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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-08-03
 By Peter  Aronson and Michael  Nelson. 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 2007-02-22 UTCGood ★★★★
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 2006-08-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
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 2005-12-26 UTC
David, 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 2005-12-20 UTCGood ★★★★
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 2002-09-13 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 Zillions).

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2002-09-13 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 2002-09-13 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 2002-09-13 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 pieces. 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 allows.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2002-09-13 UTCGood ★★★★
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 2002-09-13 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 material. 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 2002-08-07 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 2002-08-05 UTC
Michael, I've changed the reference from Asymmetric Chess to Biform Chess -- thanks for pointing that out!

M. Howe wrote on 2002-08-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
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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