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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2016-11-13
 By Fergus  Duniho. Gross Chess. A big variant with a small learning curve. (12x12, Cells: 144) [All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Greg Strong wrote on 2018-09-14 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This is an excellent game. I avoided it for a long time because I thought the large amount of power on the board would make it too difficult for me to deal with. It turns out I find it very playable, although it does require me to spend more time thinking before making a move for most of the game. Midgame positions can be exceptionally complex.

The opening starts out feeling nice and slow, as though the first 10 or so moves don’t matter too much. While I think it’s true that there is a very large amount of flexibility to how you can play the opening, those moves are still very important. At some point, typically around move 20, the game breaks open and becomes tactical and violent quickly. You want your pieces well-positioned when that happens. There is some contention for the e4/e9 and h4/h9 squares. All three of the light leapers – Champion, Wizard, and Knight – are good to develop early and all three are natural to develop to those squares, so you must choose which to develop there. I find that typically one of these three piece types doesn’t get developed in the opening before the game gets wild. I think it’s important to get the Vaos developed early. By the endgame, they are the weakest piece, but their low material value and ability to make long-range jumps gives them significant power to harass the heavier pieces as the game progresses. Developing the Vaos generally requires developing the Knights.

I like the promotion rules overall but the 14 extra pieces each player starts with in reserve seem unnecessary. There is tremendous carnage before any pawns are in a position to promote so lack of replacements is not an issue. The extra Queens are the only pieces that have any realistic possibility of being used.

Well-played games are typically nail-biters and the dynamic between the two players can reverse several times before it’s over. Having the momentum is very important – you want to be the one forcing the opponent to react, and the longer you can keep it that way, the more advantage you will accumulate.

My estimage of the piece values:

Piece Ave. Dir. Attacked Ave. Safe Checks Ave. Mobility Midgame Value Endgame Value
Queen 7.03 29.03 17.33 12.5 13.5
Marshall 9.78 24.44 15.79 10 11
Archbishop 9.47 16.81 13.76 8.5 9
Rook 3.67 18.33 9.68 6.5 7.5
Champion 9.78 6.11 9.78 6 6
Wizard 8.86 5.50 8.86 6 5.5
Bishop 3.36 10.69 7.65 5 5.5
Cannon          5 2.5
Vao          3.5 1.5
Knight 6.11 6.11 6.11 2.5 2.5
Pawn 1.68 0.00 1.68 1 1.25


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2018-03-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This game is really sweet for a quite large (12x12) variant, and as advertised it has a small learning curve. Lots of fun!


Anonymous wrote on 2016-09-02 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Regarding the comments below, I'm not seeing how being 'simply' an amalgam of some well-known chess variants makes this a 'less interesting' variant. Not every variant needs to have some completely radical twist, and for my money I find variants that aim to be 'natural extensions' to chess much more relevant to my personal interests.

I find myself quite partial to the particular concept of this variant myself, and I feel that the twelve different pieces complement each other fairly well. I would be interested in seeing another variant that utilizes the exact same pieces in a different setup for a possibly even tighter game.


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2016-06-30 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Since inventing this game 7 years ago, I haven't been very active in creating new games. While part of this is due to having distractions and other interests, it's also because I have been very satisfied with this game. Instead of being an exploration into new territory, which can be an iffy prospect, this game takes what I like about Chess and increases it to a larger scale. Using the guidelines I set out in an article called On Designing Good Chess Variants, it stands up very well.

Playability (Simplicity + Clarity) & Interest (Depth & Challenge)

Because it uses familiar pieces, it is easy to learn, and because of its size and its number and variety of pieces, it offers great depth and challenge. Despite its size, the pieces move in fairly straightforward ways, which makes it easy enough to understand and evaluate a position. One of the reasons I like Chess much more than Checkers is its variety of pieces. Having different pieces makes exchanges more interesting. With this game's several more types of pieces, it has a greater variety of possible exchanges than Chess has. This increases the odds of uneven exchanges happening, where players exchange different pieces. This allows for a greater variety of unequal armies that might face each other during the course of the game.

Enjoyment (Excitement, Decisiveness, Duration, Satisfaction)

As inequalities develop between sides, the game can become more decisive, yet because of the greater variety of pieces, it may be harder to call the game during the mid-game, which can make the game more exciting. Although the large size of the game could delay attacks, the Cannons and Vaos enable attacking even before pieces have made it across Pawn lines. This allows the mid-game to start even sooner in this game than it might in other variants of this size. This makes the game quicker and more exciting from an earlier stage of the game. The triple Pawn moves and the three-rank promotion zone also help speed up the game, which is important for a game this size. Because the game is like Chess in demanding skill, and its larger size and greater number of uncertain exhanges increases the opportunities for players to make mistakes, a player who wins should feel satisfied at winning, and even a player who loses in the end may feel satisfaction in how he played the game.

Fairness (Balance + Control)

While moving first can give White an advantage, I think this advantage diminishes as a game grows larger, and it is also lessened between opponents who have not yet mastered the intricacies of the game. Also, this game offers no particular weakness for either player to exploit early in the game. All pawns start out protected, and most pieces can move someplace else even from the opening position. Because no piece is stronger than a Queen, there are no end-game surprises from a powerful piece like an Amazon getting loose. The game remains a team effort between different pieces rather than one where a star piece takes over. As with Chess, both sides start out equal, and the outcome is determined by the skill and choices of the players.


David Paulowich wrote on 2010-02-05 UTCGood ★★★★

'21. Two Ferz's, even on different colors, cannot checkmate a lone King.'

'23. Two Camels, even on different colors, cannot checkmate a lone King.'

quotes from: Endgame statistics with fantasy pieces.

Regarding Knappen's [2010-02-04] Comment, I have not investigated mating with a pair of Wizards. I suppose that a pair of Spotted Gryphons will also be unable to force checkmate (in general).


Jörg Knappen wrote on 2010-02-04 UTCGood ★★★★
This game should be judged by its design criteria: Given a set of pieces (in hardware), create a solid and playable chess variant for them. It think it fits this purpose well, allthough I think keeping the original movements of the Omega chess pieces makes this a rather slow game, because the pieces are short-range on a 12x12 board.

On the Omega wizard: A pair of wizards and a king cannot mate a lone king (on any conventional rightangular board). The reason is that they must switch between odd and even ranks and files all the time. On the big board the wizard is clearly weaker than the bishop; on 8x8 it may be equal or slightly stronger because of its higher mobility and forking power.

George Duke wrote on 2009-12-11 UTCPoor ★
One senses that the designer is sensitive so I for one rarely rate a Duniho. Gross Chess is new combination of pre-existing elements with no particular novelty. That is this designer's style and it usually works for solid performance. Duniho's total body of work does not rise to Betza's or Gifford's or Gilman's but does reach the very next ledge, maybe even nicking into the top 10 among prolificists. Eurasian is new combination too, it works very well, and so is nominee NextChess. Congratulations Fergus on reasonable regarded Eurasian, one of the 21 thus far at NextChesses. Gross here however falls only within unnecessary proliferation that I can tell serving to complexify the broth. It's about as worthwhile as the author's Grotesque, being just another Carrera-Capablanca. One can make these things, but why share them publicly?

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