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This item is a game information page
It belongs to categories: Orthodox chess, 
It was last modified on: 2003-09-13
 By Michael  Nelson. Pocket Mutation Chess. Take one of your pieces off the board, maybe change it, keep it in reserve, and drop it on the board later. (8x8, Cells: 64) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Anthony Viens wrote on 2018-11-29 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

One of the very best variant on the site!

Truly beautiful concept, and it appears to work.  (I have not had an opportunity to try it myself, yet.)

Reading through the comments, much of the complaints seem to focus on the power of the knightrider's ability to reach the back row and promote.  I wonder if anyone has considered that the knightrider move and the promotion rules may not work together perfectly?  Changing them would result in a different game, but possibly a better one.  Just a thought.


Kevin Pacey wrote on 2017-10-03 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Excellent concept. One can quibble about the class certain pieces ought to be in, and the extra basic rules are slightly complex, but cool variant.

My tentative estimates for the piece values of this variant are: Class 1: P=1; Class 2: N=3.5, B=3.5; Class 3: R=5.5, NN=5.75, SB=6; Class 4: C=7.5, SR=8; Class 5: Q=10, M=10, SC=10, CC=10.25; Class 6: MM=12.25, SM=12.5, SCC=12.75; Class 7: A=14.5, SMM=14.75; Class 8: AA=16.75. Note that I tend to agree with various world class chess players who historically gave the fighting value of K=4 for on an 8x8 board. I also tend to agree with chess authorities who in the past valued a B microscopically better than a N on average, so perhaps a better value for a N (or the N component portion of any of the appropriate compound pieces listed above) might be, say, 3.49, to reflect this belief, though I prefer not to use ugly fractions when thinking of most piece exchange value calculations that might arise.


Johnny Luken wrote on 2015-05-07 UTCAverage ★★★
I would have to extend my criticism of Crazyhouse to this game, and echo Mr Dukes sentiments.

While I like the concept, I don't think its an actually good game.

My proposed amendment of the drop in rule (pieces are played in with non capture from the spot they were captured) likely brings an improvement here as well.

Non immediate promotion is also unsatisfactory; why not allow pieces to promote immediately on rotationally symmetric opposite squares?

To me these are the most logical ways of importing Shogis mechanics into the more energetic game of FIDE.

John Smith wrote on 2008-12-29 UTCPoor ★
There's too much promotion!

Matthew Kyle wrote on 2008-08-14 UTCGood ★★★★
This would be a great game to play, but having all of those nightrider blends is too complicated. Otherwise, is there a set number of turns that a piece must stay in the pocket to be mutated?

George Duke wrote on 2007-11-16 UTCPoor ★
Having played Pocket Mutation several times within Game Courier, I consider it very Poor. Pocket Mutation would get no following outside of CVPage-type insiders mostly adhering to prolificism(coined word). We realize of course Pocket Mutation is one of the couple most played games(What, 30 game scores? 50?) and voted into Game Courier Tournament #3 presently being played out. However, the dynamics of going back and forth to reach rank 8(1) over and over, in order to promote and re-promote to the next level, I have repeatedly found really, really inferior even pathetic. Not to mention the accumulating number of piece-types horrendous to keep track of, cutting into planning. One of CVPage's very worst in playability.

Jeremy Good wrote on 2007-01-15 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

One of the best variants, certainly and Michael Nelson, I think, is also one of the best variant designers.

I would like to see an expanded (more complete) list of pieces added to the classes.

Also, maybe an extension for some of the more powerful pieces, as with tripunch pieces and cylindrical / toroidal pieces? Would be fun to have classes 9 and even 10.

Abdul, can you please tell me what you mean by superknight and supernightrider?

Just want to know.


Abdul-Rahman Sibahi wrote on 2007-01-01 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
SuperKnight and SuperNightRider should be added to the main list in classes 4 and 5 respectively. It is a sensible expansion omitted for who-knows-why reasons!! Addition of Cylindrical and Toroidal pieces can be nasty !! (The rook will only upgrade by a class or half a class.. but bishops and knight and nightriders and super pieces can jump two or three classes, that's for cylinderical.)

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2006-01-02 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Well deserved, Mike. Congratulations!

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2005-05-10 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Yes, this game is excellent, as usual Mike Nelson´s standards as games designer. I have to make an (perhaps unexpected) appretiation: I think this game, at high level of play, is not easy for a victory. Played by 'Masters', this game may be at least as drawish than FIDE-Chess. The reason is because promotions don´t add much power, and material advantage is less decisive than in Chess. In Chess, the potential danger of material advantage is its convertibility in Pawns, which can poromote to Queens or other valious pieces if necessary. In PMC, material convertibility is not as strong, and its decisiveness is less clear or slower. But Mastering this game must be much more difficult than mastering Chess, this game is much more rich in possibilities.

Joe Joyce wrote on 2005-05-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This is a truly twisted game, extremely well put together. The pieces and rules create a high tension and a fine, unique dynamic. I particularly enjoy the pawn play. A+; thanks for a great game.

Roberto Lavieri wrote on 2005-04-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This is a very interesting game, far from easy to play in a good manner.
Material advantage should be good, but it is much less important than in
FIDE-Chess. Defensive schemes can be good for a team in a slight
disdvantage, because the superior team, if wants a victory, must attack,
and always some weaknesses can appear, because pieces used in attacks
can´t defend weak positions in many cases. The superior team can´t
construct easely the victory positionally step by step as in FIDE-Chess.
In Chess, the main mennace is the convertibility of the advantage in Pawns
which can promote to Queens, here it is not the case, promotions add a bit
more power, but not enough for a victory in many cases. Openings must be
played carefully, conversions to Nightriders can cause serious damages to
the enemy if he plays with some ingenuity about these pieces. isolated
pieces are not good, and unprotected Kings are worse. Positions must
change dinamically and mantaining reasonable solid structures, don´t stay
with the same structure and pieces types all the time, some structures are
more sensitive to some piece types, and other structures to other pieces.
Every player must try to cover his weak points before attacks, or
counter-attacks can be devasting... I have launched the idea of redefining
the Super Cardinal as a class 6 piece, but it seems there is not consense.
This is not only the most powerful piece in its class, but its power is
almost the same as the class 6 Super-Chancellor. Super-Cardinals can cause
demolishing effects in many ends, due the usual sparsity of the pieces, and
a Queen is not equally comparable with it, because it is not only the
mobility in consideration, but the potential attacks against the enemy
King, considering that this piece can be dropped. Classes 7 and 8 seems to
be unnecessary, in my opinion. I know that many players are not gained with
the idea of re-defining the classes, but I want hear more opinions about
it.

Greg Strong wrote on 2005-02-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

This is a very interesting game. I look forward to playing it in GCT #2.

Below is a list of mobility values for all the pieces in Pocket Mutation, as well as a few Chess-With-Different-Armies pieces at the bottom for comparison. The 'average mobility' column is a Betza Mobility Calculation with a magic number of 0.7. This is probably the best estimation of the value of the piece. The second column is the average number of checks this piece delivers on an empty board without being counter-attacked. The third column is the average number of different 'directions' in which this piece attacks. The fourth column is the average number of squares attacked on an empty board.

Average # Directions Attacked Average Empty Board Mobility
Average Mobility Average # Safe Checks
Class Piece
Class 2
Knight 5.25 5.25 5.25 5.25
Bishop 5.93 5.69 3.06 8.75
Class 3
Rook 8.1 10.5 3.5 14
Nightrider 7.96 9.5 5.25 9.5
Super Bishop 9.43 5.69 6.56 12.25
Class 4
Cardinal 11.18 10.94 8.31 14
Super Rook 11.16 10.5 6.56 17.06
Class 5
Queen 14.03 16.19 6.56 22.75
Chancellor 13.35 15.75 8.75 19.25
Cardinal Rider 13.89 15.19 8.31 18.25
Super Cardinal 14.68 10.94 11.81 17.5
Class 6
Chancellor Rider 16.06 20 8.75 23.5
Super Chancellor 16.41 15.75 11.81 22.31
Super Cardinal Rider 17.39 15.19 11.81 21.75
Class 7
Amazon 19.28 21.44 11.81 28
Super Chancellor Rider 19.12 20 11.81 26.56
Class 8
Amazon Rider 21.99 25.69 11.81 32.25
Misc
Fibnif 5.69 2.63 5.69 5.69
Waffle 5.75 2.25 5.75 5.75
Woody Rook 6.5 3 6.5 6.5
Charging Knight 6.78 2.63 6.78 6.78
Short Rook 7.51 7.5 3.5 11
FAD (colorbound) 8.31 5.25 8.31 8.31
Charging Rook 8.48 7.88 5.03 12.91
Half-Duck 8.56 5.5 8.56 8.56
Bede (colorbound) 8.93 8.69 6.06 11.75
Fourfer (FR4) 10.57 7.5 6.56 14.06
Colonel 12.64 10.5 9.19 17.06
N2R4 14.86 15.75 8.75 19.25


Nasmichael Farris wrote on 2005-01-18 UTCGood ★★★★
Intriguing. I have to try it. I am not sure how many opponents I can get to play over-the-board--but I will ask a good one. I am not too fond of the riders, but the fusion idea is pleasant. How do you (collectively) think it would play if the more advanced player (e.g., by more than 200 points) took standard FIDE pieces, and the novice took the Pocket Mutation pieces--or in another vein, that the more advanced player could only choose a more limited number of mutations, decided before gameplay begins.

David Paulowich wrote on 2004-08-28 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
1. P b2-b3 
1... p d7-d5 
2. R a1-p1; I-p1 // pocket nightrider 
2... b c8-d7 
3. I p1-b2 //  is a PMChess Fool's Mate.  Neat!

This variant has the potential to go beyond excellent. Bringing Class 4 up to four pieces yields 21 different pieces for the game, including the King. And 21, being the product of the magic numbers 3 and 7, makes a traditional choice for a complete set. I suggest adding the SuperAlibaba to Class 4, as its WFAD moves make a nice change from long range pieces.


carlos carlos wrote on 2004-08-26 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
is repeated forced check a draw?

J Andrew Lipscomb wrote on 2004-06-09 UTCGood ★★★★
As far as using different piece sets: the 'eccentric' sets of a lot of variants would be bad choices, but I could see applying these rules to Grand Chess (the Nightrider power seems more workable on the 10x10) or to Chu Shogi with Schmittberger's hierarchy (a piece taken out of the promotion zone would promote either to anything in the next category up, or to its own natural promoted form).

Michael Schmahl wrote on 2004-03-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Is mutuation when pocketing a piece from the eighth rank optional or
mandatory?  For example, White pockets a KnightRider from a8 -- does he
have the option of retaining a KnightRider or is he forced to 'upgrade'
to a Cardinal or SuperRook.  White may find the NR ability too useful to
give up.

What if you added a new Piece, the 'SuperKnightRider', or 'KingRider',
which moves as King or KnightRider?  Would this be approximately the right
strength for a Class 4 Piece?  If you think it is too strong, perhaps a
FerzRider or WazirRider would be better.

Antoine Fourrière wrote on 2003-09-13 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I'm presently losing my game of Pocket Mutation Chess against Peter
Aronson in Invent-and-Play Section 2, and it is obviously a very enjoyable game.
I blew up my position at move 5:

1. Rook h1 - WP = Nightrider
1. Pawn d7 - d5
2. Nightrider WP - f4
2. Queen d8 - BP = CardinalRider
3. Rook a1 - WP = SuperBishop
3. Pawn g7 - g6
4. SuperBishop WP - e5
4. Knight g8 - f6
5. SuperBishop e5 x c7 ??
5. CardinalRider BP - g5
6. Knight g1 - f3
6. CardinalRider g5 x c7...

Despite this outcome, I am afraid that the sole advantage of being White
was bound to give me a quick win. (Peter is not so sure.) The Nightrider
can be dropped on c4, threatening King and Rook, or f4, threatening Queen
and Rook. It is forking a fork, so to say.
So, I think that White should be barred from using the Pocket at his
first move. (Peter agrees with me on this.)

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-08-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
The middle game develops very nicely. At first I thought that there would be a lot of drops. It turns out that the tempo lost in putting a piece in the pocket is very important, so this option cannot be wasted. The game develops very closely to FIDE Chess. The mutation aspect of the pocket actually adds more to the dynamics of the game than the drop itself, it seems. Promotions do not seem to be any more prevalent in the middle game than in FIDE.

Daniel Roth wrote on 2003-05-09 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This is an excellent game! The pocket allows for many surprises.
I played its zrf many times and I found a very small error in it. The
piece CancellorRider is missing its one step diagonal move.

Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2003-03-05 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
This is a great game. I am playing a game with the author. So far, I've only made 'standard' chess moves, waiting for the right time to put a piece in the pocket. Once the board starts to clear up, the gain in position will outweigh the loss in time. There will be a lot of drops in the end game. The simplicity of the idea of the Pocket and the possibilities it provides make for a very nice game. There is a whole new dimention to piece development. Its almost like a 2-turn teleport move. I agree with the author that this 'game system' could be used with other piece arrays. It could even be used in hexagonal Chess--why not? The details of what piece can promote where, to what can be modified as needed for playability.

Tim Stiles wrote on 2003-03-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Sounds pretty good. Can't wait for the ZRF file. Oh, there's a typo in the sentance that describes how the Amazonrider moves.

Joseph DiMuro wrote on 2003-03-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I concur with Michael Howe. This game is great! The variants section says
that this game could be played with another piece list; I say, LEAVE THE
LIST ALONE! :-) The pieces work fine as they are, and they are pretty easy
to remember.

I too received a preview version of the ZRF. The old version allowed PAWNS
to be dropped directly on the 8th rank, but no other pieces. With that
rule in place, promoting a pawn would take 4 moves (pocket, drop, pocket,
drop promoted piece). Now it takes 5 moves, since the pawn can't be
dropped on the 8th rank. And is it worth 5 tempi to make a pawn a bishop?
I originally thought the promotions would dominate the game... shows you
how much I know! :-) 

This is a must download... or it will be, once the download is available.
:-)

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