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Universal Chess. Missing description (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Even if you might never play this particular variant, you have to love such a gargantuan effort and game. Will we ever see a rules-enforcing preset version of it on Game Courier? ;)

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-12-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

I can't disagree more strongly with such people as those who take the ultraconservative Book of Ecclesiastes approach to variants and life, that "there is nothing new under the sun" and that "all is vanity and vexation of the spirit." There is so much yet to be discovered, looming just before us. Just look at the advance of science, technology, math, even art, music, literature, cinema. There is no shortage of inspiration. We do not criticize science or math for proliferation of new discoveries, new inventions, new understandings and neither should we criticize variants qua variants or professional chessplayers who specialize in particular variants. There are, of course, almost innumerable amazing chess moves, variants and pieces yet to be discovered...almost (cvts maybe suggests otherwise!? Is infinity real?!). In elaborating this philosophy, I call myself a pupil of no school but rather a student of every serious academy of variants play.

*The* case in point, this variant of Carlos's:

I am truly astonished at all the work Carlos has put into developing this chess variant, which attempts to be an homage to all chess variant pieces and tribute to chess variants / "variants chess" / chess qua chess.

Fantastic work!

I would really encourage all chess variant inventors who have the time and energy to play as much Universal Chess as possible and not only that, but to work on developing Universal Chess variants. I myself have big plans for this realm. The energy you put into it will reward you richly - at least, I have found it so. Universal Chess has provided me with phenomenal growth in understanding and appreciation of variants and pieces.

Even some of the pieces I invented for some untried "prolific" variants (upon my most recent return to this world, I am attempting a more measured approach to publication, preferring to update in some cases) only really came to life for me once I started to play Universal Chess and this, in turn, inspired discovery of more astounding pieces and designs.

The inventor sees this game as a parade of pieces and chance for the pieces to be put on display on the grand venue of 8 x 8. He uses the metaphor "shadowboxing". I want to see and help develop this concept grow beyond that.

In my own personal experience, I've found work on this variant most beneficial if regarded as a serious arena for chess combat. That may just speak to my own general philosophy, perhaps like that of the great Em. Lasker (whose philosophical works about chess as struggle I would like to read one day - I don't think they've been translated into English).

I award this variant 6 out of 5 stars or 11 out of 10 stars. You broke the mold with this one, Carlos. Thank you, with sincerest gratitude, for developing this universal chess "chess utopian" work. BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo, bravo!!!!

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2014-11-11 UTC
The Colorbound Conversion Rule seems to me nice, so let's apply it immediately at our bold adventure of exploring this utopian (crazy?) variant. Thanks for the idea!

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-11-11 UTC

These are all ingenious ways of looking at the problem, H.G. :-) Excellent work.

In Universal Chess, the question of Colorboundness may not be quite as relevant to the ending since there is always the possibility of adding a new piece every sixth move.

H. G. Muller wrote on 2014-11-11 UTC
The problem with this is that when there are multiple color-bound pieces on each side you often know only in the end-game which color you need the piece to be on to not make it a hopeless draw (as with unlike Bishops). Depending on which of the pieces were traded and which survived to the end-game.

I was facing this problem when designing Team-Mate Chess, because I wanted to have several color-bound pieces there (because these can give interesting 4-men end-games, with checkmate not forcible in all corners). But if you start with 3 color-bound pieces they cannot all be on different color.

So I toyed with the idea to equip all color-bound pieces with the right to swap places with an orthogonally adjacent King, once in their lifetime. This to minimize the possibility that they can abuse this right for tactical purposes. An alternative, using a more conventional move would be to allow them a one-time Moa-hop over a friendly King. An idea from Superchess is to allow a permanent extra color-changing W-step in the board corners of the final rank (to which you presumably only have access in the end-game).

In the end I used none of that, but solved it by putting only two color-bound pieces in the initial setup, starting on different colors, and making the third piece (the strongest one) only available through promotion. (So that the player could under-promote to a non-color-bound piece if the promotion square happened to be of the wrong-color.)

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-11-10 UTC


A Colorbound Conversion Rule

for Universal Chess.

Any colorbound piece has, in addition to its normal movement, one extra possibility: the colorbound piece may move one square horizontally or vertically. This may be done only once and if it is done, it must be done on the first move made with that piece.

Many opening setups will cause the same colorbound piece to end up on opposite colors for opposing sides. This will gives players of those pieces an option to make it the same color if they should think it wise and helpful or even necessary for defensive purposes! :-)

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2014-11-07 UTC
Originally envisioned drops after moves and also lean for this option, so let's follow playing that way.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-11-06 UTC
I lean towards thinking dropping should be after the move myself but I too am open. What did you envision originally?

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2014-11-04 UTC
Which option you think would be the best? I am willing to play according to your taste.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-11-03 UTC
Probably this question is answered elsewhere already so forgive me if so: Can you drop a piece and then move it? Or does dropping come at the end of a move?

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-09-24 UTC
"To keep adding more pieces to this variant, the main task to be done is standardize the various piece sets into one: the Alfaerie-many." I will work on that too. As much work as I've already done on Alfaerie - Many, it represents just a fraction of what I intend to do.

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2014-09-22 UTC
Yes, of course, post the prototypes here, Jeremy. 

Not only the description about cannon pawns talks about edge squares but all Rococo's ones. In the rules section I wrote: 

"Rococo's pieces [chameleon, long leaper, swapper, withdrawer, advancer, immobilizer and cannon pawns] are subject of the pertinent adecuation to an 8x8 board, that is, it will be supposed that the game is played on a 6x6 board and, in consequence, the board's edge would be formed by "a" and "h" columns, and 1st and 8th rows."

I have always seen the disjunctive whether to apply Rococo's "edge conditions" or not here in this variant as a minor issue that players could resolve by mutual agreement before a game. In contrast, find two people interested in playing Universal Chess is certainly a huge, giant, colossal problem! 

I appreciate very much your contribution of designing piece icons. To keep adding more pieces to this variant, the main task to be done is standardize the various piece sets into one: the Alfaerie-many.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-09-21 UTC
I will post a couple of prototypes for these pawns here to be added, with your approvals, at some point, hopefully, to alfaerie - many. 

Carlos, in the description about cannon pawns, it talks about edge squares, which I think are only relevant to their use in Rococo. So it can just be erased, for the sake of this game.

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2012-10-05 UTC
The third stage of the challenging and rough road that leads to the utopia called Universal Chess is UC-170-13. The previous stages were UC-24 and UC-73.

UC-170-13 features 170 different kinds of major pieces and 13 different kinds of pawns, including the Eurasian Pawn suggested by Richard Hutnik.

Rich: I'm absolutely agree in the convenience that "... pawns ... have one (or a few base) picture of them, and then stick dots or Xs around it to signify how it moves and captures." Unfortunately it's something I cannot make. The only thing I can do is to use the graphics [icons] from the "Alfaerie: Many" piece set.

Rich Hutnik wrote on 2011-05-16 UTCGood ★★★★
I would propose adding the Eurasian Pawn in here two.  At least cover the full range of pawns, and note them, as a discussion point.  During play of this variant, ground rules can be added for what is in and out.  For example, I would say NO to a Eurasian pawn on an 8x8 board.  Ok, the Eurasian pawn:

One options for pawns is to have one (or a few base) picture of them, and then stick dots or Xs around it to signify how it moves and captures.  I know  a pawnrider would likely both be silly and hard to notate.

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2009-10-18 UTC
I would not miss the opportunity to show an example of how would work pawns promotion in this variant, which would mean a very active role for them in the game.

The following diagram is from a current game between Vitya Makov [White] and me [Blue]. Blue to move. Turn 10.

According to the rules, the first pawn that reaches the opponent's 1st rank will be promoted to the final piece of the dropping order, in this case to queen.

So, if Blue move 10. ... p e2-e1=q+, 11.A f3xe1 is practically forced since otherwise if 11.NE e3-d1 or 11.A f3-d1 or even 11.CBW b1-d1 Blue would take White's dancing horse: 11. ... q e1xg3.

Then, after 11.A f3xe1 l h4xe1 Blue achieves a net profit of one piece, since his lion (cannon/vao) from e1 would capture either the crooked bishop/wazir on b1 or the knight/guard on a1.

Of course, Blue's crooked bishop/wazir on d7 covers c2 by the path d7-c6-d5-c4-d3-c2.


Your ideas are very suggestive, Sam, Nick, Jeremy. I'm processing the information and will come here at this corner of the ciberspace later. Thanks!

Jeremy Good wrote on 2009-10-13 UTC

Suppose we allow the Wuss to be captured (provided of course that there are other kings on the board)? That thrill is still there until it is captured - one can still wreak havoc chasing the Wuss; it just doesn't allow for such a decisive climax, so it's not as thrilling. But one could still chase the Wuss without fear of being captured or blocked.

How would this work though? Well, the Wuss would of course still be required to move until it couldn't move away from a piece checking it any more without being captured. Then the rules for capturing the wuss have to be laid out since ordinarily, the Wuss can't be captured!

We could just go with Nicholas's generalized idea for checkmating extra kings: Simply remove them from the game. How exactly is this done though? Does the checkmater eliminate the Wuss on impact and then let the defender move? This is not so simple with the Wuss. Unless the pursuer is allowed an extra move after eliminating the Wuss, it could spell big trouble for the pursuer since pieces pursuing Wusses are oblivious to attack.

How to resolve this if we think we need to provide some protection for the Wuss's bully/bullies?

Defender could be forced to pass his turn after Wuss is eliminated; or the elimination itself of the Wuss - possibly any king - could count as a move!

We might also resolve this by saying that no piece covering a square the Wuss could move to can be attacked until one move after the Wuss has been eliminated.

If we just ignore the issue, the Wuss-like character of the piece is again somewhat compromised. Which might not be a bad thing; wuss fights back, so to speak!

Jeremy Good wrote on 2009-10-13 UTC

Nicholas, I was a little surprised by your reaction to my comment about the Wuss. I was trying to say that it would be an overly weakening piece that would foreshorten the game unless it were allowed to be captured.

If I understand you correctly, you are looking at an exception to that.

I want to examine that for a moment.

It is true that allowing the Wuss to be captured might somewhat compromise the thrill of the Wuss chase.

Let's suppose that we were allowed to introduce new pawns every so often with our pieces. An ideal game of Universal Chess would be one which was dynamically balanced and allowed play up to the last piece on the last file of the last row.

If we want to preserve the character of the Wuss and introduce it to Universal Chess under ideal circumstances, the Wuss should probably be that piece, the piece that waits to be dropped last! (Unless there is an even more weakening piece!)

Even so, the Wuss still creates another issue which is the question of balance. On a board as small as 8 x 8, the first person to drop the Wuss could be at a severe disadvantage (as I believe the black pieces are at in Mamra Chess with Wuss). So I suggest that after the Wuss is dropped, we switch to a more balanced form of playing, something like Balanced Marseillais or Extra Move Chess. It's worth thinking about because the last thing you want to do is go through a long game of Universal Chess, in which you play very competitively, only to be undone by the sad happenstance of having to put your wuss on the board first!

If we want to randomize the Wuss in with the other pieces, and if the point is to play with all the pieces so well that we actually get to use all those on stand-by, then we should allow the Wuss to be captured and not just checkmated.

I know it's terrible of me, but I just can't seem to leave that poor little Wuss alone!

Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-10-06 UTC
Two Words:

Ninja Pawns!

Sam Trenholme wrote on 2009-10-06 UTC
OK, some pawns.

FIDE pawn: Moves forward, captures diagonally forward
Shogi pawn: Moves forward, captures forward
Berolina pawn: Moves diagonally forward, captures forward
Beroshogi pawn: Moves diagonally forward, captures diagonally forward

If you want five more pawns, we can have the following fairy pawns:

Moves forward and diagonally forward, captures forward.
Moves forward and diagonally forward, captures diagonally forward.
Moves forward and diagonally forward, captures forward and diagonally forward.
Moves forward, captures forward and diagonally forward
Moves diagonally forward, captures forward and diagonally forward

OK, is that not enough types of pawns. We can add Winther’s “Scorpion Pawn” movement: Moves but doesn’t capture one square forward and two squares to the left, and one square forward and two squares to the right:

. . . . .
* . . . *
. . # . . 
. . . . .
. . . . .
Here ‘#’ is the pawn and ‘*’ is the squares the Scorpion move allows the pawn to move to.

This gives us 18 pawn types. If that’s not enough, we can add a move I call a “caltrop” move, which is the other two forward knight moves to a pawn:

. * . * .
. . . . .
. . # . . 
. . . . .
. . . . .
This gives us 36 pawn types...but the pawns are getting pretty powerful at this point. I start worrying about White having an unfair advantage when the pawns get too powerful...

Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-10-06 UTC
I like your idea with the pawns, Jeremy.  If Carlos wants to add that, then the frog from WKC would be a good one to add as a pawn instead as a piece, so to speak.  I think your idea is definitely revolutionary and will add a very needed change to UC.  

You bring up a very good point about the wuss.  Maybe we could make a checkmate on the wuss a definitive end to the game, even if there are more kings than that on the board.  

Talking about all of these kings, we may even do a randomization about which king starts out the game and then fill in the rest of the kings randomly into the jumble of other pieces.  Just a thought.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2009-10-06 UTC
Certainly making it so that the Wuss only needs to be captured (if there are other kings on the board) would make it less weakening (wusses weaken chess armies by their very presence). One might be wise not to go after the wuss in such situations but to save it for last since it is relatively so easy to mate. I feared adding the Wuss under its usual conditions (Game ends when it is checkmated) would be overly weakening. For the time being, I'm on board with the idea of saying that supernumerary kings need only be captured.

I didn't read Nicholas Wolff's suggestion when I wrote the above phrases. I'm on board with his idea: Checkmated Kings should simply be removed from the board if other un-checkmated kings remain on the board. If two kings are checked simultaneously and both must flee, the defender should choose which to remove from the board and which to move from check. I'm assuming both kings aren't checkmated in which case they would both be removed from the board before the defender can move or the game is over if there aren't additional kings on the board.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2009-10-06 UTC

One potential problem I foresee with Universal Chess might be that eventually, all the pawns are gone and you are playing with just pieces and no pawns. Which would foreshorten games and make it less likely that you make it past the first row of added pieces. Without pawn protection, pieces will do nothing but exchange each other off the board quickly.

So, to remedy this, I suggest maybe that with every fifth piece (or third? or fourth), one must introduce a new pawn into an empty hole on the second rank...

Another creative pawn idea for Universal Chess: Charles Gilman discovered and inventoried a large number of pawns. It would be more in the flavor of Universal Chess to introduce them randomized on the second rank right into the opening setup and then have future particular pawns prearranged to be added alongside the new pieces as I suggest above...

I'm excerpting Gilman's pawn categories from here

(because they are nice enough to merit display):

ANCIENT Pawn: no initial double-step move (as in early standard Chess);

EUROPEAN Pawn: both steps must be noncapturing (introduced in Europe's standard Chess);

WARHEAD Pawn: both steps must be capturing (more aggressive than the above);

AMBUSH Pawn: first step must be noncapturing, second capturing (starts peaceful, then attacks);

NONCHALANT Pawn: first step must be capturing, second noncapturing (starts aggressive, then acts as if nothing happened);

TRIDENT Pawn: both steps must be of the same kind (European+warhead);

PATIENT Pawn: first step must be noncapturing, second may be either (European+ambush);

PENITENT Pawn: second step must be noncapturing, first may be either (European+nonchalant);

IMPENITENT Pawn: second step must be capturing, first may be either (warhead+ambush);

IMPATIENT Pawn: first step must be capturing, second may be either (warhead+nonchalant);

HELMSMAN Pawn: one step must be of each kind in either order (ambush+nonchalant);

EUROFIGHTER Pawn: any initial double-step move (trident+helmsman=patient+impatient=penitent+impenitent).

As Gilman points out, these categories can be applied not just to the standard Western pawn but also to other pawns creating many more categories of pawns, which I think is good for Universal Chess. For example, again quoting Gilman, we can apply them to the Berolina Pawn, which he calls Yeoman: 'For example a WARHEAD YEOMAN has an initial double-step in the same direction as the European Pawn, but capturing at both steps. Note how this is a neater phrase than 'Warhead Berolina Pawn'.'

I'm not saying all Universal Chess should be structured with these sorts of randomized pawns, but there should be some Universal Chess variants that are!

Nicholas Wolff wrote on 2009-10-05 UTC
Carlos, that would be awesome :)  

Yes, if Joe, Jeremy, or Vitya have anything to add on that, please do.  I propose that a checkmated king is removed from the board and that is the only way to do it.  Just my suggestion, but I think it makes most sense.  Otherwise, it may be impossible to checkmate all three at once. 

Please keep in mind, my lion is captured, not checkmated :)

Carlos Cetina wrote on 2009-10-05 UTC

Good question, Nick, that all the interested in UC [a path in the jungle] will have to resolve together. Sure Jeremy, Joe, Vitya and many others have something to say.

My opinion is that not necessarily both kings have to be checkmated at the same time; if one is first checkmated, this would remain on the board like if it were frozen. But also is perfectly possible to introduce a rule that states that if two or three [in case that the Wuss come into the game] kings are in play, then they will have to be captured, not checkmated.

By the way, I think all the Wildest Kingdom Chess' animals [less perhaps the crocodile] may also be part of the UC's set of pieces. These animals (pieces) would come into the game with the ability of use its 'specials'. Then, it might be possible that 4 kings were in the game at the same time, if the lion also appear in the starting setup or it's dropped.

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