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Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-06-20 UTC
OK, I have been doing some thinking about Capablanca chess variants. As discussed before, there are some 126,000 possible Capablanca opening setups, where the bishops are on opposite colors, and where the queen is to the left of the queen. However, looking at all of the Capablanca opening setups which have actually been proposed, I observe that:
  • All of the opening setups have the king and a powerful (R+N,B+N, or Queen) piece in the center files
  • All of the proposed opening setups are symmetrical with the rooks, knights, and bishops
  • All of the proposed opening setups have the rooks either in the corners, or one file closer to the center than the corners.
As it turns out, there are only 72 possible Capablanca opening setups that follow all of the above rules. Of these 72 opening setups, I find that only 15 have been formally proposed as starting setups:
RANBQKBNMR      Aberg                                                           
RMNMQKBNAR      Carrera                                                         
RNBMQKABNR      Bird                                                            
RNBAQKMBNR      Capa 1 (Suffers from 1.Mh3 mating threat)
RNABQKBMNR      Capa 2                                                          
RBQNKMNABR      Grotesque                                                       
RBNMQKARBN      Univers                                                         
RBQNKANMBR      Landorean                                                       
RNBQKMABNR      Embassy                                                         
RQNBAKBNMR      Schoolbook                                                      
NRMBQKBARN      Optimized                                                       
MRNBQKBNRA      Paulovich 1 link
ARNBQKBNRM      Paulovich 2 link
QRNBKABNRM      Paulovich 3                                                     
RNMBQKBANR      Nalls link
All of these, should I note, are perfectly playable, with the exception of Capa 1, and all of these have not had their openings explored nearly enough. Doing some slightly creative math, that leaves us with 56 possible starting setups. Here are some interesting ones, with names that I propose for them:
RNBQKAMBNR      Consulate  
RNQBKMBANR      Finesse
RNQBKABNMR      Notebook
QRNBAKBNRM      Closebook
QRNBKABNRM      Blackbook
Here are three openings setups that are unplayable:
RNBQAKMBNR      1. Mh3 mating threat
QRNBMKBNRA      1. Md3 mating threat
QRNBKMBNRA      1. Mh3 mating threat
Now, if instead of a R+N and B+N piece, we add two colorbound Camel + Bishop (Sage) pieces, and have an 8x10 board, we have 36,000 total possible opening setups (Sages and Bishops on opposite colors, queen to the left of the king). Of those, all of 12 meet the requirements above:
Of these 12 setups, I find 1, 4, and 12 the most interesting.

No, I'm not proposing a new variant. I first need to fully explore the opening in Schoolbook. :)

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-06-20 UTC
Camel+Knight is not colorbound.

Derek Nalls wrote on 2007-06-20 UTC
Message #2255 in the 'Chess Variants' Yahoo group described 'a game with
no name' by Derek Nalls that was, in retrospect, merely a flawed precursor
of the game that became Optimized Chess by OmegaMan [my pen name for games
I invent but do not recommend playing].  So, thank you but I doubt it is
worthy of mention.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-06-20 UTC
I meant Camel + Bishop.  :)

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-06-20 UTC
I like setup 4 best.

Thought : Wouldn't the Queen better be replaced by a Marshall ?

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC
Sam, you didn't include my variant, Teutonic Chess, RNBQAKMBNR.
I think that Capa 1 (which suffers from 1.Mh3 mating threat) is playable. 1.Mh3 is, arguably, a weak move that achieves nothing, except putting the Minister on the same diagonal as the enemy bishop. Although there may be better alternatives than Capa 1, it's not certain that a position suffering from an initial weakness is inferior. A mutual weakness in the opening position may create possibilities of seizing the initiative, something which enlivens the game (but I haven't analysed this position).

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC

QRNBKABNRM      Paulovich 3
mirrors my [2004-09-21] comment in Carrera's Chess, a game published in 1617 by D. Pietro Carrera (not related to Capablanca).

David Paulowich

(not related to Paulovich or Paulovits)

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC
Thanks everyone for the corrections.

Here is an updated list of known proposed Capa chess setups:

RANBQKBNMR      Aberg                                                           
RMNBQKBNAR      Carrera                                                         
RNBMQKABNR      Bird                                                            
RNBAQKMBNR      Capa 1 (Suffers from 1.Mh3 mating threat)
RNABQKBMNR      Capa 2                                                          
RBQNKMNABR      Grotesque
RBNMQKANBR      Univers                                                         
RBQNKANMBR      Landorean                                                       
RNBQKMABNR      Embassy                              
RQNBAKBNMR      Schoolbook                                                      
NRMBQKBARN      Optimized                                                       
MRNBQKBNRA      Paulowich 1 link
ARNBQKBNRM      Paulowich 2 link
QRNBKABNRM      Paulowich 
RNMBQKBANR      Nalls link
RNBQAKMBNR      Teutonic link (1. Mh3 mating threat)
Any without a link here are listed on on the Capablanca Chess Wiki page (I think I will add Teutonic to this page--sorry about the omission, Mats). And some more proposed opening setups, since not nearly enough Capa opening setups have been proposed :)
RNBQKAMBNR      Consulate  
RNQBKMBANR      Finesse
RQNBKABNMR      Notebook
QRNBAKBNRM      Closebook
RNQBMKBANR      Blackbook
NRABQKBMRN      Nightwink
RQNBKMBNAR      Narcotic
Setups which suffer from white being able to threaten mate on the first move:
RNBQAKMBNR Mh3 (Teutonic)
So, for aspiring Chess variant inventors, that leaves us with the following possible Capa opening setups:


So, aspiring inventors, don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime claim to be a Capa chess variant inventor. There are only 41 Capa setups left for you to claim! Get yours before it is too late!

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC
Hey, Sam! I can hardly wait! Do they come with a Certificate of

For those unable to get in on Sam's generous offer, I propose Great
Shatranj, which is actually a Capa variant. This fine and highly-luminous
game, made with only the finest and most carefully-crafted synthetic
pieces, has ALL the starting setups available [except for the single
posted version - V#1, which I am keeping]. In fact, this is so new and
these synthetic pieces are so different, that even the rare Gothic variant
is available. That variant alone will go to the highest bidder. The others
are all currently available at the low, low price of GUE $49.95 Zm.

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC
I have already invented my Capablanca variant: Energizer Chess, which actually adds the two pieces to the 8x8 board. I found it better in the game I am playing to NOT develop the Knights, but to develop the other pieces from around them, since developing the Knights blocked the Bishop's squares. Btw, Sam, I sent a reply to your letter. But since I have a terribly stupid computer I will never know if it was actually sent. Please let me know.

Greg Strong wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC
GUE $49.95 Zm?  Is that a Zork reference?

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-06-21 UTC

Greg, the zorkmid is also the official currency of Variantstown . See csipgs Chess, Introducing Economy in CVs and The Hitchhiker's Guide to Chess.

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-22 UTC
Sam. the fact that a variant 'suffers from a 1st move mating threat' is
of no consequence. In Teutonic Chess this is no problem at all. It is
advantageous to the opponent should white threaten mate in the opening.
This form of analysis is too simplistic. It makes an amateurish impression
to list which variants suffer from a 1st move mating threat. 

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-06-22 UTC
I partially agree with M Winther. I have two points to say in this regard:

1. White forcing black to react from move 1 can give White a HUGE
advantage in the game. An example of this, since White's advantage in
Atomic Chess (which is played quite regularly in FICS,) is very well
established that you are not required to give a rematch if you win with

2. However, this factor didn't prevent Atomic Chess from being one of the
most fun playable chess variants.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-06-22 UTC
Well, I have discovered one more Mats Winther Capa chess variants last night. These are Capa opening setups where white can threaten mate on the first move. As per the official rules of, only Mats Winther is allowed to Christen (give names to) any Capa setup with a first-move mating threat.

Here it is:

QRBNKANBRM 1. Ag3 mating threat
So, this is good news for Mats and bad news for the rest of us. The good news is that Mats now has 11, count them, 11 opening setups he can make Capa variants out of:
RNBQAKMBNR Mh3 (Teutonic)
The bad news is that only 40 Capa setups are left for the rest of us.

Sibahi: I did not get your reply. Did you get Jeremy's message?

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-22 UTC
Sam, what are you talking about? Am only I allowed to label variants with
initial mating threat? I don't get it!

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-06-22 UTC
Exactly, Mats. You are now our Official labeler of Capa setups with initial mating threats. I, in accordance with the editorial policies of, hereby give you an official seal that you can use to label any Capa 8x10 setup where white can threaten mate on the first move. You, and no one else, can label these particular Capa setups.

I have talked with my legal department, and they inform me that I must make a prominent notice in 6-point text that this entire posting is a joke. Failure to see that this is a joke immediately causes the person reading this to forefit their entire lifetime savings to me. Please make you PayPal donation here

And, oh, I have updated the Capa wiki page to list Teutonic and Energizer.

M Winther wrote on 2007-06-23 UTC
Sam, I still don't understand what you're on about. Anyway, I'm glad that you've stopped judging variants as inferior on the grounds that there is an initial mating threat. I removed my 'Teutonic Chess' from the Capa Wiki page, and from my homepage, because I think that this all is rather silly. Like I say on my homepage: 'It might seem superfluous to give it a new proper name when it is only a rearrangement of the initial position, but this is what people do.' Please don't insert the variant again. Even in a chess variants community there must be some limits to silliness.

George Duke wrote on 2007-06-23 UTC
When Carrera's was invented, Shakespeare was still writing plays and
Newton was not yet born(1642). M. Winther writes, 'It is advantageous to
the opponent should White threaten mate in the opening,' in Teutonic
Chess, a new array of Carrera's Chess.  There's hardly a large Chess without
conceivable Fool's Mate in three, call it a threat or not. For example,
Falcon Chess 8x10. There, if White moves Ni1-h3, then -i5, it threatens
checkmate on the third move with the third move of that self-same Knight.
However, Black's simple reply Ni8-j6 stops the attack and faces White  with fork-mate threat in reverse, worsened by the i1-Knight's not being in place any more to thwart. So, exactly the same words of Winther apply, 'It is advantageous to the opponent...'

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2007-06-23 UTC
I don't want to get in to an extended discussion about whether a first move mating threat really makes a given variant worse. I feel it often times does, and, should I point out, Capa seems to have agreed since he changed the initial array of Capa chess from RNBAQKMBNR (1st move mating threat) to RNABQKBMNR (no 1st move mating threat). Speaking of first move mating threats, it seems the Sage (Camel + Bishop) is a little too powerful for an 8x10 board. All 12 sage 8x10 opening setups that I proposed suffer from white being able to threaten mate as his first move. It's a little more difficult to come up with an opening setup where both sides have a pair of sages, but white can not threaten mate on the first move. Here is one such setup:
However, I think Sage chess works better on a 10x10 board. One possible 10x10 opening setup is:
Where '.' is an empty square, and 'S' is Camel (colorbound 1,3 leaper) + Bishop.

And yes, Sage chess also works very nicely if we replace the queen by the Marshall (Rook + Knight).

Again, these are just proposed ideas. I'm not formalizing a variant yet. I'm waiting to see if Greg can add the Sage to ChessV. I also need to study the opening in Schoolbook more. :)

Jeremy Good wrote on 2007-06-23 UTC
Bishop-camel is a lovely, colorbound piece.

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-06-23 UTC
There's a bug difference between a checkmate THREAT, and a Fool's Mate.
By definition, a Threat is : 'if you don't react accordingly, you're

In RNBAQKMBNR , after 1.Mh3, which threatens mate, black is FORCED to
react. There are many ways, like moving a pawn around the King, which is
absurd; or advancing the King's bishop's pawn, which hardly a developing
move; or by 1.. Nh6 which gives white a very early pin, or 1..Mh6 which
leads to a very early exchange of Marshalls.

In Falcon Chess and Omega Chess, the threatened mate is a mate in 3, which
is less forcing than a mate in 2. It's easily refutable by very natural
developing moves that don't offend the sense of a chess player.

In chess, there's the famous Scholar's mate, which actually, with white
playing it, probably gives a weak position for white. While white moves
his queen around, black is developing, leading to a (=+) position.
Responding to 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 doesn't offend the sense of the chess player
the way the above-mentioned Capa variant does.

A Fool's mate is hardly worth discussion at all.

George Duke wrote on 2007-06-23 UTC

In Falcon Chess we call '1 Ni1-h3; 2 -i5; 3 -h7' Fool's Mate because Queen or Bishop cannot checkmate in three like that with full help of Black. 'Helpmates' are Chess problems, started it says in 1854 by Max Lange in Deutscheschachzeitung, and of course perfected by Sam Loyd 1860 on. Both sides cooperate to checkmate Black. That's what a trivial Foolsmate entails from the opening, called a Helpmate if pieces already developed, but any win in fewer than 6 moves is surely a blunder. CVariantists are already admonished to avoid channeling openings to just few lines, on account of there being no net disadvantage to making mating threat from Move 1, by one (or maybe two)specific moves, in some of the ridiculous or overused initial set-ups and piece mixes ever under consideration.

Derek Nalls wrote on 2007-07-06 UTC
When I searched-out Opti Chess, I expediently focused-in upon a select set
of only 24 CRC variants where the king & queen occupied the center files.

1.  Indisputably, the queen is the most valuable piece in the game (after
the king).

2.  I consider the queen the most capable piece at protecting the king
since the chancellor and archbishop can be threatened without reciprocity
from a large distance by sliders that move differently.  Specifically, the
chancellor can be threatened by the bishop and the archbishop can be
threatened by the rook.

Nonetheless, I was intrigued by your assertion that the 2 other composite
pieces (chancellor and archbishop) are worthy escorts for the king.  So, I
have been examining your select set of 72 CRC variants for a few days now.

Using more stringent criteria, I determined all 24 CRC variants centered
by the king & archbishop to have a minor fault due to the impossibility of
placing BOTH the queen and the chancellor on opposite-colored spaces than
the archbishop for balance.  So, I felt no need to examine them in further

The reasons?

1.  Composite pieces containing color-bound bishops (i.e., the queen &
archbishop) should be on opposite (light-dark) spaces for balance.

2.  Composite pieces containing color-changing knights (i.e., the
chancellor & archbishop) should be on opposite (light-dark) spaces for

This left me with a select set of only 48 CRC variants (24 king & queen
centered and 24 king & chancellor centered) that needed to be explored in
detail- half of which I had examined long ago.  Accordingly, I created a
*.zrf to chart my results visually and when finished, conveniently share
with others:

Select CRC Analysis Tool

I hope you find it interesting.

Derek Nalls wrote on 2007-07-20 UTC
Select CRC Analysis Tool

The documentation has been expanded and revised so that the Zillions Of
Games program is no longer needed to view all of this information in





Summary- 48 Games

Presentation- 48 Games

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