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Koval's Hexagonal Chess. A new way to play chess on hexagonal cells.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Max Koval wrote on 2021-11-25 UTC

I clarified the ambiguity associated with the interpretation of the double-step rule and also emphasized the identity of the pieces' movement to other hexagonal variants. I will also add extra information, related to this variant in the near future.

Ben Reiniger wrote on 2021-11-24 UTC

I think it'd be worth adding some of that information into the page, the intro and/or notes sections. (E.g., "pieces move as in other standard [is 'standard' OK here?] hexagonal variants" and maybe "the board shape and setup are designed to be better balanced" in the intro, and the comparisons to other variants in the notes.)

The pawns' initial two-step could use a clarification on whether pawns that make an initial one-step but land still in the two-step "zone" are still admitted a subsequent two-step (it seems like yes?).

Max Koval wrote on 2021-11-23 UTC

@Ben Reiniger, thank you for the explanation! Yes, this is one of those variants, and definitely not a 'quirky' one, because I didn't want to create a completely new game, but rather to rebuild in a new way the material that existed before me.

I think it would be great to add Shafran's variant to the primary hexagonal groop too, as well as variants by De Vasa and Brusky.

I think that I must explain, why I consider that my game is 'better' than other major hexagonal variants. Some of the reasons may sound a little bit subjective, although I believe that they will help to finally clarify my ideas about this particular game.

I came with an initial setup, which incorporates an equal number of knights and bishops (as well as pawns and major pieces - ten against ten). Since the knight and the bishop are relatively close in their values, I believe that this ratio is important for the balance of the game, especially after exchanges.

The initial setup of my variant seems to be a little bit more 'safer' than in other variants (Especially by Shafran, and Brusky (among horizontal ones)). This safety increases the diversity of possible openings and makes this variant relatively similar to orthodox chess, while it does not imitate the original game and its setup, but provides its own harmonic array. (An interesting fact is that the number of all first possible moves is similar to orthodox chess - 20 against 20). The number of black, grey and white-colored cells is equal to each other on my board. (Shafran - 23 white and black cells, 24 grey cells. Glinski/McCooey - 30 white and black cells, 31 grey cells. Koval - 24 white, grey and black cells). Of course, it is not important when it comes to the playing properties, but it may have some impact on the actual value of the grey-colored bishop, and, at least it just was an aesthetical flaw. I believe, that any unprotected pieces (not necessarily the pawns), especially at hexagonal boards, where the major pieces are way stronger than in orthodox chess, tend to be easily attacked, and in some cases, this leads to forced defensive progressions (Like in my previous example, related to the unprotected rooks in Shafran's variant). Such games cannot be acceptable for high-level or rating play, although it still works for 'home usage' or just as an intriguing novelty. The goal of the author was not just to create something different - I wanted to create a hexagonal variant that could compete with orthodox chess.

Ben Reiniger wrote on 2021-11-22 UTC

As I can understand, you assume that my game seems to be too close to other existing variants, and maybe, it cannot be counted as a fully independent variant...

Ah, sorry, no, that was not my intended message. The board shape is enough IMO to warrant publication, since it limits the sort of "flanking" that rooks and queens gain in the hexagonally-shaped board of Glinsky/McCooey.

Let me try to clarify my intent. Hexagonal cells take some extrapolation from orthochess; the majority of variants (but not all!) agree on the basics (rooks and bishops, knights), and some (Glinsky!) differ on pawns, or sometimes kings. The next major splitting point is orientation (is forward an orthogonal direction or not), but again most variants agree on that. Within the large chunk of forward-oriented diagonal-attacking-pawns variants then, the only real differences are board size/shape, setup, pawn details (initial moves and promotion zone), and castling. So, I think it's nice to clarify quickly where a variant lives: this is one of those variants, not a "quirky" one with horizontally-oriented, or "weird" or "new" piece interpretations.

I'd like to point out that he was not first in creating the game that uses these rules, and I don't fully understand why his variant is mentioned instead of Shafran's version, which stands a little bit closer to my game

That's mostly a historical bias of this site I think: Glinsky's is probably the best-known, and McCooey's was introduced here, and so now the two Recognized/Primary links for the Hexagonal category are those. Perhaps we should add Shafran's game as a Recognized/Primary variant here in the hexagonal category?

I'll also mention that I'm not so familiar with hexagonal chess hierarchies and history, so I'm happy to be corrected on anything. Just to include them here, see also CECV chapter 22 and wikipedia.

Finally, I think the various claims like "the main difference is that my variant is actually playable" need some clarification. What is it about the different shape and setup that make this playable while all other hexagonal variants are not? At some point in your last comment you mention mismatched number of pawns and pieces, but that's hardly a disqualifier for me at least. Protected pawns, good and interesting openings, etc. would be more convincing to me. And yes, all that's subjective, but I think some discussion on the page (Notes section?) would be beneficial.

Max Koval wrote on 2021-11-21 UTC

@Ben Reiniger, yes - of course, the rules are close to McCooey's game, with some remarkable changes. But, I'd like to point out that he was not first in creating the game that uses these rules, and I don't fully understand why his variant is mentioned instead of Shafran's version, which stands a little bit closer to my game (The difference between his interpretation and mine are the board shape, number of pieces, and some minor changes in the pawn and castling rules, as well as a new interpretation of stalemate. But still, the main difference is that my variant is actually playable).

As I can understand, you assume that my game seems to be too close to other existing variants, and maybe, it cannot be counted as a fully independent variant, at least without crediting McCooey's rules. Now, I regret that I didn't explain my ideas in the article due to the lack of free time.

Unlike all the variants on vertical hexagonal boards, which use diagonal pawn's capture (I won't be mentioning all other games and I'll be focusing only on this family of hexagonal games), I managed to come with a variant that is really playable and harmonic in its approach.

Both variants, which I mentioned previously, don't provide us with that. McCooey's interpretation has an unequal number of pawns and major pieces (7 against 9). In my opinion, it is enough to consider the fact that such a game cannot be accepted as something competitive to orthodox chess, and I highly doubt that it can be counted as an 'independent' variant if it uses the same board as in Glinski's game. Rules are the rules, but the board is the board. I like his variant, but I wouldn't prefer to play it as my major game. There are some other flaws (like the unprotected central pawn), but they are unremarkable. Shafran's interpretation has an unnatural initial setup, and I don't get the point of placing the pieces in such a broken array on vertical hexagons, while it works on horizontal ones (De Vasa, Brusky). But it doesn't matter at all if we'll be talking about the playing properties of this game. It is just unsafe to play it. After the first move by the central pawn, White threatens to attack both of the opponent's rooks at once, moving one of their bishops in front of their king. Can you imagine it in orthodox chess? Of course, it can be avoided, but it greatly reduces the diversity of possible opening positions, and it seems that this game doesn't have an opening stage at all. If Black moved their central pawn too, they're able to attack White's rooks, too. The exchange's happening, and the game continues. But still, can this variant look competitive to orthodox chess if it has such 'darkish' tricks? I guess that it'll be a true nightmare, especially for low-skilled players. The board is just too short for such pieces, and the game starts with predictable repetitive exchanges, especially if it is played by strong players. Unlike my variant, where castling actually does its primary purpose, it is completely useless in this variant.

My game stays free from all the special flaws that I mentioned above. It is actually playable and, I'm not afraid to say that it is aesthetically perfect.

At least, all thoughts that I posted here are just my thoughts. As a keen lover of hexagonal chess, I just wanted to create something better, and I continue to believe that this variant deserves its existence.

Ben Reiniger wrote on 2021-11-20 UTC

Am I correct that pieces all move as in McCooey's hexagonal chess? If it's close enough, maybe stating that together with any exceptions would help frame this variant's place relative the existing art?

(The obvious changes are the board and piece counts. You also allow castling.)

Max Koval wrote on 2021-11-03 UTC

It is ready for prime time.

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