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Game Reviews by John Lawson

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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-01-01
 By David  Howe. Dave's Silly Example Game. This is Dave Howe's example of a user-posted game. (2x2, Cells: 4) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2005-04-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
So where do I go to see posted games to approve them? Maybe put a link on the Minimal New page? (This is where I always start a visit to the CVP.)

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-07-30
 By Roberto  Lavieri. Deneb. Special pieces and winning conditions. (7x9, Cells: 63) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-07-30 UTCGood ★★★★
I have a few questions:

1 - 'When a Soldier captures a friend piece, it can promote by
COMPENSATION to a SPECIAL PIECE.'  Does that include another soldier? 
That is, can my soldiers capture each other to create three more special
pieces?

2 - When a Special Piece is adjacent to a Reducer, can it still make a
stationary move to transmute into a different Special Piece?

3 - A 'rules lawyer' would notice that there is no prohibition against
capturing your own King with a Soldier.  You'd get another Special Piece,
and you can't lose by checkmate!  Is this what you meant?

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-06-08
 Author: Ralph  Betza. Doublewide Chess. A discussion of the variant where two complete chess sets (including two Kings per side) are set up on a doublewide board. (16x8, Cells: 128) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-06-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I have to try this game!  A couple of observations, based on logic alone:

Castling your Kings toward the center might allow the defense, in some
situations, to use alternation ('inside lines') to good effect, thus
freeing more forces for a counterattack.  All the better if this strategy
were unanticipated.

Regarding different armies, each player could use the same pair of armies,
but there is the choice of like opposite like, or like opposite unlike. 
That could become interesting if the two armies were of very different
strengths on a 16x8 board, and like was not opposite like.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-05-27
 By João Pedro Neto. Abstract ChessThis item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-05-27
 By João Pedro Neto.. Pieces are represented by stacks of different heights.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-05-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I think many people would be tempted by the strategy Peter mentions, of the 'pawns' getting combined into the back rank pieces early on to build more powerful pieces. The approach I would try in my first game, however, would be to combine pairs of pawns into knights, resulting in having a total of six knights. There's even some logic in demotion: you start with a rook and two pawns, and end with three knights; or a queen and four pawns, and end with five knights. If you carry this idea to its conclusion, you get two bishops, and thirteen knights. In the endgame, you can recombine into whatever more powerful pieces you need. Of course, all this conversion carries a cost in tempo.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-05-17
 By Glenn  Overby II. PromoChess. Everything but the king can power up. Mix of Japanese/Western/fairy pieces. (9x9, Cells: 81) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-05-20 UTCGood ★★★★
I'm not sure a King should be promoted.  If it gets out seven ranks, I'd
assume one of two things is going on:

It's getting chased all over the board by the opponent.  The opponent
probably deserves to win, so why make it harder?

It's advancing despite the best the opponent can do.  Why are you fooling
around with your King?  Put that effort into mating or gaining a winning
material advantage.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-02-28
 By Ralph  Betza. Pied Color Chess. Oh no! All the colors on the board have been scrambled -- however will the pieces move? (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-02-28 UTCGood ★★★★
Extrapolation? You mean like to Chess with Different Armies? Or to some version of Hex Chess? Or how about Nemoroth?

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-02-19
 By Ralph  Betza. Polypiece Chess. Each time a piece moves, all pieces of that type on both sides change their move. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-02-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Isn't this kind of like Peter's Chess with Cyclical Armies?
http://www.chessvariants.com/other.dir/cyclical-armies.html
And I like the idea of polypiece Ultima or Rococo.  How about Polypiece
Optima?  Or Nemoroth?

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-02-07
 By Ralph  Betza. Poker Chess. Squares contain cards, and players win by forming poker hands with the cards on the squares occupied by their pieces. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2003-02-07 UTCGood ★★★★
I'd think flushes would not only be common, but unavoidable. They would be easier to get than three-of-a-kind. And four-of-a-kind would be harder to achieve than a straight flush.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-10-18
 By Ralph  Betza. The Game for the Trees. Pieces grow on the board, occupying multiple squares. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-10-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
My first question so far involves Ash trees.

Given:
- All the squares comprising a tree lead through a series of adjacent
squares back to the root.
- Ash trees grow by Knight moves.

Then I assume:
- Ash squares that are a Knight's move apart are considered adjacent.

If:
- An Ash tree grows from b1 to c3 to d5, stops, and then grows to b4.

And:
- The Ash square d5 is killed.

Then:
- Ash square b4 dies also, even though it is diagonally adjacent to c3. 
Is this correct?


My second question involves underbrush.

When a deciduous tree is killed or injured, the underbrush squares left
behind are neutral.  Is it true that neutral underbrush has no way to
grow?


My third question involves the Huckleberry.

Once per game, the Huckleberry can expand by leaping onto any friendly
grassland square.  Is this Huckleberry distinct from the original
Huckleberry, resulting in two equal royal pieces?

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-08-12
 Author: Jörg  Knappen. Inventor: G. Arthur Lutze. Vierschach. 19th Century 4-player game where allies start off at right angles to each other. (14x14, Cells: 160) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-07-31 UTCGood ★★★★
This is the same unusual placement of partners and order of play that is used by Parker Bros. Grand Camelot, published in 1932. I had thought until now that it was unique in that respect. I have never played Vierschach, but I have played Grand Camelot, and it is a good way to play a partnership game. Peter Aronson also made a variant of his Chaturanga 4-84 with the same seating positions and turn order.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-06-26
 By Ralph  Betza. PASGL 312 Chess. Critters steal lunch in the forest, while trying to get close to the campfire and avoid the train. (Cells: 68) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I've been looking at the point scheme.

The total number of points a player can have for critters next to the
campfire is 24 plus 1 for each Shrew that can be promoted to Chipmunk, or
32.

If you assume that promoting Shrews is difficult: 

Then the likelihood of exceeding your opponent's point count by 30 is close
to zero.

And the likelihood of losing the game even though the opponent's Bear is
eliminated for 20 points is close to zero.

Furthermore, to achieve the maximum score (32) for Campfire propinquity,
there would have to be 16 critters adjacent to the Campfire.  Since the
train passes through each Campfire square 2 of every 20 turns,
orchestrating the 'campout' without some critter getting sqooshed would be
near impossible.

Another interesting effect is that if each side loses its Hunter
(foolishly, since the only way I can see for that to happen is for them
both to be squished by the Train), the game can never end, except draw by
agreement.  Perhaps in this case we need something like a 50-move rule, but
instead of a draw, the winner is declared on points.

I can see the possibility of an urban variant of PASGL 312 called NYCTA
IRT, where commuters jostle to be near the door to get on or off a subway
train without being pushed onto the tracks or having their pockets
picked.

BTW, I noticed no one has actually rated this.  I give it excellent for
concept.  Play is still moot.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-06-21
 By Ralph  Betza. Captain Spalding Chess. Find an Elephant in your Pajamas.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
My daughter has raised the question, 'If there are Headless Rhinos, why are there no Rhino heads in the Box?' I suggested that they had been reduced to Crumbs, but this explanation was rejected on the grounds that the rest of the Rhino would also be Crumbs.

John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-15 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
But where is the Schnorer? Or the Bromeliads?

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-06-07
 By Ralph  Betza. FireFighter Chess. A game where one piece is a secret fire fighter with special powers. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-06-08 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Crowd Chess 1: http://www.chessvariants.com/boardrules.dir/crowded1.html

Crowd Chess 2: http://www.chessvariants.com/boardrules.dir/crowded2.html

Multiple Occupancy Miscellany:
http://www.chessvariants.com/boardrules.dir/multocc.html

My nextdoor neighbor in Brooklyn was also a fire-fighter, and was not a big
man, but strong.  We broke up our common driveway with sledgehammers, and I
was impressed.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-05-28
 By Ralph  Betza. Chess with Different Armies. Betza's classic variant where white and black play with different sets of pieces. (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-05-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
And how many experimental armies have been devised? Those are fun and instructive, too, both for how they work and the ways they fall short. The supporting work of 'Ideal and Practical Values' is valuable not only for designers, but for players trying to gauge the relative values of unfamiliar combinations of pieces in an unfamiliar variant.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-05-08
 By Peter  Aronson. Ruddigore Chess. Chessgi variant where you can capture your own pieces, and every other turn you must capture or sacrifice a piece. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-05-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Hey! I'm as innocent as a kitten! I wasn't even there! And if I was there, I didn't do it! And if I did it, I was lead astray by evil men!

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-04-25
 By Ralph  Betza. Elevator Chess. Multiple boards with simultaneous games are linked through central elevator squares.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-04-25 UTCGood ★★★★
If large teams were playing on many boards, like a tall skyscraper, there could be both local and express elevators.

This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-05-11
 By Ralph  Betza. The Game of Nemoroth. For the sake of your sanity, do not read this variant! (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-04-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Wow!!  

Who said theme doesn't count in abstract games?  I want to play this, but I
think I'm going to be disapointed when the pieces remain silent.  I want to
see a ZRF, but not too soon.  Whoever does it needs to do a good job on the
graphics, not to mention audio, to do the game justice.

'What eldritch noise did I hear?'  Perhaps the screech of the El.

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