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This item is a play-by-email page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2005-01-30
 Author: George William Duke and Tony  Quintanilla. Inventor: George William Duke. Falcon Chess. Play Falcon Chess on Game Courier![All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2011-04-17 UTC
Now that the patent on Falcon Chess has expired, the ban on playing it here is lifted.

George Duke wrote on 2011-01-06 UTC
How to use Guarding the Queen in Falcon Chess? If Queen moves outward from e1 to any of f2 up to j6 or any of d2 up to a5, at option Bishop moves too immediately thereupon by way of vacant d2, c1-d2-e1. They must not have moved, but passing through check is no factor. That is it: Guarding the Queen. Likely to be considerably less occasional than en passant, but not quite so frequent as Castling the King.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-12 UTC
Zillions evaluates the Buffalo at 18340, higher than the Rook.

All evaluations should be taken in the context of the parameters examined. Thus when a piece is evaluated in its relation to mating, that is strictly within that parameter. The same goes with the evaluation of the average potential moves on a field. And Zillions definitely cannot be considered the final arbitrator of pieces evaluation, since it is a generic game engine and not specificly programmed for a particular piece or game.

But if the various evaluations begin to show a trend, the examiner might take notice.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-12 UTC
On an 8x10 field.

The Buffalo averages more than 18 potential cells, better than the Rook.

White: Ke3 Bug1
Black: Ke5

Mate in 15. Same as the Rook.

With K+Bu versus K+R, it appears the same draw condition(not conclusive).
Though the Buffalo is able to perpetual check.

Zillions values this piece at 10033, with conditionals. thus it might be
as high as 20000 without such. I'll test this out.

If conditionals were applied to the Buffalo, we might call it a
Hartebeest(that is, if this name has not already been taken). It would
make a great asset, without being too powerful in the opening and

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-11-12 UTC
This piece is in the Piececlopedia under the name 'Buffalo'.

8x10 = 8 files and 10 ranks, and you start counting ranks at 1? This indeed is a mate in 28, with white to move.

But I don't think you can derive the value of a piece from how long it needs to checkmate a bare King. Indeed, there are pieces that cannot mte  bare King at all, and yet are worth more than a Rook. A Nightrider, for instance. A more obvious case would be a piece that moves like a King, but captures to any square of the color it is on. I am pretty sure this must be worth more than a Queen.

The Bison must be stronger than the Falcon, but I did not develop a etup to play-test it yet. If you start with a conventional array (pawns on 2nd and 7th rank), Bisons make it into a highly tactical position, as they can fork lots of trapped or undefended pieces on the back rank, before you have tme to develop them. Grasshopper play-testing also suffered from this, but after some experimenting, it turned out that starting all Pawns on 3rd and 6th rank was a very good remedy against it. I guess that for Bisons this should work too, but I haven't tried it yet.

My guess would be that the Bison would gain 100-200 centiPawn compared to the Falcon, as the latter is not that easy to block. This would put it at 6-7 pawns.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-12 UTC
What if we add the Knight moves to the Bison? Is there already a piece like this? If not, I lay claim to it. ;-)

It would have both a 50% increase in potential cells, but also the ability to exercise a smaller footprint. As a conditional piece it may even approach the value of a Rook.

I will work up some code with this particular piece, making the Knight leap also conditional.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-11 UTC
On an 8x10 field.

White: Ke3 Rj1
Black: Ke5

Mate in 15.

White: Ke3 Big1
Black: Ke5

Mate in 28.

So the Rook appears almost twice as efficient compared to the Bison in this particular scenario. If the Rook is valued at 5, then the most the Bison can be valued is 3. To be considered a 4, it would need to mate in less than 20.

Although a Bison has twice the number of potential cells than a Knight, it also has a larger footprint. With leapers, a larger footprint can actually be a negative factor, particularly on small playing fields. They must operate closer to the center of the field to exercise all their potential moves during play.

And though the Rook and Bison both have the potential of 16 cells on the 8x10 field, only the Rook is able to exercise all its potential cells no matter what position it occupies on the field. The Bison loses potential cells below the fourth rank and file. And so only excercise its full potential when located on 2x4 central cells of the field. In the corner cell of the field it is only able to exercise the potential of four cells. And an average of less than eight cells for the overall field. Thus in this scenario it is half the value of a Rook.

Compare this to a Knight which only begins to lose potential cells below the third rank and file and thus maintains a higher average of its moves on the overall field.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-11 UTC
Wasn't the Bison published in the early 1970s?

If the Bison is not considered equal to the Rook, how can a conditional version of it be higher?

George Duke wrote on 2008-11-10 UTC
Muller's sentence is excellent: ''And a Bison is far too agile to be hunted down by King and Rook.'' Just ask Antoine Fourrier about our drawn endgame several years ago, where his Rook could do nothing once so few pieces were left. Standard realization for 15 years now of Bison-Falcon play.

George Duke wrote on 2008-11-10 UTC
Falcon, Falcons, Hunter Falcon Falcon, Falcon-Bison -- also in the patent. Jeremy Good had a two-pathway Falcon, omitting split block and split diagonal. Problemists' Bison, used all of once, never appeared in CV until 1992 with Falcon-Bison. I lost track too, John, of yours. They are all welcome. Just for any formal Preset or CV, paired Bison(full-stength) is USP5690334. John et al., please feel free to test and compare. Combination pieces or truncated or whatever. As Joe Joyce has intelligently said, Falcon is neither obvious nor intuitive. That is, unless you properly learned it at age 6 with Chess instruction. There are teenagers in 1990s, now in professions, who take three-path Falcon for granted. An underground army of supporters. // Values? Originally, Falcon 5.5 Rook 5.0, midgame 5.0-5.0, endgame 4.5-5.0. Obviously Falcon steadily but measurably decreases in value. Everything is counterintuitive in the real world. Chess for Dummies.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-10 UTC
By simply adding a Pawn to each side with the K+R, the Rook is able to assist its Pawn toward promotion better than the opponent. And thus will tip the balance, whether by obtaining more material or exchange. Or simply capture the opposing Pawn, sacrificing its own and thus return to the previous condition.

Ran this scenario with the Pawns beginning on their starting cells; widely spaced, in adjacent files and in the same file.

Also tried the piece code with double value. It appears to survive a little longer in the game, as the engine appears not willing to exchange it for anything less than Rook.

This forced value can be used to advantage by a human player during the middle game. Causing the AI to be over-protective, and cripple its position development. With Bishop or Knight threats.

If the piece remains at its low value, the human player can also take advantage by encouraging the AI to sacrifice its pieces early in the game. With Bishop or Knight sacrifices.

Maybe it should not be double value, but only increased to just slightly higher than the Bishop or Knight.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
David Paulowich:
| There may be some forced checkmates that involve a Bison leaping 
| over one of the Kings, but I assume that a Falcon can still force
| checkmate, possibly taking a few moves longer.

The patented Falcon is actually 100% equivalent to the Bison in the KBiK end-game, because of its multi-path character. No Falcon move can be blocked on a single square; at least 2 blockers are needed. But the blockers wil then always have to be on adjacent squares, and two Kings a never do that. So KFK can be played aexactly as KBiK.

In end-games with more than 3 pieces this is no longer true, and a Falcon might be weaker than a Bison. In KQKBi, KCKBi and KAKBi this is of no importance, as they are aready lost for the Bison, and can only be more lost for the Falcon. KRKBi is a dead draw, and downgrading the Bison to a Falcon does not change that: KRK is only marginally won, and only by virtue of zugzwang. Any extra piece for the defender spoils the zugzwang, and thus make the K+R attack on K unsuccessful. And a Bison is far too agile to be hunted down by K+R. Even KRKN is almost always draw because K+R cannot get a Knight. The other way around, a Rook can defend quite easily against Bison by cutting off the opponent King from your own.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
Against the Queen, it doesn't stand a chance.

Against the Rook, it is able to deter checkmate. Mainly by threatening either the opposing Rook or King if they attempt to work too close together. This doesn't mean that it is as strong as the Rook, only that its dynamics allows the player more forking opportunities which the opposing Rook can be prevented from utilizing simply by avoiding orthogonal positions with its own King. I only ran this scenario to Strength 12, so its not really conclusive. But it appears to be a potential draw condition unless one of the players makes a serious error.

I'll add a Pawn to each side, to see how this will shift the balance of play.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
I can see the novelty of this piece. One that starts weak and grows stronger as the game progresses.

If the player is willing to nurse it through the opening, protect it through the mid-game, they could reap benefit during the endgame.

I am curious as to endgame scenarios with it versus an opposing Rook or Queen. I'll run a few and post the results.

David Paulowich wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC

Another discussion on checkmates can be found on the Bison Comments Page. Starting with a forced mate in six I found by shuffling pieces around on an 8x8 board - ending with H. G. Muller's computer analysis: K + B always force mate on boards up to 14x14, but usually fail on a 16x16 board.

There may be some forced checkmates that involve a Bison leaping over one of the Kings, but I assume that a Falcon can still force checkmate, possibly taking a few moves longer.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
Okay, you can force a mate with this piece against a bare King.

In this scenario it is no different than the Bison.

This also supposes that it survives into the endgame. Or that the player opts for such a promotion. Especially when a Queen or Rook would be more effective.

Antoine Fourrière wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
If you write twice each move in the moves section of the piece, Zillions will give you twice the value. In this case, I think it would be much closer to the truth; to me, a Falcon is closer to a Rook on 10x8 than a Knight is to a Bishop on 8x8.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
With a King and this piece versus a bare opposing King, the player would need to back the opponent into a corner, or have other material on the board. Every time that the player maneuvered it, this would leave a path of escape.

I will run this scenario, but I suspect that it's stalemate or perpetual check.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
It is not that bad. Depending on where exactly you start the Falcons on the back rank, it is possible to develop them laterally. E.g. on a 10x8 board a Falcon can move from i1-h1-g1-f2 or h1-g1-f2-e2/3 to the squares in front of K or Q after you evacuated the B and N from the back rank. This was the solution usually preferred by Fairy-Max in the Falcon Chess demo-match games it played. It is true in general that 'castling early' is in general difficult in 10x8 variants, and that many games went without castling.

Note that a single Falcon does have mating potential against a bare King, and is a close match for a Rook both in opening and end-game.

John Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
To quote David Paulowich, it strikes me as almost as bad an idea as the
original Shatranj Elephant. Here is was referring to the nonleaping Camel in Cardinal Super Chess. Combining with a nonleaping Zebra is like adding a Trebouchet to the Alfil. Both pieces are dreadfully awkward on the small board, but these lame Falcon components do not even have the tactical opening value that normal long leaping pieces have. The Falcon needs a larger board, just as a Camel and Zebra do. Unfortunately, this makes it incompatible with the Pawn and Knight. It's like fitting a round (multipath) piece in a square (riders/leapers) hole. Perhaps you should consider revising Falcon Chess.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
But allow me to express my personal evaluation of this piece.

If it is developed early in the game, it has the potential of being trapped and captured. This is most apparent on the 8x10 field. In fact, until there has been a significant reduction of material, it is unable to exercise a range of movement to equate it with the Knight.

But without early development, it hinders castling. And remember the old defense adage, 'Castle early'. And its movement can place it far onto the field. So it will potentially not survive through the mid-game without careful application.

And its endgame application is not much more than a Knight. Though two might checkmate a King, the possibility of this position is quite remote.

And it does not offer a good promotion for the Pawn. Who would not prefer the Queen?

All in all, it appears to be a rather weak piece. So I would accept Zillions evaluation.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
It is the conditionals which lower the value of this piece. Both Bison and Knight have unrestricted movement.

Simply include potential conditionals and the value of a piece will drop.

This is probably why it is valued at near half of the Bison.

Of course, any evaluation is totally dependent upon the parameters considered. Zillions should never be considered the final arbitrator of piece value.

M Winther wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
The incognito piece must surely be valued at least as much as a knight. After all, it can reach 16 squares, provided that the path to them is not blocked. So Zillions misvalues it. It can easily be tweaked. But it is not a bifurcation piece while they need a screen to change direction.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC

I have never been hostile toward Falcon Chess. My hostility has been toward you personally. Let me make it clear, it is all about you, not your game. You made a very bad first impression on me, and your subsequent behavior has mainly gone to reinforce that first impression. Your claim that you “never have bad will” toward me really comes as a surprise, given that you frequently toss jibes at me. Even the comment I'm responding to includes the jibe that I'm unimaginative. That's a really peculiar comment, given that my Chess variants are more numerous and different from each other than yours are. I don't recall badgering you out of a tournament. I do recall reprimanding you for belligerent conduct in the forums, and perhaps you dropped out of the tournament because that made you feel uncomfortable, but I certainly didn't badger you out of a tournament, and it was never my intention that you drop out of the tournament. My intention was that you shape up. Now, you may not be aware of how belligerent you can be, because your usual style is to toss off jibes in passing rather than to clearly insult people directly. Be that as it may, it is an expression of hostility (possibly covert and hidden from your awareness) and it engenders hostility toward you. So I ask you to catch yourself when you're writing jibes and to delete them before sending your comments.

Larry Smith wrote on 2008-11-09 UTC
For those who are interested, the following is my Zillions coding for 'the piece that shall not be named'.


(define xxxxxx_move
  $1 $2
  (set-flag clear_path 
      (and empty? (or (empty? $3)(empty? $5)))
      (and (empty? $4) (empty? $5))
  (verify (flag? clear_path))
  $1 (verify not-friend?)

(xxxxxx_move n ne s w sw)
(xxxxxx_move n nw s e se)
(xxxxxx_move s se n w nw)
(xxxxxx_move s sw n e ne)
(xxxxxx_move e ne w s sw)
(xxxxxx_move e se w n nw)
(xxxxxx_move w nw e s se)
(xxxxxx_move w sw e n ne)
(xxxxxx_move ne n sw e s)
(xxxxxx_move nw n se w s)
(xxxxxx_move se s nw e n)
(xxxxxx_move sw s ne w n)
(xxxxxx_move ne e sw n w)
(xxxxxx_move nw w se n e)
(xxxxxx_move se e nw s w)
(xxxxxx_move sw w ne s e)


Using this code,  the piece was evaluated at 6529 in the center of an open 10x10 field by the Zillions engine. Compare this to Pawn at 2961, Knight at 9153 and Bison at 14699.

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