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YellowJournalism[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-14 UTC
I use a very simple rule for detrmining what's an Ultima variant or not: if the author calls it an Ultima variant, it is; if not, it isn't. So The Game of Nemoroth and my game Interweave are not Ultima variants since they don't call themselves that (although Interweave describes itself has being sort of Ultima-like).

Examining this site and The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, I find the following Ultima Variants:

  • Bogart's Chess, which replaces a Chameleon and a Long Leaper with an Absorber (which picks up the capture method of each piece it captures) and a Golem, which only moves two but has to be captured twice (this was the inspiration for Golem Chess).
  • Renaissance, which is played on a 9x9 board, and adds a Pusher, a Puller, a Resurrector, and a Bomb, and has a limited form of drops of captured pieces (using the Resurrector).
  • Stupid, where each piece can move like an Ultima piece and an Orthochess piece.
  • Ulti-Matem, except the Pawns have the moves of the Orthochess pieces they would be standing in front of, except for the King's Pawn which is a Double Knight Pawn which makes two Knight's moves in a row in any pattern.
  • Ultimate Ultima which you described in this comment system here.
  • Unorthodox Ultima, in which a Long Leaper and a Chameleon are replaced by a Neutalizer (which removes the ability to capture of adjacent pieces) and a Repeller which forces an opposing piece moved next to move as far away as possible.
So look at them. All of them at the very least add some additional types of pieces. All of them are more complex than Ultima. Although, no one has take the simple, logical, and completely insane step of combining Ultima and Chessgi/Shogi. Ultigi! Ultima with drops! Ah, maybe not.

Ruddigore Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-25 UTC
I spent some (to much!) time last night fooling around with Ruddigore Chess. I started by hacking and slashing up Fergus's Duniho's Chessgi ZRF, and seeing what happened. (Zillions is hardly the only tool suitable for this sort of thing, of course, but it is the one that usually comes to hand for me. Occasionally I worry about the effect this has on my game designing, since if the only tool you have is a hammer, everthing starts to look like a nail. However, the essay <u>Zillions of Games: threat or menace</u>, will have to wait for another day.) <p> As a frame, the battle represents a Loser-take-all battle between Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd (white) and Sir Despard Murgatroyd (black) as to who will be stuck being the cursed Bad Baronet of Ruddigore. <p> The initial rules were: <ol> <p> <li><b>Ruddigore</b> Chess is a <a href='../other.dir/chesgi.html'>Chessgi</a> variant, and all rules of that game apply except when contradicted below.</li> <p> <li>Each turn that a player does not perform a wicked deed by capturing a piece (their's or their opponent's), they must sacrifice a piece to the curse. Pieces in hand may be sacrificed. Sacrificed pieces are out of the game.</li> <p> <li>You may capture your own pieces ('If a man can't capture his own, pieces, <strong>whose</strong> pieces <em>can</em> he capture?'). Pieces of your own you capture go into your hand.</li> <p> <li>The first three turns are a Bank Holiday, and there are no captures or sacrifices then.</li> <p> <li>If you run out of other pieces to sacrifice, and you must sacrifice, you must sacrifice your King and lose.</li> </ol> <p> The problem with this game, as a few minutes of thought would have told me, is that it is far, far easier to capture your own pieces than the opponent's. What you get is mostly self captures with occasional threats in order to force a piece loss on the opponent, with the goal of having them run out of pieces to sacrifice first. Not very Chess-like. <p> The made the follow changes then, attempting to get more pieces engaged: <ul> <p> <li>Only the King, renamed the Baronet and given the ability to capture (but not move without capturing) like a Knight in addition to moving like a King [WFcN], can capture friendly pieces (if you want something done right . . .).</li> <p> <li>The Knights are replaced by Gentlemen, which are limited Nightriders (NN2).</li> <p> <li>Pawns are now Quickpawns which can always move two forward, and I've eliminated en passant to encourage them.</li> </ul> <p> This made a small difference, but not enough. So I eliminated the Bank Holiday, and made sacrifices required only on even turns (Sir Despard did all of his wicked deeds in the morning, and did good in the afternoon). This helped a lot, now you can capture your own piece on an even turn, and deploy it on an odd one. Now, though, I'm wondering if the Gentlemen are too powerful, since when dropped they can fork like anything. Maybe Halfling Nightriders? <p> I also find I'm tempted to rename everything: Pawns into Farmers, Bishops into Vicars, Rooks into Squires, and Queens to Stewards. But on the other hand, if the move hasn't changed, it is confusing to change the name of the piece. <p> Anyway, this is still very much an on-going project, and I'd appreciate any advice anyone has.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-25 UTC
<a href=''>This</a> is a wonderful, if silly short summary of the plot of Ruddigore.

ZoG world view[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
Peter Aronson wrote:
'(Zillions is hardly the only tool suitable for this sort of thing, of
course, but it is the one that usually comes to hand for me. Occasionally I
worry about the effect this has on my game designing, since if the only
tool you have is a hammer, everthing starts to look like a nail. However,
the essay Zillions of Games: threat or menace, will have to wait for
another day.)'

I had never thought of this effect, perhaps because I neither design games
nor write ZRFs (I entirely lack creativity).  I take this to mean that
ZoG-wise game designers will avoid designing games using concepts that
cannot be effectively implemented in Zillions-of-Games, thereby limiting
their own creativity.

At the same time, ZoG has been considered a tremendous boon to board game
variantists of all stripes, allowing them to play and test their
more-or-less obscure discoveries and creations without the need to actually
find and interact with other people.

So, the starter questions are, 'Does ZoG limit creativity?', 'If it does,
does it matter?'  What do you think?

Ruddigore Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
I think that the silly summary is actually longer than a serious one would
be; but it's lots of fun and reasonably accurate. Definitely a useful thing
for those who don't speak the language.

As for the game, it seems a worthy endeavour, but needs to be clever or
else it will never.

'Mostly self-capture with the occasional threat'.

Idea 1. There is no problem. Sacrifice a few Pawns to build up an attack;
give checkmate, and win. You merely weren't sufficiently enterprising in
your play. (This idea could very well be false, but deserves to be

Idea 2. Make self-capture less appealing than other-capture. Pieces go in
hand but are demoted? Something might work.

ZoG world view[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
gnohmon wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
The only tool I usually use is the chessboard in my head, which usually
limits my games to things that I can playtest blindfold.

Given a chessboard and a few coins and a pencil and paper, one can do a
wider range of games than can be done using just the mental board; but then
I wonder if that distracts one from the 'pure thought' which proves so

I would have to say that whatever works well for you is best.

Ruddigore Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
I kind of like the current version, and will play with it further.  That

- Sacrifice every other turn

- Knights replaced by Halfling Nightriders

- Only Baronets (Royal WFcN) can capture own pieces

- Pawns are quick Pawns and no en passant

I'll try to find some of my usual suspects to playtest with via e-mail, and
see how it works.

ZoG world view[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
Well, I do worry about limiting my designs to what works well for Zillions. Of the 17 or so games I've published since I've learned Zillions programming, only one -- Transactional Chess -- has not been implemented with Zillions. This leads me to wonder what games am I 'self-censoring' in favor the ones that are easily implementable with Zillions. The games I designed before were often difficult to completely implement for Zillions; some would merely say that Zillions was simplify causing me to simply the games, which is all to the good. But there can be simple ideas that are not simple to implement with Zillions. Chatter Chess would be a great deal of work to implement in Zillions, for example.

Ruddigore Chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
I hadn't worked with halfing Nightriders before -- it's a very nice piece. All halflings have shorter range the closer they get to the center, but the hhNN is more extreme somehow, moving like regular Knights when in the central 4x4 area. I'll have to use them somewhere else someday.

David Howe wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
I have an idea for self-captured pieces: a self-captured piece cannot be
dropped to a square which is threatened by a friendly piece. This should
alleviate the use of self-captured pieces to checkmate or block checks.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-04-26 UTC
That's a though, David. It does, of course, require you to keep track of two classes of captured pieces. A few other ideas in that direction: <ul> <p> <li>Self-captured pieces go into your <em>opponent's</em> hand, not your own;</li> <p> <li>Self-captured pieces turn into 'Prisoners', which can not be dropped, only sacrificed to pay for the curse (this is a more extreme version of Ralph's suggestion that self-captured pieces be demoted).</li> <p> </ul> At the moment I'm inclined to allow full self-capturing -- it's, ah, interesting.

ZoG world view[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
John Lawson wrote on 2002-04-27 UTC
So we allow ourselves to be limited by the tools we are comfortable with. 
Peter tailors his inventions with an eye to Zillions implementation. 
Gnohmon, having a 8x8 board in his head, concentrates on ideas that play on
an 8x8 board that feel like chess.

Is this a bad thing, because it limits creativity?

Is it a good thing, because it concentrates the mind?

Both of you produce one interesting idea after another.  So do other
inventors.  Do the limitations of the universes of discourse you have
chosen confine or focus your creative efforts?

I have also perceived an attitude among some CVPhiles that a creation is
not complete without a ZRF.  Certainly, this is a wrong-headed attitude,
although a good ZRF is pleasing.  Is the implicit requirement for a ZRF a
bad thing?  I would say yes, because it discourages people with ideas whose
skills or inclinations are just not up to producing ZRFs routinely.  As a
result, there may be ideas that are interesting or intriguing that do not
see the light of day.  Do you agree?

Chess Handicaps[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-04-27 UTC
I have thought about it for quite a while, that chess lacks a coherent
handicap system. (A good example of a coherent handicap system is that 
of go) How do we go about crating one for chess? Certainly chess for
different armies of ralph betza points the way forward. Black Ghost of
Ralph Betza is a step toward a handicap system. Using these as stepping
stones, let me propose the following:

Types of Handicap:

Range: Gradual limiting of the range of stronger player's pieces 

Functional: Limiting the leaping/capturing ability of the stronger player

Balancing: Adding power to the weak side, for example adding of a ghost
 like in ghost chess.

Of course how a comprehensive system might look like, I'm not sure yet,
 so any comments welcome.

David Howe wrote on 2002-04-27 UTC
It would be nice to have a full, comprehensive article on Chess
Handicapping. Anyone out there want to volunteer?

Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-04-27 UTC
let me put out a few points, though I don't yet have enough for a
comprehensive page yet, but when I do, I might pull it together
for one. So I volunteer provisionally, though I might need some
help going forward.

Chess-like game with handicap systems that could be a guide are:

knightmare chess


The first site mentions that for standard chess, traditional handicap is 
based on similar pricipal as shogi handicaps.

While the traditional system is a good start I would like to have a much
more fine grained approach. 

I'll leave it here so I can write a more detailed note soon also to give
the reader a chance to respond.

ZoG world view[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Tony Quintanilla wrote on 2002-04-29 UTC
I usually think of the game first and then try the Zillions implementation.
The result is, sometimes, that the Zillions implementation is unwieldy. It
is true, though, that some I have not even tried to implement. 

There is a great alternative, and that is our very own (thanks to Fergus)
play-by-e-mail system which is available to any square or hex board design,
requiring enforcement of the rules by the players--like a table-top chess

As far as 'mentally' creating games. Yes, when the game idea is very
interesting, I find myself mulling over it and the game design works itself
out conceptually--to a large degree, however, not completely. There are
some details of playability that only work themselves out in playtesting.

Zillions is a great way to work out the playability of a game, at least as
a first step. One pitfall that Zillions has is that the farther a game is
from orthochess the poorer the Zillions engine plays the game. Some games,
it plays very poorly, some in a skewed way, some extremely well.
Ultimately, play against a person is best for testing. 

If one is interested in play by e-mail, a Zillions implementation can be as
basic as a board and pieces that can move on it, without full rules
enforcement--this liberates many of the programming restrictions--since it
does not matter how well Zillions itself plays the game.

Back to the orginal question: I have found that in some practical ways,
Zillions does 'suggest' the development of a game because of the
programming practicalities. But I would not say that it inhibits ideas
altogether. There is one game I would like to try but have not found a way
to play by e-mail: Star Trek 3-D Chess (the 'real' one with the shifting
boards!) Any ideas?

Chess Handicaps[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-05-03 UTC
Continuing with this subject let me propose the following:

let their be 9 levels of mastery (similar to asian game ratings, but 
                                  in keeping with western chess theme,
                                  we need a different name than dan)

Between each level and the one below is divided 4 sublevels. 
(Again a name is sought)

The difference between sublevels is one point, as described by Ralph Betza

in  The move is 
good enough for difference of one sublevel.

The difference between levels is then naturally 4 points, or pawn and

For other handicaps we need to temper with the army somewhat, but 
whatever we do must be ballanced, from openning to endgame.

Also as can be calculate, I envision the largest handicap to be 36 
points, roughly the value of an amazon. I think this is a reasonable
 upperbound but as I am not a good chess player, input would be really 

Pawnless chess[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-05-10 UTC
I am creating a pawnless CV, which suddenly led to the question of:

What happens in FIDE chess if we remove the pawns and disallow castling.
Does white have overwhelming advantage or is there a good defense for 

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-05-10 UTC
I don't think simply removing the Pawns from the FIDE array would make a good game. Consider Derek Nalls various all-rider Chess variants -- they use rather different arrays indeed. <p> Maybe something like:<b><pre>+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ | r |:q:| k |:r:| |:::| |:::| +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ |:b:| n |:n:| b |:::| |:::| | +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ | |:::| |:::| |:::| |:::| +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ |:::| |:::| |:::| |:::| | +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ | |:::| |:::| |:::| |:::| +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ |:::| |:::| |:::| |:::| | +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ | B |:N:| N |:B:| |:::| |:::| +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+ |:R:| Q |:K:| R |:::| |:::| | +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+</pre></b> Of course, different pieces might work even better, such as halfling pieces or powerful but short ranged pieces, such as Half-Ducks for Rooks and FAD's for Bishops and a FAWDH for a Queen. Experimentation is certainly the key here.

Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-05-10 UTC
Actually my game will be different from just removing pawns from standard
FIDE setup. The reason for my question is more along the lines of giving
a pawnless FIDE, what are the shortcommings of such a game, and why 
wouldn't it be a good game. Or in other words what is the mininum that
can be done to make it a good game.

Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-05-10 UTC
Thinking about it, let me restate my question in the form of 2

Construct the shortest possible fool's mate for the following variant:

FIDE chess without pawns nor castling.

Then construct the shortest possible computer's mate (named after early
chess computer programs),  by which I mean that it will respond to
any possible mate within 3 moves. Or another way to say it is
construct the shortest game that leads to a win in 4 moves.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-05-11 UTC
I have played games of FIDE Chess with W giving odds of all 8 Pawns....

With both sides no Pawns, I'd try 1. Qxd8+ followed by 2. Rh1xh8, which
ought to win.

With Pawns replaced by W or F or Berolina Pawns, in a sense it's not so
Pawnless, is it?

Racing Kings is Pawnless. It has a different goal, and perhaps you could
argue that it's not even Chess. However, in the process of becoming NOST
postal champion a few years in a row, I learned to appreciate what a great
game it is.

Without using really weak pieces to replace Pawns, you could probably find
a setup on the 4x16 circular chessboard that works.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-05-11 UTC
Construct the shortest possible fool's mate for the following variant:

FIDE chess without pawns nor castling.

I love these questions, and always try to include them in my own new

1 Rh7 Na6 2 Qh5++; a pretty solution because because Rh7 covers flight
squares *and* blocks Rh8xh5.

Note 1 Be2 Bd7 2 Kf1 Ra7 3 Qe2 Ra8 4 Bh5++ is shortest doublecheck mate.

Jianying Ji wrote on 2002-05-11 UTC
> I love these questions, and always try to include them in my own new
> games.

Glad that you like these kind of questions. I thought it might be fun

> 1 Rh7 Na6 2 Qh5++; 

Short and sweet. Quite amazing really.

'Note 1 Be2 Bd7 2 Kf1 Ra7 3 Qe2 Ra8 4 Bh5++ is shortest doublecheck

the 3rd move doesn'T make sense.

After the second move we have

. n . q k b n r
r . . b . . . . 
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . 
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . B . . .
R N B Q . K N R

Qe2 is an impossible move, however I think you intended Qe1

which works.

It is interesting that both of these are helpmates, I wonder if a
mate as I defined can be found easily, or does it really need a computer
to answer that questions.

gnohmon wrote on 2002-05-11 UTC
1 Be2 Bd7 2 Kf1 Ra7 3 Qe1 Ra8 4 Bh5++ doublecheck

'I'm glad you like these questions' -- I have always (well, at least since
I started publishing CV writings in the early 1970s) appreciated the
value-added that asking these questions can give to your new game.

Before you ask, you should either know the answer or suspect that the
answer will be really interesting.

The 'standard' questions are::::::::

1. Shortest foolsmate (for some games, shortest victory)

2. Shortest doublecheck (triple check, quadruple check, etc.) with or
without mate

3. Shortest stalemate; 4. shortest stalemate without capture (the great and
brilliant and superhuman Sam Lloyd solved these for FIDE Chess; if you
don't know his solutions, look them up and you will feel the emotion known
as 'awe' -- really, no exaggeration, awe.)

5, shortest perpetual check, 6. others appropriate for specific variants.

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