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Comments by Eric Silverman

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Fantastic XIII. A bizarre large odd chess variant with the weirdest men from Cazaux's family.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2022-02-10 UTC

Just for the record, I did indeed get the Snaketongue name from Betza's article on bent sliders :) It's a really enjoyable and interesting piece.

Likewise, Fantastic XIII is an enjoyable and interesting game, I just need to find some time to get the promotion rules right in Ai Ai!


Terachess II. An unrealistic summit on a very large board of 16x16 squares and 128 pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-11-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I've been playing a lot of this game recently (via Ai Ai), partly for my own enjoyment and partly as inspiration for my own 16x16 experiments. There are relatively few modern Chess variants played on 16x16, and for me, this game is the best example thus far.

The variety of pieces presented here is at first intimidating, but one soon realises there is a logic to everything presented here, and shortly thereafter you'll find the piece movements become natural. The balance of the initial position is excellent, with every piece finding its way into the fight without too much awkward development. Games are long -- against AI at 2 minutes/move my games take at least 400 plies, with my longest so far at 695 -- but as a large Shogi variant fanatic this doesn't bother me at all. Throughout those long games one will find drama, excitement, and plentiful opportunities for subtlety and subterfuge.

If I were very picky, I might say that I'd like to see the Rook + Camel/Bishop + Camel compounds in here, which I find really fun on a large board. Also the basic leapers -- Camel, Giraffe, Knight -- feel less impactful in a game this size. Having said that, everything works well together, and I enjoy this game tremendously.


Opulent Chess. A derivative of Grand Chess with additional jumping pieces (Lion and Wizard). (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-11-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I've played the heck out of this via Ai Ai, and I absolutely adore this game. I prefer the greater piece density and the more interesting piece mix here to those of Grand Chess. The resulting play is interesting and nuanced both tactically and strategically. In my opinion Opulent Chess is one of the finest 10x10 variants.

My one complaint is the presence of Pawn promotion by replacement, but that's not particular to this game, I just dislike it everywhere. Promoting stuff is fun and interesting, so I prefer just being able to promote to any piece without restriction. After all I'm a Shogi player, and what can I say, we like promoting stuff! I also dislike some of the weird effects the rule can produce in rare circumstances, but that's more of an aesthetic objection. I do like the extended promotion zone though.

On the whole, a delightful game. Strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in decimal variants.


Tengu Dai Shogi. Turbo version of Dai Shogi, with some Dai Dai Shogi pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-10-13 UTC

I've been working on implementing this game in Ai Ai, and have realised that there is an error in the write-up here: the Knight does not promote to Gold General in Tengu Dai Shogi, it promotes to a new piece which moves as a Chess Knight or as a Gold General. The text description and diagram are visible under the 桂馬:けいま heading on the original Japanese page.


Maasai Chess. Large CV with 48 pieces per side, of 20 types including both regular and rapid Pawns.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-07-07 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I have played this game extensively in the Ai Ai software package since adding it, and I feel it may be the best iteration so far of Jean-Louis Cazaux's series of 12x12 variants. The piece density and variety generate very interesting interactions on the board. The various Pawn- and Pawn-like pieces in the 3rd/4th ranks create a nice sense of progression, leading the board to gradually open up and allow more powerful pieces to enter the fray.

In a sense, the game reminds me slightly of a Chess equivalent to Dai Dai Shogi, which has a long opening phase that gradually expands into a delightfully complex middlegame. As a fanatic for large Shogi I consider this a plus :)

In any case, I highly recommend this game for fans of larger variants. In the future I hope Maasai might generate some similar developments of Gigachess and Terachess as well. I have experimented a bit myself with adding the two ranks of mixed Pawns to those games and the results were quite enjoyable.


Yangsi. A very playable chess variant with 12 different pieces on a 10x10 board.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-07-02 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Having implemented this variant in Ai Ai and having played it a bunch of times, I really enjoy this game. Being a large Shogi fanatic, the higher piece density of Yangsi doesn't bother me in the slightest :)

For me this game is an improvement on something like Sac Chess, as the pieces in Yangsi are more interesting to use. In fact I was inspired by this game to make what I called 'Heavy Shako', an extension of Shako that fills in all the gaps in the back rank with other pieces used in the larger variants by Jean-Louis Cazaux. The original concept was much improved by some excellent advice from Jean-Louis, and the resulting game has been a lot of fun.

I'd enjoy seeing an extension of Yangsi to 12x12 with a high-density setup, too.


MSgyaku-sama-shogi[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-07-02 UTCGood ★★★★

I really like these experiments with reducing the size of Tenjiku Shogi with H. G. Muller's Nutty Shogi and Dr Eric Silverman's Makyou Shogi.

Thanks for mentioning Makyou Shogi, I'm glad someone noticed it :) It's a work-in-progress still, but I do enjoy it as a smaller, rapid-fire introduction to Tenjiku Shogi.

I have never played Tenjiku.

Give it a try before you go for even weaker pieces :) The original, full-power Demon is still usable even on 12x12. Personally I'd rather see this game with a stronger Demon than an even weaker one.

Hence my rating for this game -- I love the use of the Microshogi promotion rule, and the overall goal of a less brutal Tenjiku/Nutty Shogi is an admirable one. My one issue is that the Demon is so weak in the Suzumu family of games that the flavour of Tenjiku is mostly absent; Tenjiku is almost defined by the terrifying presence of the Demon, much like the Lion in Chu Shogi. If the Demon were powered up to something in between the original and this one, I think this game would be even more interesting.


MSchushin-shogi[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-06-05 UTC

Perhaps this is a bit off-topic in this place, but just out of curiosity: can you elaborate a bit on this 'digital implementation'? Does this include an AI, and if so, is this an AlphaZero-type self-learning, or a conventional alpha-beta search (with NNUE or hand-crafted)? It would be very nice if you could create a strong player for games with promotion-on-capture and contageon, such as Maka Dai Dai Shogi, and its shrunken versions. As it is not clear to me what would be a good strategy for such games.

It's already available, you can read about it and find a link here: https://drericsilverman.com/2021/05/13/ancient-shogi-revival-part-ii-the-big-ones/

Everything up to Tai Shogi is now present. Numerous options are available to attempt to encompass the various opinions on rules/piece movements in some of the large Shogis. Where relevant I also included modern variants, like your own Nutty/Cashew/Macadamia series.

There is an AI, but it's basic alpha-beta and not optimised at this point; online play is also available. The Ai Ai software is a general-purpose game-playing package primarily built around MCTS, and the Chess engine is a relatively new addition, so there's still lots of work to do on that. The priority in the Shogi arena right now is having the large Shogis all functional and bug-fixed, then we'll work on the AI. I'm currently working on Taikyoku Shogi.

Reinforcement learning is coming, but not soon. Lots to do until we're ready for that.


Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-05-12 UTC

The Left General and Right General's text in the piece listing both say this:

The Drunk Elephant moves as a King except directly left.

Are the promotions right for those pieces, do they both promote to Shogun?

I'm just double-checking because a friend and I are currently working on digital implementations of all the large historic Shogi variants, and once those are finished and bug-fixed I'd like to include at least Suzumu, Hanten and Chushin Shogi as well :)


Man and Beast 03: From Ungulates Outward. Systematic naming of the simplest Oblique Pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-05-11 UTC

Same for me, none of the diagrams work in these MAB articles. These articles seem really useful but are really dense with information and hard to follow, so without functioning diagrams I can't really make heads or tails out of them.


MShanten-shogi[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-04-16 UTC

Kyoto Shogi style switchbacks could be interesting. But there is a problem: the instant a Pawn or Drunk Elephant moves, it would be forced to promote, which boosts defense early on and makes the game less interesting in my opinion. Of course, this can be easily solved by including exceptions to this rule for those pieces, and providing some sort of visual cue to match. But to me, the condition that promotion/demotion only happens on captures makes more sense, as you would need less visual cues for it.

Yes, definitely some of the promotions would need to be changed to make Kyoto-Suzumu playable. It could be interesting to follow Kyoto Shogi's lead, and change the promoted sides of the Pawns/Drunk Elephants so that the pieces swap between long-range and short-range roles, rather than being defensively strong in both (and it's probably sensible to scrap the promotion to Prince entirely).

Probably most of the promotions/demotions would benefit from changes, really; I agree with you that having no exceptions to the rule would be preferable, so the whole thing would have to be carefully tested. I'd be inclined to have most pieces promote/demote to pieces that don't share most of their moves, so that players have to cope with each piece having two distinct personalities from move to move. In any case, these sorts of questions are what intrigues me about the idea -- it'd be quite a design challenge :)

Thanks for reintroducing the two different colours to Hanten! That's a helpful little mnemonic for players new to the switchback-capture idea.


Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-03-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Good to see Hanten Shogi and its little brother revived! Looking forward to playing on Game Courier sometime :)

If I may make a suggestion, I remember in the previous version the switchback pieces had blue rather than red on the promoted side, which I thought was visually helpful. Any chance of that coming back?

Thinking ahead, perhaps there's an opportunity for an even wilder follow-up to Hanten Shogi -- a large Shogi with Kyoto-Shogi-style switchbacks after every move, including non-captures :)


Tengu Dai Shogi. Turbo version of Dai Shogi, with some Dai Dai Shogi pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-03-08 UTC

OK, I see. Thank you for the explanation. I don't think he is right about the Left/Right Chariots in Maka Dai Dai Shogi, though; These seem well placed. You can move them quickly away from the edge they start, by moving them forward a lot, and then diagonally back. Or, to say it differently: with only their sliding moves they would be able to access (on an empty board) nearly the entire board, except for a small triangle in the corner of their own camp just behind them. Had they started near the other edge, their sliding moves could only access the triangle above their diagonal move (less than half the board, as they start significantly above the main diagonal), and to access the area under the diagonal they would be dependent on their backward step (which would pretty much take forever on such a large board). You see the same pattern for the Quails in Tori Shogi.

Yep, that all sounds reasonable. I really don't have any strong feelings either way, just thought it was useful to relay what he said. Since his comments confirm that these piece placements are purely an aesthetic choice, which the inventor's open to changing anyway, maybe it's worth adding a swap of the White Tiger/Blue Dragon as a suggested variant?


Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-03-07 UTC

The start location of the White Tiger and Blue Dragon is a bit surprising, as their diagonal slides aim towards the board edge rather than towards the center. In Dai Dai Shogi this is the other way around: the Blue Dragon starts on the left.

In one of the comments below the Japanese blog post where this game originated, the inventor states that he deliberately put those pieces in those awkward positions. His reasoning is that we see a similar tendency in Maka Dai Dai Shogi, where the Left and Right Chariots are also positioned awkwardly with their diagonal slides heading toward the edge of the board. He also cites Chu Shogi, where the steppers are stuck on the back line despite being most useful at the front. He believes that placing those pieces awkwardly in the other variants was intentional, so he placed the White Tiger and Blue Dragon similarly (and also the Vermillion Sparrow and Turtle-Snake).

He also says he accepts this might not be correct, and in a later comment says he feels the pieces can be changed around as appropriate, so I think he wouldn't mind if players tried swapping those pieces over.


Dai Dai Shogi. Historical large Shogi variant. (17x17, Cells: 289) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-03-07 UTC

For what it's worth, one of my older friends, who had lived in Japan for 5 years, was laughing his head off at the bath scene back then (a scene which also confirms this is the right show, I guess), along with another friend being doubled over, too. I didn't find the scene necessarily too odd, but rather I thought it was largely irrelevant to the shogi variant game being played - I suppose there has to be some sort of breakaway scene(s) at times from a game, though.

Yeah I also lived in Japan for a few years, and that onsen moment is really funny. The onsen is where you go to have a deep soak, de-stress and forget your troubles -- so seeing both the players in there really underlines how exhausted they were by playing this monstrous game. They're opponents in the game, but united by just being knackered by the whole thing.

The players' comments at the end of the game sum up their feelings pretty well -- the winner says 'I don't want to do that again', and the losing player says 'I have no regrets about losing', with a clear sense that he's just glad it's over!


MSchushin-shogi[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-02-17 UTC

This page is now finished and waiting to be approved.

Great news!

That's not to say I don't want to make presets for these games. If I could create the proper PHP files for the pieces and get them added to Game Courier, that would allow me to create presets for these games with proper representation of the pieces, which would be great. If you are an editor, perhaps you could help me with that when I finish the PHP files?

I'm not an editor, so far as I know, so unfortunately I can't do much. If there is some way I could help, please let me know.

I'm guessing that, without the added PHP code in Game Courier, the only way to play would be without rules enforcement? That would be doable, but definitely would be prone to error, given the number of piece types.

As for Hanten Shogi and Gyaku-sama Shogi, I am in the process of reviving them.

I'm glad to hear it! I had wondered in the past why the Microshogi/Kyoto promotion methods hadn't seemed to propagate into other Shogi variants, so I was pleased to find Hanten Shogi (and Gyaku-sama).


Dai Dai Shogi. Historical large Shogi variant. (17x17, Cells: 289) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-02-16 UTC

Fwiw, I once was at the Ottawa home of a player of games such as Go and >Shogi, and watched a documentary from Japan, where for an exhibition a huge >board was made for a unique one-time Shogi variant between two players, with >a few thousand pieces per side used. The game lasted something like 4 days, >and the players naturally took breaks, including a whirlpool break together >(more than the viewer needed to see or know, IMHO).

That match was part of a documentary segment for a variety show. The game in question wasn't a unique one-time Shogi variant, it was Taikyoku Shogi, played on a 36x36 board with 402 pieces per player. The winner in that match achieved checkmate after 3,805 moves and more than 32 hours of play.

Side note: the players took a break to soak in an onsen, a heated bath. People in Japan often go to onsen and bathe communally with strangers, it's very commonplace and no intimacy is implied, so it's nothing to be alarmed about.

There's a clip of the segment here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c0Y26iTPSM


MSchushin-shogi[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-02-11 UTC

Looking good so far! Excited to see the final version of this page.

Are you planning to implement Game Courier presets for this, Hook Shogi and Taishin? I would be interested in playing them.

Also, I hope you will revive Hanten Shogi, the use of 'switchback' promotion was very creative.


Game Courier Settings Files. Keep track of all the settings files you have written for Game Courier.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Eric Silverman wrote on 2021-01-30 UTC

Adam DeWitt wrote on 2020-11-02 GMT I would like the presets listed below deleted. All of them are mine, so you >do not need someone else's permission to delete them.

The default preset for Hanten Shogi

The default preset for Gyaku-sama Shogi

In case you are wondering why I want them deleted, I have decided to delete >their related articles from the Chess Variant Pages, as I have lost interest >in them.

It's quite unfortunate that you deleted those articles. Just because you lost interest, doesn't mean everyone else has as well. I was intrigued when I found those variants, because very few large variants have Micro-Shogi-style promotion/demotion on capture, and I was planning to spend some time with them at some point.


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