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Switch-Side Chain-Chess. Optionally swap sides with your opponent upon completing a "chain". (8x8, Cells: 64) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
🕸Fergus Duniho wrote on Tue, Mar 16, 2021 01:28 PM UTC:

I deleted the tags on this page, because they were all too vague, and each was just a single word in the name of the game. Please see the new guidelines for tagging on the Tags page.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 07:22 AM UTC:

The inventor again. Just to let you know that the official rules are now published. You can get it here or here.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Fri, Jun 22, 2018 10:44 AM UTC:


The inventor posting again. It was brought to my attention that with the last rule modification (see my comment dated 2017-03-30), the game was still rather difficult to play. So instead of consecutive switching being limited to the number of moves that have been played, consecutive switching should be limited to the size of the chain, i.e. the number of squares it contains. I played a game using this new rule and it was more interesting and enjoyable.

To clarify, it means that when a player forms a chain (with say, three empty squares inside), he has the choice of switching sides with the opponent. If he does so, that is the first switch. If he does so again (with another chain formation, regardless of its size) that is consecutive switch number two. He now has his original army back. He may now do so only one more time (if he forms yet another chain of any legal size). So the switching limitation applies using the first chain's size (of the consecutive sequence) and resets only when the opponent has had a turn. 

Emphyrio wrote on Sat, Aug 19, 2017 07:24 PM UTC:Average ★★★


I always enjoy new chess variants (especially as, as a composer, I've been occasionally making compositions with some feeric conditions, mostly for SPGs), so as soon as I read something about switch side chain chess on chessbase site, I DLed the android app to test it :). Here are my thoughts so far :

It's definitely original and one can clearly see the interest for AI given, even though chain detection is very easy to code, evaluating the positions is probably much more difficult to code with that possibility to switch sides (although it's obvious that when one side has the possibility to create a chain, it's a tremendous advantage - and white definitely seems to have a big edge with the current rules).

About the feeling and enjoyment of playing this :it reminds a lot of loser's chess (giveaway chess). Despite the fact that loser's chess is at the contrary veryyy AI friendly (don't know if some coders bothered solving it, but it's probably possible). You can lose extremely fast in the opening, but it is somewhat interesting to see how to play around these fast losses.

About the usefulness for chess composition : can be interesting for SPGs (shortest proof games) and retro analysis for sure. Not so much for mates/helped mates/inversed mates etc since chains require the presence of too much material.

About the software : wondered who you asked to code this.. It's passably aesthetic and the UI is ok, but the AI is inexistent.. I ve never seen it ever do a switch, and obviously not work around them either. And even when playing normal chess he is atrocious. That's the main reason for my average evaluation.

About possible changes to prevent very quick games, and give it a feel closer to chess rather than loser's chess : limiting the number of successive switches depending on the move you're at seems unnecessarily complicated. You could for instance consider a chain that involves a pawn still on its starting square as non valid. That would be a big change for sure, but keep it simple and interesting.


To finish, my fastest game so far against that weak program, as black :

1.e3 b6

2.Qf3 Bb7

3.Qxb7?! c6

4.Qxa8?? Qc8 (SB)

5.Qxb8 Kd8 (SW) (SB)

6.Ba6 d6 (SW) (SB)



💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Fri, May 19, 2017 10:13 AM UTC:

There is now a free Android version of this chess variant available.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 03:11 AM UTC:


This is just a quick comment with reference to a possible modification to the SSCC rules above. (Yes, I'm the inventor). In order to minimize the possibility of forced mates due to consecutive switching early in the game, consecutive switching can be limited to the number of moves that have been played. So if the players are on move 5, only 5 consecutive switches may take place. If they are on move 7, only 7 consecutive switches and so forth.

Also, the game notation can be in various forms other than what is mentioned above. For example, "SW" or "SB" to the right of the move list so it's clear that on that move, White switched sides or Black switched sides (or both did consecutively).

George Duke wrote on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 03:37 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
When I judged Excellent one year ago, there were unmentioned reasons why.  One, it's a good original Mutator.  So far I have not found something like new checkmate condition in other CV of three-in-a-line, or other geometric pattern, which would be reminiscent of a Chain, some other designer did.  Anyway Chain is not a win condition as in those few CVs to achieve a line-up of pieces for checkmate. So Chaining is quite original.

Two, Chains themselves are flexible in that they can be legally added to up to a point, and do have clarity.  The combination of Moves to get ongoing Chains lacks the clarity. Here also lack of clarity, stated with irony in the article:

 "If the ticks are even on each side, the players have their starting colors. Otherwise they control the opponent's army at the time."

Having to think whose turn it is that way makes it a fantasy CV, not serious AI experiment or replacement candidate.  Three, the write-up is excellent in detail -- heh like one by Knappen or by Paulowich -- having real move examples, partial scores, constructed positions, to back points up.  

The majority of CVs have somewhat too strong pieces over-all, and Chain as option would put to good use the piece-types in the shadows in subvariants of CVs with Rose, Carreran Centaur (bn) and Champion (rn), or Unicorn (that is hundreds of existing CVs). -- there Switch Side Chain Unicorn Chess would be challenging CV, damping the long-range pieces, because low value pieces including Pawns are equally part of Chain(s). But circular Rose itself should be the favorite for Switch Side Chain because blockable, not like unaesthetic all-spots leaper, it can close and form a chain from all the way around to the backside.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 06:57 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Unfortunately, you have a "poor" understanding of SSCC. Perhaps you would like to illustrate how White can win against Black from the starting position as you imply. The point about SSCC puzzles is valid (and has been suggested to me before but not in exactly the same way).

Jörg Knappen wrote on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 06:54 AM UTC:Poor ★
This poor goes to the "game" described as a two person game. It isn't. The player who starts with white has the full control of the game and the player who starts with black is a poor bystander bound to be declared the loser by his opponent.

Why? White is in control of creating the first chain. He can deliberately wait until black is also ready to create a chain. Now the following goes on: White creates a chain, switches, black creates a chain, switches, white creates or modifies a chain, switches, and so on, until a checkmate is reached.

You can save the good ideas in this game by reformulating it as a puzzle or solitaire game (The solitaire player solves the puzzle, when he can reach checkmate with an unbroken chain of chains; otherwise he fails). To make the puzzle more interesting; vary the initial position (Fischer Random, Random pawn, both).

Reaching checkmate by a chain of chains may also be a nice fairy chess problem condition.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 06:51 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Perhaps it should go to the system developer that allows people to rate their own comments. To what end, I'm still not sure.

Jörg Knappen wrote on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 06:47 AM UTC:Poor ★
This poor goes to the author who talks a lot about ethics, but always rates his own creation "excellent".

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 02:22 AM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
Well, that's certainly not the kind of chess I like to play; but to each his own.

>I still don't see why you should be able to switch twice in a row for this. You just wait until your turn comes up. You could then already do this on a single switch. If you are the first to be able to switch, in such a way that he cannot immediately switch back, you just deplete his (future) time on 'thinking' about the move that will cause the switch. Basically the first opportunity to switch will be a win. I don't think you could do much to prevent white making a chain first: 1. d3 d5? {wait 1:59:58} 2. e3, game over...

Assuming the players agree to time switching rules (which is not a requirement of SSCC), after 1. ... d5, you're saying White waits until he has two seconds left and then switches with 2. e3? Well then he has the black pieces (with plenty of time) and needs to make a move. It's still his turn. Let's say he makes a casual move with the Black pieces that does not switch, how can he be sure White won't switch back quickly with 3. f3! and return the favor?

Regardless, certain lines of play can be avoided if your opponent has the habit of trying to win on time alone and has no real interest in the actual game. Or different time controls, such as the "unfriendly" fixed time per move or, as you suggested, non-switching time controls can be implemented. Again, even with chess, time control rules are highly variable. Depending on the situation and players, some time controls are better than others.

H. G. Muller wrote on Mon, Apr 13, 2015 09:43 AM UTC:
> ..., did this include kicking the table slightly with your foot to break your opponent's concentration or something to that effect?

We would not have considered such tactics as allowed by the rules, and not effective at 5min/game sudden-death time controls anyway. Rearranging the captured pieces while the opponent was thinking at longer TC was fun, however. especially when you were ahead. Then you could nicely line them up so that the extra captured Pawn stood out. I put that on top of the clock once. :-) But let me tell you an anecdote about speed Chess. The open club championship attracted IMs and GMs, because they did have a money prizes in the first group. In the qualifiers my brother had to play a now well-known Dutch Chess player (now IM) who had come to collect that money, but had to beat my brother to qualify for the group where it could be earned. The game wasn't going well for him, though: it seemed a dead draw. The IM was fast, but so is my brother, so a win on time was by no means guaranteed for him. So the IM tries to gain time by shoving the clock away from the board each time he presses it, so my brother had to reach further to press it, losing time. As it became clear this alone would not do it, he pushed the clock (after starting my brother's time running, of course) so far that it fell off the table, and then kicked it with his foot sideways, making it slide two tables away. So that my brother had to crawl under the table to retrieve it first, before he could stop his clock after his move. This of course was a fatal mistake, because, while under the table, my brother was fully out of view to anyone. So when he finally surfaced, much to the dismay of the IM, my brother had not lost 15 valuable seconds as planned, but instead had gained 2 minutes, while the IM's clock was suddenly perilously close to running out. (The clocks had adjustment buttons on the back, after all...) Then the IM got very angry, crying foul. But of course he could not prove a thing, and had actully a hard time explaining to the referee how the clock could end up under the table in the first place. Of course everyone had seen (if not heard) how he had been abusing the $100-clock before, and this had not made him very popular with the organizers. So his protests were dismissed, and he forfeited on time, losing his ticket to the main group to my brother, and going home angrily.

Of course we mastered all the tricks, like moving your pieces closest to the clock when time would be decisive in a dead-drawn end-game like KRKR. If we were 'on the wrong end of the clock' we practiced 'the embush' in such situations. Which was moving back and forth your King between two squares very fast for a number of moves, enticing the opponent to do the same with his King (taking opposition) to not lose time. And then, when this had become an automated reflex with him, suddenly step forward with your King, so that when he mechanically performed the next sideway step, his King would remain attacked by yours. Then you could claim the game for him leaving his King in check. Of course that made them very angry, because they had counted on making you forfeit on time. But their protests, based on that you had stepped into check first, were always dismissed: they had not claimed the game because of that before pressing their clock, and that was decisive, according to the rules (which had just been changed to that effect that year). Of course after a few years they realized that the rules were broken, and changed them again.

> Even under time switching rules, the players can play to avoid situations where two consecutive switches are possible which might allow one player to switch and then wait nearly two hours before switching at the last second so his opponent loses on time.

I still don't see why you should be able to switch twice in a row for this. You just wait until your turn comes up. You could then already do this on a single switch. If you are the first to be able to switch, in such a way that he cannot immediately switch back, you just deplete his (future) time on 'thinking' about the move that will cause the switch. Basically the first opportunity to switch will be a win. I don't think you could do much to prevent white making a chain first: 1. d3 d5? {wait 1:59:58} 2. e3, game over...

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Sun, Apr 12, 2015 10:36 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
First of all, let me just say that in light of your most recent post, I find it ironic that in your first post you should consider a fixed-time-per-move time control "unfriendly".

When you say you and your friends played "to the limit of the rules", did this include kicking the table slightly with your foot to break your opponent's concentration or something to that effect? Because I do remember playing against such people and it told me they had no real skill at the game and had to rely on other methods to give themselves an advantage. Perhaps you and your friends also all agreed to draw in advance of tournaments or final rounds. I have also encountered things like this in my school days.

Once again, time controls are an optional part of SSCC and there can be many different implementations of it. It cannot be compared to switching one move before checkmate (which is legal under any circumstances). Even under time switching rules, the players can play to avoid situations where two consecutive switches are possible which might allow one player to switch and then wait nearly two hours before switching at the last second so his opponent loses on time. Or they could risk it in the hope the opponent might not see those chains (quite possible as well) to gain some other kind of advantage at the regular chess component of the game. I would say this can indeed make the game more interesting... even against someone like you.

H. G. Muller wrote on Sun, Apr 12, 2015 08:24 PM UTC:
The problem is that your ethics does not need to coincide with mine. You might consider me unethical for switching one second before my flag falls, but I would just consider you a poor player for allowing me to do it, and a fool for questioning my ethics afterwards. I have ample experience in speed chess from the time when I was a student. Despite the fact that no world titles or money was at stake, me and my friends always played to the limit of the rules. The rules define a game, and when you take the game seriously, you do what you can to win. We just laughed at people that considered that unethical, and the more angry they got, the more fun we had. People that find that objectionable should go solve cross-word riddles or sudoku puzzles.

When you invite people to manipulate their opponent's thinking time, because that makes the game 'interesting' you should not consider it unethical if they exploit that in their interest. You cannot have it both ways. Either driving your opponent out of time is an interesting part of the game, or it is unethical conduct allowed by the rules, meaning the latter are poorly designed for allowing it. Chess clocks were not invented just to sell more clocks, they serve an essential need.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 11:08 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
I disagree. Not everything in a game can be regulated and ethics is important in every sport. Besides, the vast majority of SSCC games (and regular chess) are not played for money or world championship titles. They are played for fun between two people. Time controls are not even a requirement. That does not mean you should wait until your opponent becomes too tired to continue playing and resigns just to go to sleep; therefore you win. You are expected to make a move within a reasonable amount of time. 

Even in a tournament setting, it is unethical to agree beforehand to a draw and then just play out a few moves before shaking hands and claiming the game is drawn. Many players can do this repeatedly to share prize money but they do not. If your philosophy is to "make use of all conceivable methods allowed by the rules to win", I suspect you will not have that many people willing to play with you. Regardless, and once again, in SSCC time controls are optional and even there the appropriate settings can be agreed upon before the game.

H. G. Muller wrote on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 08:42 PM UTC:
> If the players can remain ethical, ...

Sorry, but that is ridiculous. The purpose of a game is to maximize your winning chances within the rules. Rules that allow winning strategies that you are not supposed to use if you want to 'remain ethical' just suck. You might as well say that it is unethical to switch one move before you would be checkmated. Or that in Chess it would be unethical to capture a piece that is not protected. If you don't make use of all conceivable methods allowed by the rules to win, you just don't know how to play the game!

As Canada Bill used to say: "It is unethical to not strip a fool of his money".

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 09:23 AM UTC:
Dear H. G. Muller,

If the players can remain ethical, switching time controls along with the pieces would add a dimension of complexity to the game that does not exist in a game without time controls, making it more interesting, so to speak. Besides, SSCC can certainly be played without any time controls assuming both players make their moves within a reasonable amount of time. However, what you suggested is also possible. Personally, I see no issue with fixed time controls per move either if the players are agreeable to it. So there's a lot of flexibility on this issue.

On the other hand, if we were to consider the draw by threefold repetition rule, this may be subject to more abuse in SSCC. Therefore I would recommend that in SSCC, it only apply where no switching has occurred (as in the standard game).

H. G. Muller wrote on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 05:46 PM UTC:
Isn't this tantamount to an admission that the clock-switching rule is 'broken' (i.e. spoiling the game)? If each player would simply keep his own time, no abuse would be possible, and thinking long would always go at your own expense. That seems much fairer, and there would be no need for the rather unfriendly fixed-time-per-move time control.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 12:41 AM UTC:
Dear Kood,

Thanks for the question. It means that if you have 5 minutes on your clock and if the opponent has 7 minutes, then upon switching, you not only get your opponent's pieces but also his time of 7 minutes; and he gets your time of 5 minutes.

To prevent rare cases of abuse such as switching and then waiting until the time is almost exhausted before quickly switching again, SSCC can be played under a "fixed time per move" rule such as 3 minutes per move or 5 minutes per move, in which case the time left need not be exchanged upon switching. It just resets at every move for each player.

Kood wrote on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 07:34 PM UTC:
What is meant with: "so in switching sides, you also inherit your
opponent's time left." >

Suppose I have 5 minutes left on 5 my clock, and my oppoment has 10 minutes
left, what is it after switching?

George Duke wrote on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 06:05 PM UTC:
Here is subvariant of SSCC, retaining uncurtailed switching option, but altering  Pawns to Berolina, and adding Camel and Zebra,  
(1) Allow unlimited continuous switching by the one side on move subject to Chain present, as originally defined in Azlan Iqbal's SSCC.

(2) Use two innovations from the fide-founding 1920s: (a) Capablanca 8x10 or 10x10 board (; (b) Ten Berolinas, the other orthodox pawn as replacement. 
Berolina has two forward non-capturing one-steps possible,, which would further facilitate Chain (re-)formation.

(3) Add one Camel, of 700-year-old, and one 19th-century Zebra per side, likewise to enable versatile reach towards chain-making squares between, as oblique, those of regular Q-R-B-N.

(4) So the starting array becomes bbbbbbbbbb and RNB(Camel)QK(Zebra)BNR, giving additional ballast to Chain formation on Capa's grand ten-deep.

💡📝Azlan Iqbal wrote on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 02:03 AM UTC:
Dear George,

Thanks for the comments. To answer two main concerns, the 'chain' was considered more relevant than other criteria for switching because it challenges our powers of visual perception more than say, having a queen and a rook next to each other on the seventh rank. The chain is also dynamic with a theoretically limitless number of shapes and sizes.

As for continuous switching mating combinations, this makes SSCC far more volatile than standard chess. Each player has to be able to visualize the game (including the possibility of chain formation!) far ahead to *avoid* getting mated or force-drawn in this way. Rather than introduce new rules to prohibit such things, I suggest the variant be left the minefield that it is. Note, however, that switching is always an *option* and never compulsory. So a good amount of sizing-up what sort of opponent you have (including risk-taking) might play into the best strategy for winning.

George Duke wrote on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 11:29 PM UTC:
You should be able to play Rotation Chess, of which SSCC is subvariant, in Game Courier: /play/pbm/play.php?game%3DRotation+Chess%26settings%3Ddefault.

For more complex CV combine SSCC and, that is Rotating and Revolving, the board sides may change and the pieces do too.  It's a-head of the curve.

George Duke wrote on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 05:44 PM UTC:Excellent ★★★★★
(II) So this is basically subvariant of old Rotation Chess, and -- that pre-dates Neto's 14-year-old Mutators. There are thousands other ways "to elevate the complexity without affecting the theoretical size of the game tree,", and all deserve batch or individual consideration.

In SSCC should serial Switching be allowed? The example shows spectacularly Player A moving 14 times in a row to ultimate checkmate.  The '5...d4!'
really highlights onset of one of many possible quasi-Fool's Mates inherent in present SSCC, not a great move by and of itself.  In other words, wresting control for 14 plays in a row so early is either a blunder by Player B or cry for designer to rein things in.  How about enhancement in further subvariant: Switching up to twice or thrice and four times dis-allowed?

Appealing about the Rotation CVs is the ability to catch up. By comparison, other CVs that have that quality somehow are Rococo and Chess With Promoters and many 3d CVs.  SSCC certainly dispenses with opening theory by its extreme single Rules addition.  Also to credit of Rotational Chesses is tilt to strategic planning from tactical planning, favouring biologic intelligence over computer, as M.A.M. Iqbal describes. Since two or more empty spaces are desirable, keeping the same familiar small board 8x8 may be main cause of the runaway takeovers by one player or the other for 10 or 12 moves to Checkmate.  Improvement to SSCC might come by enlarging board to GM Reshevsky-endorsed Zonal form,, or to Morley corridor form,

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