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2.Manticore and 2. Griffin ?[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Bn Em wrote on 2021-10-13 UTC

On the other hand, with an initial leap the blocking would only be on a single diagonal, rather than having to check the nearby orthogonal squares as well. A tradeoff really, though in any case due to the ability to avoid nearby blocking pieces the t[HB] is probably too powerful (or, on small enough boards, too awkward) to use in (most?) games anyway.

Daniel Zacharias wrote on 2021-10-13 UTC

I agree that a piece that changes direction after 3 steps could be awkward to visualize. It would be worse, though, if the first step were a jump to the third square, because with a sliding move, you can easily see if a nearby piece blocks the movement.

Bn Em wrote on 2021-10-13 UTC

I was scrolling through some old comments and have found what Aurelian would call a 3.manticore posited by Sam Trenholme in this comment, alongside the ‘3.griffin’ and a bunch of others (the ’2.manticore’ or ‘running osprey’ is in there as well). No names alas, but still interesting to see these pieces having been discussed 12 years ago (almost to the day!).

It seems to me (on the topic of that thread) that simply the fact of having to count to three rather than either changing direction immediately or simply foregoing any counting altogether (griffon/manticore and hook mover/capricorn respectively) makes the ‘3.manticore’ non‐simple from a player's perspective; the ’2.manticore’/‘running osprey’ is kind of liminal in that respect — two‐step moves are still easily visualised and trivially interpolated — though even it is in some ways arguably more complicated than the component of Tim Stiles' fox and wolf, which only has immediate turns.

Upcoming Games[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Christine Bagley-Jones wrote on 2021-10-06 UTC

Hi all, thought I would say, from very soon till Christmas and the New Year I should be releasing a few games.

There is a Joy Joyce game, there is a few Charles Gilman games, and I have a game I have done myself, which probably will be the first to come out, and another game by myself that may have some new pieces, amazingly, I say amazingly because they are pretty simple pieces but I cannnot see anywhere that they have been used in any games, but I guess we shall see. I'm sure people will know if they exist elsewhere or not.

Thanks ya'll.

Changes to PHP Code[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-06 UTC

One more reason for no longer supporting offline pages is that many pages now include script-generated images with the drawdiagram.php script. These will work on a website running PHP, but they will not work offline. If I wanted offline pages to support them, I would have to write a script that finds each link to a script-generated image, creates a copy of the image with a unique name, and replaces the link to the script-generated image with a link to the copy of its output. That's too much work for something no one probably needs anyway, and can already make copies of them.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-06 UTC

I did occasionally use the "info" page, previously linked to from the icon of an index entry. But I do not consider this worth keeping either. Those pages can still be reached from the "info" link in the footer of the item's actual page (except perhaps for multi-item pages?).

That's why I figured it would be okay to get rid of the link from the icon. The link in the footer had been the only link to the info page I had been aware of, and I figured it would be enough for anyone who wants to go to that page. I think most people would be unaware that the icon links to an info page or would just be interested in the link to the actual page rather than the link to a page with metadata about it. The index page really gave no indication that the icons linked to something different than the actual page, and most people who clicked on an icon would probably be surprised that it didn't go to the actual page.

Ben Reiniger wrote on 2021-10-05 UTC

I did occasionally use the "info" page, previously linked to from the icon of an index entry. But I do not consider this worth keeping either. Those pages can still be reached from the "info" link in the footer of the item's actual page (except perhaps for multi-item pages?).

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-10-05 UTC

Since I can now work on code on the development server, I took the time to remove the remaining code for creating offline pages. While David used to make offline versions of the website, I have never done that. For one thing, I wasn't familiar with how he went about it. But I also didn't see the use for it. Things have changed since David wrote the code for this. Back when we got on the internet with 2400 baud modems that used the phone line, it would have been convenient to have an offline version of the site. But now that broadband and WIFI-enabled mobile devices are both common, it is easy enough to connect directly to the website. When the site is down, as it was recently, archived copies of pages can be found at So, an offline copy is not needed for archival purposes. Additionally, the website has grown more interactive than it used to be. While it was originally a set of static HTML pages, it now includes comments, database-generated pages that may be revised on the website, and ongoing games. Finally, when I program code, I write it simply for a website, and I do not want to have to take care to build in support for generating offline pages.

Besides code that was run with the condition $foroffline or $offlineindex, I replaced every instance of echoandwrite with echo, and I removed the function definitions for echoandwrite and echoorwrite. The latter wasn't even being used anyway.

Removing some of the $foroffline code created a bug, and this happened to draw my attention to the icons that appear to the left of links. I had thought of these as slightly informative decoration, but they included links to information pages and included a bunch of ALT text telling some things about the item linked. I got rid of the links to the information pages, changed the ALT text to TITLE text, and reduced the provided information to just telling what the icon meant. With this done, I was able to remove the remaining $foroffline code in make_author_line, and I also removed the $foralttext option from it. There was really no need to include author information in the ALT text for the icon when it was already on the screen anyway. Removing the little-used links to info pages and reducing the information provided by what is now a tooltip should reduce page size and make index pages quicker to load. With that in mind, I may look into extending how many links may appear on an index page.

2.Manticore and 2. Griffin ?[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Bn Em wrote on 2021-09-27 UTC

The difficulty with viewing e.g. the 2.griffin/running ostrich as R2‐then‐B is that the obvious reading of that (in line with the obvious reading of full ‘rook then bishop’ — see also the large shogis' ‘rook‐then‐rook’ and ‘bishop‐then‐bishop’ hook movers) suggests that it could also make the Bishop move after only a single Wazir step, becoming effectively a compound of griffon and ostrich — what Gilman called a Fimbriated griffon (after a kind of outline in heraldry). Which is really quite powerful and not what either of us means afaict.

My view here is that the usual Ostrich (and Osprey) have a move along a given path, but the shortest of its moves is two steps — something it has in common with Tamerlane's picket, Alfonso X's unicorn, and indeed Shatranj's and Xiàng Qí's elephant. For the picket and elephant, the 2‐step move is non‐coprime, and so a one‐step move can be trivially interpolated: for the former this gives the familiar Bishop, while the latter gave a piece that was dubbed the ‘modern’ elephant (and of course with a modern dabbaba to match). For the unicorn it is less trivial (the knight has two possible interpolations) but extending the long‐range move backwards suggests orthogonal‐then‐diagonal over the alternative, giving our Manticore.

In the Osprey's and Ostrich's case, the 2‐step shortest move, as with the picket and elephant, is non‐coprime, and so the obvious interpolation lines up with your 2.bent riders. In the Osprey's case, the alternative exists of doing as with the unicorn and extending backwards, giving a ferz‐then‐bishop‐at‐90°, but fsr 90° turns seem (above‐mentioned hook movers notwithstanding) to be less favoured.

I don't disagree about blockability: what I have termed ‘running’, as opposed to the preëxisting ‘modern’, is explicitly blockable — though arguably calling them ‘lame/stepping modern’ os[prey/triche]s is just as descriptive. Fergus' helical pieces also differ from Charles' Proselyte ⁊c in being (by default) blockable, as well as interpolating.

As for 3‐or‐more.gryphons/manticores, it might indeed be interesting to have names for those (though they might begin to veer into being a little too exotic?), but it'd be equally useful imo to have names for the equally unusual threeleaper‐then‐bishop or quibbler‐then‐rook.

Backups[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-27 UTC

I now have a script set up that runs from the backup server to make daily backups of both the /home/chessvariants/public_html/ directory and the chessvariants database every midnight at Eastern Standard Time. The script looks like this, but with the actual database password. It doesn't need the server password, because it is using an SSH key pair to connect.

mv /root/chessvariants.sql /root/chessvariant-backup.sql
ssh [email protected] mysqldump --opt --user=root --password=XXXXXX chessvariants > /root/chessvariants.sql
/usr/bin/rsync -ae ssh --delete [email protected]:/home/chessvariants/public_html/ /home/chessvariants/public_html/
touch /home/chessvariants/public_html/
mysql --password=XXXXXX chessvariants < /root/chessvariants.sql

2.Manticore and 2. Griffin ?[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Aurelian Florea wrote on 2021-09-27 UTC

Hello Bn Em,

I think the 2.manticore and 2.bishop are the pieces that start like a ranging piece and continues like another one. The Osprey for example does not do that. I'd name this R2 then B and B2 then R respectively. I am testing these in my next games. I think n.Matincore and n.Gryphon are good names for Rn then Bishop, and Bn then Rook. I think they are interesting exactly because they are blockable and playing them is more strategic because they have to be played after some pawn chains collapse.

Comemnt search doesnt work[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-26 UTC

Are there any plans to restore this functionality?

I tried to yesterday and failed. I have not been able to get MariaDB 10 to work reliably on either server, HostSlayer or RackNerd. It used to work before I tried updating the HostSlayer VPS to Rocky Linux via updating to CentOS 8 first. So, maybe there is some setting that has to be corrected. For now, runs on HostSlayer with CentOS 7, PHP 7, and MariaDB 5.5, while runs on RackNerd with Rocky Linux 8, PHP 8, and MariaDB 10. Until I can get things working correctly on the new RackNerd VPS, I will continue to use MariaDB 5.5, and comment searching will remain disabled.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-26 UTC

There appears to be some kind of corruption from the MariaDB 10 installation that is preventing a reinstallation of MariaDB 5.5 from working. When I check its status after reinstalling version 5.5, it says "Failed to start MariaDB 10.6.4 database server." I expect I will have to reinstall CentOS, but I don't want to get it started right now, because it is late. Unfortunately, the new VPS also seems to be having issues with MariaDB 10. It frequently loses connection with the MySQL server, and I have to refresh a page a few times before it connects.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-26 UTC

Since I haven't gotten MariaDB to work on the original server, I switched the domains of the servers. However, there are still things to fix, and I still have to deal with the original server.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-25 UTC

My attempt to update to MariaDB 10 has not been successful, and I have been unable to revert to MariaDB 5.5 without errors. So, is currently without a working database. At least I made a backup and copied it to If the problem on continues, I might not continue with HostSlayer. As long as I have things backed up on RackNerd, I may try reinstalling the OS on HostSlayer. But for now, I have floaters in my eyes, and I need to have lunch.

Backups[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-25 UTC

The touch command was used on the new server's /home/chessvariants/public_html/ directory at 12:00:14 AM EST. So, the automated daily backup worked when it was expected to. I'll look into including a backup of the database into the same script today. But since there are some different files in the folders for the database on each server, I want to fix that by making them both use the same version of MariaDB.

Comemnt search doesnt work[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-25 UTC

It depends on a feature of MariaDB 10, but when I restored the server earlier this year, MariaDB 10 was frequently losing the connection to the database, and MariaDB 5 proved more reliable. So, I switched to MariaDB 5 and manually removed the details that required 10. On the new server, I have installed Rocky Linux 8, PHP 8, and MariaDB 10. Since it also has reverse DNS, which should make email more likely to be delivered, I have plans to make it the main server when everything is working correctly on it. For now, I have to update scripts to work with PHP 8. The new server has less storage space, but it has more than enough for the site. It has less RAM, but this server usually doesn't use even half the available RAM. Both sites have 4 cores, and the new VPS uses faster CPUs. Although the new server is on, it will not support comment search until I add support for this back into the database. To start with, I will look into updating to MariaDB 10 on this server.

2.Manticore and 2. Griffin ?[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Bn Em wrote on 2021-09-25 UTC

I've been thinking a little about these pieces, as well as the ‘helical’ crooked riders that Fergus suggested here.

It seems to me these are instances of (modulo one detail, which I'll get to below) the same pattern that brought us the ‘modern’ elephant — i.e. the FA — wrt the original 2‐space‐diagonal Elephant: we have an original piece with a non‐coprime (as Charles Gilman would have it) leaping move and fill in the gap.

As such, it seems to me that, in line with mỹ initial intuitions in both cases, it's probably clearest imo to think of the helical pieces and the 2.bent riders as variations on respectively and lama–osprey/zephyr–ostrich rather than totally distinct pieces (or for that matter as immediate bishop/rook/queen or manticore/griffin derivatives)

The main difference between these and the modern elephant is that, the original piece having riding tendencies already, it seems more natural to have the ‘modern’ component be lame/stepping rather than leaping as in the elephant case. The ‘running’ elephant (as coined in the previous comment) would be a lame/stepping FA, or equivalently a B2.

I wonder whether there are many other piece‐types for which ‘running’ (or indeed ‘modern’) subspecies are useful? Running dababba‐/alfil‐/alibabariders, skip‐riders (panda/bear/harlequin), and slip‐riders (Tamerlane picket ⁊ al.) are just rooks/bishops/queens (and ‘modern’ ones the same but less blockable and this probably OP); running crooked dababba‐/alfil‐/alibabariders likewise reduce to lame contrabrueghels/‐proselytes/‐halcyons. Running alpacas/quaggas/okapis/⁊c. (i.e. alternating pairs of orthogonal and diagonal steps) — straight, curved, or switchback — are perhaps more promising, and not, imo, all too exotic; running nightriders/roses/nightfliers/‐sidlers/‐ladies, the same but starting with a single step, also bear considering, even if not strictly non‐coprime to begin with.

There's one other curious difference between the bent and crooked members of this family: as described, the bent ones can only make the remaining part of its move if the non‐coprime part is made in its entirety (i.e. the ferz/wazir move is to the exclusion of the rook/bishop one), whereas the crooked pieces must make both componets regardless (this difference is more pronounced when considering the time‐reversed versions, i.e. running contrazephyr/contraproselyte/⁊c.: the former is committed to a full alfil leap if it starts with a non‐zero rook move — the alternative would be the existing fimbriated griffon — while the latter has to make its final turn and ferz step lest it become equivalent to the aforementioned running crooked alfilrider (as well as curtailing its first, rather than its last alfil run; the pair with one time‐inverted but not the other is also possible, if a bit obtuse)). I'm not yet sure how best to describe that difference without special‐casing.

tl;dr: new category of pieces (tenatively named ‘running’) combining recent suggestions, with some further suggested extrapolations and some unanswered questions re semantics.

Assuming anyone actually makes it through this, any thoughts?

Comemnt search doesnt work[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Bn Em wrote on 2021-09-25 UTC

Are there any plans to restore this functionality? Not sure whether the ongoing procedures with backups ⁊c make this a more or less opportune time to look into this, so if the latter it can ofc wait, but it'd be good to have it back eventually

Backups[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-25 UTC

I have set up some cron jobs to do backups with rsync. On this server, rsync will create hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual backups. These are in case it's important to revert a change to a script or page. Editors with access to the server can find these in /home/chessvariants/backups/.

The new server has a cron job to make a daily backup of the public_html directory on this server. I set up an SSH key pair to allow it to do this without a password. This will copy the /public_html/ for to that for This is expected to happen at midnight EST. To be sure of what time it does it, I'll check the timestamp on the /public_html/ directory tomorrow, since I also made the script use the touch command on it when it is done updating. I still have not added commands for backing up the database. It will be important to do both together to keep their backups in sync.

Apothecary Chess Tournament[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Aurelian Florea wrote on 2021-09-23 UTC


Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-23 UTC

I made a test copy of one of these games, and I successfully moved in it. If Oisin had around two days left, that's consistent with him having less than a day now, because the site has been back online for a few days already. Tell him to move before his time runs out.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-23 UTC

I still see time on the clocks, and I already gave additional time to all interrupted timed games. I'll do some testing later if he still hasn't moved.

Aurelian Florea wrote on 2021-09-23 UTC


The games I was playing with Oisin in this tournament have been over since he had not the possibility to move and they resulted in a time lost. He had around 2 days of time. Can you restore the clocks since before the site going down?

Server crash[Subject Thread] [Add Response]
Fergus Duniho wrote on 2021-09-22 UTC

I have made additional changes to the following scripts on both servers:

  • footer.php
  • index/database-funcs.php
  • index/drawemail.php
  • index/editcomment.php
  • index/listcomments.php
  • index/login-funcs.php
  • index/randgame.php
  • play/pbm/drawdiagram.php
  • play/pbm/logs.php
  • play/pbm/play.php

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