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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2014-04-24
 By H. G.  Muller. Elven Chess. 10x10 variant with 4 new pieces, of which one can double-capture. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
H. G. Muller wrote on 2021-05-04 UTC

you cannot chase away werewolf with weaker piece, opponent can just defend and keep the werewolf

Well, if you chase it away with a Pawn, the opponent would lose the piece he defends with for a Pawn, even though he keeps his Werewolf. So it is not that easy. But it indeed upsets the usual assumptions on tactics; there is no penalty on using the most valuable piece first.


x x wrote on 2021-05-04 UTC

I know your werewolf chess variant. You are right that contageon antitrading rule also feels unnatural (you cannot chase away werewolf with weaker piece, opponent can just defend and keep the werewolf).

I guess you are correct that I am not the target audience (I have never tried chu shogi)


H. G. Muller wrote on 2021-05-04 UTC

An anti-trading rule of this type is necessary to keep the variant Chu-Shogi-like. I admit that for a Chess player these rules are annoying and seem unnatural (like the ban on perpetual checking in Xiangqi). But they are pretty much a defining characteristic of Chu Shogi, and dropping them would completely change the character of the game. I already did simplify them a bit (dropping the exception for adjacent Lions, which would be taken by igui anyway, and dropping the double-capture exception.)

The problem is that the more effective such rules are in preventing trading, the more annoying they will be in the eyes of a player with a Chess background, as it is really the impossibility to disarm the attack by trading that causes the annoyance. I guess the trading problem with pieces like the Lion is much more severe than with the Queen in orthodox Chess (which also dominates the game value-wise) because he Lion is a short-range piece. Queens act from a distance, and tend to exert their tactical threats from behind the front line, to administer the final blow in a longer tactical exchange. Lions have to jump into the melee, and are so powerful that the only defense against them often is another Lion. So they seek each other, where Queens can easily avoid direct contact.

Of course different anti-trading rules are conceivable, but this probably would not solve the annoyance with them, and would just move the game farther away from Chu Shogi for no good reason. And Chu Shogi is a very well evolved game; one can assume they adopted the rule that works best. E.g. one could forbid Lions to capture each other unconditionally, but it would probably make the attacking Lion too powerful, and would not solve the problem of indirect trading. It would be possible to invert the rules: outlaw recapture of a Lion after Lion x Lion, and outlaw other x Lion when a counterstrike against your own Lion is possible. This might favor a defending Lion too much, though.

In Werewolf Chess I used 'contageon' as a means to discourage trading. This feels somewhat less unnatural / arbitrary (to me, at least). But it completely upsets how tactical exchanges work, which can also be perceived as annoying.

Anyway, the goal of this game was to transplant the 'Chu-Shogi feeling' to a smaller/faster and more Chess-like variant, and the anti-trading rules are an essenial part of that. People that are put off by those rules also would not like Chu Shogi, and they are not the audience I target with this variant.


x x wrote on 2021-05-04 UTC

Interesting idea, its a great translation of the lion to "western-like" chess. The piece additions work great to limit the power of the lion a bit, and feel natural. Unfortunately the anti-trading rule is more frustrating than fun. I understand that the Lion is the main attraction in this variant, and that given its power its very likely to be traded, but antitrading rules just feel wrong. Perhaps making lion weaker, while keeping the main draw (moving twice) would be better.


John Davis wrote on 2015-04-30 UTC
Yes, top heaviness is covered in the Rook level Chess thread. I have seen Elven Chess on chess.com and thank you for trying to expose them to something other than 960. Your ratios give me even more of a clue to your goals, and are good guidelines in general. We are both trying to introduce Chu Shogi pieces, but mine is a Grand Chess variant, so no castling. The array in Elven Chess demands castling to develop a Guard/Dwarf. Elven is tactically Chess with a Shishi. I want something that is more tactically Chu, in having a placement of minors behind majors, without the worry of what minors promote to or a horde of one step pieces. The ratio highlights the problem with all Capablancas, but people still keep putting them out there. Cetran 2 has only one minor piece, and I find it to be an enjoyable and balanced game. Minor point: I'm not sure I follow your math with the ratios, I count Elven as 2,4,6,10 and GCS as 2,8,5,10.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2015-04-27 UTC
My first thought is that your array might be a bit 'top heavy': you introduce many new pieces stronger than Rook, but no new minors. IMO orthodox Chess is such a well-balanced game because the number of piecesdoubles for each next-lower class: 1 Queen, 2 Rooks, 4 minors, 8 Pawns. Give or take a Pawn each piece is worth about twice as much as a piece of the next lower class, so you have many interestng 2-for-1 trades. This gives a much more interesting spectrum of material combination then when only trades within a class occur, because the next-lower class is in short supply and most of the pieces there are already traded against each other before the intrinsically rarer 2-for-1 trading opportunities occur.

For this reason I did not only add Strong pieces (Shishi, RF, BW) to the FIDE array, but also the two Dwarfs (K). That gives one extra Rook-class piece (BW) and two extra Knight-class pieces, to preserve the ratio there, and one piece (RF) halfway between Queen and Rook. So roughly speaking you could say the Q:R:minor:P ratio in Elven Chess is 1.5:3.5:6:10, while in your array (similarly 'splitting up' the RF) it is 2:7:4:10. (The Stag should be worth about a Rook, if the King moves alone are already worth a Knight.)

I would not expect a full-powered Shishi to be any problem in your array, because indeed the Stag is also 'Lion-proof'. It was not clear whether you propose this as a Chess or a Shogi variant (i.e. how the Pawns move, and if there is castling). I once tested an ordinary KNAD on 8x8, and it came out about 1.5 Pawn stronger than Q there. Q would benefit from a bigger board, though (more moves), while KNAD would suffer (longer travel times).

John Davis wrote on 2015-04-27 UTC
Mr Muller, I am aware of your passion for Shogi and the Shishi in particular. My opinion is built on Mr Duniho's piece on designing good chess variants. I am interested in your opinion of my array, whether a Shishi or KAND is used? This is the most original of the the ones I am proposing for GC&B. I do not have the computer skills to create something like this on WinBoard or any of the others and I have not been able to play test it. The Flying Stag does fit into your criteria of crowned pieces.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2015-04-25 UTC
Well, the "Lion power" of the Chu-Shogi Lion (i.e. the ability to capture in passing) is all the fun, and my reason for designing Elven Chess was to make it accessible in a less intimidating game. Whether 10x10 is too small for it remains to be seen. I play-tested Mighty-Lion Chess, which has the Lion on an 8x8 board, with a computer, and the games this generated did not look especially problematic. Like in Chu, the Lions tend to seek each other, creating a stand-off, leaving their defensive position only after that has been made 'Lion proof'.

Note that Mighty-Lion and Elven Chess are primarily designed as Chess variants, not Shogi variants. Chains of FIDE Pawns are much more Lion-proof that Shogi Pawns. Because the Pawns have two captures rather than one, Pawns standing shoulder to shoulder cannot be approached by a Lion from ahead. And interlocked Pawn chains, which are not possible with Shogi Pawns but common in FIDE, are also Lion proof. FIDE also is much more 'slider dominated' than Chu Shogi, and in Mighty-Lion one of the Lions usually gets lost in the early end-game because it can no longer hide from slider attack as the board population thins.

In Elven Chess all the non-FIDE pieces have King moves, and thus cannot be approached by a Lion for an igui threat. So they don't have to rely on the Lion being far away for their survival.

John Davis wrote on 2015-04-25 UTCGood ★★★★
This variant gave me the idea for my Grand Chess and Beyond project. My idea is more inline with the nut shogis. I think the Shishi is to powerful for 10x10 and am going with a KAND Lion, plus it's a bit complex for beginners. I also wanted a Lance type piece on the edges and chose a Flying Stag. For "Grand Chu Shogi" King; F1 & 10. Queen; E2 & 9. Lion; F2 &9. Guard; E1 & 10. Dragon King; D2 & 9, G2 & 9. Dragon Horse; C2 & 9, H2 & 9. Rook; B2 & 9, I2 & 9. Bishop; B1 &10, I1 &10. Knight; D1 & 10, G1 & 10. Flying Stag; A2 & 9, J2 & 9.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-12-24 UTC
Great. I posted it along with the preset for Elven Chess and I look forward to playing both and to seeing what future variants you come up with too!

This discussion, about contracting the FIDE board, helped me recall this morning Ingo Althofer's En Passant Chess which although merely gimmick-y is also fun and I've played it a little. Because it *is* gimmicky, it might not have much depth and might very well give White a forced win which we could discover, as you suggest. The consequence of contracting the board allows the En Passant rule to really come into its own. Most established dogma about what makes cvs playable is entirely arbitrary and can be thrown out the window with a little rule adjustment, I've found...the familiar shouldn't be confused with the truth.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2014-12-23 UTC
Oh, my mistake, I mis-read that, and thought you were indeed talking about Elven Chess.

Indeed, for Elven Shogi it would make much more sense to make a 9-deep board, to have the usual Pawn separation there.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-12-23 UTC
To be very clear, I'm not here of course talking about Elven Chess but the Elven Shogi you refer to at the bottom of your notes on Elven Chess. I already submitted an Elven Chess preset exactly as you described it. The question is whether to leave Elven Shogi on the 10 x 10 board. When you say the pawns are FIDE like, with an initial double-step, I wonder whether you didn't realize I was talking about Elven Shogi. Are you saying the Elven Shogi pawns have a double-step?

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-12-23 UTC

I probably should have emailed you before I posted this. I apologize if so.

Perhaps it wouldn't give any extra advantage to White. Perhaps you're somehow right and it would give White some sort of advantage - that would be interesting. Demonstrate.

Yes of course I assumed the shogi pawns would only move one step at a time.

By giving it nine ranks, we give it the same number of ranks as in a 9 x 9 Shogi game where three lines separate the pawns. There's at least a bit of reason to my madness here...

If, on the other hand, you have four ranks between the pawns then it creates a certain asymmetry in pawn domination of ranks where the second player can not always directly meet the opponent's pawn on its fourth rank. In 9 x 9 Shogi, there is a middle rank that neither side can easily foray into....

Well, it's just a suggestion. I'm sure the 10 x 10 version of Elven Shogi would play out just fine and if that's the one to go with as standard, you're the boss in the matter and I defer to your judgment.

Reviewing the wikipedia Shogi Variants, I see no 10 x 9 Shogi version (and I can't think of any chess variant that is such a shape either but I don't think this apparent absence means that such a shape is inferior in any way to just about any other shape) so you may be right that my suggestion is unique. I do see a contemporary 10 x 10, like yours - Okisaki Shogi but can't easily locate the rules for it and can't see any but the vaguest notion of a setup. Some places they say it has ten pawns and others 11. Apparently, Okisaki means queen and this variant is a western hybrid that, like yours, implements a queen. Yours looks more interesting though.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2014-12-23 UTC
I suppose so, but what would be the advantage? The Pawns are FIDE-like, and in particular do have an initial double-push. One would thing that 4 empty ranks between them would then be the optimal distance. I have never seen a suggestion to shrink orthochess to an 8x7 board. I would expect this would drive up the white advantage too much.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-12-22 UTC
For the Elven Shogi variant, might one take out one rank so that the board has 10 rows and 9 ranks? Like so.

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