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Separate Realms. Pieces capture like normal FIDE pieces, but have limited moves that only take them to part of the board when not capturing. (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Andy Maxson wrote on Thu, Feb 22, 2007 08:06 PM UTC:Good ★★★★
how about an alternate rook which moves sideways as a dabbaba rider and forwards and backwards as a rook and an alternate bishop that moves as an alfilrider parralel to the long diagonal and as a bishop parrallel to the short diagonal? these bout hav interesting types of colorboundness as the rook cannot reach adjacent files and the bishop cannot reach adjacent same colored diagonals. these pieces would capture as there orthochess counterparts

Joe Joyce wrote on Sat, Aug 19, 2006 07:42 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
This is a very nicely twisted variant of chess. A few simple rules changes have produced what is definitely a tournament-quality game. There are only 2 things I could wish for: new graphics for the pieces, and a larger companion. I'd truly love to see seperate realms on a larger board. (Could I be greedy and ask for 12x12?) Congratulations to the designers; they deserve them.

💡📝Michael Nelson wrote on Mon, Dec 26, 2005 04:58 PM UTC:

The SR Murray Lions seems to be a capital addition to the SR army and
would make for a nice variant. I don't care for pushing the pawn line
forward. I invented it solely, Peter didn't collaborate on this--and I
despise this variant: it ruins the peculiar flavor of Separate Realms.
I'd prefer to  try it on an 8x10 board, or position the Lions as you
suggest and only move the Pawns on the Lion's squares forward.

Clearly K L vs K is a win in most cases in separate realms: K vs K is
decisive if the Kings are on the same color--the King able to gain the
oppositon can force statemate. 

So if the Kings are on the same color, the Lion stays out of it if you
have the oppositon and wastes a move if the enemy has the opposition, thus
giving the oppositon back to you.

If the Kings are on opposite colors and the Lion is on the same color as
the enemy King, forcing a win should be no trouble. If the Lion is on the
same color as the friendly King, it should be quite possible to set up a
position where the Lion is moved adjacent to the enemy King which is
forced to make a losing realm-switching capture.

It would take extensive analysis to demonstrate a forced win in all cases,
but the win percentage is certain to be very high. The only non-trivial K X
vs King ending with the standard SR pieces which is draw is K B vs K with
the K B on the opposite color from the enemy King.

David Paulowich wrote on Tue, Dec 20, 2005 03:24 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
I wish to propose a Separate Realms Chess With Lions: place the Pawns on the third and sixth ranks (as in the SRC Variant mentioned on the page) and add four Lions to b2, g2, b7, g7. The Lion moves like the SRC Queen, but 1 or 2 squares only. This weaker version of the Murray Lion was invented by Antoine Fourrière for his variants 'Bilateral Chess' and 'Jacks and Witches 84'. Fourrière writes that: FIDE-King, FIDE-Knight and Lion can force mate in Bilateral Chess. Can King and Lion (sometimes) force a stalemate victory in this game? Are two Lions worth as much as the SRC Queen?

Mike Nelson wrote on Fri, Sep 13, 2002 04:48 PM UTC:
Tony, thank you for your kind words about Separate Realms.  

In your first comment you mentioned the relative disadvantage of the King
in SR Chess vs FIDE Chess. There is a net disadvantage, but it isn't as
large as it appears at first glance, particularly in the endgame.  The SR
Rook, for example, is not only confined to 1/4 of the board, but also can
only threaten 1/2 of the board. So an SR Rook on b2 can never check an SR
King on e1 until it can make a realm-changing capture.

I am in process of doing some Zillions vs Zillions playtesting of Separate
Realms with FIDE Kings, and with Kings that can move orthogonally to
escape check (logically, this King should also be able to move
orthogonally to escape stalemate, but I don't know how to program this in

Tony Quintanilla wrote on Fri, Sep 13, 2002 01:05 PM UTC:
That's an idea. By the way, I have played the game. It flows nicely and is quite interesting. Thanks.

Mike Nelson wrote on Fri, Sep 13, 2002 05:41 AM UTC:
I thought of another possibilty that might be worth testing--changing the King's movement so that it can move orthogonally when in check as well as to capture.

Mike Nelson wrote on Fri, Sep 13, 2002 05:30 AM UTC:
Point well taken, Tony.  After Jorg proved that FIDE King and SR Rook can
force checkmate of FIDE King, I gave serious thought to using FIDE Kings
in Separate Realms as I had originally thought to do.  Even retaining
stalemate as a win, this would lengthen games and increase drawishness and
I'm not sure I want this result. I do think it's worth playtesting. 

I rather like the difficuties of King defense in Separate Realms.  In a
way, SR reminds me of a toned-down version of Betza's Tripunch Chess,
where the FIDE King he uses is significantly weaker relative to the
incredibly powerful Tripunch pieces than the SR King is relative to the SR

A player who wants a subtle positional game but with ample opportunity to
punish his opponent's small errors with slashing attacks and breakthrough
wins will love Separate Realms.

Personally, I really love my own game but I can't yet play it well--I'm  a
weak enough Chess player that I need more margin for error than the game

Tony Quintanilla wrote on Fri, Sep 13, 2002 05:02 AM UTC:Good ★★★★
Nice game. One minor thought: the King is substantially weakened by the restriction against moving orthogonally without capture--in cases where it is threatened this can be fatal. Note that the capturing moves of all the pieces are standard, so the King is at a net disadvantage relative to FIDE chess.

Mike Nelson wrote on Fri, Sep 13, 2002 12:31 AM UTC:
Some observations from extensive playtesting vs Zillions and Z vs Z. (I'm
dying to play this against humans!).  

Zillions plays Separate Realms better than it plays FIDE chess--with fewer
possible moves in a given position, it sees further down the strategy
tree. Its primary flaw--it rates rates Knights slightly higher than
Bishops and tries too hard to avoid the exchange.

Though I am soley responsible for it, I have come to dislike the alternate
setup and only play the main variant.

A 'typical' game goes something like this:  in the opening, the minor
pieces come out and jockey for position.  In the late opening the Queen
joins in.  Both sides attempt to trade pieces in ways that gain positional
advantage, especially weakening the enemy pawn structure.  Usually pawns
move only to capture in this phase. 

The most common opening blunder--capturing a minor piece on the fourth
rank with the Queen. Now the Queen can't jump the pawn line to retreat and
is in mortal peril.

In the middlegame, the pawns start getting pushed to strong positions. 
The weaker pieces are less useful in protecting pawns that their FIDE
counterparts, so the pawns must protect each other more.  

The late middle game involves a lot of Rook moves, looking for a
positional advantage. The endgame begins by whichever player has won the
positional battle using his Rooks and surviving minor piece to destroy the
enemy pawn structure and win by promoting a pawn or forcing loss of

I have observed games where Zillions estimates one side's advantage at
7000-8000 with equal material (Pawn=1850).

Separate Realms doesn't 'feel' like a weak piece game--it feels like a
strong pawn game. Probably the weak King makes the pieces seem
stronger--an SR Queen is rather more dangerous to an SR King's survival
than an FIDE Queen to an FIDE King.

My previous estimates of piece values seem accurate:

Minor piece = 2 pawns
Rook =  3 pawns
Queen = a bit less than 6 pawns

Use with caution, however.  Getting two pawns for a minor piece is fine,
and getting a minor piece and a Pawn for a Rook is OK, but getting three
pawns for a Rook and especially getting four pawns for two minor pieces
tend to lose--it's harder to protect the extra pawns than in FIDE chess.

The Kings have little impact on the pawn structure--the SR King can't
approach pawns from in front easily.

Because of stalemate as a win and limited King mobility, virtually all
King + one unit vs King ending are forced wins--the one exeception is
Kings on opposite colors and Bishop on the strong side's King's color.

In 50 Z vs. Z sample games there were three draws (by the 50-move rule).
Two were King and Rook vs King and Rook.  One was King and Queen vs King
and Rook with the Queen and Rook on different colors.

Mike Nelson wrote on Wed, Aug 7, 2002 12:40 AM UTC:
I've had the pleasure of playtesting our creation over the weekend. 
Michael Howe's prediction is correct: the subtle positional play is
reminiscent of Shatranj.  But the the rapid developement provides many
opportunities for quick wins.  A bit like the slash-bang feel of Xiangqi.

Letting Zillions play itself at a fairly inteligent setting, two types of
results tended to occur: a subtle positional game of 60-90 moves, or an
opening error folowed by a breakthrough win in 20-30.

Typically, at the end of move 10, 14 of the pawns are on the original
squares. But in the middlegame, the pawns really come into their own--as
the rest of the army is weaker, the pawn is more powerful.

Zillions thinks the pieces are roughly 2/3 of the value of their FIDE
counterparts and I agree.  It also thinks the Knight is more valuable than
the Bishop, but not by a lot.

I think that the Separate Realms army might be quite interesting in
variants such as Chessgi, Progressive, etc.

I would also be interested in hearing anyone's ideas about different
armies in this strength range.

💡📝Peter Aronson wrote on Mon, Aug 5, 2002 06:44 PM UTC:
Michael, I've changed the reference from Asymmetric Chess to Biform Chess
-- thanks for pointing that out!

M. Howe wrote on Sun, Aug 4, 2002 08:00 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
I followed the discussion that resulted in this interesting variant.  I
have the impression it will have a very subtle, positional feel to it,
almost like Shatranj.  Thanks for providing a ZRF.  I'll be trying it out
soon.  Side note: my game of 'Asymmetric Chess' has been renamed 'Biform
Chess'.  When I thought about it, the pieces really weren't best described
as asymmetric but as dual-natured, hence the name change.

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