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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2001-08-18
 By George William Duke. Falcon Chess. Game on an 8x10 board with a new piece: The Falcon. (10x8, Cells: 80) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
H. G. Muller wrote on 2016-09-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
files=10 promoChoice=NBRQF graphicsDir=../membergraphics/MSinteractivedia/ whitePrefix=White blackPrefix=Black graphicsType=png startShade=#FFCC00 squareSize=35 symmetry=none pawn:::Pawn:a2,b2,c2,d2,e2,f2,g2,h2,i2,j2,,a7,b7,c7,d7,e7,f7,g7,h7,i7,j7 Knight:N::Knight:b1,i1,,b8,i8 Bishop:::Bishop:c1,h1,,c8,h8 Rook:::Rook:a1,j1,,a8,j8 Falcon::mafmafsKmafsmafKmaflmafrKmafrmaflK:Hawk:d1,g1,,d8,g8 Queen:::Queen:e1,,e8 King:::King:f1,,f8

Falcon Chess

This variant also deserves an interactive diagram, so that people can experiment with how the complex multi-path Falcon navigates between the pieces. I picked the starting position that Fairy-Max uses. I also had never rated the game itself, so this offers a nice opportunity for that.

For those who don't feel like working their way through the entire article: A Falcon moves to squares (1,3) or (2,3) removed from it in all directions (the nearest squares not covered by Queen or Knight click). But it does not directly jump there; it has to reach them by stepping along one of the three shortest paths to these squares. If all these paths are blocked, it cannot go there, but if only a single path is open, it can.

JT K wrote on 2016-09-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

The falcon is an interesting piece!  Arriving at the same square in different ways is a clever concept.  I would be curious to know how a top computer would rank them compared to a knight.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-06-27 UTCPoor ★
I think this page does a very poor job in describing Falcon Chess compared to the compact description other CVs get on these pages. And this for addition of only a single new piece, for which the move rules could have been described (within the context of what can be supposed common background knowledge for visitors of these pages) with the in a single sentence:

'The Falcon is a lame (1,3)+(2,3) compound leaper, which follows any of the three shortest paths to its desination consisting of orthogonal and diagonal steps, which can be blocked on any square it has to pass over to reach its destination.'

That, plus possibly a diagram of the Falcon moves and a diagram of the array should have been sufficient. As it is now, I could not even find the rules for promotion amongst the landslide of superfluous description.

Note that my rating only applies to the page, not to the game. I haven't formed an opinion on that yet, it could be the greatest game in the World for all I know.

I have a question, though:

What exactly does the patent cover? As a layman in the field of law, I associate patents with material object which I cannot manufacture and sell without a license. Rules for a Chess variant are not objects, though. So which of the following actions would be considered infringements on the Falcon patent, if performed without licensing:

1) I play a game of Falcon Chess at home
2) I publish on the internet the PGN of a Falcon Chess game I played at home
3) I write a computer program that plays Falcon Chess, and let it play in my home
4) I publish on the internet the games this program played
5) I conduct a Falcon Chess tournament with this engine in various incarnations as participant, and make it available for life viewing on the internet
6) I post my Falcon-Chess capable engine for free download on my website
7) I post the source code of that engine for free download on my website
8) I sell the engine as an executable file
9) I sell a staunton-style piece set with 10 Pawns, orthodox Chess men, and two additional, bird-like pieces
10) I sell a set of small wooden statues, looking like owls, falcons, elephants and lions, plus some staunton-style pawns, plus a 10x8 board.

And more specifically: would it require a license to equip my engine Joker80 to play Falcon Chess (next to Janus, Capablanca and CRC) and post it on the internet for free download? If so, could such a license be granted, and what would be the conditions?

Derek Nalls wrote on 2007-07-26 UTCPoor ★
As a US citizen, I find US patents extremely offensive- beyond whatever merits a game may possess in of itself.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2007-07-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I agree that Falcon Chess is an excellent variant. The move of the Falcon is very interesting and provides for both strategic and tactical ideas. I have been playing a game with George and quite enjoy it (although I have not attended to my game recently!). I just wish that the Falcon piece could be used more frequently by other chess variant inventors (Switching Falcon Chess or Takeover Falcon Chess -- a 'takeover' Falcon, wow! -- anyone?).

Jeremy Good wrote on 2007-07-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Fergus Duniho comments below that 'grandmasters who had extensive knowledge of opening theory' were interested in adding marshall and cardinal to 8 x 10. Fergus is right that they were likely trying to escape their narrow professional circuit into new frontiers, but the marshall and cardinal had been around for hundreds of years and different size boards, such as Turkish / Indian Great Chess were created to explore these possibilities. We are still exploring them today.

On an 8 x 10 capablanca random board, a number of new asymmetries emerge, distancing it from FIDE Chess. The bishop becomes more powerful and the power of the marshall over the archbishop is great.

What is the Falcon piece? Simply put: One of the greatest innovations to come along in hundreds of years for a board with a length of 8 squares in particular. The Falcon family of pieces perfectly complements the linear sliders as you can tell from this wonderful diagram George Duke created to illustrate their range:

Q  D  D  D  D  Q  D  D  D  D  Q
D  Q  S  S  S  Q  S  S  S  Q  D
D  S  Q  F  F  Q  F  F  Q  S  D
D  S  F  Q  N  Q  N  Q  F  S  D
D  S  F  N  Q  Q  Q  N  F  S  D
Q  Q  Q  Q  Q  X  Q  Q  Q  Q  Q
D  S  F  N  Q  Q  Q  N  F  S  D
D  S  F  Q  N  Q  N  Q  F  S  D
D  S  Q  F  F  Q  F  F  Q  S  D
D  Q  S  S  S  Q  S  S  S  Q  D
Q  D  D  D  D  Q  D  D  D  D  Q

One of the great charms of FIDE Chess is the competition between the bishop and the knight, which are roughly of equal value on that board. Or maybe precisely. In fact, IM Larry Kaufman assigns them the exact same value (3 1/4 compared to 5 for rook, 9 3/4 for queen) and argues this: 'In other words, an unpaired bishop and knight are of equal value (within 1/50 of a pawn, statistically meaningless), so positional considerations (such as open or closed position, good or bad bishop, etc.) will decide which piece is better.'

This is charming because the bishop and the knight are two such disparate pieces and that there should be an underlying symmetry behind this polarity is surprising. There may not exist a single piece in Falcon Chess with equivalent value to the falcon, but when playing with the Falcon piece, one feels a similar pleasing feeling of polarity, of playing with a unique piece that can be competitive among disparate pieces. So it amounts to a great contribution.

The Falcon multi-path piece is one elegant solution to a problem implicit in one of Betza's observations: 'The second rule is that a forward leap which is half or more the height of the board is too dangerous. For example, a piece combining the (0,3) and (0,4) leaps would win heavy material in just a few moves from the opening position.'

Fergus Duniho does not note this but I think George Duke has a leg up on the great Jose Raul Capablanca and eccentric Henry Edward Bird when it comes to designing chess variants. The latter two gentlemen are rightly credited as great classical chess players, but unlike George Duke, they were not chess variant experts and they contributed very little original to the development of chess variants, except mainly to lend their prestige to a lazily constructed 8 x 10 variant that was hundreds of years old. [Added note: This may have been unfair. H. E. Bird probably was something of a chess variant expert. He was certainly a historian of chess development. ]

Usually, unprotected pawns are seen as a liability. In Falcon Chess, they serve to permit the dynamic Falcon piece to play a more interesting part in the opening.

I rate this game excellent and applaud George Duke's initiative in bringing the Falcon piece forward. It has enriched our chess variants world considerably. It is one of the few variants I consider enjoyable enough to be well worthy of serious study. It marks George Duke as one of the greatest contemporary chess variant inventors.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2007-07-07 UTCGood ★★★★
Fair enough, you get the rating. Your piece is a good one. Being symmetric gives it a versatility that the alternative claimant to the name Falcon (which in deference to your patent I have not used under that name) lacks. Without your Falcon I'd have had to resort to a piece that would take a lot more explaining on the board on which I finally settled. As it happens I have no further plans to use your Falcon but I can see how you, or someone else with your permission, could use it in all sorts of geometries.

Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-04-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
an interesting thought, I wonder how the game would play out allowing some mutators? like Suicide, Atomic, Extinction, Alice, Magnetic .. etc ..

I issued an invitation for Suicide Falcon Chess .. just to try it out. I really wonder if there are any lost openings to begin with.

AMXRE wrote on 2006-09-07 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Great game!The FALCON is POOOWERfUL but the use of fide armies balances its power.This gameRRRRRRRRRRRRRRReally deseves its patent.(and the falcon deserves a patent too!

Cavallero wrote on 2005-03-09 UTCPoor ★
Very full of himself, the author is. And by patenting the game (unjustified greed? - sorry but I can only speculate, and the 'until 2017'-comment below seemed to justify this), he made sure it will not be played very much. Too bad, since the falcon as such is an interesting and relatively original piece - not less, but also not much more.

tommy wrote on 2005-03-04 UTCPoor ★

i am one who is particularly offended by chess variant patents. i will tell you why. but firstly, the patent for falcon chess does not worry me as much as other patents because i cannot see that the falcon piece is really any good. to me it looks like somebody wanted to own a patent and then set about achieving it, rather than somebody invented a great game and recognized that it needed legal protection. i may be wrong, but i cannot see how there could be a sufficient demand for this game to warrant any legal protection, and so any patent for falcon chess looks to me like a 'bad business investment'.

i myself have many ideas for chess variants. sometimes my designs will be too flawed to pursue, but sometimes i will think of something good. i currently have one variant which i am very excited about and i would like to tell the world and get it play-tested. but unfortunately, recent months have taught me that there are business-minded vultures in the chess community who seek to exploit chess for anything they can get. this is why i will keep my best variant a secret. i want it to be public domain, because i am not an american capitalist. i just want people to play my game and for a few people to remember i introduced it. but i fear that i now need to cover every base. for example, to stop somebody tweaking my game in a minor way, i need to somehow account for all possible combinations of starting set-ups and rules. this represents millions of possible permutations. the credibility of my game is virtually destroyed by such an action. but the worst thing is that i will need to ensure my game is given wholly into the public domain. i wish this was easy and that i could talk about it openly. if somebody suggests an improvement to my game, i would not mind at all. but if somebody found an improvement and claimed sole inventorship over my game, i would obviously feel somewhat aggrieved. like Carrera would feel if he knew about gothic chess.

why are chess patents allowed? unfortunately they do exist and unfortunatley they weren't bought in order to help promote those respective variants, or chess itself, but to line the pockets of american capitalists. these individuals are choking the future of chess evolution in my opinion. i think the most insulting thing about people who own chess patents is that they all claim to have made something better than chess, and do not recognize previous similar variants. gothic chess for example was undoubtedly influenced by the Carrera family of variants, but nowhere in the patent document could i find the relevant acknowledgements. i thought that the 'background of the invention' would have mentioned something significant, but it doesn't. why is that? i fear it is because the 'inventor' did not wish to tell the patent reviewers how unoriginal his game is. and instead, heavily implied that he invented the archbishop and chancellor pieces.

i know this message won't get posted, but i thought i would try anyway. i have had good correspondence with Fergus in the past and i trust his ability to decide what should be published on his website or not. if Fergus would like me to write a better essay about chess patent immorality, then i would be willing to do so. i understand that this site was not made to discuss patent morality issues, but it is one of the most popular discussions for some variants and i feel it's a subject which needs to be addressed. i may write my own chess variants site one day, and if i do i would not include any patented chess variants, no matter how good they are. i would not wish to promote any variants which were invented for the purposes of raising money for greedy entrepreneurs. people who probably have little genuine interest in any other chess variants.

Greg Strong wrote on 2005-03-04 UTCGood ★★★★
I have not played Falcon Chess yet, but the Falcon is a very clever piece, and I look forward to seeing how it plays. Unfortunately, with GC Tournament #2 starting soon, I need to focus on those games for now, but I will definitely try FC sometime reasonably soon. I am glad it has a GC preset! I am (personally) ambivalent about ZoG support, but I'm not sure I see what can be gained by not providing a ZRF.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2005-03-02 UTCGood ★★★★
I have not yet played Falcon Chess, although I would like to. The idea of the Falcon, by itself, is good. It's a piece with interesting capabilities. The setup seems reasonable and, I am sure, has been well thought through and play tested. I can't agree with the 'poor' ratings, regardless of one's opinion of the pros- or cons- of patenting a chess: that's a different matter altogether, one which, unfortunately, has dominated these comment pages a bit too much -- in my opinion. In any case, its a good game and that is why I offered George the Game Courier preset -- to encourage play of this interesting chess.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2005-03-02 UTCGood ★★★★
Be honest, this game is at least good (in my opinion, it is very good). I don´t rate it 'excellent' because there is a little detail that is not so easy to solve, and it is a relative weakness in the setup in the c-Pawn and in the h-Pawn. It is also a bit incomodious the first moves of the Bishops, because the player must take some care on the own Rooks and a possible attack by the opposite Bishops. The possible solution I thought, augmenting the power of Bishops allowing the one-step orthogonal movement for Bishops, may alter the good balance and harmony you can see in the game play, powered Bishops are much more valious than a Knight, and the game play itself may change significatively, although I don´t know, I have not tested it. On other hand, Falcon movement is nice and it seems well adapted to this game. My impression is that this is not a 'random' game, but a well thought and tested game, and possible improvements are not obvious.

Robert Fischer wrote on 2005-03-01 UTCPoor ★
Just wishing to amend my oversight by appropriately placing a 'poor'
rating here as well.

Please check-out related comments of interest:

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2005-03-01 UTCPoor ★

Why it takes so long to describe all this? Too much redundancy in this page, sorry.

This game is nothing but original. The so-called Falcon is just Camel+Zebra from fairy chess. I used a similar Buffalo (Camel+Zebra+Knight) in my CVs and many inventors did in these pages on this website.

Also good to know is that a certain Karl Schulz from Austria invented a Falcon-Hunter Chess in 1943 where the Falcon is moving fw like a Bishop and bw like a Rook. This variant is reported in many CV books like Parton's, Boyer's or closer to us, DB Pritchard's. Basically, I think that patenting a CV is a very bad idea because you just encourage players to go away. What is the goal of the inventor, what does he want to protect really ? And if the patent is unavoidable it should be preceded by a serious anteriority research. This patent has no serious claim, it's flawed.

Michael Nelson wrote on 2004-04-12 UTCPoor ★


1. The inventor's mistaken belief that this is the best chess variant ever invented.

2. Patenting a game whose distinguishing difference from Chess is a lame Bison with an improved movement--an innovation, to be sure, but a small one.

3. His desire to prevent anyone else from using the Falcon in any game (no matter how unlike Falcon Chess).

Michael Nelson wrote on 2004-04-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
For the game. Falcon Chess is quite playable and the Falcon piece has a charming move that makes for interesting tactics.

Pete Leyva wrote on 2004-01-02 UTCGood ★★★★
I believe Falcon Chess is a wonderful addition to chess world. It provides change that is well needed in the chess world. Great job George W. Duke.

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