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Hannibal Chess. Chess with added Modern Elephants (ferz-alfil compound) on 10x8 board.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
🔔Notification on Tue, Jan 16 06:42 PM UTC:

The author, Kevin Pacey, has updated this page.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Wed, Sep 13, 2023 07:04 AM UTC:

I recently updated this (and a large number of my rules pages and preset pages for almost all of my CVs) to clarify that stalemate is a draw as in chess (besides 3-fold repetition and 50 move rule).

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 08:38 AM UTC:

Thanks for rating the game (I've only had one other game of mine rated so far - one not on GC - and it was rated average, too).

A while back I made a preset for (10x8) 'Waffle Chess', a CV idea of mine that otherwise used the FIDE army. So far I only tried it against Greg and Joe. I tried to avoid it, but I found I needed to use a fast-castling rule-set of mine (from Wide Chess) to help make the game quite playable (IMO). We could play a game of that CV sometime soon, if I send you a personal invitation and you accept.

I have to sleep now - take care!

edit: Here's a 10x8 CV that uses Waffles in addition to the chess army, followed by a 10x8 CV that uses WADs (aka Champions):

Aurelian Florea wrote on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 07:11 AM UTC:Average ★★★


About game courier just ask me and I'l' do it. It is fine for me!...

I'll also teach you how!...

Yes that type of elelphant it is the lieutenenat of spartan chess. Or "the captain" I'm not sure. I like it because it is closer in value to the knight. Also the non square nature of the board helps. An alternative for another game (as you used in wide chess which we have played once) is the waffle. I think a lieutenant game and a waffle game would be more interesting than the 12x8 one! That is my opinion.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 04:43 PM UTC:

Thanks, Greg (and for the reply)!

Greg Strong wrote on Sun, Jan 12, 2020 08:53 AM UTC:

I'm running analysis on the current Hanibal array now, then I'll try my alternate array.  This will take several days.  It requires a lot of CPU power, and at the moment the process is fairly manual.

I'm not sure how well it would work for really large boards or lots of pieces.  My guess is that the larger the number of legal moves, the more games it would take to differentiate between positions.  I don't really know yet just how many games are needed to drive down the margin of error sufficeintly.

If we do find a better array, I personally wouldn't change the name.  37 games of Opulent have been played and I'm changing the array.  I'll make a note in the game description about what the original setup was and why I changed it but that's about it.  I don't consider a change of array to be a new game.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Sat, Jan 11, 2020 01:42 AM UTC:

Thanks for the detailed reply, Greg

Have you tried chess or Hannibal Chess with ChessV's capabilities with the purpose of seeing if either has the best starting setup possible? In the case of Hannibal Chess, Joe told me he could think of lots of [playable] possibilities in the opening, at least at first sight I guess. A couple of things do worry me about the setup for Hannibal Chess - one is that the king's side rook's pawns of either side can come under pressure (real or imagined) diagonally, the other thing is that in the opening the elephants might somehow rush through the centre, diagonally, e.g. causing possible problems for a knight or knight's pawn (or, next, a rook).

Still, I am reluctant to change the Hannibal Chess setup now that well over a dozen games of it have been played and finished on GC - I'd basically want to make a new, slightly altered version(s) of it as a new CV(s), if I were to now do anything more with Hannibal Chess. Anyway, I'm not all that great with modern computers or software (partly a question of possibly needing substantial time to learn, and health that's not ideal), so in the case of Hannibal Chess and some other CVs of mine, before finalizing their setups I included checking for a few of my favourite chess openings (or ones I thought suspect) and tried to tell if they were still playable (or not so much, still) in the new CV idea I had. Clearly this won't work for CVs that are very un-FIDE-like, but many of my ideas so far are rather FIDE-like.

Also, I'm wondering if ChessV has limits on what it can help determine the best setup for, in case of very large CV board sizes and many powerful pieces being used (such as in my old 10x10 Sac Chess CV) - if only since the number of legal moves per turn on average would be staggering (maybe not for AlphaZero to learn?).

Before your suggestions on how I might change Hannibal Chess, I was already up to 14 CV ideas I'd rejected, but now am reconsidering. If I start submitting all them, it'll be a while before I get around to other stuff, other than on paper. :)

Greg Strong wrote on Sat, Jan 11, 2020 12:42 AM UTC:

Some thoughts ...

The selection of pieces in this game make sense - adding another minor piece that is about the value of a knight but colorbound.  The game didn't seem to play all that well in my experience but I can't really say why.  I do think the opening array makes a huge difference and it is very difficult to evaluate the quality of one.  Chess works so well because the array is perfect - TONS of different openings that are playable.  Thousands, in fact, at least until recently when hundreds and hundreds of years of study has established many as inferior.  I had a thought about the array for this game that I meant to mention to you but don't think I ever did.  How about putting the elephants in the corners?  Then the center eight files are still the same as Chess, greatly increasing the chance that array is good.  The edge pawns would still be protected by the knights (although one does tend to develop them first, which would leave the pawn unprotected, but then again, the most common first move in Chess is p4 which immediately creates an unprotected pawn.)

Another posibility instead of or in addition to the previous thought - upgrade the modern elephants to war elephants (FADs).  Now your new pieces are about the same power as rooks, but colorbound.  If games are more likely to be popular with more popular pieces it might help.  Plus, on a larger board, it may be more appropriate to add rook-level pieces than knight-level pieces.

Finally, I'd say that popularity on GC is not necessarily a great metric of a game's quality.  If a game is very popular on GC, especially in games that don't involve its creator, that certainly is meaningful.  But the inverse, a game is not popular, doesn't necessarily mean much - especially if its creator is not actively promoting it.  There just aren't that many different players here and there are a ton of games.  The numbers are too small to be statistically significant.  Opulent Chess has had decent popularity including many games I wasn't involved with.  I also think it's a good game and its popularity is deserved.  BUT ... it has been around for 15 years, as have I.  If I disappeared shortly after submitting it, as so many of our active users of old have, would it still be popular?  Doubtful.  And what about Unicorn Great Chess?  David Paulowich did disappear almost completely fairly soon after its release, and it has been fairly popular, but I have been here actively promoting it, and David's games in general.  Otherwise?  Don't know.  Certainly we wouldn't have an ongoing GC tournament including both these games if I wasn't here :)  So don't get discouraged - at least not by one data point that doesn't have much statistical significance.

As an aside, for a long time I've been trying to use ChessV to determine how good an opening array is.  This informed the array for Opulent.  But my technique has greatly improved since then and now I am 100% certain that the Opulent array is inferior.  (I'll be officially changing it soon.)  I'll briefly describe the new approach here since the newest ChessV pre-release that I posted will give others the ability to do this too.

Basically, the technique is as simple as running lots of ChessV against ChessV games (only the beginnings needed) with the Variation of Play set to Small.  Save and analyze them and see how much actual variety you get.  The more variety, the better the array.

Without going into too much detail, the implementation of Small Variation of Play ...  The evaluation of a position is based on lots and lots of parameters.  One of the important ones is Piece-Square-Tables (PSTs.)  The is a bonus or penalty for each type of piece occupying each square (player specific.)  You can see the PSTs in ChessV by right-clicking on a piece and selecting Properties.  The Midgame and Endgame tabs will show the PSTs.  (Endgames might have different values than Midgame, obviously - the King should move out and become active in the endgame and pawn advancement becomes more important.)  These PSTs are calculated at the start of a game for each type of piece in the game based on the weighting of various parameters: is it in the small center?  is it in the large center?  how many small center squares does it attack from here (assuming empty board)?  how many large center squares?  how far forward has it moved?  The variation of play makes tiny random adjustments to the weightings of these parameters for the different piece types.  It also makes tiny random adjustments to the weightings to a bunch of other evaluation parameters related to development and other things.  The overall effect, however, isn't totally random.  I'm not just adding a random value to every position as many chess programs do.  And I'm not at all sure that the default weightings of all these parameters is optimal.  The tiny changes, at least when it is set to Small, is about as like to make the engine stronger as it is to make it weaker.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Fri, Jan 10, 2020 09:53 PM UTC:

Now that some time has passed, I cannot say I consider this variant totally a hit with Game Courier (GC) players. In the vast majority of games this variant has been tried so far, I, the inventor, have been one of the players, normally (always?) the one issuing the invitation on GC to play it, so I'm pretty well having to promote my own variant in order for it to be played by anyone, as far as I know.

Some months ago I gave some thought as to what ingredients might make for (relatively) popular CVs, at least on GC. One was that, unless there were exceptional reasons, powerful pieces were by far more popular with players than weaker ones (even minor pieces, such as the, usually popular, ferfil [{modern} elephant] in Hannibal Chess), especially if an inventor was to add a small number of pieces to the armies of existing CVs (notably such as the armies of orthodox chess) in order to produce a new CV. Just today I (re-)checked the list of 1200+ presets of GC and the number of times each has been played, so as to confirm that earlier conclusion.

While a limited number of pieces and pawns (normally) can be added to a 10x8 game, some 12x8 games with pieces and pawns added to the orthodox chess armies exist already - but very few have been played more than a handful of times on GC, regardless of the strength of the pieces added in to the FIDE army - so maybe CVs with that board size are just plain unpopular to play on GC (except for the decidedly un-FIDE-like Courier Chess, which is a historic [and thus IMO automatically popular] CV).

Perhaps very stubbornly, I soon ignored/forgot my conclusion about powerful pieces (maybe largely because I didn't want to invent too many CVs with a lot of power endowed in each army, lest too many such CVs prove poorish/unplayable in the long run), and I came up with a number of ideas for CVs that were in the spirit of Hannibal Chess and other CVs I've made, where pieces of minor/(weak major) strength were added to the FIDE armies (usually), on boards of varying dimensions.

So, I now suddenly realize, in some horror, that most/all of these (many) new CV ideas of mine are very likely doomed to prove unpopular, if submitted. To go ahead & submit anyway? Would that be like spamming CVP with useless CVs, if accepted? Maybe I'm stubborn enough, to at least preserve what might be examples of CV art, if it's not stuff that IMO has got a better chance to be played lots. For my study (and for some minimal preservation for posterity) I at least already have Diagram Designer diagrams for these CV ideas squirreled away on CVP as [edits to] comments of mine, with my now old reasons for why I rejected each CV in question (looking back, I now think they might all be quite playable, if not big hits aesthetically/popularly).

Joe Joyce wrote on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 10:31 PM UTC:

Thank you, Kevin, and Ben is right, I do occasionally push the boundaries of chess a bit more than most, and also the definitions. To me, Hannibal is about the minimum acceptable change for a game. It adds a simple shortrange piece and changes the board minimally, just enough to fit the colorbound pair. The idea is minimal, the play is excellent. I meant it about this being a decent tourney game. It's straight-up hardnosed chess, no gimmicks.

Ben Reiniger wrote on Mon, Dec 17, 2018 07:44 PM UTC:

Re: modest variants:

The "official" definition is here:

But I think the term is often used more flexibly outside of our category system, where it is also useful as a (subjective) measure of distance-from-chess.

H. G. Muller wrote on Mon, Dec 17, 2018 07:23 PM UTC:

Indeed, I never saw much of a difference between the Knight and the Ferfil, value-wise. The Ferfil is a bit faster, but suffers color binding. (Which, as usual, hardly matters if you have the pair.) It seems likely that a faster piece would suffer less from a larger board than a slower piece.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Mon, Dec 17, 2018 06:36 PM UTC:

Thanks for the warm review, Joe. I am especially happy that you think my chosen starting setup works well for the variant. One possible quibble is that H.G., for one, might disagree that, even on 10x8, the elephant piece (i.e. ferfil) in this game is relatively 'weak', at least compared to a knight (i.e. on 10x8), though I myself tentatively estimate a ferfil's value as considerably less than that of a knight's value on 10x8.

My latest laptop broke down last week, and now I have my old one back, apparently in working condition again.

P.S.: I've never yet seen a definition for what a 'Modest Variant' is. I had had the vague idea that it would be one rather close to FIDE chess somehow (even perhaps requiring that such a variant to be on 8x8, with square cells), but I was never sure of all the implications of the term.

Joe Joyce wrote on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 09:16 PM UTC:Good ★★★★

This is a very nice-playing modest variant. I've greatly enjoyed my games of it. I can absolutely recommend this game as an excellent variant tournament choice. It gets a lot of mileage out of a pair of fairly simple changes. The initial set-up is excellent; it gives good play. The weak piece is a very nice choice, and provides a nice companion/foil for the bishop and knight.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Sat, Oct 6, 2018 06:20 AM UTC:

Cool, and a bit of a relief too(!) Thanks again, H.G.

H. G. Muller wrote on Sat, Oct 6, 2018 05:59 AM UTC:

K + N + FA can take 42 moves on 10x8 (average 33). For comparison K + N + B can take 39 (average 30.8). So the difference is quite small. I guess in KBNK one uses the Bishop mostly at close range, so that two of its slides can be used to confine the bare King.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 08:34 PM UTC:

Got it. I'd also guess that on 10x8, N+FA can still force checkmate vs. lone K (and always in under 50 moves optimally, hopefully).

H. G. Muller wrote on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 07:43 PM UTC:

Oh, sorry, I had overlooked the 10x8 part of your question, and posted the numbers for 8x8. I now corrected that in the previous post. It means the worst-case mate is slightly longer, 27 moves instead of 23. Whether checkmate can be forced by a certain group of pieces is usually dependent only on the smallest dimension of the board, but the duration also depends on the large dimension.

It is an interesting question whether the Modern Elephants would lose their mating potential on a large-enough board. The pair of them would be able to keep up with the bare King when the latter tries to run away, but would than have to leave their own King behind. But the pair has a reasonable 'confining power', so perhaps they can hinder the bare King enough once this runs into an edge to let the other King approach before the bare one again flees to yet another corner.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 06:07 PM UTC:

Great! Thanks for the info, H.G.

H. G. Muller wrote on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 06:03 PM UTC:

Ferfil is FA (Modern Elephant)? In that case, they can. They are almost as good as a Bishop. Takes at most 27 moves.

The basic rule is that one of the pieces must be able to go from an edge square 2 steps from a corner to the corner in 3 moves. (Actually one uncapture, one move and one capture, when this makes a difference.) It can then switch its attack from (say) c1 to a1 after the other piece drove the bare King (trapped by the other King on b3) to a1. A Ferz cannot do that, but FA can, by two backward F moves plus one A move. That means it can even checkmate in combination with Knight.

(There are other mating patterns, on b1, in combination with 'forking pieces' that can cover a1 and c1 at the same time. But a Knight can usually not use these, as it would need to be on b3 for it, where you would also need the King to prevent escape to c2.)

mated    mate
King captures 7934984
mates     656         ( 0.28 sec)
in-1      352    2520 ( 0.39 sec)
in-2      528     976 ( 0.45 sec)
in-3     1600    4384 ( 0.58 sec)
in-4     6576   12192 ( 0.64 sec)
in-5     7840   30576 ( 0.76 sec)
in-6    15984   37376 ( 0.83 sec)
in-7    19128   64968 ( 0.95 sec)
in-8    31496   73128 ( 1.03 sec)
in-9    42840  116696 ( 1.19 sec)
in-10   53984  142440 ( 1.26 sec)
in-11   77392  178320 ( 1.44 sec)
in-12  123528  240720 ( 1.54 sec)
in-13  170656  338032 ( 1.78 sec)
in-14  256112  439520 ( 1.92 sec)
in-15  363952  588672 ( 2.26 sec)
in-16  519688  774192 ( 2.48 sec)
in-17  761312  997504 ( 3.03 sec)
in-18 1052304 1278280 ( 3.35 sec)
in-19 1431664 1578656 ( 4.17 sec)
in-20 1913048 1913712 ( 4.68 sec)
in-21 2356912 2190704 ( 5.73 sec)
in-22 2469552 2039736 ( 6.24 sec)
in-23 1932120 1370288 ( 6.99 sec)
in-24  968064  559120 ( 7.22 sec)
in-25  235472  101640 ( 7.47 sec)
in-26   28040   10824 ( 7.53 sec)
in-27     704     240 ( 7.66 sec)
in-28       0       0 ( 7.71 sec)
won:   23020400 ( 60.6%)
lost:  14841504 ( 39.1%)
avg:       20.1 moves

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 05:44 PM UTC:

A question for anyone who might know: can 2 opposite coloured ferfils force checkmate vs. lone king on 10x8? If so, what's the maximum number of moves the worst case takes with optimal play?

Greg Strong wrote on Sat, Apr 14, 2018 05:32 PM UTC:

The 2. Ef3 Gambit

I've been playing a match against Kevin Pacey (game log here) and I started with what I considered to be obvious moves but accidentally played a gambit on my second move: 1. f4 f5 2. Ef3. I didn't notice but this was a gambit because of 2. ... Qi4:

Now the unprotected pawns at i2 and f4 are both attacked. In retrospect this seems like a reasonable gambit because black has to sacrafice some significant development to grab a free pawn. After our game progressed well past this point (so as not to cheat) I had ChessV consider this position to a depth of 16 (depth measured in half-moves) and it considered black to be ahead by a third of a pawn. I then had it continue playing at 4 hours per move. At least 20 half-moves in, it still thought black's advantage was about the same - still calculating to a depth of 16 - so basically a total depth of 36. But ultimately white caught up, overtook, and went on to win on white's 62nd move.

So the jury is still out on this gambit, but it looks like a good opening. I think white probably has the advantage if black plays 2. ... Qi4. To see the full ChessV self-play game, which took over a week of processing power, you can download the saved game file here.

💡📝Kevin Pacey wrote on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 09:35 AM UTC:

I've revised the Notes section for this page somewhat, to give a better estimate I think I have for the Modern Elephant piece type on a 10x8 board. I've also mentioned the Lieutenant piece type (from Spartan Chess), and my estimate of its value (again on 10x8), should anyone wish to try playing Hannibal Chess with Lieutenants instead, i.e. this would be called Lieutenant Chess - I figured such a 'mutator' variant likely didn't warrant its own page.

I'm up way too late, but needed to get this stuff out there so I could sleep a little better. :)

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