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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.