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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2016-05-10
 By Charles  Gilman. AltOrth Hex Chess. Hexagonal variant using pieces moving only one way along each orthogonal. (11x11, Cells: 91) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Charles Gilman wrote on 2010-09-13 UTC
At first I thought that you'd overlooked something, but now I see that I have. I still had too much of an eye to Wellisch analogues, which do indeed confound Camel and Zebra analogues into the Sennight. You're right, in AltOrth it is the Hindsennight that is the Zebra analogue, the Foresennight the Camel one (I even have definitions of these pieces in Man and Beast 20: Far From Square), and the full Sennight specifically a Bison analogue. I will have to correct the page when I have time offline. [note 14th September: I have now done it]

Good to see someone taking up my Ascii Art diagrams for hex Chess!


Daniil Frolov wrote on 2010-09-12 UTCGood ★★★★

I did not played it yet, but idea is very interesting! I was thining of hexagonal game with similar pieces, good that i have read this page before posting it!

It's certainly much more logical than Wellisch chess and it's good place for pawns from Glinsky chess. It's alternative variant of 'standart' hexagonal pieces. The only advantage of McCooey chess is that bishops are colorbound and knights are colorswitching.

The only thing that i can't understand: Korean elephant (zebra) analogue is sennight. If i'm right, sennights are knights from Glinsky-McCooey chess. Zebra analogue should have only half of sennight's moves, while other half is camel analogue. And full sennight is, of course, bison analogue. On this diagram i marked zebra analogue's moves with 'z' and camel analogue's moves with 'c':

________________ ___/ . \___ ________________
____________ ___/ . \___/ . \___ ____________
________ ___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___ ________
____ ___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___ ____
 ___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___
/ . \___/ . \___/ c \___/ c \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ z \___/ . \___/ z \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ z \___/ . \___/ . \___/ z \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ x \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ c \___/ . \___/ . \___/ c \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ c \___/ . \___/ c \___/ . \___/
/ . \___/ . \___/ z \___/ z \___/ . \___/ . \
\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/
____\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/____
________\___/ . \___/ . \___/ . \___/________
____________\___/ . \___/ . \___/____________
________________\___/ . \___/________________
____________________\___/____________________

Am i right or not?


George Duke wrote on 2009-09-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
That many prefer to play on squares and in cubes should not discourage innovation in other fields. Charles Gilman makes a tremendous breakthrough in AltOrthHex for hexagons. It pushes back the problem of the Wellisch versus Glinski/McCooey orientations for diagonals to less than dominant importance. How? Of all things, by creating another dichotomy of orientation, namely for Rook. See Forerook and Hindrook. My remark preferentially for rectilinear 2d and 3d was not meant to be off-putting (so long as rules-sets exhibit some discretion). Maybe Gilman should have variant of AltOrthHex without the full Rook. This is great, but I have nagging recollection I saw this splitting up in some old board game with hexagons. Still it does not appear to be recorded anywhere as a CV. Now Gilman has so many CVs, I went to the hexagonal index to find great A.O.H., forgetting the name; and there is was under 'A'.

George Duke wrote on 2007-06-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I agree with Paulowich that Gilman hit a home run here, re-configuring hexagonal fundamentals for all time! Surprising 1 for 150 for Charles now, (you know the saying about finally hitting the fan, or wall, or broadside of a barn) although in fairness many dozens of the other 149 are enjoyable for their theme and also for their humorous deliberately-pretentious, not to say pendantic, intellectuality. I rated before many Gilman games and articles Good themematically, but this the first Excellent(as one to play). Good work.

David Paulowich wrote on 2007-06-06 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Charles Gilman is right: the General (King), Rook, Viceroy (Knight or Alfil) and Pawn are the four natural pieces for this hexagonal board. Neat arrangement of the three Viceroys in the initial position. His definitions of additional pieces are ingenious.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-03-10 UTC
I'm aware you've done large board work, I've been looking at some large variants lately and your name is one of the few that comes up at sizes bigger than 10x10. It's amazing how the numbers of available games drops off as the size increases. There are roughly 2000 published variants in the 64 - 100 square range, and I found 2 in the 600+ category. Good luck with your Ringworld hex design. To do justice to the concept, you'd have to use a very large board, long, narrow, and cylindrical, I'd assume, but I'm sure there are other ways and other themes, Ringworld is big enough for many. I checked out 'Hafts'. Charles, that game is tricky checkers, I swear! :-) We definitely don't agree on the lower limit for chess; that's what makes horseraces. You seem to place the line just above checkers [draughts]; I would place it much higher, right around the 6x6 game. I suspect my line might be too high, but 'how far down' can you go before the chessness is gone? For example, is a king element necessary, and, if so, how much of one? If not, why not, as chess has always had kings? Go is not chess. Neither is draughts [checkers], but it's closer, we both agree on that. Is the move from using half the board to the whole board important? Is simulating 1 chess piece enough? What do you think about this?

Charles Gilman wrote on 2007-03-10 UTC

Well, I went pretty near the Chess-Draughts border with Hafts, using the difference in direction between capturing and noncapturing moves as an analogy to the Pawn in Chess. Yes, one of my approaches is a minimalist one, and this could be seen an an example, reducing the number of directions per linepiece in contrast to Glinsky's increasing of them. On the other hand it is also motivated by avoiding the problem of using the hex diagonal, which is not always blocked by a full orthogonal, as analogue to the square one that is.

I have also done a fair amount on the grand scale. Nested Chess and Sultan's Elephant Chess are examples of large-board variants with transformed FIDE armies hidden in them. You mention 3d Minishogi, but that combines minimising range with maximising dimensions (for most players' comprehension at least), and is part of a series of 3d Shogi variants of mine.

Now that you mention a science fiction context I do recall reading of a name something like that. You've given me an idea. There are already some sci-fi-themed variants on the site. Perhaps I should try and devise a Ringworld Chess on a suitably shaped large hex board, with some of the Fore- and Hind- pieces listed in comments.


Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-03-09 UTC
Charles, you lead me to ask just what, exactly, chess is. Specifically, in this case, what the lower limits of chess are. I don't think there are any hard and fast breakpoints where, if you've got [or not] one thing, it is [or isn't] chess, regardless of what else is there. But I haven't thought about this before, and would be interested in hearing your thoughts on it, as, with games like this and 3D minishogi, you are clearly designing some things near that edge. Sorry about the too-obscure reference. Pierson's Puppeteers are an alien race introduced by author Larry Niven in the novel 'Ringworld', I believe. Google the internet. They are famous cowards , and their leader, the most revered creature of their species, leads from the rear, all the way back, the farther the better. This exalted leader is called 'the Hindmost'.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2007-03-08 UTC
It just shows that perseverance with understanding a game can be worthwhile. Before getting that last comment I was going to point out that the modest front rank is the same size as McCooey's, and that there are three directions from which a General can capture each of the pieces with a subset of the Rook move. By the way, I have not heard of Pierson's Puppeteers, and could not find it under the letter P on the site.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-03-07 UTC
Andy, you're absolutely right. This game is interesting, nicely conceived, and has potential. Charles, my objections were aesthetic as much as anything else, and those centered on what I saw as too-extreme simplicity, a simplicity you may well have been striving for. After thinking about this for a few days, I realize I must withdraw those objections; certainly no lower boundary to 'Chess' has ever been established. I still think the game would be [much] better if it was beefed up a little. Your rules do need to be easier to follow if you wish people to understand. And, yeah, I think you could get away with just 1 capital letter for every piece in the diagram, using the same one for every side and letting position on the diagram distinguish the sides. But as far as I can see, you have a viable chess game here. Very simple, and close to the edge of chess, but you have forced me to re-examine just what the lower boundary of chess is. Love to hear everyone's opinion on that.

Andy wrote on 2007-03-05 UTC
Yes, Joe, pieces not very powerful in this game and maybe knight move could strengthen as you say. But maybe best role of knight is sacrifice for pawn in right position! I think is okay sometimes to have slow game, like Shatranj that has no queen or bishop, and weak pieces mean pawn play more important. Need play to know for sure. I still think is game with potential.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-03-05 UTC
Hi, Charles. You're right about the miscount. And when I read over my original comment preparatory to writing this, I did not like the tone, and for this, I apologize. This is supposed to be a discussion, not a harsh criticism. You get one free snipe at me. I thought about this game for a while before I decided it didn't have enough pieces for a chess game, in my opinion. I think it needs more maneuver and piece interaction. I'm sure others will differ, very possibly most. But here's my reasoning: There are only 2 pieces of consequence in the game, the full rook and the half rook, and they both have exactly the same mode of action, unlimited orthogonal slide. [And the names Forerook and Hindrook are inextricably entangled with Pierson's Puppeteers in my mind.] The viceroys are ineffective. It takes a half-dozen moves to get one across the board and into attack position. You see them coming; and all you have to do to defend is step 1 hex, and they can never threaten you. They need a better move. How about they keep their current move, but allow them a color-changing move to any adjacent hex in addition. This would give them a good close-in defensive ability. Maybe restrict the 1-hex move to only the 2 rearmost hexes relative to the piece, keeping it weak, but giving it a chance to support or attack any piece. The pawns are very nice. I believe that is truly the only way to have pawns, as pawns, on a hex board. But both flanks of the pawn line hang totally unsupported in air. Even in the Eastern versions of the game where the pawn line has holes, the entire front is covered - sketchily, to be sure, but the line runs from side to side. I think this is a weakness, too readily exploited by the rooks. The king is a 1-step that isn't likely to attack on such an open board with rooks. Let's look at coverage. A half rook covers 10 to 15 hexes of 91. The FIDE rook always covers 14 of 64 squares, a noticeably higher percentage. The half rook acts much more like the FIDE bishop, which covers 7 to 13 squares of 64. The FIDE queen covers 21 to 27 of 64, the full rook, 20 to 30 of 91. You're effectively using a queen and 4 bishops, without any meaningful knight support [and low pawn support] to cover 91 hexes. I seem to have written a book here. I think you have a very nice game idea, but only half a chess game. As a board game, this may play well, and then I'll have even less to say, but I think it needs more. You've got your basic longrange pieces, nice pawns but too few, and the king. Come up with a few short and medium range pieces that work well, and you've got an excellent game. Just let them have some area coverage for offense/defense as you already have point and line pieces. Maybe do something that is more forward than back moving to balance power. Again, this is all my opinion. Andy ? likes this game just as is, so believe him rather than me. If anyone who's hammered you the way he has says this is a good game, it certainly must have something going for it.

Charles Gilman wrote on 2007-03-05 UTC

You have miscounted the cells. There are only 91, the same number as in the three historic hex variants, not 109. In view of this, do you still think that there are too few pieces for them? What about in the 3-player variant?

Regarding notation, the secojnd array is 3-player and there are not three cases of letters to distinguish them. Single letters would be confusing if I use this method for a wider range of hex variants - rather than my previous practice of having a ffen diagram for the 2-player array and leaving readers to work out the 3-player one for themselves! I would be interested to hear which you think preferable.

Those apart you make some good points. I never said that Viceroys were a good Knight analogy, but they are a historic one. It has just struck me that on the Glinsky/McCooey orientation one way to make unbind the piece would be by adding an extra move directly forward, either a single or a double step. Which would be better, do you think? Such a piece could be reduced in number, and the Rooks increased, to two. The names Forerook and Hindrook were thought up fairly quickly, and if you can improve on them while retaining the ease of extrapolation I'll happily listen to your ideas.


Joe Joyce wrote on 2007-03-03 UTC
Started off reading this thinking 'what's Wellisch?' and, 'hey, this is pretty good', but neither thought lasted. I found this an interesting idea poorly executed. The rules could be much easier to understand. They seem to me to be dense, esoteric, and hard to follow. The intro is a bit much; who, or how many, can understand merely from what you wrote just what you're talking about? Please, explain all the terms you use, in common English. Another example is the setup diagram, which is cluttered with letters and numbers. One letter, much easier to see and understand, could be used for each piece, with the sides differentiated by the standard capital and small letters, with no loss of info. I hate to say your names are worse than mine, but... Also, knights are not usually considered colorbound pieces, yet these 'knights' [Viceroys] are confined to 1/3 of the board, and are closer to alfils in spirit and move than the knight. Finally, I think the game needs either more pieces or fewer hexes; the pieces you have are few in number and generally weak. The 3 knights cannot work together, leaving 5 pieces, 4 of them of moderate strength, to cover 109 hexes arranged in 11 parallel columns. The 5 pieces? A 'hex' rook and 4 half-rooks. You probably need more piece types, as well. I'd suggest adding 6 more pieces, preferably a combo of medium and [powerful, unlike the 'knights'] shortrange pieces, and 4 more pawns, building up and extending the left and right flanks to the 'sides' of the board. Interesting idea, nice use of the grain on a hex board, no meat.

Andy wrote on 2007-03-03 UTCGood ★★★★
Charles Gilman game with simple geometry and only six clear logical type of piece! I have doubts about three-player variant, but no matter. Two-player variant looks like very good game.

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