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L. Fun contest: Help us create a new chess variant by committee.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2021-01-24 UTC

I've noticed there is an error in thought on this 'rook camel' piece, probably confusion due to the name. It is said on the page though ...

'The Rook-Camel may move like a standard rook, sliding any number of clear spaces horizontally or vertically. Or the Rook-Camel may move like a non-leaping camel, sliding exactly two squares orthogonally followed by one diagonally without a leap.'

I don't know if I am missing something, but that description is not a rook camel lol, the 'camel' doesn't leap.

However, it's an interesting piece!!

Rodrigo Zanotelli wrote on 2012-02-05 UTC
In my opinion, if we were going to make a new chess variant in a similar way, I think we could do in this way:

A) First, we choose the max amount of players in the variant.
The users give suggestions like: 2, 1, 4, 10...
Then players give ratings from 1 to 5 on each suggestion, and the one with the highest score wins.

B)Then we choose the possible amount of players that will be able to play the game.
Users will be able to give sugestions like, 2, 4, any odd number, any number higher than 2...
This amount need to include the number we got before, if the max number we got was 10, 10 players will need to be one of the possible amount of players in the game. In this case users will not be able to suggest something like 'any number from 2 to 8'.

C)Then after some suggestion wins we will choose the amount of squares on the board(s).
Player can give suggestions like 80, 84, any odd number between 60 and 80 (in the case of a variant with variable number of squares)..
Then the same voting process will happen.

D)Then we choose the amount of boards
Players give suggestions like 1, 2, any even number... and then we make the voting process. The sum of all boards squares need to fit in the suggestion we got before.

E)After that, players give suggestions how the board(s) will be and we vote.

F) Now we choose amount of pieces each player will have.
The suggestions can be 10, 20, a number from 8 to 16 (in the case of variable amount of pieces based on rules).

G) Then the amount of different pieces.
The is the max amount of different pieces the game will have. This doenst means the game will start with all those pieces. In a variant were players have 39 points to spend on different pieces, players will not start with all pieces.

H) How those pieces are (one piece type per voting turn).
Giving suggestions and voting one piece per turn is a good idea because we vote on next piece based on the other ones already voted.
But this voting process could be done in another way, on the first voting, players give pieces suggestion, only ONE piece suggestion per each suggestion a player make. Players vote on all pieces suggestions and then the most voted ones would be in the game.

I) Where those pieces will be (or if player will be able to choose their starting position, or if it will be random or semi-random) on the previously voted board.

J) Win/draw/loss condition.
Players would be able to suggest rules together with their win/draw/loss conditions, if those rules help the game.

Maybe, we could choose win condition before before we choose the pieces, so win condition would be at F, or even before we choose other stuff from the game. Or we could before making the game, vote if we would choose win condition first, if this would be the last thing or if we would choose the win condition before we choose the pieces.

Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-03-21 UTC
Hey, this variant idea looks interesting. Is anyone interested in trying it, again, whether by this way or some other way?

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-09-01 UTC
I added my contest comment right after George's comment here, and before I saw it. I like this idea, also. The wiki is a nice place to lay out something like this. Given the creative and competitive natures of many of us here, I should think a contest [or two] *and* this project could well cross-stimulate ideas. If there are a few people willing to try, we can put the framework together easily enough. Comments?

One part of George's comment bears directly on the proposed contest part of this idea, and that's length of game. That's not been something I've paid much [hah! any] attention to before. But he makes an excellent point; if FIDE chess lasted 200 turns/game, I doubt it would be as popular as it now is...

George Duke wrote on 2007-09-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Seconding JJoyce's, we favour a new Luotuoqi-style selection process instead like over 4 years ago. Vote factor by factor from Ranks to Rooks to Rules. Otherwise, it is just everyone going their own way again, for individual credit or notoriety. There is new level of knowledge now that, for ex., Editors from long ago would not be able to cope. Luotuoqi, having been for fun, deserves serious effort sometime too. It may become means to reconcile, or mediate, Rococo-Ultima-Maxima types with Lions&Unicorn-GrandShantranj-Quintessential types into one hybrid perfected set of Rules. When Abdul-Rahman asked recently what is the best 100-square(decimal)CV, we were inclined to say Centennial. However, Duke-JGood just completed 81-move game of C. was way too long: inadequate, not for the general public. There is crying need for superior Decimal since there are none now, and so recommend that size for future Luotuoqi.

David Paulowich wrote on 2005-06-23 UTCGood ★★★★
The Mule (enhanced Knight) moves like the Black King in Jason D. Wittman's Mad Chess. The Rook-Camel has an entry in the Piececlopedia, under the name 'Canvasser'.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-08-09 UTC
Optimized Lùotuoqí? Hmmmm...depends. What's a good Chinese word for 'optimized'? :-)

Michael Nelson wrote on 2003-08-09 UTC
I've submitted a ZRF for Mike's Camel Chess--a variant with the enhanced
Diagonal Bypasser and more limited Tower of Hanoi as defined in my
previous comments.  It seems to be considerably more playable, but
preserves the essential flavor of Lùotuoqí.

The biggest difference between Lùotuoqí and FIDE Chess (IMO) is not the
Tower, the Bypasser, or the Cube but the Eaglet promotion rule--promotion
is possible early and will normally occur on the player's own side of the

Peter Aronson wrote on 2003-08-09 UTC
In the best of all possible worlds, the Diagonal Bypasser should have been playtested a bit before being thrown into the mix. It had been an idea I had been playing with as a sort of complement to the Advancer and the Withdrawer. <p> Allowing them to capture starting and ending adjacent pieces is a good idea. A full Bypasser, which moves like a Queen, and captures diagonally adjacent pieces to its path when moving orthogonally, and like a Diagonal Bypasser when moving diagonally is also possible. Combined with capture of starting and ending adjacent pieces, this might be a bit much, though. Michael's suggestion of a noncapturing Wazir move is probably more reasonable. <p> The suggestion for the Towers -- move of height - 1 -- also seems reasonable. <b>Optimized Lùotuoqí</b> anyone?

Michael Nelson wrote on 2003-08-09 UTC
I'm further experimenting with giving the Diagonal Bypasser the ability to make a one square non-capturing orthogonal move. This addition makes the piece more powerful by removing colorbinding. It also elimnates an oddity in Eaglet promotion--under the offical rules, you can't promote to DB without the use of an enemy piece, since two DB's can't be oriented correctly.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2003-08-09 UTC
My first impresions are the same pointed out by Michael Nelson. Diagonal Bypasser is one of the most inutile pieces I have seen in a game, here due to size dimensions. The best strategy is to split the tower in eight non-royal kings, making the game very dense and complex. The other pieces have limited action, due the power of splited towers. This game should be more playable on a 12x12 board, perhaps limiting the allowed high of a splited tower, say three, although it must be tested.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2003-08-09 UTCGood ★★★★
I've been playtesting this and I find two flaws:

The Diagonal Bypasser is too weak on a board of this size--since it must
move at least three squares to capture, it has few opportunities.

The Tower of Hanoi is much too powerful. Potentially you can make eight
single stones which equals 8 commoners (non-royal Kings). This is on the
high side of 16 Betza atoms (Queen=5, Amazonrider=8) just considering that
the commoner is the strongest 2-atom piece. Then there must be an unknown
addition for the value of the right to recombine.

The endgame is entirely dominated by the tower.

I've been experimenting with two revisions to address these issues:

The Diagonal Bypasser can capture on any square orthogonally adjectent to
its path, even though the square is also adjacent to the starting or
ending square.  DBb2-d4 can now capture b3, c2, c4, or d3 (but not a2, b1,
d5, or e4). Thius makes it a more useful in the middlegame and fairly
stong in the endgame.

Te Tower's maximum move is reduced to one less than its height: a full
tower can move 7 squares, a three-stone tower can move 2, a one-stone
tower is immobile.  You cannot split off a single stone, but can leave a
single stone behind when splitting. The potential value of the tower is
more like 8 atoms and considerable plus values, still dominating, but its
dominance is much less absolute. Preliminary playtesting indicates that
these two rules make for a more balanced game.

Both Eaglet promotion and The Cube seem quite workable.  Early promotion,
(especially to Mules) is quite easy unless the enemy works to prevent it,
but the opponent can adopt a symmetric strategy and stand pretty well.  

With players who use the cube sparingly (only for a large
material/positional gain or to prevent a large material/positional loss),
The Cube shifts the advantage to Black--making it about the same size as
White's advantage in FIDE, I'd guess. If players use the cube liberally
(to get small gains or prevent small losses), the game is nearer even.

I suspect that a player using the cube sparingly will beat an equally
skilled opponent using the cube more liberally unless the conservative
player's standard's are too high (for example only to give or prevent
immediate mate).

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2003-07-16 UTC
I expect to modify several features of the Luotuoqi process in Luotuoqi II,
although the basic concept is still people making suggestions and voting
on what gets in.  :)

If the Luotuoqi games wind up only being marginally playable, that's not
necessarily all bad.  Then they live up to their name, and the original
inspiring quotation.  But it's fascinating to see what ideas people have,
and what ideas people like.  And it lets some folks participate in a
'contest' who might not take part in a contest to design a whole
variant.  Here, if you have just one cool idea you want to throw in, you
can do it.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-07-15 UTCGood ★★★★
I like the idea of Luotuoqi II (excuse the accent absence in writing) for
Xiang Qi, and Luotuoqi III, for Shogi.
But it is the need of clarify first some things: Board size, number of
pieces of each type and initial setup for the new pieces, it is not
absolutely necessary that this characteristics are going to be the same as
in original game, only changing a piece by its substitute by consense.
Fortress in Xiang Qi may be defined by commitee, too. why it must be the 9
squares from the initial game?. May be re-defined the River?. In Shogi,
the designers by consense must decide where and when drops are allowed,
the same with promotions. All details must be considered in the design, I
The problem with a design by committee is that the game is not thought as
a whole with an unified systemic idea, there are bits of locally good
ideas that are assembled sequentially, and assembling sequence do not need
to be the best, neither related to an armonious global conception of the
game, so ever there is the need of a little of luck in the final

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2003-07-14 UTC
Thanks for the heads-up, Doug.  As a result I'm editing the whole page to
transform it from a contest announcement to a not-quite-finished set of
rules.  Later tonight.  :)

Doug Chatham wrote on 2003-07-13 UTC
The description of the Eaglet needs to be updated to be consistent with our new promotion rule.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2003-07-11 UTC
I am waiting for ROOK definition to play-test the game (I don't know the
winner proposal for Rook, but I think  it will be Crowned Rook (8) or
Rookers (11).)
My first impression is that the game is, as expected, a Camel. As Horse
design, a Camel is not so bad, but it is a camel, undoubtely. If the Tower
of Hanoi survives as a complete piece to the end,
strategy would be extremely deep, because the optimal strategy should be
to split it in eight parts, mantained joined and advancing as an amoeba
against the enemy king -the subjective value of eight joined GUARDS in an
end of game is much more than the value of a Queen-, if there is not
another tower
in enemy band, the possesor of the tower must win the game. If there is
too a  full Tower (splitted) in the enemy pieces, strategy must be very
complex, and the end in a good game may last many moves. These are
I'm going to wait for the Rook, and then, I'm going to evaluate the
Camel extensively. Good luck for the designers by committee. That is
needed, a bit of luck.

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-12-10 UTC
Robert's idea makes sense.  As each rule/piece is adopted, it supersedes
any previously adopted proposal to the extent of any conflict.

When it's all over I expect to edit the whole as a consistent rule set in
any case (standardizing description formats, clarifying conflicts, etc.).

Robert Shimmin wrote on 2002-12-09 UTC
Offhand, I suggest that since we're voting in the rules one at a time, we might just agree to the convention that later rules supercede earlier ones. At least this makes the most sense to me. Any other thoughts?

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-12-09 UTC
Here's a question: how do we handle contradictions between rules/pieces. For example, if we were to vote for the <b>Eaglet</b>, which says it does not promote, and proposed <b>Rule 6</b> which describes how 'Pawns' promote under a special circumstance, what would happen?

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-11-24 UTC
It is 'traditional' within the field of Chess Variants that games that are described as 'playable with a standard Chess set' assume the ability to distinguish between two standard Chess pieces of the same type so they may represent two different types of actual pieces. (Colored rubber bands work fairly well for this purpose for most sets.) In general, the exact method used to distinguish pieces is left as an exercise for the actually players.

William Overington wrote on 2002-11-24 UTC
> Luotuoqi is intended to be playable with an ordinary board and pieces.

Thank you for this clarification.

> I don't see a big deal with entries that differentiate one
rook/knight/bishop from the other.

Well, it is not a big deal if and only if end users can easily distinguish
the meanings of the pieces on the board.  There appear to be three

1. Reorient one of the two pieces of one type.  For example, invert a
rook.  I find that ugly and undesirable.  It might however work for a rook
but would not work for a knight or a bishop.  Piece inversion would not be
nice however and would not work for play with, say, an Isle of Lewis style
chess set.

2. Distinguish the two pieces of one type by the Luotuoqi rules having
colourbound pieces and different rules for a piece depending upon the
colour of the square upon which it stands, either expressed as colour of
square or as to whether the piece and the square have the same colour or
are of different colours.  This would work and would, to my mind, be
stylish and elegant, using information content to distinguish pieces
without adding anything onto the board.

3. Distinguish the two pieces of one type by having something such as a
draughts piece under one or both of the two pieces of one type: if under
both, then the two draughts pieces are of different colours.  However,
that would then mean that the Luotuoqi game could not be played with just
an ordinary chess set.

> It will be up to the polling to see if others have issues.

This does not follow.  I am asking about the rules of the metagame, not
the results of the voting on the rules for the Camel Chess game.

> A similar situation applies with rules like proposal 3, The Cube.  It
introduces something other than the basic 32 pieces and a board.

Well, it is a similar situation in some ways, yet is qualitatively
different.  For example, the cube could be a button, an empty herb jar, a
piece of cardboard, a book, anything handy, as it is just a physical
representation of a Boolean variable.  Distinguishing pieces on the board
with a marker would need suitable markers, which might cause problems in
finding something suitable or in using them with a travelling chess set.

It would, I feel, be quite in order to have more than one item off the
board, so that there were more than one Boolean variable associated with
the game.  Maybe 'small valued integer' could also be an off the board
type of item.  That is part of the fun of the design process.  However, my
own view is that there should be nothing added on the board.

> Only the voting will tell if this places the rule beyond the pale.

Well, it won't.  If proposal 3 is not accepted, then that could be for
various possible reasons, one of which might be a feeling that the idea of
having the cube is 'beyond the pale'.  Any such non-acceptance might be
only that some other rule is regarded as more important within the
constraints of having two new rules.


I find a certain amusement in the possibility that an industrial
psychologist might be quite fascinated by this discussion of the rules
within a committee structure!  Does if often (always?) happen with
committees? :-)

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-24 UTC
Luotuoqi is intended to be playable with an ordinary board and pieces.  I
don't see a big deal with entries that differentiate one
rook/knight/bishop from the other.  It will be up to the polling to see if
others have issues.

A similar situation applies with rules like proposal 3, The Cube.  It
introduces something other than the basic 32 pieces and a board.  Only the
voting will tell if this places the rule beyond the pale.

William Overington wrote on 2002-11-20 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Thank you for clarifying the rules.

This, however, leads to another matter.

> A suggestion to replace a type of piece with two pieces (like the
Immobilizer replacing one rook and the Coordinator the other rook in
Ultima) may be made.

I was thinking in terms of colourbound replacements, this seems to go much

I think that my question really hinges on whether it is expected that
Camel Chess will be playable with a conventional set of ordinary chess
pieces, just by applying different meanings to the pieces of wood or
plastic and having different rules for how they interact.  It would seem
that inverting one of the two rooks could be used to make two types of
pieces, yet this would not work for bishops and knights.

So, is it part of the design rules that Camel Chess will be playable with
a conventional set of ordinary chess pieces please?

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-19 UTC
The way I'll organize the polling...

On January 1, I'll mail to each entrant the list in one of the categories,
determined at random.  Each entrant has till the end of the month to
return a list of votes *in order of preference* in that category, voting
for as many or as few as desired.  At the end of the month, or when all
eligible entrants have voted, a Condorcet preferential voting method will
be used to pick a winner, which is then posted to the main page.

Entries close for a category when voting starts.  (In the case of the
first rules vote, they re-open after the ballot because there's still one
more rule to pick.)

If you have entered in any category, you may vote in every category, at
the proper time.

On February 1, the process repeats, for a different category.  Rules will
be voted on twice, each piece-type only once, during the first seven
months.  After seven votes, we have a variant.

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