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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2008-10-29
 By Fergus  Duniho. Grand Cavalier Chess. The decimal version of Cavalier Chess. (10x10, Cells: 100) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This seems like a great game, where the action might normally develop slower than in Cavalier Chess, but it's worth it.


Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2011-01-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Heya Fergus, after our talk last week about pawns i thought i'd check out your game here. And i must say, it's been a lot of fun!! Now, if u don't know, i am a big fan of the more 'chaturanga, shatranj' etc etc styled pieces, and have only played games with these kind of pieces for years now. So, this game, looked very daunting to me, to say the least, as i pondered my first move, hehe. After the first couple of games, i was all over the place, the game seemed hard the manage, very dynamic and nearly chaotic. But then, after a few more games, i started to get a feel for it, and i had some wonderful games. I'm rating 'excellent'. Nearly right from the start, the game seems dynamic to me, and it stays that way throughtout the game, but there seems to be a steadiness of play, the 'chaotic' i felt at first, was 'controlled', still there, but it's balanced and 'held' in the game. The Cavlier's i think put a uniqueness to the game. They do act as 'pawn's' but they are more flexible than a pawn, and when they get to the 8th rank they are in striking distance of promoting. Nice piece placement for the opening, and great seeing the 'nightrider' playing too. Sometimes, in a somewhat wild position, it was interesting playing a cavlier non-threateningly up the board and feeling it was safe and the best move. I really feel the cavlier makes this game unique and exciting. Great work.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-11-03 UTC
George, Please don't try to b.s. me. Your comments are routinely the most disingenuous I ever read here. I normally try to ignore you, but when you act sanctimonious and try to criticize me for nonsense you are more guilty of yourself, it ticks me off.

George Duke wrote on 2008-11-03 UTC
Complete misreading of my comment, Fergus, as anyone can see. You must be operating from some a priori preconception. Objectively evaluating Grand Cavalier, as with any CV, of 500 I have commented on, those are the salient points to be made, chiefly its clear and distinct differentiation from 80-year-old Cavalry. I recommend Cavalier, the better of the two, and can easily imagine good play of related Grand Cavalier too. I enjoyed the GC score of Cavalier, one of 6 or 8 individuals having tested it so far. I may have rated Cavalier, at least commenting within the game score. Who wants or has to take the time even to go over there and look. Simply realisitically, do not expect much play of it. By all means, promote the Track Two candidate Grand Cavalier. Good work at improvement of Cavalier 8x8. It is nevertheless disingenuous to use the cliched, ''have you played it?,'' there has become wide consensus, perhaps during your absence.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-11-03 UTC
George, You would begrudge the inventor of a game promoting it? That is just ridiculous. I have spent several years focused on creating Chess variants. Now my focus has shifted to evaluating what I have created and promoting what merits promotion. I'm not going to put up with any tomfoolery that I shouldn't be doing this. It is beyond ridiculous.

George Duke wrote on 2008-11-03 UTC
At GC there are 7 finished logs of Cavalier and 4 of Grand Cavalier, so don't hold out much hope for extensive play. In fact, I enjoyed one game of Cavalier Chess 8x8 at Game Courier years ago, beating Carlos. Because of radical Pawns, these are Track Two rather than Track One, to use Joyce's categories, Track One being potential OrthoChess replacements. Duniho convincingly justifies GCC and CC's being different from Frank Maus' 1920's' Cavalry Chess at article by Aronson in 2001 in Duniho's postcript. I agree that blockable Cavalier, Xiangqi Knight, as Pawn is big improvement over Cavalry and fully justifies separate invention. Although it should not be stated the way Duniho does there, ''I was ignorant of it when I created Cavalier Chess.'' By logic then someone could ''invent'' Mad Queen 8x8 and say she or he was ignorant of its prior existence. The difference is only 500 years versus 75 years. The point in this case is that Grand C. and Cavalier clearly have, as Joyce employs, different feel and make unique CVs. Now however it is disingenuous to urge someone to play either of them. I thought that had been laid to rest by now. There are 3000 separate CVs here and 20000 counting variations. How justify one CV over another for play? That is being addressed at threads encouraging analysis, a priori if one will. Cannot someone render opinions without playing a game? It is impossible to play more than some hundred different CVs a year in full scores. Grand Cavalier and Cavalier are ten years old, not current fare but part of CV history now. Most viewers will have to content with a few imaginative in-their-head moves of Cavalier Pawns for appreciation of these two perfectly competent Track Twos. Partly it is question of time and priority. (Incidentally would Duniho welcome Cavalier being called ''lame''? It would be useless negative adjective since the paths still need to be described, Cavalier happening to be one-path.)

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-11-02 UTC

M. Winther,

I take it you haven't played the game with another person. It's a different experience than playing it against Zillions of Games. I just played a game against Zillions of Games, and it won in 23 moves. When I play against the computer, I'm trying to fit the whole game into a single sitting, and I take less time to make my moves, which easily leads to blunders. Grand Cavalier Chess is tricky enough that I don't recommend it for speed games. But for correspondence games, played over Game Courier with rules enforcement, it works very well. Correspondence play gives me the luxury to take more time on each move and to give it the same degree of analysis I give to Chess problems.

Let me now turn to your specific claims. You claim “it's obvious from the design that the branching factor is humongous.” I'm sure its greater than Chess, because the pieces are more powerful, and the board is larger. But I don't think it is greater than Shogi, which remains popular despite having a high branching factor. In support of this, it isn't difficult for me to defeat Zillions of Games at Shogi, even using the specially tuned and optimized ZRF I've written for it, yet it is difficult for me to defeat it at Grand Cavalier Chess. I submit that the high branching factor of Shogi is the main reason ZoG does not play that game well, and that it plays Grand Cavalier Chess better mainly because this game has less of a branching factor.

Furthermore, the branching factor is more likely to affect how well a computer plays the game than how well a human plays the game. Humans tend to screen out bad moves and focus on the few that look good, whereas a computer will try to evaluate every branch of the move tree to a selected depth. I don't think that a large branching factor will have much bearing on actual gameplay between two humans. What is more likely to have a bearing on gameplay is the ability for humans to visualize Nightrider and Cannon moves, since these are the sneakiest in the game. My experience is that with patience and experience, it can be done.

You claim “The pawns in chess have a calming effect on the game, like the control rods in a nuclear reactor. Without them an explosion results. Instead of pawns you have inserted pieces that do the opposite, increase the confusion.” I don't think the Cavaliers do the opposite. Because they are Chinese Chess Knights, not regular Chess Knights, they block each other. For most of the game, the Cavaliers block each other and prevent easy passage across the board. Like Pawns, they create barriers that other pieces have to work around to get to the other side.

You claim, “There is no strategy in this game, it's plain mayhem.” It's true that the game is more tactical than Chess, but it hasn't been my experience with the game that it is just mayhem without strategy. In my present game, my opening strategy was to rely on my Cannons and Nightriders to make some material gains before I brought out my stronger pieces. My mid-game strategy has been to reduce my opponent's forces before moving in for checkmate. I have hemmed in one of his Cannons so that it can't bother me, and I need to work on unblocking my most powerful pieces, as it is now time for them to come into active play.

As for your evaluative claim that the game is a failure, I don't agree at all. My experience is that while it is difficult to play against the computer, it is great for correspondence play. It's a game that rewards time spent in analysis, and it is a dynamic game in which a player behind in material can win by taking and keeping the initiative. See this finished game as illustration of this. I think your opinion of the game would change if you spent some time playing a correspondence game. If you're interested, I would like to invite you to play a game.


M Winther wrote on 2008-11-02 UTC
Fergus, I downloaded the ZoG implementation and tried it. But it's obvious from the design that the branching factor is humongous. The pawns in chess have a calming effect on the game, like the control rods in a nuclear reactor. Without them an explosion results. Instead of pawns you have inserted pieces that do the opposite, increase the confusion. There is no strategy in this game, it's plain mayhem. Of course, it could work as an illustration of overkill in chess variant design. I am not against that you try out new ideas, but sometimes the result is a failure. /Mats

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-11-01 UTC
M. Winther, Have you tried to play the game, or are you making your comments a priori?

David Paulowich wrote on 2008-11-01 UTC
I have played this game and I still rate it excellent.

M Winther wrote on 2008-11-01 UTCPoor ★
No, I cannot agree. I usually wouldn't rate a variant as 'poor' because the creator perhaps tries to express something else than mere chesslike qualities. But here I must use 'poor' because this variant employs 30 pieces with the capacity to move like knight/knightrider. How on earth is a human brain going to figure out all the forks and double-threaths? So it doesn't matter if the game has some clever qualities. It cannot be played in real life. It is hugely over-the-top. Generally, I think there are too many variants that greatly overestimate the capacity of chessplayers. /Mats

Charles Gilman wrote on 2008-11-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Have I really not rated this game before? Oh, well, better late than never.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2008-10-30 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Among my own variants, this is one of my favorites. It has a very good balance between dynamism and clarity. Compared to Chess, it is more dynamic but less clear. The difference in clarity is due to (1) pieces being more powerful in general, (2) the greater difficulty in visualizing Nightrider moves, (3) the greater complexity of the Cannon over the Rook, including its ability to pin two pieces in a row, and (4) the blockability of Cavaliers and their resulting ability to pin pieces. The game is made more dynamic by (1) the ability of Cannons and Nightriders to reach beyond enemy blockades from a distance, (2) the greater freedom of movement the pieces have in general, and (3) the ability of Cavaliers to go backwards. In terms of gameplay, this game strikes me as a better blend of Chess and Chinese Chess than my own Eurasian Chess. The freedom it gives to the Cannons is more comparable to Chinese Chess. The Cavaliers, which replace the Pawns, are taken directly from Chinese Chess, and their inability to create Pawn structures leaves the playing field more open, as in Chinese Chess. Using a larger board with each side having fewer Cavaliers than total files also helps. Overall, the gameplay is faster and more tactical than Chess, more similar to Chinese Chess. But it also has its Chess-like elements, such as more powerful pieces, a roaming royal piece, and the race to promote.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2005-12-29 UTC
Back when I created Grand Cavalier Chess, I misunderstood the rules of Grand Chess. I assumed that Pawns could not check a King without having something to promote to in Grand Chess, and I made Cavaliers analogous to how I understood Pawns in Grand Chess. So I programmed the ZRF with the rule that a Cavalier could not check on the last rank unless there was a piece it could promote to. The same misunderstanding affected my original rules for Eurasian Chess. But I revised the Pawn promotion rules of Eurasian Chess when I better understood Grand Chess. In the case of Grand Cavalier Chess, I programmed the Game Courier preset analogously to the rules of Grand Chess, whose preset I used as a model. So the ZRF is programmed one way, and the Game Courier preset is programmed another way. I'm in favor of changing the rules, as I already did with Eurasian Chess, to fall more in line with the rules of Grand Chess. In that case, I need to update the ZRF.

David Paulowich wrote on 2005-12-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
'When a Cavalier reaches its last rank, it promotes to any captured piece of the same color. If there are none, it cannot advance to the last rank.' - from the Game Courier Preset

Grand Cavalier Chess takes the innovative army of Cavalier Chess and puts it on a larger board. Then it adds two Chinese Cannons to each side, giving them freedom of movement rarely seen in 'hybrid' variants. Note: Fergus needs to state explicitly if a Cavalier always gives check on its last rank, even when it it cannot advance to that rank and promote. That would be consistent with the rules of Grand Chess.


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