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Tjatoer!. A chess variant written in Python, designed to stress test engines.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-28 UTC

I agree that the pieces are so many that they're harder to learn, in earlier amendments I have made changes to the pieces' names before to eliminate all the piece names that are too commonplace like the Ferz to the Fürst, the Man to the Mullah, as another editor suggested (notice that I changed the piece name that is on the Piececlopedia to something that isn't on the Piececlopedia). but now I am asked to change the name of pieces that isn't on the Piececlopedia to the ones in the Piececlopedia. The basis on which I named the pieces is on the grounds of notation, purpose, and design.

Firstly, regarding notation, each piece's name's first letter (except for the regular chess knight) corresponds with its notation, and with 26 types of pieces, it fits nicely with the 26 letters of the English alphabet. I did some cross-checking with the Piececlopedia and found that even if I use the name of the piece commonly attributed with a move in the Piececlopedia, and even if I don't confine myself to the first letter of the piece, still, the letter J, S, V, W, X, and Y will not be represented. Thus some pieces must have double letters for their notation, like (A) for the amazon then (AR) for the archbishop, or have a notation of a letter that isn't on the piece name itself (in both cases, it will be more confusing don't you think?).

Secondly, regarding the purpose of the game, there is no doubt that a human needs a lot of effort to learn how to play this game, and I would be honored if anyone would take the time to learn how to play it, but for an engine (the reason I designed this variant in the first place is for engines to play it) it needs not to memorize the moves of the pieces nor its notation since a computer is just following what it is programmed to do.

Thirdly, there is the game theme and design. I named the piece to more or less correspond with its design (though some pieces correspond better than others, for example, the zorro used to be the zebra hence it is represented by a zebra). In the GitHub repository, I have provided more information on the design ideas of the pieces (how the pieces in the King's Court is designed with royalty in mind, like how the Fürst is represented by a royal West-Sumatran headpiece, how the Esquire is represented by the Isicholo, a Zulu African headdress, or how the Duchess is represented by the Kokoshnik, a Russian headdress) to change the names of the pieces means eliminating the significance of their design to their name, or to painstakingly redesign all the pieces to befit their new name from scratch will overhaul the overall theme of the game.

with that being said, as some sort of a workaround, I made a table to better understand the pieces' moves


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-06-27 UTC

With so many pieces, the game could be easier to learn if you used piece names that were already in common usage rather than making up a bunch of new ones.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-27 UTC

Nice! any more amendments I should make?


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-06-27 UTC

I see, well it's already in PNG format so no issue there

So it is. That probably happened when you added file and rank markings to it. I reduced the filesize from 231116 bytes to 65655 bytes by changing it from a true color image to a 32 color image.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-27 UTC

I see, well it's already in PNG format so no issue there


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

JPGs have a smaller file size for photographs, but for simple computer art with a small palette, GIF and PNG produce smaller file sizes, especially when you optimize it to the number of colors actually used.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

Sure! the color of the black pieces is now the same shade of blue as the Alfaerie fairy pieces

Secondly, the diagrams are already in PNG format, so no changes there, unless you meant the other way around since to my understanding PNGs are a lossless compressed format of images that tend to have a larger file size than JPGs that are a lossy compressed image format


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

I see your diagram image is a JPG file. For diagrams like this, GIF or PNG will normally give you a smaller file size. Also, the color of the Black pieces is a little too dark to easily make out details. I would recommend lightening them a bit.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

I agree with the 5 fold repetition, it should stay the same as regular chess, although the reason I implemented the 100-move rule is that it acts as headroom for future engines to find longer mates, the game is already tedious to play for two humans but for engines (the reason I designed this game in the first place is to study machine learning), there some of the positions even in regular chess where mates of more than 50 moves are possible (I think we all know of the famous mate in 500 moves puzzles), and with a game this large, I bet there are more positions of that kind, so I don't want future engines to jump into conclusion to call for a draw when it sees a mate that is more than 50 moves away, and instead change their strategy to eliminate the last remaining piece of the losing side (hence the bare king rule), that being said, it is true that the counter should reset after a promotion

Regarding castling and en passant, well castling is obvious since you need to move a billion pieces to clear the way for the king, as for en passant, I figured even if the chance to do en passant occurs, it might be either too early in the game where there are adequate number of pieces to stop the passed pawn, or it's too late in the game the chance to do en passsant is astronomically low


H. G. Muller wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

BTW, why 5-fold repeat? Surely no one would be so stupid that when he sees a certain move sequence leads to a repetition, that he would play that move again a 2nd, 3rd and 4th time?

I am also not sure it is useful to allow 100 reversible moves instead of 50, despite the bigger board. Most pieces are so strong they can deliver checkmate singlehandedly. The Lance even in the middle of the board! And because baring is a win, you won't have lengthy mates like KBNK. You should amend the rule to also reset the counter on promotion, though. (Since you also have non-Pawns that can promote.)

The drawback of a generous move limit is that the game gets very boring in positions that are genuine draws, and one of the players doesn't want to admit it. (99 moves, push a Pawn 1 square, 99 moves, push another square...) So it is generally better to have a tight limit, but smart recognition of true progress towards a win for resetting the counter.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

Sure, done!


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

I think the setup could benefit from using algebraic coordinates. That way, you could use coordinates to specify where each piece goes instead of grouping pieces together and referring to the groups.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

Thanks, Firstly, sure! I'll tweak some of the names, the Ferz will now be the Fürst, the Zebra will be a Zorro, the Man will be a Mullah, and the Lance will be the Lugal (Sumerian word for ruler), and that's for the pieces whose names are already attributed to well-known fairy pieces. as for pieces whose moves are already associated with a piece name, like the Gajah, Jester, Chariot, etc. I didn't change them as I thought some fairy pieces already has variations of moves

Secondly, regarding the origin of the word, the original word for chess, Catur, is a loan word from Sanskrit meaning four, it was and still Latinized to be spelled with a C (we still use the Sanskrit word as a substitute for the word four today!), anyway, so it was never spelled Tjatoer, to begin with (or at least I can't find any literary evidence it has ever been written in the van Ophuijsen spelling, back then people had more pressing matters than chess, early references to chess in Malay texts are either written in Sanskrit or Arabic letters like in Sejarah Melayu), thus unless it is a Dutch loan word the van Ophuijsen spelling is not used


H. G. Muller wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

Interesting game! And that you were able to program an engine for it is certainly a major achievement, which deserves congratulations. For my taste it is a bit 'top heavy', with so many ultra-strong pieces. But perhaps on 16x16 this works.

I do have a few critical remarks, though:

Several of your pieces use names that are commonly associated with an entirely different piece (Ferz, Zebra, Man, Lance). I don't think that is a positive feature, and there seems no real reason for doing this. E.g. the symbol you use for the 'Lance' has nothing lance-like. Surely there must be plenty of names starting with L that you could have used instead?

In other cases you use very well-known pieces (Chancellor/Marshall, Amazon, Nightrider, Camel, Wildebeest, Centaur, Griffon) under a different name. This is not as confusing as the previous point, because you use names that are novel or not in common use. But it isn't very helpful either, so it still seems a missed opportunity.

BTW, the 'archaic spelling' Tjatoer seems to be simply Dutch spelling. Of course in times when it was still thought to be OK to oppress other people for profit, Indonesia was occupied by the Dutch, so this seems a likely origin for the word.


Halfen Ludith wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

Thanks, done!


Ben Reiniger wrote on 2021-06-26 UTC

It might make things more compact if the movement diagrams were on smaller boards. I'd also suggest sorting them in the same groups you introduced pieces in. (Alphabetical isn't as helpful: anyone searching for a piece can search its name in the page.)

Your hawk is the gnu, and your xiphodon is the manticore.


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