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Simplified Chess. Missing description (8x7, Cells: 56) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
David Paulowich wrote on 2023-02-02 UTC



Using Zillions, I played out a make-believe game, which ends with the 4 remaining Black Pawns blockaded by 4 White pieces, while a Black King, Chariot, Knight, Counselor, and Elephant are locked in behind the Pawns. Even if the rules allowed Kings to move into check and be captured, Black still has no legal moves in the final position.

NOTE: the initial position had Kings on the d-file. I posted the completely legal game on the Shatranj page way back on [2005-03-08]. Apparently this led to the latest version of Rule [7]. See my previous post for why I am still dubious about the entire rule set.

David Paulowich wrote on 2023-02-02 UTC



The year is 2023 and the rules for this 8x7 variant still state:

"... 6. A pawn may only promote to a captured piece [QRNB] and not move to the last row unless there is a piece to promote to. 7. If a player can only legally move his King or can not legally move any pieces (a very rare situation), then he loses."

So Rule [6] encourages me to play Black King f1-e2-d2-c2-b2 and start promoting pawns. But the always infuriating rule [7] makes this a lost position for Black. The question remains: What is going on here?

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-07-18 UTC
Hello John.

I think the basics here are that I posted Skirmish Chess, not knowing what it was, and you suggested chopping the last rows off and removing a lot of rules.  I happened to keep the rows in actually.  You then went this chopped route, playtested it, and decided to throw a row back in.  I feel it is more like you worked on Near Chess, while Simplified Chess is your own thing.  My take on Simplified is that I would put castling in if I were to play it, and put more of a focus on the distance between the pieces (and single pawn movement) instead of it being simplified.

What I will say, out of all this, is the 8x7 board is what has seemed to have captured the most interest of people though.

John Lewis wrote on 2008-07-18 UTC
David Paulowich,

I've taken on what you've said and added the addendum that if a side can't legally move that they lose.

I very much appreciate your interest in this variant and your continue detailed review.

Please note that Rich is working on various other version of Simplified Chess that I am not involved with.  He liked the idea and ran with it.  My goals are and continue to be to create a set of rules for chess that are as simple as possible while retaining the basic feeling of chess.

I know that pieces, as you've shown, can become blockaded, but this position is almost a position that requires the player blockaded to purposely place his pieces in this manner.  It's so rare and extremely unlikely that I doubt it's come up in 99.9% of games.

However you are right that games should not have leaks and holes in them.  In attempting to simplify, there was his gap.

If you see more problems please post them.

Also, I would VERY much like to see a game report from you.

David Paulowich wrote on 2008-07-18 UTC
There are seven rules. (or removal of rules...) 
quoted in this comment (to preserve their current form):
'Actually there are seven rules removed from FIDE Chess.

1. There is one less row.  The board is 7x8

2. There is no check/check mate.  You win by King capture.

3. There are no Draws.

4. There is no double move for pawns.  Pawns will always move one space.
There is no en-passant.

5. There is no castling.

6. A pawn may only promote to a captured piece [QRNB]  and not move to the
last row unless there is a piece to promote to.

7. If a player can only legally move his King, he loses.'



You're blockade example, which you are clearly proud of discovering, is a
lose for the side that can not move.  See rule 7's last sentence.

I'll add examples, it's a good idea.

Please refrain from rating a game until you've played it.'

That was, I assume, John Lewis replying to my [2008-05-08] comment. Statements like that will not impress anyone who actually understands the English language.

I 'played' games of Shatranj in 2005, posted [2005-03-08] on the Shatranj Comments/Ratings page, and FIDE Chess in 2008, both ending with the King (belonging to the player whose turn it was) stuck in a corner, surrounded by friendly pieces, which in turn are completely blocked by Pawns (friendly and unfriendly). John Lewis and Rich Hutnik (see his 2008-05-09 comment on this page) continue to pretend that those games do not exist and ignore the lessons they teach.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-17 UTC
You can get a Zillions adaptation of Simplified Chess here:;id=1591

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-12 UTC
Preset for Near Chess is on here now at:

Mr. Lewis, consider getting that link into the description above.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-11 UTC
Besides Skirmish56, I have proposed Simpleton's Chess as another even easier to learn Chess Variant.  You can see the rules here:

I am sure there will be people who will be a bit in shock and horror on how dumbed down the game appears to be.  Its purpose is to be an even simplier chess variant for people to learn, marginally more complicated than checkers.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-10 UTC
Zillions adaptation of this, and Skirmish56, has been submitted to the Zillions site. I should be up before the Sunday after next.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-10 UTC
Ok, for those who think Simplified Chess takes too much out, consider Skirmish56 Chess:

This is normal chess, outside of the pawns moving only one space forward (no initial double move).  Checkmate, regular pawn promotion, and castling are back in.  Maybe this is what Skirmish Chess actually needed to greater interest.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-09 UTC
I agree with Mr. Lewis. People should try to play this a few time before commenting. After doing that, then feel free to comment. If people are in need of an opponent to play, I have a zillions adaptation I can send them. If, after playing a few times, people have a few issues, I suggest people try Skirmish Chess on the 8x7 board. I will also put that into the Simplified Chess package. Also, I have Eurasian Pawn variants of all of the above, which is my preference for chess on an odd number of rows board

John Lewis wrote on 2008-05-09 UTC
I'll reiterate my point that this variant is specifically designed to be played with a standard FIDE set.  That means 32 pieces and no salt shakers.

There is also an element of strategy added by having promotions only allowed for captured pieces.

Enjoy the new dynamic for what it is.

And most importantly PLAY!  Try a game.  I really would prefer hearing informed comments from people that have tried the game.  Talk about the cramped feeling of the board.  Talk about the oddity of a middle square and how it affects pawn formations.

Theoretical discussion are great but I want to hear about people playing.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-05-09 UTC
Rich Hutnik:
| Do you want a flipped rook to become a 'Jester' piece that can 
| represent any other piece on the board?  Guess what the rook does 
| now.  It is that.  
This has never been a problem when I was playing OTB games. In most variants the choice of promotion piece is a rather academic one anyway, as in practice almost always the strongest piece is chosen. After the promotion, if the piece is then not captured, the game is over in 5 or 6 moves...

Even in Capablanca Chess, where there are 3 nearly equivalent pieces available (Q, C and A), it took me months before I discvered that 'underpromotion' to C or A was not properly implemented in my engine Joker80. Although it was considering other promotions than Q in its search, the MakeMove routine at game level always promoted to Q, overruling the choice. This never changed the game result, and I only discovered it when Joker80 announced mate-in-1 on a promotion move, and then the game continued a few more moves before it actually was checkmate.

People that want to play variants should have a wider choice of piece equipment anyway. An inverted Rook is a warning sign that whatever it is, it is not a Rook. But nothing is more annoying to a Chess player than having a Knight on the board that doesn't move like a Knight, but as a Camel or Zebra. The solution to that is easy enough:

John Lewis wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
Example Game:

1. e2-e3 d6-d5
2. d2-d3 e6-e5
3. Nb1-c3 Ng7-f5
4. f2-f3 Bc7-d6
5. e3-e4 Bd6-b4
6. e4xf5 g6xf5
7. a2-a3 Bb4xc3
8. b2xc3 f5-f4
9. d3-d4 Qd7-e6
10. Ng1-e2 Nb7-d6
11. a3-a4 Bf7-g6
12. Ra1-b1 b6-b5
13. Bc1-a3 Ke7-d7
14. Ba3-c5 Ra7-b7
15. a4xb5 Rb7-b5
16. Rb1xb5? c6xb5
17. Qd1-a1 Nd6-c4
18. Ne2-c1 Nc4-e3
19. Bf1xb5! a6xc5
20. Qa1-a7 Kd7-c6
21. Qa7-b6 Kc6-d7
22. Qb6-a5 Ne3xc2
23. Ke1-d2 e5xe4
24. Nc1-e2 Qe6-e3
25. Kd2-d1 Qe3-d3
26. Kd1-c1 Nc2-b4
27. Qa5-a7 Kd7-e6
28. Qa7-b6 Ke6-f5
29. Ne2xd4 Kf5-g5
30. Nd4-e6 
black resigns

Anonymous wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC

You're blockade example, which you are clearly proud of discovering, is a
lose for the side that can not move.  See rule 7's last sentence.

I'll add examples, it's a good idea.

Please refrain from rating a game until you've played it.

David Paulowich wrote on 2008-05-08 UTCPoor ★

Rule 2 of the seven rules does not eliminate the possibility of a player having no legal moves available. On 2008-04-16 I wrote: 'My [2005-03-08] comment on this page BLOCKADE STALEMATE IN 20 MOVES is unlikely to happen in a real game, but it demonstrates the need for precise and complete rules. Even in those chess variants which allow Kings to move into check and be captured, it is possible for a player to reach a position with no legal moves.'

Rule 3 of the seven rules is a statement of intent, not a rule. You would have served your readers better by providing a sample game ending in (the type of position I have previously referred to as) a blockade stalemate and then stating the game result, according to your new rules. Rich Hutnik has just posted: 'Capturing king instead of checkmate also makes it easier for a new person to learn. It gets rid of stalemate.' TO STATE MY POINT ONE MORE TIME: statements like this will not impress anyone who actually understands the rules of chess and shatranj.

Rule 7 of the seven rules is, at best, confusing. No further comments.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
For people who have issues with this, let me suggest Skirmish56 Chess.  This is Skirmish Chess on an 8x7 board (8x7=56).  You can see the rules to Skirmish Chess here:

If you are going to start adding things back into Simplified Chess, I do suggest besides checkmate/stalemate and normal chess pawn promotion, you also put castling back in and put it on an 8x7 board.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
I want to comment here regarding Simplified Chess, because similar issues can be leveled at Near Chess.  Near Chess drops the same rules, but keeps the games on an 8x8 board:
1. When pawns only move one space, then En Passant goes away.  This is one rule that makes chess extra complicated.
2. Castling is another rule that makes chess more complicated.  It was done to mobilize rooks and protect the King.  For a simplified game, it is fine to drop it.  If people have the problem with this, then go with Near Chess, which offers both back rows.  You can also play it on an 8x9 board if you like the odd number of rows. I prefer adding an Asian pawn capture forward when doing that though (in addition to capturing diagonally foward), as it gives the pawns a needed boost.  I will say here that not having a back row to retreat the rooks to does cause the board to need to be seven rows.
3. Capturing king instead of checkmate also makes it easier for a new person to learn.  It gets rid of stalemate.  People may think this ruins simple elegance, but I would argue there is a case for having this for new players.
4. These sons of Skirmish Chess aren't meant to solve anything short of being easier for people to learn.  There is some added bonuses (like reduced number of draws) but that isn't the intent.
5. There is complaints about the whole pawn promotion.  Well, there is a GOOD reason why the variant community should go with this.  If you are seriously looking to have variant pieces added to regular chess, the whole enabling pawns to become every piece on the board (even if there is not enough pieces), it grows to be an ever-larger disaster.  Do you want a flipped rook to become a 'Jester' piece that can represent any other piece on the board?  Guess what the rook does now.  It is that.  This rule works better with physical sets, AND helps the variant community.  It also makes a chess set no longer broken.  The rules in chess are broken today in regards to pieces.  If anyone things, 'oh we have electronic versions to play, why is this an issue?'  Try getting your non-variant players to log onto here to play.  Also, try to do it, if you want to start adding a bunch of variant pieces in real life.  Having rules that work with physical equipment is a good thing.  

I will say if Near Chess had happened, instead of what was done, or even Simplified Chess, all these complications wouldn't of been added to the game at all.  In this, my preference is for Near, but Simplified has merits.

Anyhow, my take will be, if you have problems with Simplified, then put castling back in and the pawn promotion as it is normally.  You can do Skirmish Chess on a 7 row board.  This should enable people to handle fine.

As for the simplifications people say 'ruin chess', may I suggest that you look again at Near Chess here.  Even without the complicated rules, the game holds its own, and you can do a mix of formations and rules, to be able to have a way that a person could eventually get familiar with the game.  And new players happen to like it by the way.  I bring up Near Chess in this post because I have been playing it.

John Lewis wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC

It's also easy to explain away these pawn rules and have a simple system in play. You can always complicate the game later. I think most young players are taught as I was, without en-passant and without castling rules. These were taught later, as they were unnecessary complications that weren't required for those early games.

By removing these rules streamlines the rules without really taking away anything important to the game.

Double Moves were added to the game to make it faster: This is addressed with less squares. Essentially you are moving two spaces from the start.

The En-Passant was added because of the Double Move rule creating an unfair way to bypassing an advanced pawn: This is addressed by removing this rule and the Double moves.

The promotion rules are directly in place for face to face games. There is no need for extra pieces or proxy pieces in this variant. How many times have you used a salt shaker for a Queen?

King Capture make the game very simple because it removes cumbersome rules about 'stale mate'. Kings are free to move into any square, including those that are threatened. This means even a King on King game can be completed with a win for one side as long as you remember to call repetition of board. I wish there was an easier way to deal with limited numbers of pieces, but I haven't found a way. Ideally I would like to get rid of the three move repetition. I'm open to other option.

If you study the historical reasons for these burdensome rules, you find that they were added over time to address specific issues. These issues are all addressed in this simplified version.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
Well, I do not consider the stalemate rule essential to Chess, and there are many variants where stalemate = loss.

You won't get rid of many draws, though, when you abolish it. To get rid of draws entirely, you could add some kind of a tie-break to the game, like penalty shootouts in soccer: In a position where FIDE rules would declare draw (50-moves, 3-fold-rep, insuff. material) you could trigger this tie-break. From the moment on it is triggered, the opponent can do two moves in a row, then you can do three moves, then he 4, etc. This would even work for King vs King, as in the end there will be no place you can hide without his King being able to capture you.

Charles Daniel wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
Removing one row seems interesting. 

But I must object to your 'simplification'. You attempt to complicate the moves of the pawn moves. Yet, how do  explain that even 6 year old children can grasp the standard chess rules quite easily. 

How hard is it to grasp that a pawn can reach the center of the board in one move, and a pawn that it bypasses can capture it? 

Except for stalemate, capturing the king only benefits novices and very BAD players. I dont see how this benefits the game in general. (note this is for 2 player std chess-like game not for other variants) 

No serious chess player would take this variant seriously especially since it destroys the game it attempts to 'improve'. 

I suggest emphasizing the 7 rows more so as to make this a real chess variant .., keep 1 step pawn movement, no castling, promotion rules but revert back to std chess checkmate stalemate /draw rules.

richardhutnik wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
Simplified Chess came out of similar conversations regarding Skirmish Chess that also gave birth to Near Chess. I personally don't see why white's advantage is muted however. Wouldn't enabling white to move twice allow it to get greater dominance over the board? Just curious here.

Jianying Ji wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
I think promote to captured piece rule slightly complexifies promotion rule but it simplifies number of pieces needed for a game, that one need only one set to play. For over the board games this is very useful thing.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
I don't think that 'promoting to a captured piece only' is a simplification of the rules. 'Always promote to Queen' would be a simplification. This just adds a complex rule.

John Lewis wrote on 2008-05-08 UTC
Thank you for your review, Jianying Ji.  The odd number of rows does seem to have an effect on the infamous 'first move advantage' because the tempo can be reversed by black as you noted.

The No Draws rule does apply to some of your concerns.  For example there is no stale mate because the King is allowed to move into attacked squares, thus he loses.  Some position where the game would take a very long time to resolve is unfortunate and I am not sure how to resolve them immediately.  I may have to have a default number of turns after which Black wins... but this could have unwanted side effects.  

I will ponder.

Any ideas are welcome.  Thanks!

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