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Game Reviews by Nicholas Wolff

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10-directional Chess. 10-directional pieces: an augmented Knight and a restricted Chancellor. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-12-11 UTCGood ★★★★
10-Directional Chess
To review 10-Directional Chess would be more to review the pieces used in the game.  Knappen introduces two pieces and replaces the orthodox knight and queen with them.  These new pieces are the eohippo (knight + forward/backward wazir) and the fischer (knight + forward/backward rook).

In the rules, Knappen eludes to this new piece set being a comparable Chess with Different Armies (CwDA) army.  I disagree with this statement.  This army is significantly weaker than the FIDE army.  Though the eohippo does have a one up on the knight, the fischer has too many weaknesses to even be comparable to the queen.  This army would get destroyed by the 'Fabulous FIDE' set, if played by someone with even the same skill level.  

Both of these pieces have weaknesses that are easily exploitable.  They are both quite vulnerable to pins, minus a pin via the file against the fischer.  They are vulnerable from the diagonals and from the left and right.  They also share the weakness of the knight, that they need to be in the center of the board to be the most efficient and are relatively weak along the sides of the board.

In an endgame with a rook, king and pawns vs a fischer, king and an equal number of pawns placed in equal positions, I would wager the side with the rook would have the better hand.  The capability to run along the ranks is most invaluable, especially against a fischer and its weaknesses.  The fischer, however, would have the better capability to fork pieces.

If you were to compare the fischer to the eohippo, it is obvious that the fischer is more powerful, but in a similar end game situation as the rook and the fischer, I would imagine it would be fairly even play.  I think who ever would have the move tempo would have the advantage.  However, I feel that the rook far outclasses the eohippo, even with how closely related all of the pieces are to each other.  

The main strength in the two new pieces lies within their forking ability.  Not only does it retain the knights powerful move, but it throws in a nice orthogonal move as well, providing more opportunities for these forks to occur.  In my second game played, I even lost via smothered mate, which hardly ever occurs in a game of FIDE chess. 

With all of these strengths, weaknesses, and similarities noted, I would value these two new pieces (on an 8x8 board) relatively low.  I would give the eohippo a 4 and the fischer either a 5 or just slightly more.  The eohippo would still be considered a minor piece as it cannot mate a bare king with just itself and a king, though it can now cause a stalemate.  The fischer is considered a major piece, following the same method.  Keep in mind that I am no expert on piece values, just from my opinion.

One thing that I have noticed in the games of 10-Directional Chess games that I have played, is that the pawn structures in the mid-game are unique.  I find that the middle pawns are lost early in about half the games, leaving quite a bit of pressure on the sides of the board, while opening the middle.  This may be due to the fact that the people playing it are more used to the value of the center of FIDE chess and try to apply that here, where it may not be the best place to focus on.  I invite more people to try the center, though, because I think it would be interesting to see the strategies that can arise from controlling it.  Just remember that an open center will get the fischer out into the game early without compromising one's development.

Yes, I know you have all been waiting for Nick's list of 10-D strategies.  Well, here it:

When playing AGAINST these pieces (whether using the same army or different): 

-It is best to attack the fischer and eohippo from their weaknesses as I explained in a previous paragraph.  If the player is new to using this army, they may rely on these pieces a lot.  However, if you eliminate all of them, it leaves your opponent with just a set of FIDE pieces, which I am sure he/she would be familiar with.
-Take out their rooks at all cost.  They are (in my opinion) their most deadly piece, and they have TWO of them!
-Never forget about the orthogonal movements of Knappen's pieces.  In the games I have played/watched, many a blunder has been made (some costing the player with the obvious advantage the game).  It is very easy to overlook those moves and it will haunt you.
-The fischer and the eohippo will be used for forking pieces.  Again, don't forget about the orthogonal movements.
-If you have a different army other than the 10-D one, you will want to maintain a strong center.  This will block the fischer's development.

When playing WITH these pieces (pretty much the opposite of playing against):

-Keep your weak spots covered and be wary of the potential of pins.  
-Protect your rooks and use them wisely.  In an endgame, they will be your most valuable players, giving you the most potential for a checkmate.  
-Try to open up the center game.  It will provide you with the best opportunity to develop your fischer.  Also remember that a fischer in the center is the deadliest fischer on the board.
-Utilize the orthogonal movements of Knappen's pieces.  They will provide protection and also forking opportunities not presented with a standard knight.

Knappen brings some more interesting light into the chess world with his new pieces.  Personally, I find the new eohippo to be a great piece and am currently utilizing it in a testing of one of my new games.  However, the fischer, though a stronger piece than the eohippo, leaves more to be desired.  I would not have set this piece to be a queen replacement.  However, with these new pieces, Knappen retains the chess spirit while compromising the old, drawn out opening books that grandmasters pride themselves with, which are a big part of the reason why I have shied away from the ancient game, myself.  This sigh of relief and new outlook of the game put it high in my favor, though I am by no means great at this game (in fact, I am quite terrible at it).  Also, as Fergus states, the learning curve is minimal, though that works on both an upside and a downside.  With these closing comments being said, I would rate this game on Nick's personal scale out of 10... a 6.5.  I would like to see this game played more often by other people.  I think it would expand all of our horizons, though I think the fischer would deter many from its play.

10x10 Multiple Knot Chess. Board in `mathematical shape'.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-11-30 UTCPoor ★
10x10 Multiple Knot Chess
I admit, I have not played this variant, though I say with the utmost
certainty that there is no reasonable way to play it.  Whether if someone
is trying to make a preset or a homemade board, it would seem almost
impossible to do so.  The only way to make a board for this would to make
it extremely large, or find some pieces that are extremely small.  This
would be to compensate for the 10 celled rows that are squeezed into this
jumbled mess.  Maybe if he lowered the cell size, but I don't even think a
regular 8x8 would fit well enough.

I have contemplated for some time as to why Missoum would create this board
and offer it for play.  Why would this be better than to play chess with
the same setup on a 10x10 board?  After some thought, the best that I can
come up with would be to have a new perspective on the board without
changing the play. However, when he changed the board, he sacrificed the

I have looked through all of his boards, and I think this is the best
looking one with the most chance of playability, by far; however, it would
be more trouble than its worth to make the board instead of moving onto
something else.  The time and resources are not worth it, in my opinion,
nor is the enjoyment of playing a game when you finish the board.  

If this board were somehow created, the thrill that I believe he has hoped
to achieve by making this board can be neutralized when a 'Play By Email'
environment is utilized.  A person can just as easily pull up a 10x10 board
with the setup and gain the advantage of not having to deal with the twists
and turns.  This would only be a feasible play in person OTB.  

Though I do not care for the board, the other aspect of the game is the
setup of pieces that he chose for it.  I do not pretend to be an expert on
variants, pieces, and their piece values.  What I write is in my own
opinion and knowledge that I have gained from experience in play of certain
games.  What Missoum has done with this game is simply add an extra knight
and a pawn to each side.  With a bigger board, he has added two pieces that
are much weaker on a 10x10 board than on an 8x8 and kept the power players
(whose value raises on a bigger board) the same.  Personally, I would
prefer maybe changing a knight for a bishop, but I think that is relative
to who is playing.  I think that is a matter of opinion and I cannot
criticize for that. 

Despite my negative statements, I see where Missoum's heart lies, however
it doesn't make this board playable with a reasonably sized board.  If
anyone could prove me wrong, I would LOVE to see the board and recant what
I have said.  With all of this being said, I rate this variant, on Nick's
personal scale out of 10, a 1.  I have given him a point for the thought
provocation that he has given me for looking at chess a different way.

10 Minute Melee. Score as many points during 10 minutes of time with regular chessset. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-10-22 UTCGood ★★★★
10 Minute Melee

I have so many thoughts regarding 10 Minute Melee, that it may be hard to get it all down.  I want to start out by saying that this game may be a hard one to play in this day and age, or at least it seems this way for me.  I think it may be because there are hardly any chess players to play OTB in the military and even fewer that go deeper into the variants side of the game.  This being said, I have not played this OTB and probably will never have a chance to do so.  So what I say in review of this game is *mainly* intended to outline the few games that I have played online of this.

Yes, I have played this online.  With the programming knowledge of Antoine Fourriere, Jeremy Good has created a nice looking preset which was modified from a Crazyhouse preset with rule enforcements.  I think if they modify the preset to only allow drops onto their correct spaces, then it will be complete.  Now, playing this online proved to be rather difficult and provided us several obstacles to overcome.  

First there was a question of time.  We had to have a countdown that neither player could see.  We ended up having one player keep time  and notifying the other when it is up.  Trust was a big key here, so if you are playing someone for the first time in this game, then you need to go back to the drawing board on methods.  I have played Jeremy many times, so trust was not an issue.  The best fix we found for this was to utilize a site called  This provided a nice little countdown timer that buzzed when it ended.  We started it and then minimized the window. 

The second issue we ran into was a matter of the 15 second/move rule.  We didn't really come up with any solution for this, we just played as quickly as possible.  With this being said, we did not utilize the one-time move extension and the points for going over time, which was beneficial for us because of the time delay in not only receiving the move, but sending it off to include entering in your password each time.  This did not only impact our game as mentioned, but resulted in games with a low move count which lead to low scoring.  Our first game was 14 moves and our second game was 16 moves.   I feel if it we were to play OTB, the stakes would have been higher, as exemplified below in the comment on 13 June 2006.   

I think with this internet age on the rise (as it has been for years), if someone could program a nice protocoled game with a timer and LAN/Internet Access, it would eliminate all of the hassle involved with this game and may receive better reviews that what is listed below.  It needs something that encompasses all of its requirements easily, because the players have little time to do anything but play.

I believe one of the only problems with playing it in real life is score tracking.  The best way that I have thought to do this would be to completely annotate the game, which is often difficult in a blitz type game and then score based on that annotation.  Another minor issue is that you would have to have the necessary equipment available.  An audible timer shouldn't be too hard to come by, you would need an extra set of chess pieces for double the colors (which might pose a problem of sorting through all of the pieces while you play, but a little organization can help with that), a chess board (not hard to get), and a move clock, which I don't know of many people that have one, though I imagine if you want to drop the money for a clock, you can get it pretty easily online.  Please note the specifics of a move clock that is annotated by the author in the rules:

'For the MOVE CLOCKS, a standard chess clock can be used, as long as you are able to set the chess clock to record the time on each move, not record the total amount of time the player has used so far'

I also understand the time limit was set for 10 minutes due to the contest.  I agree with the previous comments that a longer time limit should make it much more interesting and an easy modification to make to the rules, as well, though Mason has yet to make that modification as promised in his below comment.  
I applaud the creator of the game in the fact that he chooses to keep the timer hidden during play.  Though, it may make for a little more strategic play involved if you can see the clock, this would make play dull.  There would arise situations of purposely stalling for the last minute if you were ahead by a nice sum of points or stalling on time if you can capture their queen at the last second to put you in the lead.  There is no rule stating that there is any other penalty besides giving points to the opponent..  I would suggest making the time penalties a little more painful and maybe doing 2-3 points per offense, not just if the timer was visible, but regularly anyways.  It would stress the importance of keeping on time more.  

A problem that I believe that will be ran into in this game, especially at GM level if there is such a thing for this game, is that evenly matched players will, in my opinion, almost always come down to either a move at the last second for a win or drawing and going into sudden death mode, not really emphasizing a victory for the stronger player.  This means that it would be very hard to have a tournament for the World's Best 10 Minute Melee player.  I firmly believe the best player would be too hard to determine.

The need for sacrifices is diminished in this game because there is no royalty, thus nullifying the need for positional advantage.  Also, since pieces can only be dropped in the places where they started, I don't think that feature would be utilized too much.  In both of our games, only one piece was dropped, that being by Jeremy, and I never once considered it myself.  More often than not, it will cause a loss of tempo and give advantage to the opponent.  It might be useful during an endgame situation, if a game could even get that far.  

Here are my playing tips and strategies for this game:
-Play conservatively.  Positional advantage has no relevance to this game, so make sure every piece is defended.  
-If you feel like the time is getting close, you may want to start an all out offensive.  Make sure you are the one who takes first so your opponent is down on points 50% of the time.  Its not an exact science, but if you have a good sense of time, it could bring the lead to you at that second the alarm goes off.  
-Use your king!  Don't forget that he is not royal.  He is worth 2 points and a serves as a great block and and a great offensive piece.  
-Play to draw.  Take a piece for a piece.  There is no positional advantage since your only objective is to score points.  Utilize tip 2 if you can at the end. 
-Obviously, your queen is the major player here.  Make sure her starting square is always uncovered in case of a trade or a lucky queen capture and always look for the forks she can give.
This variant definitely has potential.  With longer time controls (still hasn't been added to the rules, Mason), a sure-fire way to keep track of time fairly, and organization that allows the outside mechanics of the game to be executed quickly and efficiently, it could be definitely be in a league of its own.  Ultimately, a computer program would be optimum for this game, but it is doable OTB.  I rate this game, on Nick's personal scale out of 10, a 5.5.  The concept is there and it looks obtainable, there are just some kinks and play testing is needed to iron them out.

007 Chess. A variant where you also move your opponents pieces. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-10-07 UTCGood ★★★★
007 Chess

I have had the opportunity to play both 007 Chess and its variant, 007 - Detente.  I must say that I am rather impressed with how a simple variant could give you such a headache when you play (and I mean that in a good way).  To play a decent game, both require a lot of concentration, risks and a large mental capacity.  Personally, I would not play either one of these variants without using the “balanced” version of the game.  White has a large advantage if the balanced version is not adhered to.

Despite the simple changes between 007 and its variant, they are both vastly different games:

007 Chess | This variant is for those who like the down and dirty games.  Like most non-random games, it does require skill, but to what extent?  It seems that no matter how far down in pieces you are, there is almost always a way to at least strike a hearty blow to your opponent.  Currently, I have copmleted two games, one with each color, and I was losing both games with quite a large piece deficit.  I came back to win one and drew the other.  Might it perhaps be one of those games that brings evenly matched players closer towards draw games?  The farther down you are, the more advantage you seem to get.  Essentially, if you want to find a way to accomplish something, sit down and analyze the board for a few minutes and you should be able to come up with something feasible.  Tips for playing this variant: 

- PLAY CONSERVATIVELY.  Any piece that is developed quickly has a very high chance of being captured.
- Keep your opponents king checked as much as possible.  It will waste a move for them to eliminate the check which keeps you with an advantage.  At the same time, ensure your king is protected.
- Try to move the opponent’s king out into the open early.  
- Take advantage of the fact that this isn’t Détente.  Move a piece in position for an attack, move an opponent’s piece where the piece you moved can attack it, and then retreat with your last move.  
- You don’t have to move the opponent’s pieces to capture.  Sometimes, blocking the escape routes for the king, blocking other useful pieces in, or moving pieces that are protecting a piece that you take can be the best course of action.

The final note I want to leave for this is that the focus of attack seems to be primarily on the kingside and controlling the kingside might possibly mean the victory, just as controlling the center in FIDE chess.

007 Chess – Détente | Despite being an offensive player, I prefer the Détente variation over the original.  I believe this game requires more strategy as it is a little harder to “will” a good move/position your way.  If you read the rules, you notice the only differences are that you can’t move the same pieces the first and third turns of a move and you can’t capture an enemy piece that you moved that turn.  When we played, we played under the assumption that on white’s first turn, he may not capture a black piece moved that turn as well, though it is not stated explicitly in the rules.  I, along with the other players, agree that this undoubtedly way is the best way to play it, for white can get an early advantage if you don’t.  Here are some tips for playing this variant that I have discovered on my own, even just after a few games playing this:

- Develop your queen early.  She will be your major player, if you know how to use  her.  I like to set her loose by advancing the pawn at c2-c3 or c7-c6.  I feel it takes advantage of the mostly open queenside.
- Again, the kingside seems to be the major battlefield, at least in the opening.  
- Keep your opponent’s king in check.  This eliminates a move for your opponent.  At the same time, ensure yours is protected.
- Keep moving your opponent’s king – eliminate his ability to castle and get him into the open early.
- As you cannot capture your opponent’s pieces that you move that turn, your best bet for moving their pieces is to block escape routes, block development, move the king, remove protection from a piece that you captured.
- Interesting attacks come from the queenside.  Don’t eliminate your options.

To sum it up, I concur with the below comments: this is a great variant.  On Nick’s personal scale out of 10, I would rate 007 Chess a 5.5.  Great concept, but it is too difficult to establish stable positions.  007 Chess – Détente would be rated at a much higher 8.  The concept is there, and it eliminates the deficiencies that 007 Chess has.

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