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This item is a miscellaneous item
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-08-31
Recognized Chess Variants. Index page listing the variants we feel are most significant. (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-10 UTC

@ Greg:

About 10 days ago you posted you were thinking of adding Capablanca Chess to the Vintage category of Recognized Chess Variants. Has there been any objection to that specifically, and, if not, is the addition to be soon?


H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-04-06 UTC

I think Courier Chess became popular in the time that Shatranj was the dominant form of Chess. And I don't think it is more boring that Shatranj; the Commoner and Bishop are more interesting pieces than the Ferz and Alfil. In addition, the promotion rules seem to be completely unknown, and we just assume it was the same as in Shatranj. Which is about the most boring promotion rule you can imagine. If promotion was to Commoner, or to the piece starting in the file (not unheard of: Grant Acedrex had that rule), it would make the game far more interesting. And another plausible rule is promotion to any captured piece.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-05 UTC

Fwiw, I personally haven't found Courier Chess always too boring to enjoy playing it, though I'm only in the middle of playing my second game of it now. The webpage for this game points out it was vogue in a region of Germany for many years (longer than the arguably more exciting Courier-Spiel was), so that may count for something, given that it wasn't too many centuries ago. Somewhere I read that the slower pace of the game may have appealed to more women in its day than faster-paced variant(s) that came later, too.

[edit: Note: I've edited my previous post in this thread a bit.]


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-05 UTC

@ H.G.:

The criteria CVP members use to choose their favourites on the CVP Favorites List is unknowable, especially given that more than one person is doing the selecting. Presumably a game is selected more often than not due to being enjoyable to play for that person, though some games on the list do not have Game Courier presets yet, I would note. I recall at one point (as now) the recommended (official!?) criteria for choosing a favourite variant was to select just a variant you actually play, but in practice it seemed to me CVP members didn't always follow that criteria.

Hence naturally any criteria Recognized Chess Variants officially ever uses would not ever knowably be always 'different' from that of the Favorites List (at least unofficially, or as far as CVP members are concerned), if you happened to think of 'different' in that sense. If as I think you may have meant (too or instead) by 'different', the criteria for Recognized Chess Variants officially should be changed, or at least be made more clear, yes I think we're all trying to help the editors decide on that issue with our discussions here, unless some of us have decisively given up on the idea of this list as useless. I'd note that though editor(s) made the final screening, CVP members originally nominated by ballot (maybe later sometimes by a formal nomination process) at least some of the variant(s) to be Recognized (I don't know how frequently members gave input though, e.g. in the case of something merely significant rather than enjoyable, like Shatranj).

I would note that at least Fergus' stated criteria for each Recognized Chess Variant 'Category' seem clear-cut enough, in most if not all cases. However, the original list of Recognized Chess Variants was not organized into categories this way, and as far as I know the re-organizing of a lot of the (earlier) admitted Recognized Chess Variants into these Categories (along with deciding that they met the stated criteria of the categories they were placed in) was done solely by Fergus.


bukovski wrote on 2018-04-05 UTC

@Fergus Duniho and @Greg Strong: Does your evaluation of Courier Chess include the 19th-century Kurierspiel described here on CVP?


Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-04-05 UTC

I remember a while ago, maybe two weeks, having seen a list with how many times each game has been played, but now I'm not sure where. That one is an interesting one to mention. Anyone know where to find it? Even there there are some factors as larger board games are normal to be played rarer as they take more time to complete. But if we take this into acoount is a very good list :)!


H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-04-05 UTC

Well, I would say that editors who claim a game is great for playing while almost no one on this site wants to play it, are just plain wrong, rather than 'more knowledgeable'. It seems to me that a distinction 'only CVP editors like this' is not useful to anyone except the editors, and isn't really worth publishing.

To provide any added value for the general reader, the criteria according to which the variants in the list have been judged must officially be different.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

I'd suggest again that it may be important that the Recognized Chess Variants list choices are screened by knowlegable editor(s), while the favorites list choices are not. That could make for an important difference in quality between the two lists, unless it can be argued that CVP members collectively know what makes a significant variant at least as well as editor(s). The Favorites list at the least might serve those looking for yet another opinion, perhaps as given mainly by those who primary play variants, so that list seems to have a right to exist, too.

P.S.: You could do worse than marrying an Australopithicus. :)


H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

Well, what was written was written before the 'favorites' concept had been implemented. And now that the latter has been implemented, what was written might not make much sense anymore. We definitely don't need a second program that does in a less transparent way what we already have in the 'favorites'.

That being said, 'significant' is indeed something different from 'recommended'. Since all forms of Chess are thought to be drived from Shatranj, I would think that Shatranj is the most significant of all. Just like the Australopithicus is a very significant hominid, even though I would not want to be married to one.

Furthermore, "what people on this site consider significant" is not at all the same as "what people consider significant on this site". That anything posted here reflects what we feel should be self-evident: we are the ones posting it.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

The title sentence for the index page may reveal what the (original?) editor(s) felt most clearly summed up what "Recognized" Chess Variants were meant to be:

Index page listing the variants we feel are most significant

As far as what the word 'significant' means, there may be more room for flexibility, e.g. to include the various possible definitions of what the word 'recognized' means as far as the variants chosen to be listed. Courier Chess, Tamerlane Chess and Shatranj certainly seem 'significant', and are historical variants besides, even if not always recommendable to be played. Perhaps 'Most (or Very) Significant Chess Variants' would be the best title of all, though the practical drawbacks of making such a change have been pointed out by Greg.

I'm fine with the program of having contests for recognized variant of the month staying obsolete, since keeping that up may have taken a lot of effort. Making occasional (if not monthly) amendments to the 'Recognized Chess Variants' list, on the other hand, would seem to take far less effort on the part of editor(s) - I'd prefer a panel do it, but so far just one editor (Greg) seems to have handled some amendments to the list without generating much fuss about the actual changes made.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

Well, my stance from the beginning is that there is room, next to the favorites, for a listing of variants that now or at some earlier point in history have been successful, widely known and influential. Shatranj and Courier definitely belong on such a list, no matter how boring they are to play.

Another listing (next to the favorites) of variants the community on this website recommends for playing, seems redundant. If that is the idea of this 'recognized' title, than Fergus' original assessment that this is an obsolete program, not worth reviving, would hit the nail spot on.


Greg Strong wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

Yeah, Courier Chess is pretty awful.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

Now that I've attempted to play Courier Chess, I am definitely in favor of removing it. It is just about the worst, most boring variant I have ever played. Some of the historic variants have already been mentioned on The History of Chess Variants page. This page will probably do for listing historically noteworthy variants, and historically noteworthy games that haven't been mentioned on it yet might be added.


Greg Strong wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

I think my quote and your quote are 100% compatible.  H.G.'s quote concerns what he feels the page should be, not what it is.  And Kevin's quote was a single sentense from is assertion that the Famous category should be ranked above the Acclaimed category.  I don't think it sums up Kevin's understanding of this page given all he has written on the subject.  So I don't think you've demonstrated any confusion, although there still could be.

And I'm fine with axing the Famous category.  Shatranj is the only one I would be hesitant to lose, but perhaps we could make a new page for historically noteworthy variants, such as Shatranj and Tamerlane.  Heck, I think we could move Courier Chess off the Recognized page and onto that page as well.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

Because he says 'literally' I don't think there was any confusion in Kevin's mind that 'recognized' in the context we use it doe not mean 'they know what it is when the see it'.

It seems to me that 'recommended' would just duplicate the functionality of 'favorites'.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2018-04-04 UTC

I don't think the term 'recognized' could cause any confusion

We should not make any such assumption until we look at how people understand the term.

Kevin Pacey has said, "most or all of these Famous variants are more or less literally 'recognized' (by mere mention) by the whole chess variants world."

You have said, "The way I see it is that the 'recognized' concept should mean 'embraced by the World.'"

Greg Strong has said, "These are not variants recognized by the world at large, they are variants called out for recognition by us - the CVP community."

I have said on this page, "A recognized variant is one that we have selected, either by ballot or editorial decision, as one that is worth trying out, or at least worth knowing about."

Since these do not all express the same understanding of what is meant, it appears that someone is confused.

and I don;t think it is a good idea to change it. Certainly not into 'recommended'. I would never recommend Shatranj...

In case you missed it, I was recommending removing Shatranj from the list. As long as we do that, Shatranj wouldn't continue to be an objection to renaming Recognized variants to the less confusing Recommended variants.


Greg Strong wrote on 2018-04-03 UTC

I personally do not think changing the name would be an improvement.  These are not variants recognized by the world at large, they are variants called out for recognition by us - the CVP community.  I never found that to be unclear, but the text of this page needs to be updated anyway, so it could certainly be made clear.  And even if "Recommended" was considered slightly better, I still wouldn't be in favor of the change because (A) it has been the 'Recognized' variants page for probably 20 years and (B) it would be a significant amount of work to make the change - editing the HTML of dozens of game pages plus tracking down all the places in the PHP code where items with the Recognized flag triggers display of the 'Recognized' text.  And we'd either need to change the name of the column in the SQL table, and deal with all the ramificaitons of that, or else live with that discontinuity probably forever.

I am certainly in favor of some changes to the game list, and soon I will weigh in a little more on the ideas posted recently.  But if we are going to put in significant effort, I think there are other things on the site where our time could be better spent.


H. G. Muller wrote on 2018-04-03 UTC

I don't think the term 'recognized' could cause any confusion, and I don;t think it is a good idea to change it. Certainly not into 'recommended'. I would never recommend Shatranj...


Aurelian Florea wrote on 2018-04-03 UTC

For what is worth I agree witt the term recomended Fergus.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2018-04-03 UTC

I didn't start the Recognized variant list, and "Recognized" might be the wrong word to convey what is intended. In a broad sense, something is recognized if enough people would know what it is. In a narrower sense, something is recognized for having some particular quality. When awards are given for recognition of something, it isn't simply for being widely known. It might be appropriate to replace the Recognized variants with Recommended variants if the word "recognized" is causing confusion.

Testing ability to update comment after modifying code.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-03 UTC

Except most or all of these Famous variants are more or less literally 'recognized' (by mere mention) by the whole chess variants world, I'd guess. At least Shatranj and Tamerlane Chess have been played on Game Courier many times, too. I also recall earlier H.G. specifically mentioned Shatranj as a must-know for those at all into CVs.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2018-04-03 UTC

By famous, I actually mean merely famous. Some variants are famous for reasons other than popularity or quality. Shatranj was played for a long time without competition from better variants, and it is a seminal game in the history of Chess. Chaturanga for Four Players is a historic variant that some people have claimed is the original form of Chess. Tamerlane Chess is a well-known historic variant. Los Alamos Chess is notable for being the first Chess variant played by a computer, though this is due to Chess being too complicated for early computers, not to any special appeal of the game for human players. Dragonchess is widely known among D&D players, because it was created by the inventor of D&D and published in Dragon magazine, which many D&D players subscribed to, but I expect very few of them began playing the game. Star Trek Tridimensional Chess is widely known to Star Trek fans, and its unique design and the popularity of Star Trek have made it emblematic of Chess variants in general, yet very few people who know of the game actually play it. All-in-all, I think we could remove every game in this category from the Recognized variants list without taking away anything important from it.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-02 UTC

I like the category tier system for the Recognized Variants that you created, Fergus, although I'm not clear on why just (or at all) the 'Famous' category variants are presented in more (and individual) detail, nor am I clear on why it's considered a tier below Accaimed, in terms of prestige. I'd have the Famous above the Acclaimed variants, except if detailed treatment of Famous variants looked nicer for the list of Recognized Variants as a whole, if Famous variants was to be the last tier just due to that treatment being reserved only for it. I'm thinking of the part describing Famous variants that reads "...you may be more likely to find someone who already knows how to play the game...", which sounds to me like such variants actually are popular to some extent, if not time-tested as well, and these are given as the main measures of prestige for a given tier ("The main factors that differentiate the tiers are time-testedness and popularity.").


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2018-04-02 UTC

There were originally no categories, and at some point, I organized them into categories. Most of the recognized variants were added before I did this.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-04-02 UTC

I've just looked at all the chess variants currently in the Acclaimed category, and curiously all arguably to at least some small extent (i.e. the pawn rules for McCooey's Hexagonal Chess, in the most problematical case) might satisfy H.G.'s general description of what entrants to a Ground-Breaking category might be like (as well as the example variants that he suggested). Maybe in the past the editor(s) generally saw things his way when they made their selections, when it came to admitting variants into the Acclaimed category, as it is currently named.

I'd note that as far as the chess variants world goes, a lot of inventors and experts on chess variants, if not those who primarily just play variants, have at some time or another made their way to The Chess Variant Pages, which also generally seems to be a (if not The) major chess variant website for the whole world. Hence it might be argued that this website does more or less speak for the whole chess variants world. :)


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