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Game Reviews by Larry Smith

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BigBangChess. Pieces start off-board; the board expands and contracts during play. (11x11, Cells: 121) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2011-02-03 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I really like this one!

Great Shatranj. Great Shatranj. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2009-04-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I am currently playing a round of this game with Joe at the Game Courier. And I really like it.

In its simplicity, it has expanded the strategy needed to prosecute a decent game. A player cannot rely on a single line of assault to accomplish the mate, they will need to think in terms of a series of battles to reduce and penetrate the opponent's ranks.

Without sliders, the players need to closely engage one another. This can create several areas of serious contention on the field. And each might equally lead to success, so that the opponent risks catastrophe if each are not taken seriously(particularly in the opening).

Right now, Joe and I(or at least I am) are testing to determine the effectiveness of Pawn strutures against this large variety of leaping piece. So far, they seem to hold up well. Though the other pieces can quickly bypass them. In itself this is not a bad thing since the opponent can simple maintain a strong defense, and not readily abandon their Pawns.

Those players who are familiar with the Mad Queen variant will find much that is familiar. They will not find this game difficult to learn, though application of the Mad Queen's common strategy may prove disastrous.

The Game of Nemoroth. For the sake of your sanity, do not read this variant! (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2008-12-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
While re-visiting the comments for this game, I realized that I had not given it a rating. So now I correct that oversight.

I've finally accepted that this game will be extremely difficult to code. So for the sake of my own sanity I have given up such an attempt. But it has been fun trying. Like hitting myself with a hammer. :)

This is not to say that it will not eventually be coded. I just realize that it will probably need its own dedicated program to accomplish this. And such a project will be merely a labor of love(or obsession) because there will probably never be sufficient monetary reward to cover this effort.

If anyone decides to make such an attempt, they have my sympathy. ;-)

Regulator Chess. Game on a 35 square board with a 7 square track on which a piece moves that determines how Knights and Bishops can move. (6x7, Cells: 42) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2008-10-14 UTCGood ★★★★
Very nice game.

The Zillions implementation has the tendency to go for the draw by repetition. Often involving perpetual checking. Perpetual checking can occur if the checking player is un-willing to make an alternate move. This can be solved by setting repetition to a loss-condition, if desired.

XiangQi does not allow perpetual checking.

Minixiang. Xiang Qi's short-range pieces come into their own on a small board. (5x6, Cells: 30) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2008-08-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A very nice reduction of XiangQi.

Big BattleBROKEN LINK!. Large (10x10), commercial variant.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2007-11-12 UTCGood ★★★★
I also thought that the previous comment was unwarranted.

Tested the Zillions implementation of this game, and found that it does have some nice play. Those Soldiers can quickly take to the center of the field, so any form of Pawn structure may appear haphazard.

But this allows for quick development of the power pieces. Which you need a fair number to pin that King. Three rook-types, instead of two.

I do think that the Knight should be allowed its two-step move throughout play, rather than only on the back rank. And that the Soldier's three-step was only available as an initial move, after restricted to two-step.

All in all, an interesting game.

Infinite Chess. Chess on on infinite board.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2007-05-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Since each piece 'must' exist within an 8x8 area of an opposing piece, what happens when a piece is stranded? Is the player forced to move that piece back into an appropriate position? And if unable, what then occurs with that piece?

I advocate that a player must immediately correct any inappropriate position, or forfeit the offending piece(s). If multiple pieces are 'stranded', a player would only be able to recover one. If in a checking position, the player could be forced to abandon such to avoid capture of their King. And a King in such a position would be considered in check.

As the number of pieces are reduced during play, the potential size of the playing field would likewise reduce. It still may be quite difficult to promote until well into the end-game.

All in all, a great idea. Definite a brain-squeezer.

Blocschach. Not only is the size of the back rank squared, so is its composition. (8x8x8, Cells: 512) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2007-04-25 UTCGood ★★★★
I found the use of seperate forces determined by the continued presence of particular royalty rather nice. It should help reduce the potential number of moves often associated with the 8x8x8 variants.

I was hindered by the nature of the instructions. It was often difficult to discern the movement abilities of various pieces. Eventually, I believe that I was able to decipher them. Though I may still be wrong. ;-)

Communist Chess. When you capture an opponent's piece, you must destroy one of your own pieces of the same type. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2006-11-27 UTCGood ★★★★
A very nice and simple variant rule.

I may consider a higher rating after I see a few games played out.

House of Mirrors Chess. Mirrors and reflective pieces add interesting twists to strategy by making pieces appear in 2 or 3 places at the same time. (8x8, Cells: 87) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2006-07-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Another good one from Gary!

Pompeii Chess. Variant on board with 25 squares. (7x7, Cells: 25) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2006-06-08 UTCGood ★★★★
I've always enjoyed Dan Troyka's creations.

And this game is no exception.

Though I play with one less Pawn on each side, freeing up the central 3x3
area for more manuevering room during the opening and allowing some of the
powerful pieces quick access. This also allows for more room throughout the
play. And three Pawns for each player are quite sufficient for this size
field. Making them very valuable in order to obtain promotions. And with
Shogi drops, each player has ample opportunity for more.

Not saying that this actually improves the game, just makes it a little
more vicious. ;-)

Mockery Chess. Missing description (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2006-02-24 UTCGood ★★★★
I like this one. A very nice variation on the Mad Queen game.

And these rules could be easily applied to any other variant.

Though the name of this variant is a bit confusing. Given that pieces do
not act as another type of piece, yet simply act as themselves but can
become invulnerable. This condition could be said to be 'mocking' the
opponent. Therefor 'Mockery Chess' might best apply.

Xorix Shogi. Shogi where piece movement are XORed with captured pieces. (9x9, Cells: 81) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2006-01-22 UTCGood ★★★★
Very interesting idea!

You may probably better explain XOR for those who are not computer-savvy.

I'll try to summarize the XOR equation.  

If the capturing piece is A, the captured piece is B and the result is C,
then the formula will be expressed as A (+) B = C.


If A = 0 and B = 0 then C = 0.
If A = 1 and B = 0 then C = 1.
If A = 0 and B = 1 then C = 1.
If A = 1 and B = 1 then C = 0.

0 represents the absence of a particular form of move, while 1 represents
the presence of the same.

A possible shorter form is to say that if a particular form of move is
present in one of the pieces, but not both, it will be present in the
capturing piece.  If a particular form is present in both pieces, it will
NOT be present in the capturing piece.

Then again, there really might be no simple way to explain. So the game
may be relegated to those who are already aware of its dynamics.

I have been developing a 15x15 Shogi game for the past two years.  It was
put on a back burner because there was really nothing special about.  But
the idea of applying boolean equations has now tweaked my imagination, 
and I may work this into the game. In that case, I might make it a 16x16 
game. ;-)

Storm the Ivory Tower. A Smess adaptation of Chinese Chess. (9x10, Cells: 90) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-12-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I had thought that I had previously rated this game. But after reviewing
all the comments here, I discovered otherwise.

I remember when a friend of mine dragged out a Smess game and tortured me
with it.  I was a fan from that day.

So when this XiangQi extrapolation of Smess appeared I was definitely
intrigued.  I suspected that the dynamics of each of these games would not
mesh well.  And the early version did have a few minor problems. This could
be the reason that I did not post an evaluation.

Now that the game has gotten a facelift, I took another look.

What can I say but 'Wow!'  Very nicely done.  The overall play of the
game appears to be quite nice. The various pieces interact very well with
the pattern of directions.  Now East Asians can enjoy the Smess

Here's a question: Is the name 'Smess' derived from 'It's a mess'?

Castling in Chess 960. New castling rules for Fischer Random Chess. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-09-20 UTCGood ★★★★
Quite logical. This rule should be applicable to any FRC game.

Hamiltonian Chess. Win by forming a Hamiltonian path between your pieces. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-08-29 UTCGood ★★★★
As an abstract game fan, I definitely like this game. One that is quite
difficult to quantify.  The players placing opponent pieces is a nice

Although it might be stated that the connectivity of the pieces is based
upon their movement.  This is obvious by the example, but the plain text
might give the impression of simple adjacency.

Phi Chess with Different Armies. Missing description (13x8, Cells: 104) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-07-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Since each player is allowed to choose their army, under pre-determined
restrictions, they would be entering these games with what they thought
would be their best chance at these games.  The recommended restrictions
are quite restrictive, others may opt for a little more lee-way.

Generating those armies would be a great source of conversation between
the players.  How many simple sliders, how many leapers, how may
leaper-sliders, how many compound sliders or leapers, etc.  Given that
there are 12 potential pieces(not including Pawns), players might opt for
pairs and have six different types.  But what would restrict them from
having twelve different pieces?  Nothing, if they both agreed.

Another way to restrict the pieces would be to make a limited list of
particular forms of movement, such as orthogonal slide, camel leap,
diagonal step, etc.  Then build the desired pieces from this list, under a
pre-determined limitation for the various combinations.  There could also
be the restriction of a single move-type allowed for a single piece-type. 
In other words, once a move-type was selected for one piece it could not be
assigned to another.

Even after the generation of pieces, there is the initial set-up patterns.
 What restrictions might be applied, and would there really be a

And what about the additional application of other rules, such as drops,
spawning, shooting, etc.  Their impact on these games staggers the mind.

The potential for these games is astronomical.  And I doubt very seriously
that anyone would ever be able to properly quantify them all in their

Caïssa Britannia. British themed variant with Lions, Unicorns, Dragons, Anglican Bishops, and a royal Queen. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-06-15 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Looking back over the previous postings, I realized that I had not given
this game an evaluation.

Let me first say that I have a special bias toward the 10x10 field, and
always look for a good game to play on it.  Examples too numerous to list

If all that has been used to judge this game is its Zillions
implementation, a player will not correctly experience this game. 
Zillions has a tendency to over-value a few of the pieces, and its
strategic 'thought' process is quite lacking.  Until someone develops a
decent DLL engine, this game is best played between living opponents.  And
please understand that this is not a negative evaluation of Zillions, a
great game engine that is designed for general game play.

I've had the joy of playing this game against a young relative recently. 
Granted we were not that expert in play and at first got movements of a
couple of pieces confused but we very much enjoyed several games.  It had
a slight XiangQi feel to it, with the whole playing field acting as
the 'palace'.  

[I have several plastic chess sets with pieces trimmed with gold paint to
denote special powers.  We use modified Bishops for Unicorns, modified
Rooks for Lions and modified Knights for Dragons.]

Salmon P. Chess. Huge three-dimensional game celebrating 10 years chess variant pages. (x10, Cells: 7500) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-05-07 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I'm impressed! Definitely a mind-flip. And with ten players. Really cool. I'm looking forward to the first game. Let me know when.

Influenced 8-Leveled 3D Alice Chess. A combination of Influence and Alice Chess on a 3D board. (8x8x8, Cells: 512) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-01-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I really need to actually play this game to properly evaluate it. I fear that the test game may encompass the remaining few years of my life and I might not be able to report my findings. ;-) But let me add that I believe that this is a very intriguing 3D Chess game. Though the game is large, it should not exceed the length of a game of the 8x8x8 size. And the potentials within this game definitely stretch one's mental capacity. With the Influence rules controlling the movement of the pieces and the Alice rules controlling the dynamics, the game-play should be both lively and frustrating. All in all, a game to try at least once.

Bellows Chess. The board expands and contracts from turn to turn. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2005-01-06 UTCGood ★★★★
Does a piece located on the 8x8 or 10x10 field check a King located on the
edge of the 12x12 field when not in the 12x12 turn?

And, if a King is located on the edge of the 12x12 field and it is checked
by another piece located on the edge of the 12x12 field is it considered

I'm sure that the answer to these questions is 'No', but just need
clarification.  The game does offer some interesting positions.

Stanley Random Chess A game information page
. Missing description[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2004-12-16 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I had previously given SR Chess this rating during an open forum discussion. Additionally, I am extending it to this page.

Many Rules in One Game. List chess and variants.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2004-12-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
What a thoroughly enjoyable idea!

Once again, Ralph has proven his position among the CV giants.

Rutherford's 1-dimensional Shogi. Modern one-dimensional chess variant, based upon Shogi. (1x17, Cells: 17) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2004-11-24 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Whenever someone asks me about 1D games, this is definitely one that I
recommend.  I think that most can find it an interesting game, not just
Shogi variant players.

I enjoyed coding this one for Zillions.

Hyperchess. A chess variant on a board representing 4-D space that closely parallels traditional Chess. (x4, Cells: 256) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Larry Smith wrote on 2004-11-23 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
A very nice expansion to V.R.Parton's Sphinx Chess. (Forgive my classical reference.)

The 'king hold' rule definitely improves the play.  The inability to
often pin the opposing king was the major flaw with Sphinx Chess.  This
rule is a very logical and effective cure.

Allowing the Bishop to change diagonal patterns is nice, but might this
particular move be a non-capturing one?  No pressure to change it, just
some fuel for discussion.

I look forward to future developments by this author.

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