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Capablanca's chess. An enlarged chess variant, proposed by Capablanca. (10x8, Cells: 80) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2021-01-10 UTC

I'm wondering whether anyone has observed that it tends to be difficult for either side to castle fairly early on (if at all) in typical games of (10x8) Capablanca Chess (i.e. final version of this CV).

Quite a while back I invented a new form of castling (originally for use in my 12x8 Wide Chess CV invention). This form of castling became known as Fast Castling - assuming at least some people like this form of castling, maybe an experiment could be tried sometime where (10x8) Capablanca Chess is played with the use of Fast Castling rules (or at least posters could give their thoughts on if the change might be a good idea). The rules for Fast Castling are as follows:

"A king that has never moved, and is not in check, can 'leap' once a game, along the first rank, to any unattacked empty square between it and an unmoved rook, followed by said rook 'leaping' to the king's initial square so as to complete castling in one single move. It does not matter if any squares in between are occupied or under attack."

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2019-05-24 UTC

Thanks Greg.

Here's the wiki re: Capablanca Chess that I think refered to earlier (re: including mention of 10x10 version):

Greg Strong wrote on 2019-05-23 UTC

According to Pritchard, yes, the Pawn could move up to 3 spaces on first move.

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2019-05-23 UTC

Regarding the first version of Capablanca Chess, that is with the use of a 10x10 board, I recall reading somewhere that this was tried in testing games between Capablanca and a certain opponent (I forget who), and that the conclusion was that games tended to take (arguably) too long to finish. In any case, I'm wondering if anyone knows if in the 10x10 version, were pawns allowed to move differently than in normal chess, e.g. could a pawn take a triple step on their first move, besides a double step, if not breaking other rules of the game (similar to modern day Omega Chess' pawn rules)?

H. G. Muller wrote on 2017-10-04 UTC

My tentative estimates for the piece values in this variant would be: P=1; N=3.625; B=3.75; R=5.5; A=8.375; C=10.125; Q=10.25 and the fighting value of the K=3.2 (though it naturally cannot be traded).


The piece values of Capablanca Chess have been measured with quite good precision. Like in orthodox Chess the Bishops do not have a single value, but have to be differentiated in 'first Bishop' (i.e. a lone one) and 'second Bishop'. This can also be expressed as a base value and a pair bonus. In orthodox Chess the base values of B and N are equal (3.25), although the B-N difference is slightly dependent on the number of remaining Pawns. (Strict equality is achieved for 5 Pawns). The pair bonus is then 0.5 Pawn.

On a 10x8 board the base values of B and N already differ by 0.5 Pawn, and the B-pair bonus just adds to this. This makes BB vs NNP an almost perfectly balanced trade, while in orthodox Chess the player with the remaining NNP would have a clear advantage, about as large as the Bishop side would have after a BB vsn NN trade. A Bishop profits from wide boards, probably because those enhance the chances that both its forward moves hit the enemy camp. In Cylinder Chess the Bishop gets even closer in value to the Rook (4 Pawns + bonus vs 5).

In your tentative estimates the Q-C difference is too small (it is 0.5 Pawn; CP vs Q is as large an advantage as Q vs C), and a the Q-A difference too large (not accounting for the fact that AP has the upper hand over Q, by about as much as C has over A).

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2017-10-03 UTCGood ★★★★

In spite of what I see as the drawbacks of this variant (unprotected pawn for each side in setup, rectangular board [though allowing smothered and back rank mates still], bishops clearly stronger than knights, the fact the chancellors might be developed symmetrically and traded in short order sometimes), this was a good try historically to cut down on draws and opening theory.

On this particular variant's board dimensions of 10x8, as compared to 8x8, IMHO the archbishops would seem to come closer in value to chancellors (though not queens), though I personally have lingering doubts about archbishops being quite as good by comparison on 8x8 or 10x10 boards, any computer studies aside. IMHO, the bishop component of an archbishop would seem to have a number of extra potential good squares near the centre (or in range of the enemy camp) on a 10x8 board, without the rook component of a chancellor benefitting as much as often in return (unlike would be the case on a 10x10 board). On a 10x8 board the knight component of an archbishop would seem to have a number of extra potential good squares near the centre (or the enemy camp) for local scope, balancing the benefit received by the rook component of a queen on such an empty larger board than 8x8.

My tentative estimates for the piece values in this variant would be: P=1; N=3.5 approx.; B=3.75; R=5.5; A=8.25; C=10; Q=10.25 and the fighting value of the K=3.2 (though it naturally cannot be traded).

Jörg Knappen wrote on 2012-02-04 UTC
An excellent to the new battle of the goths! I lurked in for some times and was impressed by the performance of Bihasa. It really played Chess with a capital C, where the other programs I watched merely engaged in tactical encounters. The game I saw, it first exchanged it knight for a bishop (favorable exchange on 10x8), then it placed its other knight at an outpost on the 5th line in the center, annoying the opponent who mussed the chance to exchange it -- Bihasa quickly protected the square where an exchange cound happen afterwards. It protected its bishop pair, built powerful pawn formations and won the game after dominating from the late opening phase.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2012-01-23 UTC
After several years with no new developments in terms of engines, there was a flurry of activity last year amongst engine programmers. Five new engines appeared that can play Capablanca-like 10x8 variants, some of them very strong: 

Bihasa    by Ferdinand Mosca
Nebiyu    by Daniel Shawul
Sjaak     by Evert Glebbeek
Heretic   by Martin Sedlak
Spartacus by me

In addition the existing engines TJchess10x8 and SMIRF were improved.

As a result there are now 13 engines that can play under WinBoard, which makde it high time to conduct another automated tourney. So I am currently running 'Battle of the Goths 2012'.

For those interested in 10x8 Chess, the games can be watched live at .

H. G. Muller wrote on 2009-12-29 UTC
To give an impression on the current state of affairs in computer 10x8 Chess, I compiled the following rating list from the results of the 'Battle of the Goths' 2009 event:
Rank Name                Elo    +    - games score oppo. draws 
   1 Joker80 n          2435  125   96    70   92%  1938    1% 
   2 TJchess10x8 0.121  2172   81   76    70   70%  1975    6% 
   3 Smirf 1.75t        2156   81   77    70   68%  1978    4% 
   4 TSCP something     2047   75   75    70   54%  1993    9% 
   5 Fairy-Max 4.8 v    1990   74   74    70   49%  2001    9% 
   6 ChessV 0.94        1921   73   75    70   41%  2011   10% 
   7 ArcBishop80 1.00   1642   88  103    70   14%  2051    4% 
   8 BigLion80 2.23x    1636   88  103    70   13%  2052    6% 

Note that this list only contains WinBoard-compatible engines, and engines for which a WinBoard adapter exists. There also exist non-compatible engines (e.g. Zillions). Except for Smirf, which has reverted to the status of a private engine, all mentioned engines can be downloaded for free from the internet.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2009-12-23 UTC
Note that I am currently conducting the 2009 edition of the 'Battle of the Goths' tournament, which is a championship for computer programs that can play general 10x8 variants with the Capablanca pieces. As it is an automated tournament, only programs that are WinBoard compatible can participate.

This year we have 8 participants; ChessV is new compared to last year, and other programs now have improved versions. Each program will play each other program 10 times, from 5 different opening arrays (Bird, Capablanca, Carrera, Embassy and an unmentionable one).

Live viewing of the games is possible at:

Live 10x8 Games

After one full round robin of Bird's Chess, the standings are:

Cross table, sorted by score percentage, Buchholz, SB 

                              Jo TS TJ Sm Fa Ch Ar Bi 
 1. Joker80 n                 ## 11 11 11 11 11 11 11  100%  14.0 ( 84.0,  84.0) 
 2. TSCP 10x8                 00 ## 0= 10 11 11 11 11   68%   9.5 ( 93.0,  42.5) 
 3. TJchess10x8 0.121         00 1= ## 01 =0 11 11 11   64%   9.0 ( 94.0,  40.3) 
 4. Smirf 1.75t               00 01 10 ## 10 11 11 11   64%   9.0 ( 94.0,  39.5) 
 5. Fairy-Max 4.8 v           00 00 =1 01 ## 1= 11 11   57%   8.0 ( 96.0,  33.5) 
 6. ChessV 0.94               00 00 00 00 0= ## 11 =1   29%   4.0 (104.0,   8.5) 
 7. ArcBishop80 1.00          00 00 00 00 00 00 ## =1   11%   1.5 (109.0,   1.5) 
 8. BigLion80 2.23x           00 00 00 00 00 =0 =0 ##    7%   1.0 (110.0,   2.8)

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2009-10-26 UTC
Joe, I have no idea what short-range pieces would do, or the impact of this new configuration I proposed. It is more of an observation than anything else.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2009-10-25 UTC
It's an odd set-up. I don't remember anyone suggesting it before. It puts a pair of rooks next to each other on that flank. How much difference would it make if black were reversed? If I ever get the chance, I'd like to look at some of those positions in Great Shatranj, to see the effects. Do you think the short range Capa pieces will show any effects more or less strongly?

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2009-10-25 UTC
Mats, I was posting an observation I noticed, and requesting feedback on it. I was not trying to critique any other variant of the game suggestions people have for the game itself, like what you suggested.

M Winther wrote on 2009-10-25 UTC
This is a statical way of looking at the position. A modern dynamic approach is to show, in opening lines, that the pawn weakness is of detriment to the variant. A weakness in the position can be good if it creates a strategical tension. It can allow white to take the initiative. Capablanca, of course, knew this. This is an important factor in Fide-chess, which is essential to its popularity. If white had had no advantage in the initial position, then grandmasters would have settled for a draw immediately. So if you believe that the Capablanca position is inferior, then you have to prove it by showing us the lines that either lead to a clear advantage, or stifles the game so that only a few variations can be practiced.
I have suggested a flexible approach to the Capablanca setup, which allows the players to relocate either the king or queen before play begins:

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2009-10-25 UTC
I know in discussion of Capablanca and other games in the Knight+Rook and Knight+Bishop family of variants, there is concern over uncovered pawns.  I happened to just look at the Capablanca arrangement and was curious if anyone else might of tried to do the following: Swap the positions of the King's Knight and the Chancellor.  When I did this, it looks like the initial position of every pawn is covered in the game, and there are no uncovered pawns.

Anyone else ever play with this?  I know the Chancellor and Archbishop don't have the same symmetry, but it appears there isn't a problem with uncovered pawns.

So, what we had as the original position:
King f1; Queen e1; Archbishop c1; Chancellor h1; Rook a1, j1; Knight b1, i1; Bishop d1, g1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2.

King f8; Queen e8; Archbishop c8; Chancellor h8; Rook a8, j8; Knight b8, i8; Bishop d8, g8; Pawn a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7, i7, j7.


King f1; Queen e1; Archbishop c1; Chancellor i1; Rook a1, j1; Knight b1, h1; Bishop d1, g1; Pawn a2, b2, c2, d2, e2, f2, g2, h2, i2, j2.

King f8; Queen e8; Archbishop c8; Chancellor i8; Rook a8, j8; Knight b8, h8; Bishop d8, g8; Pawn a7, b7, c7, d7, e7, f7, g7, h7, i7, j7.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2009-10-18 UTC
Note that WinBoard, for the smaller board sizes, also has a command for saving its board display as a bitmap files. (File -> Save Diagram...) To customize the diagram you can use all the options for setting piece color / square color, or use user-defined piece symbols in stead of the built-in bitmaps for the 2 x 22 piece types it knows.

M Winther wrote on 2009-10-18 UTC
I have now added a small board alternative to my Capablanca
variants zrf. This is perfect for making diagrams (see below). To
do this, press 'print screen', then press ctrl-v in any graphics editor,
cut the image, reduce it to 16 colours, and save as gif-image. Now
this Zillions program also contains Schoolbook Chess.

Capablanca variants

Jeremy Good wrote on 2009-10-18 UTC
Does anybody have any of the games that Capablanca actually played of this that they can post?

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-10-15 UTC
Standard Staunton-style piece set for this game:

Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-05-23 UTC

Thanks for your feedback.

Don't neccessarily agree with it, but I apreciate it.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-05-22 UTC
'Have you tried the Modern Capablanca Random Chess viariant with your engines?'

No, my engines do not have FRC-type castling ability yet. It is still on my to-do list for Joker80, together with allowing it to play on 8x8 by filling up part of the board with impassible objects. (It already uses such objects to confine the pieces to 10x8, as its internal board is 32x12, so this is a minor change; it just has to adapt the positional center-points table to where the new corners are. And of course use a different type of castling.) The main objective would be to play in FRC competitions.

The Modern CRC variant doesn't particularly appeal to me. The resulting games should be indistinguishable from normal CRC. The only difference is the opening array. The Bishop adjustment rule is also an opening thing. Opening theory never had much appeal to me, I consider it the dullest part of Chess. None of my engines ever had an opening book, even in variants like 8x8 FIDE, where extensive opening theory exists. The Bishop adjustment rule seems awkward from an aestethic point of view, and half-hearted from a logical point of view: first you change the rules by allowing arrays with like Bishops, and then you largely subvert the effect of itby allowing the adjustment. As the disadvantage of having the Bishops on like colors was measured by me to be half a Pawn, not doing it would be very poor strategy.

For exploring the possibilities like Bishops offer, it would be much cleaner to augment the Bishop with a single orthognal backward step as non-capture only. Then people can actually use it without hesitation, as they can always undo the effect later. The extra move of such a 'Naughty Bishop' hardly has any tactical value in itsels, as it is a non-capture, and directed backwards. It added only about 15 cP to the piece value. Introducing a piece of different gait is much cleaner than adding a special, complicated rule.

The symmetric castling seems to add nothing, it looks just like a difference for the sake of being different. The same holds for the inversion symmetry in stead of vertical-flip symmetry. This doesn't mean this would be a poor game to play, of course. But I think such irrelevant differences do make it a poor design as a CV.

Jose Carrillo wrote on 2008-05-22 UTC
On 2008-05-21 H. G. Muller said:
>Well, I do not really play CVs myself, but I love to watch games played by
>my engines, especially blitz games. And from this I learned that
>Knightmate is a CV that definitely works. It is just different enough from
>FIDE Chess to make it interesting, but familiar enough that you immediately
>can grasp it. Great game!
>Similarly for the 10x8 Capablanca variants. They are very interesting
>because of the Archbishop, which tends to be very active.


Have you tried the Modern Capablanca Random Chess viariant with your engines?

George Duke wrote on 2008-05-19 UTC
H.G. Muller says today ''8x10 are rapidly becoming more popular with engine programmers.'' It is ironic that only one 8x10 board appears in 
the many hundred diagrams altogether in D. Pritchard's original fifteen-year-old 1994 'Encyclopedia CVs'. The one 8x10 there is on or about page  203.   Yet '8x10' should have been self-evident  as the correct expansion of played-out standard 8x8, since this H.R. Capablanca, expert Mad Queen player for what it is worth, had it almost 100 years ago now with reuse of the intuitive, albeit awkward and unbalancing, old Carrera Centaur(BN) and Champion(RN). Or put it favourably that our Capablanca orthodox grandmaster was unusually prescient for such olden time  between the world wars, not himself to survive World War II era, some would say for his own excesses in lifestyle, dead  for sixty-six years now. Would Capa still espouse his tweak of Carrera/Bird, or would he fall for some more recent ''prolificist'' extravaganza? As starter, probably he would agree there are no replacements for the F.I.D.E. 8x8 formula with 9 or more ranks. And very recent smaller boards as 7x8 are clear worsenings. Still plausible are the right-fit 2,3, or 4 new pieces on 8x12, set up like mediaeval Courier Chess. At least Jose Raul would recognize that by next milestone year 2100, there can surely be no more interest in intermediate Mad Queen than in Shatranj itself. Counting predecessor form the one reigned from circa 600-1500, the other 1500-2000. Not many Shatranj players around by JRC's day, or even Philidor's, or likely even Carrera's.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-05-19 UTC
Would it be OK then, if I just circumscribe the [other software] in my tournament as 'a version of the well known open-source program TSCP, adapted to play some 10x8 variants', and call it 'TSCP-derivative' for short?

Or is it too risky to mention the name of popular Chess engines like TSCP even in their normal Chess version, (or Capablanca version), once someone created a derivative of them that is capable to play the unspeakable variant?

Joe Joyce wrote on 2008-05-19 UTC
HG, you seem to see the problem area. In this particular area, the site policy is annoyingly restrictive, but that's unfortunately how it is. I sympathize; at one time, my Capa variant had seven different setups, running all the way from Variant A up to G, which one I realized I couldn't use, luckily before posting. I wound up getting permission from Christian Freeling to use his Grand Chess setup, and decided to use only that on both my Capa and Grand Chess variant individual pages, to keep it simple. 

Please share all the information you can here, and feel free to reference both your site and other sites should you wish. I assure you we do the least editing we think we can. Very little relating [however tenuously] to chess variants is turned away. [I somehow think there might be a person or two - maybe more - who feel we should turn away even more than we do, so you can't please everybody no matter what you do.]

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