The Chess Variant Pages
Custom Search

[ Help | Earliest Comments | Latest Comments ]
[ List All Subjects of Discussion | Create New Subject of Discussion ]
[ List Latest Comments Only For Pages | Games | Rated Pages | Rated Games | Subjects of Discussion ]

Comments/Ratings for a Single Item

Later Reverse Order Earlier
This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2017-04-01
 By Glenn  Overby II. Abecedarian Big Chess (ABChess). Buy-your-own-army variant on a big board; 26 piece types. (11x11, Cells: 121) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Alex wrote on 2019-02-03 UTC

Thanks for the quick and thorough response Fergus. I would've never thought to check ZRF, so it's pretty cool that you did. This totally answers my question. I hope you have a great week.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2019-02-02 UTC

Looking at the ZRF, which was written by Glenn Overby himself, the code for the King looks like this:

; King
      (name King)
	(help "King: one space any direction to safe space; cannot leave fortress")
	(image Black "imagesABChessBK.bmp" White "imagesABChessWK.bmp")
	((free) n (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
      ((free) e (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
      ((free) s (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
     	((free) w (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
      ((free) ne (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
      ((free) nw (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
      ((free) se (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
      ((free) sw (available) (verify (in-zone? fortress)) add)
	(n (while empty? n) (verify (piece? King)) add)

The free command is used to verify that a piece is not immobilized by an Immobilizer. This command is used before every type of movement except the last one. This last one is for capturing the enemy King by moving forward as a Rook. Therefore, an otherwise immobilized King can still threaten check against the enemy King, and this prevents the enemy King from checking it by moving to the same file with nothing in between them. Therefore, the rule against Kings being in the same file with nothing in between them is absolute, and there is no exception for checking an immobilized King with the other King.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2019-02-02 UTC

The rule is borrowed from Xiangqi, but since that game doesn't include the Immobilizer, appealing to it alone cannot resolve this question. I think the usual rule in Xiangqi is that Generals may not occupy the same file with nothing in between them. But when it comes to programming Xiangqi, the simplest way to code for this is to give each General the power to capture the enemy General as a forward-moving Rook. Since they cannot move into check, this never actually results in one capturing the other, and it functions the same as a ban on occupying the same file with nothing in between.

Since the Immobilizer comes from Ultima, we might look to that game to resolve this question. Can a King occupy a space adjacent to an immobilized King in Ultima? More generally, does an Immobilizer eliminate the checking power of a piece or simply its powers of movement? Our page on Ultima does not address this issue, but Pritchard does in Popular Chess Variants. He writes, "An immobilized king can be mated by its rival moving next to it." Using this as a precedent, it looks like the Immobilizer does eliminate the checking power of a piece, and this would allow an immobilized king to be checked by the enemy King.

However, the one thing that could be said against this interpretation is that Glenn Overby writes in the "Rules of Play":

The King may never be on the same file/column as the enemy King, if there are no pieces of either color in between them.

My point here is that it is being described as a rule of the game, not simply as a description of how the King moves. This rule might be understood to override the ability of the Immobilizer to rob a piece of its checking powers. Ultimately, this may be something for Glenn Overby to rule on.

Alex wrote on 2019-02-02 UTC

With regards to rule 4: is this a blanket prohibition on kings occupying the same column, or is it based on the "flying general" move from Xiangqi? In Xiangqi if kings are occupying the same column they may capture each other. If one player's king were immobilized could the other player move such that the kings were on the same column without any pieces in between (giving check) or would this be forbidden?

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-04-01 UTC

In preparation to organizing this site around games, I am doing some weeding and cleaning up. This game used to be spread across multiple pages. But including the full description of a game on a single page is best. This is more convenient for the reader, and it will make it easier to oraganize around games if each game is described on a single page. So I combined all the pages describing this game into a single page, deleted bare links to the other pages, changed relative links to these pages to relative links to this page, fixed some broken links, moved comments for the other pages to this page, and gave the correct path for the global.css file.

(zzo38) A. Black wrote on 2012-12-03 UTC

An idea I have is making another chess variant involving letter of alphabet, like this one, using two sets of Scrabble tiles (one per player). So, that tell you how many of each is available, and eventually you may place all of them, but not all at once; promotion is only to pieces not yet placed. You could use the numbers on the tiles for cost or something like that, and you could use the blank tiles as neutral pieces or just omit them completely, and allow face-down pieces to be used as pieces not yet moved and opponent cannot recognize them yet! If you are using the two Scrabble sets you can have the board 15x30.

Psy-T wrote on 2006-07-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I am really enjoying this game, played 2 rounds so far against a friend
online (on Zillions). Thanks a lot for creating it :)
My favorite set up is AUZWCKCWZUA so far.
Let us know when someone decides to make this a physical board game, i'd
definitely purchase a set ;)

Derek Nalls wrote on 2005-02-13 UTC
[Comment voluntarily deleted.]

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-28 UTC
Thanks for the information.  A 'false friend' possibility is exactly what I
was wondering about.  Ah, well.

It took me a while (and a fudge or two) to get an English list that fit.

Anonymous wrote on 2002-11-28 UTC
Oberstecher is perfectly suited for a card game, denoting
a card which can take a trick with an Ober (~ Queen in cards).
However, I find it inacceptable for a chess piece. 

Beware of false friends: engl. over  == german über
                         engl. upper == german Ober-

There is one established piece in german starting with O, the
Okapi (combining Knight and Giraffe). But I am not yet sure,
maybe I can rearrange the translation table to get more hits.


Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-11-26 UTC
I did a search on 'Xebec' on Google, and found <a href=''>this page</a> devoted to the subject. Among other things, the author references a German monograph on the subject, which reveals that xebec in German is <i>schebekke</i>.

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-26 UTC
A xebec is a small three-masted ship with both square and triangular sails.
 One of my dictionaries suggests derivation from Arabic via French

I don't know if the usage is archaic or inappropriate, but I have seen
'Oberstecher' equated to Overtaker in descriptions of an old German card
game (the name of the three of trumps in Karnõffel).

As for the Dragon and Murray Lion, I don't know if either has a customary
German name, but Hund strikes me as potentially appropriate for either

I'd like to see the list when it is done.  :)

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-11-26 UTC
Xebec (<i>zee-bek</i>) is the English word for a type of 3-masted Mediterranean saling ship with a long, overhanging bow and stern. According to my dictionary, it probably comes from the French <i>Chebec</i>, which in turn comes from the Arabic <i>shabbãt</i>. <p> If you read fighting sail books, a I believe a Xebec-built frigate shows up in the first Aubrey and Maturin by Patrick O'Brian, <u>Master and Commander</u>.

Anonymous wrote on 2002-11-26 UTC
By the way, what is in the name Xebec? From which
language is it taken, what does it mean there?


P.S. I have translated all but three pieces into german,
the odd ones out are: Drogon, Overtaker and Lion. Letters
left are: HIO

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-14 UTC
Thank you for the insights.  The game will require a lot more play before I
go monkeying too much with it.  The piece values are very, very hard to
tie down.  I don't see occasional unbalanced matchups as a problem, since
experimenting with new armies is what it's all about.  But a piece,
especially a higher-priced piece, that is markedly over- or under- priced
will be a Bad Thing in the long run.

The Teleporter was picked in part because of that anti-positional nature. 
It made a very different, divergent piece, which in my version is also a
color-changer like the orthodox knight.  (And pieces starting with T are
not commonplace.)  Zillions finds it hard to handle, but the astonishing
mobility has its uses.  Its price is, frankly, the most likely to change
with experience.

I finished a Zillions-vs-Zillions round-robin between the eight armies
supplied in the ZRF.  A crosstable and notes will be up in the next few
days.  Marshal Immobilizer and Varan Unicorn armies tied for first at 5-2;
last place was 2-5.  White scored 15.5-12.5.



M. Howe wrote on 2002-11-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Now that I've played a little ABChess with the zrf (nice job!) I like the game a lot. It has a terrific Xiang-Qi-like feel to it with lots of new tactical possibilities provided by the new pieces. I'm still not sure about the effect of knightriders on opening play, though, and I don't like the anti-positional nature of the teleporter piece. I also have some thoughts about the piece values. I think the teleporter, pao, and rook are overvalued, and I think the varan, unicorn, wildebeest, and eagle are undervalued. But that's one opinion, and a consensus opinion based on a lot more experience is what's needed. Orthodox chess evaluations will not apply to this game, in light of the pawn rules and the king's fortress. Also, I tried several Zillions vs. Zillions games of 'Marshal Varan vs. Two Queens' and white won 5 out of 6 games. That's a small sample and might not be significant, but it might mean that a little more work needs to be done to balance games between unmatching armies. Of course, in games between matching armies, piece values and army balance becomes much less critical. Despite these criticisms, offered and taken, I hope, in a constructive spirit, I like ABChess enormously. It's a game I'm sure I will keep going back to.

Moussambani wrote on 2002-11-12 UTC
Granted, but you could try for an army that easily defends a yeoman, or one
where all your Y are defended from the start. Nightrider for Yeoman is not
a change I would be glad to do...

Plus, if the piece that is behind the Y is weak and defended, the pinning
on the targeted Y is moot.

This is not to say that you can't make some nasty things with Nightriders,
but since they are powerful, they will be careful of entering the fight
soon. An Nightriders are expensive...

But they are interesting... N on e1 and g1, and moving Yf4 (possibly)
threatens and/or pins Y at c9 and i9. Defend the Y a knight jump away of
your powerful pieces from the start...

M. Howe wrote on 2002-11-11 UTCGood ★★★★
I agree that the rank of yeomen prevents nightriders from making captures
on turn one.  But after a yeoman has moved, such as on turn one,  a
first-rank nightrider can attack and pin one enemy yeomen.  I'm not saying
that this breaks the game, but I prefer games in which white, on his first
move, cannot threaten or pin black.  I also wonder about the accelerated
promotion of yeomen.  They can promote after only three moves.  Will this
make the game too tactical and deprive it of some interesting endgames?  I
guess I'll have to play the ZRF to know for sure how this all works out.

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-11 UTC
Responding to several comments at once...

Nightriders: The Yeomen on third rank, on the 11x11 board, do help in
slowing down the Nightriders.

Link: It's fixed; thank you for pointing it out.

Pawns and lettering: There were two reasons why I gave the Yeomen a
letter.  One was thematic consistency in my eyes...26 letters, 26 pieces. 
The other was the lack of suitable 'Y' pieces out there--I tried to avoid
inventing pieces or stretching too far for names, preferring instead to
draw from a rich variety of existing concepts.

Thanks for the feedback!

Anonymous wrote on 2002-11-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Fantastic! I love this variant from the start. Now I'm thinking
of 'translating' it to german, keeping the ABC theme intact ...
probably I'll have to exchange a few pieces ... and since the 
pawns can be made 'no letter' there is room for a 25th piece 
to buy.


Anonymous wrote on 2002-11-11 UTC
A minor aside: The link to pieces T-Z is misspelled
in this page.

Moussambani wrote on 2002-11-11 UTC
Mmm... maybe, with the Yeomen on 3rd rank the efficiency of Nightriders at the start is diminished

Glenn Overby II wrote on 2002-11-10 UTC
You won't have to wait long for a ZRF; a few days at most. A preliminary version already exists. I just need to clean it up a little before putting it out. (The current version requires manual input of armies by right-clicking on the pieces...eight test armies with 28 matchups are also provided ready-to-go. It will take a while to design the interface to automate army buying, but you don't need one to play.)

M. Howe wrote on 2002-11-10 UTCGood ★★★★
Without having played it yet, my first impressions are very good.  I really
like the idea of a large variant played from a superset of pieces, and I'm
working on such a variant myself right now.  The point values might have
to be adjusted as more experience is gained in using these pieces, and a
problem might arise because those values are almost certainly not
constant, but probably depend to one degree or another on which other
pieces are present in the given game.  I'm reserving a little bit of
judgement, also, in case some of the pieces, particularly those with
nightrider components, have an unbalancing effect on the opening.  I've
always had a hard time incorporating nightriders into my own variants and
have for the most part abandoned them.  But I can't wait to play the ZRF!

Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-11-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Really well designed and explained large variant without the clutter that
often afflict them

25 comments displayed

Later Reverse Order Earlier

Permalink to the exact comments currently displayed.