborated on below.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-25 UTC
I see little need to force promotion into this game. It is sufficiently complex. If an extra dimension really needs to be added, then conversion capture is a much more natural fit, with only the king currently using replacement capture. I'm not really sympathetic in general to attempts to turn Ultima and its derivatives back into FIDE. More interesting to purify the concept, which would be a game in which all pieces have equal movement, differentiated only by behaviour.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2006-05-14
 By Charles W. Stinson. Agincourt. Decimal variant with Archers. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-25 UTC
A variant that has no doubt been reinvented several times. The archer is certainly more canon to chess than the "camel" and like pieces, which serve testament to the underwhelmingly barren nomenclature generally exhibited in greater chess (Ren Chess being one of the few variants that made a genuine attempt to expand chess in a faithful manner). Personally I've always viewed the archer as the triangular analogue of the chinese cannon, though other interesting interpretations exist, typically revolving around short range rifle capture.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-11-15
 Author: Peter  Aronson. Inventor: Peter  Aronson and David  Howe. Rococo. A clear, aggressive Ultima variant on a 10x10 ring board. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-13 UTC
Like the swapper, the withdrawer can be extended quite logically. Allow it to capture pieces in its line of sight as many squares distant or less as it moves when making the capture. It already does this when capturing adjacent pieces. In this way, the withdrawer could capture pieces as many as 4 squares distant using the outer edge of the board.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-05-07
 Author: Hans L. Bodlaender. Inventor: Christian  Freeling. Grand Chess. Christian Freeling's popular large chess variant on 10 by 10 board. Rules and links. (10x10, Cells: 100) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-13 UTC
Fair points, but I'm really talking about more extreme cases. Is a stalemated king vs 3 queens a legitimate draw? I don't so. The only counterargument to that is "gee well the other player shouldn't so sloppy as to let the king be stalemated." But to me thats a moot point. Dominant player shouldn't be obligated to give the weaker player a legal move.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-13 UTC
Either way I would view mandatory promotion to RBN on the 9th/8th rank an improvement.

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-13 UTC
Any game that uses the FIDE stalemate rule has something to do with stalemate. I'm really referring to cases in which a side has no legal move while facing an army with much greater material. I see little justification for a weaker player that has been trapped being awarded a draw in this case. For me its a loophole and nothing more. Pawn vs bare king, or piece vs piece I would still award as a draw. Minor pieces vs king is a grey area but I think trapping the king in such cases is worthy of a win. Imperative of movement is already central to end games, why not enforce it for moving into check and losing a game?

Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-04-12 UTC

Does Freelings claim that Grand Chess is an inherent improvement of FIDE Chess stand up to scrutiny?

Removal of castling

Castling is an artificial but effective rule that serves more than one purpose-the ability to switch an immobile king to prevent lopsided enemy attacks, and increased ease of rook developement. Staggered rooks as an alternative accomplish the latter, a more centralised king on a more spacious board (mostly) negates the former.

Extension of material

The premise in conventional chess variant wisdom seems to be that the choice of the RB compound is arbitrary, and the RN/NB are the natural "missing" extensions. However the FIDE Queen is arguably the most conceptually fundamental piece in the game; its movement on an empty board can be described in 3 words; "it moves straight." The same certainly cannot be said of RN/RB.

K/B/R are restrictions, rather than fundamental building blocks. Similarly the knight is really a special case that subsets the more obscure 2-1 slider. It, and not the "mad Queen" is the true wildcard of FIDE.

Either way, the knight complements the FIDE array perfectly, and gives the ensemble a high degree of balance for such simple pieces - 8 pawns, 4 minor pieces, 2 major pieces, one 1 "master" piece, thats difficult to better, and in my opinion distributing its most obscure movement type in new combinations is not sound grounds for doing so.

In truth, the weakening of the knight move of a 10*10 board aids GC somewhat declustering the pieces and producing a clearer hierarchy, but not enough, and the final ensemble is undeniably lopsided.

I do feel that FIDE is missing a piece (and just one), but I would consider the 2-leaper (a piece so neglected among variants that it barely has a name) to be that piece. Its conceptually simple and bridges the gap between Queen and Rook almost perfectly, being in almost exactly equal power ratio to each.

Aesthetics

FIDE is played on a lower base board (2 vs 10), with perfect 50% piece density.

Pawn promotion

This is where I feel Freeling makes a real mistep. The optional promotion of the 8/9/10th rank is slack and the restriction of promotion to a captured piece is an archaic throwback to precomputerised chess. Freelings defense of the unnecessary complications that arise (pawns on the 9th ranks can give check while immobile) by pointing to the case of pinned pieces in FIDE yet giving check is at best a case of two wrongs not making a right. Why not enforce promotion to the RNB and complete the (R, N, B) power set?

Stalemate, pawn first move and en passant

The primitive stalemate rule of FIDE is left unchanged (piece vs bare king still irrationally given as a draw), and convuluted pawn behaviour is left as it was.

Conclusion

I don't doubt that GC is still an excellent game and most likely the best of its type, but its just not a game that can be considered a clear forward step from FIDE. It extends in an abritrary manner, improves in some areas, loses in others and leaves other chess conventions unchallenged.

Freeling showed an ability to distill the chess paradigm to clear endpoints in Rotary, Shakti and Chad, but ultimately GC can't be considered in that group.


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