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This item is a reference work
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2017-09-09
 Author: Fergus  Duniho. What is a Chess variant?. An essay on what distinguishes a Chess variant from other games.[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Glenn Nicholls wrote on 2017-09-05 UTC

To H.G.M.

Yes, I think what you have said is as good a definition of the classic or traditional Chess idea as is likely within a few lines of text.....I did know that neither the current Western game nor the current Chinese game is in its original form. 


H. G. Muller wrote on 2017-09-05 UTC

@Glenn Nicholls: Xiangqi is just as much a Chess variant as western Chess is a Chess variant. Neither of these is the original form. They are all particular realizations of the grand idea of Chess, i.e. a two-player board game of perfect information, with many different pieces that can be captured by replacement, where loss of a designated royal piece decides the game.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2017-09-05 UTC

Does anyone know the earliest use of the term Chess Variant? I have found it used as early as 1990 in the first issue of Variant Chess. It is also used in 1992 by R. Wayne Schmittberger in New Rules for Classic Games, and in 1994 by D.B. Pritchard in The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants. In 1968, John Gollon used the term Chess Variation to mean the same thing. In 1961, V. R. Parton used the expression "variants of Chess" in Curiouser & Curiouser. In the 1972 100 Squares for Chess and Damante, Parton uses the expression "Decimal Chess variants." Then in the 1973 Enduring Spirit of Dasapada, Parton uses the expression "chess variants" without modification and gives Shogi as an example of one. So, the term goes back at least to Parton, who seemed to have it in mind even when he wasn't using it explicity. Is there any older literature on Chess variants that also uses the term?


V. Reinhart wrote on 2017-02-16 UTC
Great information. Thanks for sharing. That's interesting that you mentioned wargames, and how there you can move more than one piece per turn.
In "Chess on an Infinite Plane" I've been thinking of allowing some situations where more than one piece can be moved per turn (but rather infrequently, and mostly only when the two pieces are in distinctly different locations, i.e. different localized battles).
I haven't implemented it yet, but your mention of wargames makes me think that there may be a rather large upper bounds for this. Good article!

(zzo38) A. Black wrote on 2016-04-29 UTC
You say "There are no Monopoly or Risk problems, because they aren't that kind of game." I have seen retroanalysis puzzles for Scrabble and Bridge. You say "Some Chess variants do introduce elements of randomness." Yes, also some (e.g. Kriegspiel) introduce elements of hidden information.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-04-25 UTC
I rewrote the second section, focusing on ways of modifying Chess to make Chess variants.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-04-24 UTC

In rewriting the second part of this page, I was putting in too much history, then trying to edit it down, because this page is not supposed to be about history. So I think I will completely revise the second part to be about taxonomy, not history. History can be saved for another page, which fits into my general scheme, which is to create pages on the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) plus Which and How. This is the What page, and history is the proper subject for the When page. I'm conceiving of the others as

  • Who is responsible for this site?
  • Where can I play Chess variants?
  • Why should I play Chess variants?
  • Which Chess variants are best?
  • How can I create a good Chess variant?

I might include multiple questions under some question words, such as "How can I help out with this site?"

As for the text on the homepage, I would like a short description of the site with a brief mission statement. What I currently have is too wordy and covers material that is being covered in more depth on this page and will be covered on some of the other pages.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-04-23 UTC
Unless you know of some really old organizations for playing Chess variants by correspondence, it should be "didn't exist." Fairy chess goes back to at least 1918, while NOST was founded in 1960, and AISE was founded in 1975.

John Davis wrote on 2016-04-23 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
In the section titled Fairy Chess, it reads "and organizations for correspondence games didn't exist". Shouldn't that be "did exist"?

Ben Reiniger wrote on 2016-04-23 UTC
<p>I would keep the blurb, just because it has historically been on the landing page (see <a href="http://www.chessvariants.com/onthese/history.html">the history of CVP</a>). Adding a few reference links to it--such as to this page--would be nice.</p> <p><i> [Oh, now I see that in fact the blurb has been changed.]</i></p>

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-04-23 UTC
My plan is to replace the "About Chess Variants" section on the homepage with links to reference pages. This is one of the first ones. If you have your own ideas on the subject, your input is welcome.

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