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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-04-09
 By Ralph  Betza. Feeble Chess to Weakest Chess. Pieces are weakenend as they must use a turn to change direction or flip between taking and non-taking mode. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
George Duke wrote on 2011-07-19 UTCGood ★★★★
Finding the weakest possible truly chess-like pieces is Betza's raison d'etre here. A different Betzan cv is Weak!, forty years old, Weak_Chess. ''The feeble rook's estimated value is one twelfth of a Rook,'' but a comment questions the positing of one twenty fourth, 1/24, more or less by the time it has become weakened to weakest. Actually this same Feeble has several classic Betza comments on Capablanca and the_Go/chess_interface.

George Duke wrote on 2009-05-20 UTC
Betza's version down the column adding flipping to weakest chess means you move and threaten to take or check, but it does not count until you flip it the next convenient move, to carry it out and actually be able to capture or check. The first threat is so delayed a move or more. vice versa.

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2005-02-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I think this game will make a basis for a game that will be very difficult for computers to play. In fact, I have made a balanced four-move variant of the game that works like this: <ul> <li>White makes one move <li>Black makes two moves <li>White makes three moves <li>Black makes four moves <li>Both sides make four moves for the rest of the game </ul> This somewhat speeds up the game, while making the number of possible moves per side so large that standard alpha-deta searches that computer chess games use completely ineffective in this variant of the game. <p> It is the same idea as Arimaa, but not bounded by the copyright/patents that Arimaa has.

David Paulowich wrote on 2004-09-30 UTC
Chris Witham asked 'Closer to the subject, what about strongest chess? A CV in which the pieces are as strong as posible while still being playable and resmbleing normal chess.' <p>Cavalry Chess (designed by Frank Maus in 1921) uses the the standard chess pieces, but with greatly increased powers. The knight in this game moves like a buffalo: the knight - camel - zebra compound. The game description page also includes a brief essay by Fergus Duniho comparing Cavalry Chess and his own Cavalier Chess.

gnohmon wrote on 2003-01-29 UTC
A Feeble or Weakest version of the Berolina Pawn would have to start the
game aimed to move diagonally towards or across the center line.

The thing about Berolina Pawns is that they attack fewer squares but have
more mobility, and therefore are very difficult to block from promotion in
many endgames.

K+Berolina versus K is always a win except in the degenerate case of K
takes P, and except in the case Ka6 Pa7 K(b8 or c8).

Reasoning from this, I'd expect that the Feeble/Weakest Berolina Pawn
would be quite strong. The weakness of the enemy pieces would often allow
it to make a run for the goal line.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-01-27 UTC
how would weakest chess or feeble chess play with berolina pawns?

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-20 UTC
Capablanca spent his time at Columbia U, NY, studying endgames. He was
neither untutored nor intuitive by the time he was worlf champion.

In order to understand the Capa style, you must realize that the 'simple'
moves conceal extreme calculation. The secret is that he would by
preference choose one of the several moves that looked 'simple', and make
the choice by complex tactical thought. 

When was Capa 'intuitive'? Perhaps when he won a match from the Cuban
champion at the age of 3 months (or whatever age it was).

The problem with Chess as a game played by champio-class players is that
although it is beyond human abilities to play the game 'perfectly',
perfection seems to be so near, and calculation is 99% of the game.

The good thing about Go as opposed to Chess (and, as a fairly strong
player of both, I can also argue the good things of Chess versus Go, but
that's for some other day) is that it is so far beyond human abilities to
play 'perfectly' that (at least at a non-championship level) intuition
outweighs calculation (but calculation is important and necessary).

At a championship level, with the looooong time limits, Go is too much
calculation and too little strategy too little intuition; except perhaps
for players such as Sakata or Go Sei Gen; or Otake, perennial championship
of fast Go.

Amateurs do not play Go so slowly as the champions, which makes intuition
more important. Likewise, blitz Chess favors both the extremely fast
calculator and the player with good intuition (and the fastest calculator
I ever saw and the most intuitive player I ever saw were both the same
person -- Bobby, of course).

Time limits do a lot to redress the balance between intuition and
calculation. Labourdonnais versus MacDonald with clocks? No contest.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2002-07-15 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Very interesting game. I hope to try it out soon. The idea that assuming a
capturing posture is in effect part of the movement of a piece is

A suggestion for a table-set: for a capturing posture, place the piece
slightly over the edge of the square towards which it is oriented. For
orientation of a piece, locate the piece just within the edge of the
square towards which it is oriented.

Regarding Ralph's aspirations to create a Chess variant that feels like
Go, one that is primarily intuitive, that would be great--although I
cannot claim to understand master level Chess thought. Kids play
intuitively, until they get 'spoiled' by reading Chess books! Intuitive
play is definitely more fun. I read that Capablanca played intuitively (I
guess he could get away with it because he was so brilliant), but that was
part of his downfall when he encountered players that studied a great
deal. In fact, part of the appeal of Chess variants is that they keep us
guessing. I have to say, though, that Zillions spoils the fun a little by
making it quite easy to study new games.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-11 UTC
There are billions and billions of good chess cariants and a handful of Go

Statistically speaking, there are no good variants of Go. Aristotelian
logic would say that there are some. I have not looked at the suggested
list of variants because after all,

Go was in ancient times played on a smaller board; who can doubt that 17x17
Go is a good variant? My opinion is that 9x9 go is not a good variant
because too tactical. Who can doubt that 21x21 Go is good?

Other good variants of Go include Japanese versus Chinese scoring; komi of
0, 0.5, or 1.0; and so on -- minor changes to the rules.

Cylindrical Go is not so good. Alice's Go might work but would be so
cumbersome. Go with Different Armies is out of the question. Avalanche Go?
(((of course the Avalanche joseki is almost like a go variant, very much as
the Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit is almost a variant game of FIDE Chess))))

Compared to chess variants, I think that it is a correct usage of language
to say 'no' go variants even though it would be more presice to say 'almost

Chess variants include shogi, xiang qi, shatranj, Tamerlane's Chess, FIDE
Chess, Courier Chess, Thai Chess, Malayan Chess, and so on and so on.
Recognizably the same game, with amazingly different flavors.

The true Go fanatic will argue that no variants are possible because the
game is already so perfect.

M.Howe wrote on 2002-07-10 UTC
In response to 'there are no good variants of go' --

What about double-move, one-capture, and polyomino?  Cathedral might be
considered a go variant.  As might Freeling's Medusa.  How about Hexago and
Rosette?  And for others, try

I'd be interested to read gnohmon's thoughts on these.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-09 UTC
> the region between FIDE chess and Go.

For the average player, FIDE Chess involves more calculation because
calculation can do some good; but Go involves more intuition than
calculation because it is so far beyond one's abilities to calculate.
Ishida in his prime was able to calculate go, but the effort was so great
that his prime did not last, thank goodness; his style sucked the life from
the game and made it look like 9 mens morris.

For a normally strong player, that is, for somebody who is good but not the
best in history, go is played more with intuition than calculation; just as
Chess was played in the time of Adolph Anderssen. 

Yes, I favor the intuition side. To me, Sakata is a greater player than
Ishida. And Anderssen needs to be studied to be believed, because tha games
he played in the days when he and everybody else were ignorant of modern
chess theory, how amazing those games are!

You have found me out. You have detected my secret plan. I have tried to
invent forms of intuition chess by making the pieces strong so that
tactical calculations would be difficult. I have also tried to invent
Intuition Chess by making the pieces so weak that the calculations would
run so many plies that nobody could handle them. 

Imho, i may have succeeded in both directions, and more than once.

My most respected go sensei told me not to think too much; play quickly and
trust your intuition! And this one statement was so much more instructive
than all the books I ever read that I respect the game of go even more
because of it. 

In 1997, I found myself in Tokyo and made a pilgrimage to nihon ki-in. By
their standards I was still 3 dan after not having played for 22 years (but
that's only about 1 kyu on igs, they say). The thing about go is that there
are no good variants. If I can make a chess that plays like go, heaven!
Bliss! Who could ak for anything more?

David Howe wrote on 2002-07-07 UTC
I have finished the Zillions implementation for Weakest Chess. Zillions
plays it quite badly (even at 3 minutes per move), so this implementation
is probably only good for experimenting or over-the-net play with another

I think Ralph has (perhaps unintentionally) invented a game that lies in
the region between FIDE chess and Go. That is, the game tree for Weakest is
less broad but lengthier than chess, but more broad and shallower (I
imagine) than Go. It is similar to Go in that many small changes acrete
over time to form either winning or losing patterns. As with Go, computers
would have a difficult time playing the game well (as Zillions has).

It is my suspicion that Go players would like Weakest Chess very much.
Chess disc pieces with markers on each side to indicate capturing and
non-capturing could be used as an 'over-the-board' way of playing this
game. I encourage people to try this game out. I believe it has great

gnohmon wrote on 2002-07-06 UTC
> orientation of the promoted piece?

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Because I had not playtested I did not specify; nor did I decide in
private. The question did occur to me, but I decided to keep quiet.

In FIDE Chess, promotion is difficult, so it is also powerful, so powerful
that it is usually decisive. In Shogi, promotion is a bit less difficult,
and so although it is powerful it may not be decisive. In Xiang Qi,
promotion is rather easy, but it has so little power that it is rarely
decisive. I see this as a continuum of game-balance decisions.

My impression is that for Feeble/Weakest Chess, promotion should be as
powerful as possible, so that the owner may choose any orientation. If you
do not wish to argue in favor of the contrary, let it so be graven in

David Howe wrote on 2002-07-05 UTC
'Pawns reaching their 8th rank are promoted to any non-Royal piece that was
on the board at the start of the game.'

Perhaps the answer is obvious, but I'll ask the question anyways: when a
pawn is promoted, is there any limitation on the orientation of the
promoted piece? I would assume that the promoted piece can be in any
orientation that is legal for that piece (eg. a pawn promoted to a Feeble
Rook could not be oriented at 45 degrees), but the rules aren't explicit.

Requiring the piece to be oriented 'North' would make safe promotion a bit
more difficult, but might be more interesting.

ChrisWitham wrote on 2002-05-01 UTC
I was just wondering exactly how values add up. It says that the weakest Rook's estimated value is 1/24 of a Rook. Which means that one weakest rook is worth 1/24 of one Rook, but does it also mean that haveing one Rook is the same as haveing 24 weakest Rooks? I don't think that that is true. So, if I'm right, how does one add values together?

ChrisWitham wrote on 2002-04-28 UTC
Game looks good.  In response to earlier comment on higher dimensional
chess cv, it may be best to create stronger pieces to control the larger
board implyed by multiple dimensions then to have weaker pieces to alow for
a smaller board, that being said it might not.

Closer to the subject, what about strongest chess? A CV in which the pieces
are as strong as posible while still being playable and resmbleing normal

gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
Because they are so weak, the Feeble/Weakest pieces would do well on a 3x3x8 board, I think.

Doug Chatham wrote on 2002-04-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
If we created higher dimensional analogues of the Feeble/Weak/Weakest
pieces, would we be able to make a playable higher-dimensional CV with them
(perhaps even a Chess For Any Number of Dimensions)?

gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-11 UTC
I am grateful for your effusive comments.

There will be more on the subject, as I like the game and have analyzed the
Weakest K versus Weakest King endgame -- it was very interesting.

But at the moment, I've gotten out a chessboard and some coins (with which
to mark mummies and statues) and am studying the play of the Game of

David Howe wrote on 2002-04-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I wish I had thought of this! The idea of finding the weakest possible pieces that still provide a chess-like game is inspired. For some reason, it reminded me of my attempt to create a <a href='../newideas.dir/construction.html'>chess variant construction set</a>. The concept of a flipping move to switch between capture-only and move-only is something I never thought of. On the whole, a well-thought-out, and aesthetically pleasing game. I must try it out sometime!

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