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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2002-05-28
 By Ralph  Betza. Chess with Different Armies. Betza's classic variant where white and black play with different sets of pieces. (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-01-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

An excellent concept!

Inspired by it, I can suggest many Chess With Different Armies-like variants that, to my taste, might be especially interesting to try out sometime:

That would be with the Different Armies idea used to make any number of versions of the following variants 1) 9x8 Symmetric Chess; 2) 10x8 Janus or Capablanca Chess; 3) any number of 10x10 variants, such as Grand or Sac Chess; 4) 4x16 or 5x16 Circular Chess variants; 5) Glinski's, Symmetric Glinski's, McCooeye's or Hexajedrez (91 cell Hexagonal Chess variants); 6) 4-Way Chess; 7) Crazyhouse, Chessgi or Hostage Chess; 8) Pocket Mutation Chess; 9) Backlash; 10) Marsailles or Progression Chess.

Derek Nalls wrote on 2015-04-05 UTCBelowAverage ★★
Despite their intractability (in most cases), it is true (as an existential theorem) for all turn-based, two-player chess variants that, with perfect play, a decisive, game-winning advantage exists for either white or black.  Furthermore, this advantage will be amplified where the armies are unequal and/or asymmetrical.  The fact that the problem fails to "bite us" because the quality of play needed to reveal it is out of reach for both human or state-of-the-art AI players does not render it insignificant.  It just has little practical effect.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2015-03-28 UTCAverage ★★★
This game is interesting but unbalanced. Of the three new armies, the Nutty Knights are the most powerful. None of them are colorbound, and five non-royal pieces are major pieces. That is more major pieces than each side in Chess has, which is only three. The Remarkable Rookies are more balanced with the usual Chess army. A Chancellor is weaker than a Queen, a short Rook is weaker than a Rook, and a Half-Duck combines the colorboundness of the Bishop with the short-range of the Knight, making it weaker than both. The only advantage of the Remarkable Rookies over the FIDE army is that the Woody Rook, which replaces the Knight, is a major piece, giving this side five major pieces instead of three. The Colorbound Clobberers are the weakest of all. Each side has four colorbound pieces, and the only major piece is weaker than the most powerful major piece in each of the other armies. The Cardinal is weaker than the Queen and Chancellor and probably the Colonel too, because these all have Rook moves, and the Cardinal doesn't.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2014-12-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
If I haven't done so before, I wish to add my voice to the rousing chorus of praise for this *classic* inspiration (by "The Philosopher" of chess himself, Ralph Betza) which begins to bridge the gap to cv and start the necessary transition from increasingly obsolete (but not dead yet) Eurocentric chess currently undergoing brutal, dark ages under the corrupt auspices of FIDE organization and its kooky real life tyrant of Kalmykia (really casting a very dark and unseemly shadow over the contemporary scene of professional chess and it's really quite a shame that Kasparov didn't manage to succeed Ilyumzhinov but I'm grateful to Garry Kimovich *to whom I wish to give a "shout out" of FULL respect* for trying).

I think it's a fun exercise for chess variant inventors to develop their own CDAs, kind of like a poet to develop his/her own haiku or sonnet. Obviously, it's not essential for poets to adopt "accepted" (but also merely arbitrary and conventional) forms. I encourage cv inventors with time, energy and inclination to do what Aronson, Lawson, Joyce and several others have done and try to come up with their own unique blend of pieces to compete against the ortho-Eurocentric one, e.g., what CDA might employ a GW Duke Falcon? I would LOVE to see such a thing developed and I'm sure some very nice ones could be.

A fun variant design contest would be for CDAs.

I hope to see CDA developed for other variants besides the ortho-eurocentric one such as the Shatranj for Different Armies alluded to by such as Knappen and Joyce and Tripunch for Different Armies as Betza has alluded to (I have recently myself discovered a Tripunch CDA currently in Beta Testing). One hopes to see more classic, exotic, fancier CDAs developed such as those by Knappen, Maxson, Makov, I myself, others and older ones fine-tuned with the guidance of computers such as H.G. Muller has been delving into...

seonoo wrote on 2013-12-19 UTCGood ★★★★
The Nutty Knights are weak. The fibnif is exactly 3. The charging rook is maybe slightly weaker than rook, but it's really a quantum of advantage. The Charging Knight is probably stronger, but again by a quantum of advantage. So that leaves just the Colonel. The rook part is 3.75 the knight part is 1.5 the king part is 2. 3.75+1.5+2=7.25. The Colonel is just too weak. What about fsRfhNAK? The other two teams? :)

ppirilla wrote on 2011-01-16 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I think that the beauty of this game is that it adds computational complexity, without affecting in-game complexity. Although it has a learning curve to familiarize yourself with the new pieces, the in-game board positions are generally of comparable complexity to the FIDE standard.

By taking away the known and studied board positions, it takes the chess back to its root as a test of logic and strategy. From pure information overload, players should not -- and generally can not -- rely on memorized openings or endgames, but must instead invent the process as they play.

Really, is that not the point of chess variants, giving chess players a new experience outside of the tried-and-true? I have not, nor do I have any desire to work towards memorizing opening books, beyond two or three moves. My enjoyment of chess comes from working out the best tactic as the game develops.

CWDA is my preferred variant, because of its simplicity and expandability. Really, the game play is chess. Learn the movements of four new pieces, and you can introduce a new army into the game. With just four armies, there are now 15 games you can play (not counting the FIDE vs FIDE match). Starting with a knowledge of chess, and only adding the movement of 12 previously unknown pieces. Simple! Versatile! Elegant! What's not to like?

Anonymous wrote on 2010-03-24 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Why not make different armies for Xiang-qi?

Alexander Krutikov wrote on 2009-04-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
In my experience, the flexibility of the Charging-Knight in the Nutty Knights team makes it somewhat stronger then a Bishop. 

The Colourbound Clobberers' lack of a piece that moves by ranks and files makes them slightly susceptible to back-rank mate treats.

Anonymous wrote on 2008-04-27 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
In my opinion, the cardinal IS stronger than the FIDE Queen. If a king is at a1 and a cardinal was at c3, the king is checkmated. However, there is NO WAY for a FIDE queen to mate on its own.

ChessAhmega wrote on 2007-02-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
That game sounds awesome! I might tell you an idea of a chess army...once I think of it...

Andy Maxson wrote on 2007-02-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
new army idea: swift splicers bishop: the deacon moves as a four square
bishop plus spacious wazir
rook; the fourfer from the meticulous mashers the fourfer a four square
rook plus ferz
knight; the waffle alfil plus wazir
queen the general a four square queen plus two square crab rider or an
alternate queen the admiral: a four square queen plus two square chinese

Andy Maxson wrote on 2007-02-10 UTCGood ★★★★
in hexagonal chess the army the color cound clobberers would be a misnomer beacause none of the pieces are colorbound! So you would have to give it a new name how about the bishop bashers?

Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2006-06-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
ok i have my rating cap on :)
well this game is a legend in chess variant world, so i'll start here,
great fun with different armies :)

Stephane Burkhart wrote on 2006-02-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Ralph, I love your idea of Different Armies, since it can be applied without limitation to any kinds of armies, subjected to a critical analysis of their respective 'values' (as you did in another page) to equilibrate the Game.

David Paulowich wrote on 2005-04-06 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

See Ralph Betza's 1996 Index to Articles about Pieces including the ones used in CWDA and others. Incidentally, Dai Shogi fans will find short articles on the Phoenix (under the name WA or Waffle) and the Kylin (under the name FD).

Greg Strong wrote on 2005-03-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Looking back, I noticed that I had not rated this game, so I now correct
this oversight with an 'Excellent' rating for my personal favorite

I hope that Ralph re-emerges soon, because I am concerned that his
inventions might become overlooked without his continued input.  But I
will continue to do what I can to promote CWDA, though, such as voting for
it's inclusion in Game Courier tournaments, and providing the best
possible CWDA support to ChessV, for analysis of different army match-ups.
 Sometime in the not-too-distant future I will provide a great deal of
information here on what I have learned from computer analysis of the
major CWDA armies.

Regarding the Pawn promotion rule:  I would recommend a change to this
rule.  The current rule says a pawn may promote to any piece in either
army at the start of the game.  Here's the problem:  What about the
match-up of Nutty Knights vs. Nutty Knights?  Since no piece in that
entire army may move backward faster than one square at a time, even if a
pawn promotes to a (very powerful) Colonel, it still probably can't move
back into the frey quickly enough, seriously decreasing the value of pawn
promotion.  I would suggest the alternate rule:  A pawn may promote to any
piece (other than Pawn or King) in the player's army at the start of the
game, or in the standard Orthodox Chess army (Fabulous FIDEs).  This
always provides the option of promotion to Queen.

Mike Nelson wrote on 2002-08-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
CWDA is IMHO the best variant on these pages and that's saying a lot. I particularly like the fact that the concept can be adapted to most variants. <p> Here is an experimental CWDA army based on <a href=''>Separate Realms Chess</a>: <p> On the Rook's squares: the Separate Realms Queen (mAADDcQ)<br> On the Knight's squares: the Separate Relms Rook (mDDcR)<br> On the Bishop's squares: the Separte Realms Bishop (mAAcB)<br> One the Queen's square: the FIDE Queen (or any queen-value piece you prefer). <p> Calculation and playtesting suggest that the Separate Realms pieces are worth about 2/3 of their FIDE counterparts, so this should be in the ballpark of CWDA armies, with an unusual material balance (strong Rooks and weak Bishops).

No-one wrote on 2002-07-07 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This really does sound like a great game. The different, themed armies are a great idea!

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2002-06-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Chess with Different Armies is certainly a very enjoyable set of games. I
particularly liked playing the Remarkable Rookies, perhaps because of their
mutually supportive and jumping capabilities. On the other hand, I had a
much more difficult time with the Colorbound Clobberers. Before I knew it,
I had trapped myself in an off-balance position. 

The overall idea of CWDA is very clever. The idea of balanced, yet
different, armies should see more use in Chess variants development. But,
as remarked by Ralph, this is not so simple and takes quite a bit of work.
On the other hand, it has endless possibilities with a simple theme. One
thought, would it be possible for players to 'assemble' an army from
'equivalent' sets?

Something else, there is a playful character to the armies, which is a nice

gnohmon wrote on 2002-06-03 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
An 'Excellent' to the editor!

Several excellent people have also given excellent ratings for my game, for
which I thank.

It is common for the neophyte chess variant author to invent his first game
and tout it as the inevitable replacement for Chess. We all laugh at

It is uncommon for somebody who has authored thousands of highly-regarded
chess variants to refer to one of his inventions as the most likely
evolutionary future of the game of Chess. I hope we all take this

I do not expect that CwDA will become widely played, much less overtake
FIDE Chess, within my lifetime; nor do I expect that when it does the same
primitive armies that I designed will be used. However!

However, it was 1976 when I first conceived of the game, and 1996 when I
composed the first succcessful army (Colorbound Clobberers). Twenty years.
My first attempts were so bad; and I realized that in order to creat this
game I needed to explore the problem of the values of chess pieces. And so
I did.

Twenty years. A large part of one's life. Don't imagine that I thought
about the problem every day of every year, no, that's not how it went at
all! I worked on it, and I gave up in bafflement, and I came back to it
after a few years of not thinking about it, and then I gave up and came
back and tried again and gave up and came back and tried again and so on.
Not so much brilliant as really stuborn.

Remember that I am a genuinely certified master of FIDE Chess: I know and
love the openings, endgames, midgames. Chess with Different Armies has
satisfied my expectations of what Chess should be -- it has openings,
endgames, midgames, all with the general feel of real serious FIDE Chess,
but of course it's different. Someday, the Grandmasters will begin to play
my game, and because they are so strong they will find imbalances in the
particulat armies I designed -- and I don't care, because once they start,
they're hooked. Meanwhile, nobody can design any chess variant without at
least thinking about different armies! I am pleased to see this, because I
had expcted that my mind's greatest invention would not be recognized so
soon; and yet I always hope for more. Chess with Different Armies (together
with the essential work on piece values) is, I think, a really
revolutionary idea even though my own work on these subjects is so
hopelessly bad (I look good now, but when real mathematicians take a run at
the val
use and real Grandmasters start to evaluate my armies, watch out!) What an
accomplishemnt, and did you know that with that accomplishment I only need
a buck fifty to ride the subway?

Peter Hatch wrote on 2002-05-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Here's a (hopefully complete) list of armies:

Fabulous FIDEs
Colorbound Clobberers
Colorbound Clobberers II (alternate setup)
Remarkable Rookies
Nutty Knights
Forward FIDEs
Meticulous Mashers
All-Around Allstars
Amazon Army
Amazon Army II (Crabs replace Knights, Amazon replaces Queen)
Avian Air Force
Spacious Cannoneers
Amontillado (7 different knights, 2 queens for 14 total armies)
Cylindrical Cinders
Colorbound Clobberers with Doublemove F instead of FAD
Colorbound Clobberers II with Doublemove F instead of FAD
Fighting Fizzies
Pizza Kings
Seeping Switchers

(I've got all of the above implemented in a ZRF that just needs some
polishing before I release it.)

Mannis Manglers
Nattering Nabobs of Negativity
Fabulous FIDEs with Iron Ferz instead of Queen
Fabulous FIDEs with Iron Crab instead of Queen

John Lawson wrote on 2002-05-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
And how many experimental armies have been devised? Those are fun and instructive, too, both for how they work and the ways they fall short. The supporting work of 'Ideal and Practical Values' is valuable not only for designers, but for players trying to gauge the relative values of unfamiliar combinations of pieces in an unfamiliar variant.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-05-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Actually, this ought to be Excellent to the Nth Power!  I am glad to see
this game on a prominent page of its own, for while it's been on this site
for years, you had to know where to find it, and as a Chess variant
designer this (and the associated work that Ralph did to support it) has
been one of the games that has influenced me the most.  


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