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Comments on Grand Chess. Notes on Grand Chess and a variant. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Sam Trenholme wrote on Mon, Oct 4, 2004 10:50 PM UTC:
I do not think all of the pawns need to be defended in the opening array to
make for a good game of chess.  For example, I think ANBQKBNM would work as
an opening array, even though the B pawn in undefended.

The problem with Fischer random chess is that some arrays favor White
unfairly, and some will be too drawish.

Alfred O. Myers wrote on Mon, Oct 4, 2004 07:39 PM UTC:
The observation that my suggested inital array of the Grand Chess pieces, NBCQKMBN, means that the 'h' pawns are initially undefended by a piece took me by surprise, but it is of course quite correct. It is also true that Christian Freeling's lineup provides for an initial defense of each pawn. However, I suggest that the undefended 'h' pawns can be considered an acceptable quirk in this variant, provided that it does not give an undue advantage to the White pieces. In fact, I believe that the ultimate acceptance of Grand Chess or any of its variants depends on its having a success rate for Black which is at least equal to or hopefully better than that of conventional chess. It would be great if Grand Chess could be tested by established chess stars. For instance, consider the recent exhibition match in Kansas between Karpov & Susan Polgar in which two games of conventional chess were played at rapid speed and two at blitz speed, followed by two games of 'Fischer random' chess at rapid speed (white won both of the latter games). Instead of 'Fischer random', which I consider to be a dead end for chess, why not Grand Chess or one or another of its variants? In that manner a meaningful experience base could be built up and the game would receive a wide introduction to the chess-playing community at large.

Anonymous wrote on Fri, Oct 1, 2004 03:30 AM UTC:
The refinement to redistribute the new pieces symmetrically is superior to
the original layout because the royalty are restored to their rightful
place in the centre. The only flaw in the NBCQKMBN array is that the
h-pawn is not defended by a piece in the initial layout. With the
on d2, the opening move 1.c4 would immediately create a threat for this
vulnerable h-pawn. This could be the reasoning behind the asymmetric
of NBQKMCBN - in that array, every pawn is defended by at least one piece
in the initial setup.

The proposed reintroduction of the castling rule as a three-step move of
the King strikes me as somewhat out of place in this game. Castling is
just one example of the special moves that has always been given to the
King. An alternative special move for the King would be the one used for
the King in Chaturanga. In Chaturanga, the king has the right to move as
knight once during the game, provided the king has never been in check.
With the inclusion of two additional pieces which can move as a knight,
also giving the king a special knight move is logical.

Jeff Rients wrote on Fri, Aug 20, 2004 04:21 PM UTC:
'Michael Howe chided me for wanting to change the rules of an existing
chess varianr without the inventor's approval. Excuse me, but isn't that
like leaving the science of aviation entirely in the hands of the Wright

The folks following the Wright brothers generally built their own planes,
rather than taking the model the brothers made and modifying it. They
apllied the principles of the Wright brothers to new constructions. Rather
than offer to change an existing variant, why not propose a similar variant
under a new name? Changing an existing game without altering the name leads
to confusion because the older form of the game becomes obscured. These
days if I want to find some players for a Dungeons & Dragons game I have
to specify which of more than a dozen versions I mean. When a game author
does not have to worry about Brand Identity, why not just use a new name
for your variant? Taking your method to its logical conclusion, your
version of Grand Chess might as well be called simply Chess.

Alfred O. Myers wrote on Thu, Aug 19, 2004 07:30 PM UTC:
Michael Howe chided me for wanting to change the rules of an existing
varianr without the inventor's approval. Excuse me, but isn't that like
leaving the science of aviation entirely in the hands of the Wright
Brothers? Chess as we know it eveolved only because different rules were
tried out with respect to castling, staelemates, repetition of moves, the
en passant capture, etc. until a consensus was reached and the results
were codified. Remember, Christian Freeling did not invent the 100-square
board or the Cardinal & Marshall. Even his admittedly excellent
innovations of the three-tiered starting array and the early pawn
promotion option were probably adapted from Shogi, though of course their
application in Grand Chess is quite different. In any event, Mr. Freeling
solved the dilemma of whether to use a 10x10 board as opposed to the less
satisfactory 10x8 alternative for an expanded version of chess.

I personally have no interest whatever in creating my own new chess
variant. What does interest me is improving a game which is so promising
that it has the potential to be the next step in the evolution of Western
chess itself. It certainly seems that standard chess at least at the
grandmaster level, not for the rest of us)is becoming moribund. More and
more matches & tournaments are becoming nothing but drawfests in which
the interest lies in tie-braking rapid-chess or even blitz-chess games.
Read the interview with Vladimir Kramnik in the June 2004 Chess Review
which teats that subject. It's really quite depressing. I think it would
be a long time before Grand Chess found itself in that position. I would
therefore like to restate my suggested change to the starting formation
Grand Chess:



The Queen is still the most powerful piece on the board, and she should
restored to her rightful place on a central file. I feel that Christian
Freeling simply made a mistake when he shunted her off to the D file.
braks with a thousand years of chess tradition. You might be interested
a new book on just that topic, 'The Birth of the Chess Queen' by
Yalom, which posits that the morphing of the medieval Vizier into the
modern Queen was due to the influence of several of the brilliant and
powerful women of the middle ages, such as Eleanor of Aquitane. the
placement of the Queenon the E file would have the advantage of having
Kings and Queens of both sides start out on the same color as they do in
standard chess. It would also allow for smooth incorporation of the
Cardinal and Marshall into the standard Staunton chess set design, where
the height of the pieces except for Rooks)is proportionate to their power
or value, in a manner that would preserve the aestheitcall pleasing slopr
from the center of the board to the edges.

When I first made this suggestion, most comments were favorable. However,
another suggestiong to create a castling move drew some negative remarks.
In reconsidering, I thinkg I was wrong to include a rook's move when the
logic of Grand Chess did not require freeing or connecting the rooks. In
its stead, however, I'd like to propsed a 'KLing's Leap', as follows:

I2 (OR I9).

This move would apply to the king only (no Rooks!)but would otherwise be
subject to the same rules as castling in regular chess. Of the three
games with large worldwide followings, Western Chess is the only one with
castling rule at all. In Chinese Chess, the King is restriced to his
fortress. With regard to Shogi, I am no expert, but in the very few games
I have played through, the first order of business of both sides has been
to tuck their kings safely away in a corner of the board. They can afford
the tempi to do this on account of the relatively restricted power of
of the other pieces. The 'King's Leap' would accompplish this
objective at a saving of two tempi and should be regarded as a
move analogous to a pawn's double jump. I also think it would add to the
strategic richness of the Grand Chess.

My suggestions my be considered analogous to changes in spolrts rules,
examplt the three-point shot in basketball, which improve but don't
the nature of the game.

One last question: is anybody tabulating the percentage of white,
victories, black victories & draws in Grand Chess,. For standard chess,
Larry Evens cites a database (see the March 2004 Chess Review)in which
percentages are White 36.8% Black 26.4% and draws 38.8%

Charles Gilman wrote on Tue, Aug 3, 2004 08:04 AM UTC:
Fair enough, although adding my Ecumenical Chess castling was really a suggestion for others to take up. As grand is French for big, how about using the French for castle and calling the variant with that modification Chateau Chess? To be fair, Alfred Myers did credit Kevin Scanlon (who indeed gave his own variant a distinctive name) and both credited Christian Freeling. Incidentally, note that ratings on this page apply to Alfred Myers' ideas, and possibly the debate generated, rather than to Grand Chess itself.

Gary Gifford wrote on Thu, Apr 15, 2004 04:08 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
I agree with both Michael Howe and Roberto Lavieri.  To me, Grand Chess is
such a great variant that it deserves to stand as it is, unchanged, right
up along side Chess, Xianqi, and Shogi.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on Thu, Apr 15, 2004 01:11 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Grand Chess is a game that is widely played with the stablished rules. I think that castling in any way may be rejected by the majority of players, the central position of King gives a special flavor to the game, and many times you can construct defensive structures using the power of pieces. The game seems to be always in an inflexion point, where you must decide between attack, defense or both, making the game very deep. Surprisingly, attacks are not easy to perform, regardless the position of the King. This game is excellent, and variations are more a curiosity or an attempt to explore new ideas than real improvements.

Charles Gilman wrote on Thu, Apr 15, 2004 08:27 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
Another approach to castling might be the following one, used in my
Ecumenical Chess
(, of which
the large-board arrays have King and Rooks on different ranks.
	Castling requires that the King has not left the middle two files, the
Rook involved has not left its own and the adjacent file, neither has
the back two ranks, and both are on the same rank. The King moves 1/4 of
the total number of files (3 in the largest, 2 in the others) towards the
Rook, and the Rook moves to be adjacent to the King on the inner side.
Note that this takes the King off its group of four squares and so
disallows castling with a second Rook.

Charles Gilman wrote on Sun, Jul 20, 2003 08:54 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
Having given a rating of good to Grander Chess itself I feel obliged to give one her as well as it is the proposed array change that is the real improvement. As for the rest I care little either way, although I am not keen on inter-rank castling. Your 'masculine' and 'feminine' sides of the board are puzzling as both the Knight compounds are titles of male officers. Indeed Marshal has more suggestion of a feminine side as the first 3 letters derive from mare, a female horse. Still, I can quite see a King prefer his Queen flanked by a celibate Cardinal rather than the secular officer that Marshal (or Chancellor, a rarer name for the same piece) represents!

Jianying Ji wrote on Tue, Apr 8, 2003 12:32 AM UTC:
Draw margin is dependent on the skill level of the play. In high level
FIDE chess, as the recent competitions have shown the draw margin can
be as high as 66% of all the games. It is so bad that some competition
actively try to discourage draws. So draws can be a problem. And I think
any chess variant that allows exchange to draw that is sacrificing
material to force opponent into draw, is liable to have larger and larger
draw margins as skill level increase. But ultimately it is an aethetic 
decision on whether this is a bad thing.

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