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Game Reviews by Eric Silverman

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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.


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.


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