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Sac Chess. (Updated!) Game with 60 pieces. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Greg Strong wrote on 2022-09-25 UTC

I like the abstract pieces a lot and I use them when playing Gross Chess. But the farther you go from the standard types, the less well I think it works. In this game, you have Dragon King, Dragon Horse, and Amazon, and I don't think the abstract pieces are particularly effective.

I am disappointed to hear that Fergus requested you to use his graphics. I think it's fair to say that, while they may be good, they are decidedly non-standard. I do not think it helps our cause, (encouraging Chess enthusiasts to explore Chess variants), to make things appear more alien. Personally, I consider the standard for this site to be the Alfaerie graphics. Each contributor can, of course, choose whatever they like to represent their game.

What I think would be nice is to have buttons over the graphic which switch all page graphics between the options. I think H.G. has done this on some of his pages, but I don't know how it works. If it is not hard to do, I may start updating pages. OTOH, an argument can be made that the main diagram should be one of his interactive diagrams. Personally, I prefer to put the interactive diagram down in the "Computer Play" section, as I have done here,  But that may be because of my own biases.  The way I have the "Setup" section on that page is how I like to do it, largely because that's how it has been done here for a very long time (although I added the Initial Setup FEN.)

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2022-09-25 UTC

Thanks Greg.

While I find abstract diagrams sometimes not the easiest on the eyes, Fergus requested I use such for the Sac Chess Rules page (it was my first submission). H.G. thought the Alfarie figurines were more easily recognizable, too, but Fergus stated he himself was biased (having created the abstract figurines himself, I suppose).

For what it's worth, I prefer using the abstract pieces when playing Gross Chess, as I find the Champion piece type more recognizable when as an abstract figurine than as the helmeted figurine of a Champion in Alfarie. Maybe a similar story for the Vaos and Cannons, too.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2022-09-25 UTC

I understand the logic of the diagram with abstract pieces, but for me it requests a supplementary mental effort to figure out which one is what. IMO it works fine with the 6 standard pieces, but in this case with all combinations it is an extreme, and not really needed, difficulty. I believe that adding a conventional diagram would help the recognition of this game. I have one ready that I can post or send.

Greg Strong wrote on 2022-09-24 UTC

I have updated the diagrams. In the abstract-all piece set, the code for the chancellor is 'RN' not 'MA'. Perhaps it was changed at some point, but that's not something that should happen, as it would break things.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2022-09-24 UTC

I'd hoped that castling would often come in handy, but there have been a couple of games, so far, where my opponents have dropped their K back a rank against me (likely after an Amazon move to third or second rank - one possible drawback might be if said Amazon ever has to retreat somewhere with loss of time). Castling kingside followed by shifting my K sideways one more square is something I often do, though maybe out of habit from chess (somewhat unrelated, Play Tester recently championed the idea of quickly charging the pawn in front of his Sailor on the kingside, even before either side may have castled).

The more space you have control of on a side of the board, the safer it is to castle there, I suppose. If Black plays a French Defence analogue, for example, then kingside castling seems nice enough for White. Not only that, but if a centre file is about to get opened early, castling may be a good idea. Sac Chess is still relatively unexplored, of course. I thought I'd sensed some unexpected defects to its design (compared to chess, at least) since inventing it, but at least it's being played more often again lately (though I'm always one of the players). Bishop(s) (and later Missionaries) flying out to the edge of the board, especially of the queenside, for example (the Sailor pawn charge may be another).

I'd also hoped when designing the game that the Judges (Centaurs) on the wings would help to guard a castled K for a long time. Castling queenside seems like it's usually quite unsafe, even compared to chess. The K is still likely unsafe in the middle for a couple of moves at the least. I'd secretly hoped to be the first one to castle queenside in a Sac Chess Game Courier game, but Fergus beat me to it when playing someone else. It's also easier to discourage or prevent castling queenside in the first place than in chess, it seems.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-09-24 UTC

I guess the diagrams are generated 'on the fly'. So probably the image file for the chancellor was renamed.

And now that you are here: I have been commenting a Sac Chess game for Jean-Louis' new book, and I noticed that after castling the King is really still very unsafe. Because it is still directly behind the Pawn shield. So castling really seems a bad idea. It seems much better to quickly move out an Amazon to f3/f8 or e2/e9, and then hide the King away on g1/g10. The Rook is then not trapped, and can get out once the minors are developed, and the Sailor can be moved to i2/i9 to protect the Pawn Shield. The Judge, Archbishop and Chancelor can then get out over h1/h10, g2/g9 and h2/h2, respectively.Leaving the King behind an enormous 'wall of power'.

Does that make sense?

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2022-09-24 UTC

Hi H.G.:

I didn't change anything for the longest time in the diagrams on the Sac Chess rules page. I assumed the chancellors disappearing might have resulted from something Fergus (or someone else) changed on CVP website, Game Courier or the Diagram Designer. Right now I haven't tried to edit a rules page myself for so long (if that's what needs to be done) that I'm afraid I might make things worse.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2022-09-24 UTC

The Chancellors ar missing in the diagrams.

Zhedric Meneses wrote on 2020-12-14 UTC

probably lag or glitch

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-12-14 UTC

Strange... my post just now was immediately posted twice. I'd note that I'm not sure if I was properly logged in at the time.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-12-14 UTC

I had considered the Q as a basic (FIDE) piece, and so I knighted it twice to produce the two Amazons (crowning a Q, in addition, not being 'possible'), as I had similarly knighted and/or crowned the R,N, and B twice (then there was also the angle of the Q starting out as the sole wife of the K in FIDE Chess). At least that's how I chose to carry out the theme for Sac Chess that I picked.

I neglected to mention that for a final setup I didn't wish to have more than one R-like piece on any file, as I disliked doubled R-like pieces being on a file that may be opened, possibly resulting in two very quick trades, or else heavy pressure perhaps being thus quickly created on a semi-open file. Next, I didn't want the Amazons in corners, nor the Chancellors preventing the analogues to Fool's and Scholar's Mate. Having decided on all that, and where to put the Centaurs (which I'd called Judges without being aware of the more conventional name - they are useful to protect a castled K where I put them, anyway, I think, and not deep hitting like Archbishops), I wasn't left with much choice where to put the Archbishops and the Missionaries. I preferred to have the Archbishops not on central files in case an enemy rook could suddenly wipe one out (Missionaries being slightly less valuable than Rs on 10x10 in my estimation), and in my final setup the Archbishops each ultimately point at an enemy Judge, which I estimate as weaker than an A on 10x10.

Anyone is welcome to try to improve on the setup of Sac Chess with a CV of their own. At least Sac Chess has had over 50 games of playtesting on Game Courier now, and the range of playable openings doesn't seem too small (nothing like FIDE chess in the early stages of a game, but I think it's tough for most if not all CVs to outdo that game in that way).

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2020-12-13 UTC

Sure, I was asking to know if what I was thinking had been considered. I have no doubt that this game is popular and I understand that it is not that every dude can alter your game.

I'm probably a bit stuck on the logic, because Sac chess is based on a very logical approach. If B, R and N are considered the basic ingredients, then having 2Q, 2BN, 2RN, 2KB, 2KR, 2KN and a single BRN=A is making it full.

The lineup with BN/Q/A/BN at the center of the back row is keeping the FIDE array in the 2nd row.

I will test a game like this, as a variant strongly inspired by yours.

Zhedric Meneses wrote on 2020-12-13 UTC

To Be Honest, I prefer a setup where the King Queen pair is switched with the Missionaries and the Queen is now the Amazon and vice versa

yeah it may break the Original FIDE setup but it allows the weaker pieces to develop faster without the stronger ones joining in as well which I prefer and for Castling, I would just allow the King castle with the Sailor

but that's just my preference, you do you, the current setup is good enough for me to play on and not ruin the variant for me

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-12-13 UTC

I did have a discussion in this thread a few years back, with another gentleman, on the topic of having two Qs and only one Amazon, rather than the other way around.

My original theme in inventing the game was to crown or knight two of every piece in the FIDE army per side (aside from pawns and K), and so two Amazons happened to result - plus I faithfully kept the FIDE array as much as I could, on the second row.

One advantage of not having an Amazon on the second row, in a usual mirror symmetric setup, is that there is no possibility both sides will develop their sole Amazon opposite each other's, when an immediate trade of said ladies might happen. I also did not want to have Chancellors on the second row for the same reason. Perhaps I worried too much about eager trading, when trying to chase such a big piece with little ones might be possible, but I was a very inexperienced inventor then and gave that little weight.

There is 14x8 Alekhine Chess, invented by another person, which happens to have 2 Queens and 1 Amazon, though I don't like the game because arranging castling is too hard for one thing, and when I first saw the game I happened to also think that a Queen is the traditional sole wife of a K, at least at the start of FIDE Chess. However, I did remain haunted by having a sole Q in Sac Chess, when it's inferior in all ways to an Amazon. That was until I noticed the odd game like Courier chess, where a clearly weaker ferz is the K's wife apparently, while a (sole) guard is stronger in every way, but apparently not the wife. Courier Chess is quaint that way, and so I comforted myself with the idea that Sac Chess could also be considered similarly quaint.

Sac Chess has been played for a few years now on this website, and has proven fairly popular on Game Courier (in the top 30 currently out of over 1200), so I'd be more inclined that a seperate CV be invented, by anyone, to experiment with using 2 Queens and a sole Amazon in a Sac Chess-like 10x10 game, rather than my changing Sac Chess at this point. I may have suggested years back that anyone could replace the sole Q with an Amazon, and the two Amazons with two Qs, for each side, if they wished to try playing it. I think I even suggested a name for it (on this site or another), but I forget exactly what it was.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on 2020-12-12 UTC

This CV is quite interesting. I like this idea very much. As others, I'm a bit afraid of 2 Amazons per side. I understand the author's reason wishing to keep the standard respective chess lineup.

Then I wonder if it was considered to keep the 2nd row as it is but to modify the back row with Crowned Bishops (Missionaries) on d1,g1; a second Queen on e1 (behind the 1st one); and a single Amazon on f1 (behind the King) ?

Any thought?

KelvinFox wrote on 2020-08-07 UTC

8x8 Anglo-American Draughts is actually solved. Probably most complex game that has that title (I BTW still want to create a site like this but focused on abstract strategy in general)

H. G. Muller wrote on 2020-08-07 UTC

Russia is one of the dominant nations in international draughts. They provide about half of the world champions there. They never won the american checkers world championship.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-08-07 UTC

Personally that's not how I would try to sum up the appearance of that Venn Diagram ('map'), which is a bit confusing - it makes the area covered by International Checkers look only about as big as the area covered by 8x8 checkers, to me. Anyway, I wouldn't under-estimate the size of the British Empire at its height - a lot of nations, spread all over the world. For what it's worth, Russia could be generously thrown in too, if I recall right, as far as 8x8 variants go.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2020-08-06 UTC

As I said, it is not only a matter of planetwise numbers, but also how they are distributed. From the map in here you can see that American Checkers is really a regional variant, only played in England and its former colonies.

Also, the predicate 'International' is normally only used if there is need to contrast it to a locally more popular variant. We just say 'Chess', and everyone knows what it means. It is mainly Asians that use the term 'International Chess', because when they say 'Chess' in their own language, it would imply a completely different game. Likewise with Draughts. We never say 'Internationaal Dammen' here. We just say 'Dammen', and there never is any confusion as to what is meant. The predicate 'International' is only used in countries where a regional variant is more popular. So the meaning of 'International' can also be 'Not that variant we only play here', i.e. the opposit of 'National'.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-08-06 UTC

Here's a possibly amusing little reddit piece on why the World Series is called what it is:

I'd also note that at one point there were two Canadian teams in Major League Baseball - there used to be a Montreal Expos National League team, before it folded a few decades ago. Regardless, there were no Canadian teams around whenever it was decided to call the ultimate MLB championship the World Series (for whatever long-forgotten true reason).

Aside from that, I've tried to hunt down the origins of the use of the name 'International Draughts', and have nothing really to show for it so far. Other than that the wiki on the game that I gave earlier traces its first championship back to 1894, and there's no way it was International in the sense H.G. wishes for that word (i.e. played widely, AND the most popular variant of its game [checkers]). However, the wiki doesn't state what the game was actually called back in the 1800's at any point.

What might be interesting is to consider what if 10x10 checkers is played less than 8x8 checkers world-wide even today, BUT the 10x10 game is qualitatively better than 8x8 AND elite checkers players prefer it when competing [which they do internationally, too]. In that case it doesn't matter how many amateurs prefer 8x8 checkers worldwide, still, i.e. leading in popularity arguably may not be of absolute importance to whether the name International Checkers is deserved.

dax00 wrote on 2020-08-05 UTC

Canadian "team" - singular. And by a loose definition of "compete", since the Toronto Blue Jays aren't particularly good, haven't won the World Series since 1993, and have only made the playoffs twice since then.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2020-08-05 UTC

Well, Canadian teams compete for the World Series, don't they?

What one considers a player and what not is a bit ill-defined, and different games might use different criteria. But for the case of Xiangqi it isn't really that relevant, because it is so China-centered, and hardly anyone plays it ouside China and Vietnam. So it would never have a claim to the predicate 'International', no many how many players there are on a World scale. Likewise for Shogi; virtually no one playes that outside of Japan. The Dutch Shogi association has some 56 members, only about half of them active.

Orthodox Chess is not concentrated in any single country, or even continent. So the name International Chess is deserved there, even if it would not have the largest number of players on a world scale. As I said, it is not important how popular it is in China alone, that is only one county.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2020-08-05 UTC

But I am Canadian. :)

For what it's worth, a while back I looked up FIDE's claim for how much chess is played (600 million adults - perhaps an over-estimation by the firm that was hired), while elsewhere I read that just 200 million people play Chinese Chess, which may be a gross under-estimation.

It would be nice to be able to find official, reliable figures somewhere. The estimates for Shogi and Go I also hunted down were only in the low tens of millions for each, which I find a bit hard to swallow, in the case of Go especially.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2020-08-05 UTC

Actually, I don't know if (10x10) International Checkers is more popular than standard 8x8 checkers at present. The 10x10 variant just kind of got that name somehow.

Not where you live, of course; you are used to your own regional variant on 8x8 (which is really a children's game, one step up from Tic Tac Toe). A Chinaman would say the same thing for International (= orthodox) Chess, compared to Xiangqi. And he would have more cause, because there do seem to be far more Xiangqi players than for International/orthodox Chess.

Draughts in serious competition is 10x10 virtually everywhere.

So I don't think there is any precedent. And even if there is, it would not be a valid excuse to repeat such an outrageously ridiculous misrepresentation. But what can you expect, from a country where a playoff between two local leagues is called the 'World Series'...?

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