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Grande Acedrex. A large variant from 13th century Europe. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
H. G. Muller wrote on Tue, Jun 15, 2021 08:29 PM UTC in reply to Aurelian Florea from 06:46 PM:


Aurelian Florea wrote on Tue, Jun 15, 2021 06:46 PM UTC in reply to Daniel Zacharias from Mon Jun 14 12:56 AM:

Are the rules described in this article correct?

Daniel Zacharias wrote on Mon, Jun 14, 2021 12:56 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★

I wish this game were more popular. It seems like an excellent design. The piece selection seems strange at first but after thinking about it I can see the beauty of it.

I imagine the aanca could have originated as an enhanced ferz, to go with the bigger board. Then the knights could have become unicorns by gaining a diagonal slide after their leap to complement the aanca. The crocodile is a fairly obvious addition. The giraffe and Lion both make knight-like leaps, suitable for the large board, and the Lion includes and extra 3,0 leap which removes it's color binding and forms a nice looking pattern.

The result of all that is eight pieces with a nice range of power and an aesthetically consistent set of moves. There are all of the 2,1 3,1 and 3,2 leaping moves, the rook and bishop moves, and bent rook and bishop moves (unicorn and aanca). The leaping pieces are differentiated in power by some of them having additional movements, but they don't ever feel like arbitrary combinations.

The initial setup is also elegant. The Pawns start as far apart as they do on the 8x8 board, and the pieces are all on the back rank. The promotion rule fits well with this setup and is another great innovation.

I think the main weak points, if there are any, would be the pawns and the king's leap. It seems unlikely that the king would benefit much from a 2 square leap on such a big board with so much empty space; and perhaps modern pawns would be better. But overall this variant appears to be carefully designed.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Thu, Apr 23, 2020 11:54 AM UTC:

Fergus you say: Now that I compare what looked like a d with the two beginning a's in aanca at the top of the second column, I can see that it is an a. The a at the end of aanca is the same shape, but smaller. The word before acedrex looks like it begins with a g and ends with a t.

>> Yes. You repeat what I explained in my answer to your first post where you intended to say that my information, i.e. the name is Grant not Grande, was wrong. So, I repeat, the word "grant" has its "r" missing. Yes, it does start with a g and ends with a t. I'm glad that you recognize your mistake.

You said after: So, we could go with the name grant acedrex but the article should also mention that the game has been referred to as grande acedrex in books by Murray, Gollon, and Pritchard.

>> Of course you could, I would say, you can. I appreciate your trust. The article could also explain that Murray didn't take the exact original title and that the others followed him. 

If interested readers come by here, there is a more recent book which has endeavoured to update the knowledge on "ancient and regional" chess variants, as Gollon said, it is the book written by me and Rick Kwolton during 6 years, reviewed by a dozen of experts in their field and deeply blommerized by Peter Blommers that I thank again: A World Of Chess, Mc.Farland, 2017

Have a nice day


H. G. Muller wrote on Thu, Apr 23, 2020 08:59 AM UTC:

If we don't want to lose connection with earlier literature, we could simply call it "Grande/Grant Acedrex" in the title / index, and devote a sentence on the naming issue in the introduction.

Greg Strong wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 11:35 PM UTC:

the article should also mention that the game has been referred to as grande acedrex in books by Murray, Gollon, and Pritchard.


🕸Fergus Duniho wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 11:26 PM UTC:

Now that I compare what looked like a d with the two beginning a's in aanca at the top of the second column, I can see that it is an a. The a at the end of aanca is the same shape, but smaller. The word before acedrex looks like it begins with a g and ends with a t. So, we could go with the name grant acedrex, but the article should also mention that the game has been referred to as grande acedrex in books by Murray, Gollon, and Pritchard.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 10:21 PM UTC:

You can see the word "grant" on the 1st line of the document you showed. You can see the transcription on the txt file which is available from my website. From that 1st line we have: Aqui se comienc'a el iuego del g<r>a`nt Ac'e-drex. The (-drex) is on the 2nd line. It appears that the r has been omitted by the scribe. If you want to see a "d" you have one in "del" the word before. It is a round character. You have another "t" at the 2nd word of the 5th line, "todos". I suspect that what you took for a "d" is the "A" from Acedrex. We have a "t" and not a "de".

Indeed Murray used Grande Acedrex. Again I respect his work a lot, but his authority in that area is questionable. SInce 1913 they have been other works, like Sonja Musser on her PhD dissertation of 1441 pages. Gollon simply compiled the variants he loved and he used Murray there. Pritchard was not an historian and relied on Murray as a source. On the contrary there are several scholar references in Sonja Musser's PhD dissertion which are all citing that game as Grant Acedrex as it is indeed written twice in the codex (for 0 as Grande Acedrex). I can give for details for skeptical people. If you don't believe me you can ask Sonja Musser who is active on FB and she can be joined.

H. G. Muller wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 10:08 PM UTC:

Curiously, it does not look like the word "acedrex" appears with "grant" or "grande" in the first sentence.

The way I read it, it does, but it is broken over two lines: açe-drex. The word before it just seems gnt to me, with some curved line above it. On the 10th line of the second column there is another occurrence of the word grant ("la es tan grant que"), and it has the same final character. IIt does look like a t to me.

🕸Fergus Duniho wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 07:31 PM UTC:

Looking at the first line of the original document, it is hard to read but looks more like Grande than it does like Grant. The link shows both text and a scan of the original document. You can tell from the text that the word Grant or Grande is supposed to be at the top right of the left column of the first page, and in that scan, I see what looks like a d, but not anything looking like a t. Just in case a t might look like a d in this script, I checked the words "huestes," "bestias," and "touiessen" further down the column, and the t's in those looked more like t's. Curiously, it does not look like the word "acedrex" appears with "grant" or "grande" in the first sentence. However, the two words do appear together in the fourth line up on the last page, and it does look like "grant acedrex" there. If we do go with that as the correct name, we should still mention the name it has been known by in Murray, Gollon, and Pritchard.


Greg Strong wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 06:18 PM UTC:

I am willing to take a stab at reworking this page.  And, unless other editors disagree, it does seem it should be named Grant Acedrex.

H. G. Muller wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 06:00 PM UTC:

The wrong name is the least of the problems of this article. The contents is completely off too, as it is based on the Murray description. This was alredy commented on by me before.

Jean-Louis Cazaux wrote on Wed, Apr 22, 2020 05:13 PM UTC:

Maybe it would be difficult to change it, but the title of this page is wrong:=) !!

Presently it is Grande Acedrex.

This is a mix between two different languages. The title of this game as reported in the original codex is in 13th century Castilian and is Grant Acedrex

In modern Spanish, it will be Grande Ajedrez. Large Chess in English.

But Grande Acedrex is not correct in either language. If it is technically possible, it would be wise to replace "Grande" by "Grant"

I believe that CVP is a serious website, consulted as reference by many, so it ought to be correct.

H. G. Muller wrote on Mon, Sep 26, 2016 09:31 AM UTC:

Because the true rules differ so much from what is described above, I figured the article deserves to have an extra diagram with piece moves:

files=12 ranks=12 startShade=#FFCC00 lightShade=#FFFFCC borders=0 useMarkers=2 maxPromote=0 promoChoice=CRLUGA graphicsDir= squareSize=35 whitePrefix=w blackPrefix=b graphicsType=png symmetry=none pawn::fmWfcF::a4,b4,c4,d4,e4,f4,g4,h4,i4,j4,k4,l4,,a9,b9,c9,d9,e9,f9,g9,h9,i9,j9,k9,l9 giraffe::Z::d1,i1,,d12,i12 crocodile::B::e1,h1,,e12,h12 lion::HC::b1,k1,,b12,k12 rook::::a1,l1,,a12,l12 unicorn::ypafsW::c1,j1,,c12,j12 griffon::FyafsF:griffon:g1,,g12 king::KiAiD::f1,,f12

Click on names below to see how the piece moves.

  • Pawn
  • Giraffe
  • Crocodile
  • Lion
  • Rook
  • Unicorn (Rhino)
  • Griffon
  • King (dark yellow = initial move only)

[Edit] Because this variant lacks promotion choice, but makes the promotion piece dependent on location, the standard promotion procedure was suppressed by defining maxPromote=0 (i.e. no promoting pieces). A JavaScript function WeirdPromotion was then defined in the HTML, in addition to the diagram description. The diagram standard script calls this function when present, to tell it what piece type to put on the to-square.

The provided function tests if the moved piece was a Pawn that reached last rank. If so, it specifies a piece type dependent on the promotion file.

H. G. Muller wrote on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 05:17 PM UTC:
I just had an e-mail conversation with Jean-Louis Cazaux, and it seems we are in complete agreement. He has always been of the opinion that a Griffon could move to the F squares, and he had already come around to the interpretation of the Rhino description that 'forward' should be interpreted as 'in the same direction as the previous leg', and not absolutely. He just had not updated his website yet. <p> This rule revision really makes Grande Acedrex a very interesting game. Considering its historic significance it is really a scandal that it is not one of the standard variants of Win/XBoard. But perhaps Sjaak II can play it as engine-defined variant.

George Duke wrote on Mon, Jan 4, 2016 04:39 PM UTC:
There are 8 piece-types, and H.G. finds five to be the same from Bodlaender's rendering of Murray and Cazaux's examination of the original text. They are King, Pawn, Crocodile, Rook, and Gryphon. <p> The other three are Giraffe, Lion and Unicorn. It certainly makes Lion a better leaper if allowing (3,1) camel added to (3,0). And Giraffe is about the same value whether leaper of (2,3) zebra instead of (1,4). Some confusion comes about in mediaeval texts regarding whether the starting square counts in move descriptions. Murray points that out himself, and here that's how we may get 2,3 instead of 1,4 under further scrutiny. <p> Something remarkable comes about from Muller's speculation that probably Gryphon is meant to be permitted the Ferz stop. It does make sense as the basic mode of movement of Gryphon because otherwise it could be blocked there. In other words, Gryphon can either capture or be blocked at Ferz spot, and capturing is the better and simpler mode, or then too being allowed to stop there in one-step when the square is vacant -- if no old writing contradicts it. <p> Then towards the remarkable re-interpretation, there is the Unicorn/Rhino as making Knight leap not on first move but in first leg of any move! By the same logic as Gryphon stopping at Ferz square, this Unicron/Rhino can stop at Knight square. So in fact in Grande Acedrez we have Rook, Knight and Bishop! Bishop is Crocodile, Unicorn is Knight (+ optional one-directional diagonal continuation), and perennial Rook orthogonally, giving the 3 themselves RNB 200 years before the now primitive OrthoChess 64 is born. And it fits the Stanley Random, of all things, reduction of Chess from larger ancient form.

H. G. Muller wrote on Fri, Jan 1, 2016 11:57 AM UTC:
It might be good to mention the revised rules here. Jean-Louis Cazaux makes a very strong case, based on scrutinizing the original old Spanish text source. He arrives by this at rules that make much more sense than those presented here (whech were based, directly or indirectly, on Murray's work). The latter makes the Lion a virtually worthless piece, assigns impractically large leaps to most of the pieces, have two piece types move the same (as B) for most of the game, assigning a pretty point-less initial move to one of them... <p> The moves according to Jean-Louis are: <ul><li> King: King, or initial Alfil / Dababba </li><li> Griffon: Ferz followed by outward Rook slide </li><li> Unicorn (Rhino): Knight jump optionally followed by forward (not outward!) diagonal slide away from the starting file </li><li> Lion: jump 3 orthogonally, or (3,1) like Camel </li><li> Rook: modern Rook </li><li> Crocodile: modern Bishop </li><li> Giraffe: jump (3,2) like Zebra </li><li> Pawn: Sjatranj Pawn, promotes on 12th rank to piece that started there. </li></ul> I want to add some comments on this, however: <p> I do not understand the origin of the idea that the Griffon could not move to the (Betza) F squares. The text seems to stress that a Griffon on black cannot move to the four adjacent <i>white</i> squares, and vice versa. But the squares of opposite color are W squares, not F squares! I consider this very strong evidence that the Griffon could actually move like Ferz, as otherwise this complex mentioning of colors would just be a waste of ink, and the author would simply have written "a Griffon cannot go to any adjacent square". <p> As to the Rhino I have my doubt where this interpretation comes from that only one of the two diagonal slides could be used after the Knight jump. The quoted text seems to state that the Rhino cannot turn back after its Knight jump, but 'back' could have very well have meant "make a sharp turn to move towards its origin". The description suggests the move was inspired by the perceived behavior of a Rhino in real-life, and making sharp turns (as you would get on a backward Knight jump followed by a forward diagonal slide) would certainly not be amongst those. The only reason I can see for not allowing the Knight jump to continue in two directions is that it would make the piece too strong.

H. G. Muller wrote on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 01:45 PM UTC:
> <i>... but Queen apparently not til about 1480, so a great piece like Gryphon precedes Queen by two hundred years. </i> <p> Note that a Queen already belonged to the array of Chu Shogi long before that (referred to as 'Free King'). <p> It is interesting to speculate how all the familiar sliders found their way into Shogi. The oldest known form of Shogi is Heian Shogi, and rather than adding sliders, it even did away with the Rook in favor of the irreversibly moving Lance (fR). Heian Dai Shogi (on 13x13) did feature two Bishops in its array (with the usual promotion to Dragon Horse), a Reverse Chariot (vR) and a horizontal mover (sRfW), but still no Rooks. And a few hundred years later, in (15x15) Dai and (12x12) Chu Shogi, they were suddenly all there, and even the 9x9 Sho Shogi adopted B and R.

George Duke wrote on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 06:01 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
This game page is twenty years old and Grande Acedrex itself over 700 years. Bishop, or crocodile, was around already in Courier Chess, but Queen apparently not til about 1480, so a great piece like Gryphon precedes Queen by two hundred years. <p> This Unicorn moves as Bishop only after first move as Knight. <p> Better than 17th c. Carrera's with awkward Knight compounds, and better than all the 18th c. Turkish chesses, Grande Acedrex here happens to have been commented only for a year in 2008, not at all the first 13 years or last 6 years. Gryphon and Rook are the strong pieces, the former of most value, and the interactions of all very diverse p-ts would be dramatic.

Sam Trenholme wrote on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 01:19 AM UTC:
A suggestion, George: your comments would be more helpful if you added links to variants you mentioned, like saying something to the effect of “Eric Greenwood’s Renniassance Chess, whose rules are at”.

Also, it’s rather arrogant to take your dislike and Winther’s dislike of Capa variants and conclude from that that all modern chess variant inventors dislike these variants. Do you have evidence to back up your claim that these variants are uniformly disliked? If these variants were so disliked by modern inventors, why are there so many of these different opening setups using these pieces and board out there to play?

I wonder how strong this dislike of Capa really is with you. After all, Winther has made more than one Zillions preset that can play Capablanca chess, and I remember a couple of enjoyable games of Schoolbook chess with you.

George Duke wrote on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 12:58 AM UTC:
Granted ''next chesses'' are bound to be connected to plural forms, the way Brainking has 40 or 50 CVs, a reasonable number for individuals to be interested to master play. Left out of discussion is that the original Gryphon from over 700 years ago has thrown off a family of cousins. For example, 1970s Renaissance Chess (not the way he deliberately misspells it) Duke and Cavalier. These Bent Riders are very slightly better than bifurcators, of which only half a dozen precede Winther. There is some overlap, so that well-chosen bifurcators could be in some worthwhile CVs and Bent Riders in others. They need to be studied by computers to find which ones are the better embodiments. Then we can junk Centaur and Champion for all except rank beginners at first in unfamilar terrain. This Gryphon is a great idea. Should she instead be excluded from that first step, or the other way around should it be expanded to orthogonal as well (like Eric Greenwood)? Just linked by Knappen, Rhino is a little off-center from the main line of this family of piece-types with roots in anciency.

John Smith wrote on Tue, Dec 30, 2008 10:57 PM UTC:
I suggest the following pieces:

Gryphon - Moves as jumping Moa, but may continue orthogonally in the same direction.

Crocodile - Moves as Bishop.

Giraffe - Moves as Bison.

Unicorn - Moves as jumping Mao, but may continue diagonally in the same direction.

Lion - Moves as Alibaba.

Rook - Moves as Rook.

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Sat, Sep 20, 2008 05:33 PM UTC:

Shatrank al-Kabir is similar to Grande Acedrex. This coincidence is
surprising for me. I think their relation is set membership. But the move
of al-Kabir Rhinoceros seems a mistake.

Yu Ren Dong wrote on Fri, Jul 4, 2008 10:08 AM UTC:Good ★★★★

This file proposes this reconstructed version as well as Murray's or other rules as variants.

Dandolo wrote on Fri, Jul 4, 2008 09:50 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
The lion which could only move 3 steps orthogonally is too weak to identify itself with other pieces into war. From Jean-Louis Cazaux' opinion, this lion moves 3 steps orthogonally or 2 steps orthogonally followed by 1 diagonal step. I think the latter would be more credible.

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