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Ideal Values and Practical Values (part 3). More on the value of Chess pieces.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Joe Joyce wrote on 2011-04-24 UTC
Happy Easter, all!

This is a totally fascinating topic I can't stay away from, even though I am terrible at it. I seem to be much better at asking questions and confusing the issue than I am at answering questions and casting light. Well, everyone has a role in life. 

David Paulowich recently commented that I believe the modern elephant, FA, is worth about half a pawn less than a bishop, and I fully agree, on any board they are liable to play on together. But if we change the rules a bit, maybe that answer changes. 

Mike Nelson made a comment [in 2003?] about pieces having a value that is relative to which other pieces are on the board, and gnohmon picked up on it a little. I'd like to take that idea, maybe add a little to it, and run with it, full-tilt, right over a cliff, or two or three. 

Let's start by asking what is the value of the queen in a multi-move game? There are various types of multi-movers, each of which may have a different influence on the piece values. A Marseilles variant has to play differently than a progressive variant. Are the piece values in all 3 games the same? Would the rooks get out faster in progressive, or not at all, because the game is over on a 5 piece attack? 

The game I recently posted can be considered a large Marseilles variant, with batteries. The batteries need to be charged for the piece to move. A king charges the battery of 1 piece that starts the move within 2 squares of that king. What is a queen worth under these conditions? It has unlimited movement, once. If it is then stranded, what happens to its value? Clearly, it becomes seriously reduced, as do all the other long range pieces. They act as slightly variable short range pieces, or as a one-shot missile. 

Here, let me suggest we have another potential measurement for the 'chessness' of a variant. On that scale, which can in theory be computer-evaluated numerically by someone like HG Muller, both Warlord and Chieftain show some distance. But I submit that it is likely Marseilles will show a little distance, and Progressive a fair bit more. While I haven't played either variant, one thing seems apparent, and that is when you expose a major piece, you are very likely to lose it before you can move it again. I'd think especially in progressive, all the pieces become 'one-shot', and in that sense, the values of the pieces contract toward each other along their range of values, or alternatively, and maybe more likely, all [non-royal] piece values fall toward 1, and the fall is Aristotelian - the more valuable pieces fall faster.