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MatPlus.Net Forum General Three questions
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(1) Posted by Neal Turner [Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 11:20]; edited by Neal Turner [14-06-08]

Three questions

Nowadays Fairy Chess seems to be all about in-play transformations.
We have the Circe family, T&M, Kobul Kings, Andernach etc - the usual description is 'dynamic' with pieces jumping about all over the place, or having their powers changed or their colours.

Typically in these cases the transformation is triggered by a capture - but there's the rub!
Doesn't the need to set up captures and make captures at every opportunity place severe restrictions on the strategic possibilities.
And what's more, even though these conditions can be said to be sitting on top of orthodox Chess, we can't say that they're extending the possibilities of Chess because the need to demonstrate the characteristics of the condition means that any 'normal' Chess tactics are verboten.

Am I the only one who has these misgivings?
Does the Emperor really have any clothes?
Am I just old-fashioned?
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(2) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 16:38]

I agree with you. And you are surely old-fashioned if you look for new ideas. Modern fashion is chewing the old trivial ideas, simply sprayed with some newly invented artificial flavor.
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(3) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 20:28]

Hm... you have a point. A lot of new fairy conditions place emphasis on capture including my idea "Superguards" (where capture of course does not happen!). Perhaps Madrasi became popular because it was different in that aspect. But then, Chess is after all a war game where the aim is to capture the opposite King (the Mate stopping short of the invetable capture!).
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(4) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Sunday, Jun 8, 2014 22:46]

I dare to disagree, at least partially.

One negative point is worth emphasizing. In an ordinary orthodox twomover, if you use only once one pin for one checkmate (and e.g. the pinning queen has some other roles as well), everything is all right, almost nobody points presence of single pinmate as something negative (as a technical tool). But if you use Circe and single Circe capture (or e.g. just self-protection of white piece near bK), you would be criticized for unjust use of fairy element.

So it is mostly true that one has to pile up fairy motifs to justify use of fairy elements. But not necessarily in the transforming form after all. A few years ago we had TT CCM dedicated to Circe variations with no captures occurring in play -

So I do not agree that Fairy Chess seems to be all about in-play transformations. You probably forget about large number of fairy pieces that do not transform, they just have different move possibilities than orthodox pieces. Not only evergreens like grasshopper and nightrider, also various Chinese pieces and lions are very popular and problems with fairy pieces only in general.

Also, finally, I find some of the transforming fairy elements very confusing, too confusing. Even if I might be already too conservative for current fairy world, among chess composers I am probably among the least conservative ones. And still... so that majority of chess composers probably ignore such problems.
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(5) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Jun 9, 2014 01:12]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-06-09]


I will agree that too often composers pat themselves on the back for achieving what appears an orgy of capturing-transformations.
Invite a composer to judge a composition tourney, and observe how often they encourage more attention to themselves...
It's not a bandwagon, it is (dare I say it!) a C-C-C-Cycle -- the "Compose Like You Judge Like You Compose Cycle."

It must feel nice to participate in dictating the hoops (like the feeling you would get from composing problems, if it involved no sense of discovery -- more like setting up bowling pins, isn't it?), but why does everybody want to jump thr --- ohhh, that's right, I just remembered what motivates this behavior. Never mind.

One can not claim to have fulfilled a Valladao Task, if the problem stipulates that castling (or en passant, or promotion) must occur.
In this vein, capturing would seem a basic rule in chess, which may be particularly motivated by the fairy transformation mechanism.
You might want to argue that the capturing construct is no more inherently thematic than checkmate, but there's a glitch...

A pattern does emerge when every move is a capture (for example) -- and any definable pattern, not directly stipulated, may be considered a thematic expression.
You are absolutely entitled to question is the means by which the theme is motivated, but capturing transformations are not necessarily motivated by capture-transformative fairy elements (remember: the rules of the game do not directly motivate a theme, like the stipulation does).

There is a fine line between a rich thematic expression, and an orgy.
The point is: bring protection: look for patterns which may be well defined, expressly motivated by subtle means (read: not directly motivated by the stipulation)!

Juraj makes an excellent point about his non-capturing Circe tourney, but one intelligent tourney can not balance a runaway pendulum.
Most of the time the composers, the judges, the editors, the inventors, and the tournament directors all share a single muse...
They all seem to find that muse in the same mirror.

A healthy cycle depends upon a negative feedback loop -- where is our mechanism for that?
I think your voice does help to pull us back... hopefully, toward equilibrium.


By the way, your term ("transformations") is a good description for a super-category spanning many fairy elements (covering Andernach, Dynamo, Circe, etc).
The hierarchy, as I see it:

Fairy Elements:
1.Transformative Forms.
1a.Rebirth Transformations.
1ai.Rebirth Depends on Captures (Circe Forms and Anticirce Forms).

So, according to my definitions, the "Circe Form" is a subcategory of a subcategory of the Transormative Category, which would include PWC, Optimal Replacement, Take & Make, and any of their logical antiforms.

There is always an excess of controversy surrounding the naming conventions, but the categorical representation is fundamentally undeniable.
What is the relevance to your discussion?

It seems to me that we have largely ignored a more obvious (sometimes more fundamental) category of "rebirth transformations" -- rebirths triggered by something other than captures (like even basic movement).

The "Locomotive" invention opened my eyes to a bigger future for the rebirth transformation category.
Before this invention, I never paid much attention to the possibilities of rebirth triggered by something other than capture -- probably because I associated this with the Dynamo condition, where the rebirth is non-deterministic.
Personally, I consider indeterminate rebirth to be of lesser theoretical appeal -- though it's clear that beautiful art can be found everywhere, these indeterminate rebirth forms offer an expansion of movement options beyond my preferred depths (I don't like to trust computers too much, especially when I can not rely upon consistent, sanctioned rules within the determinate rebirth elements).

To me, Locomotive suggests a bright future for the "rebirth" category, more free from the senseless capturing you've noticed...
I think John Lennon would approve. All you need is rebirth. Rebirth is all you need.

ps: Chess is not a war game. According to GM Hans Ree (whom I consider a good authority), Chess is essentially a logically sophisticated game of tag.
Internet chess suggests that his view is correct -- players there no longer close with "good game"; now they say, "you're it, and no tagbacks."
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(6) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Monday, Jun 9, 2014 14:15]

"Chess is not a wargame" .... Really? Perception might have changed universally. But its invention was a wargame only. The pieces still retain their original name in India. Elephant (rook), Camel or Chariot (Bishop), Horse (knight), Soldiers (Panws). Queen is a wrong name and It is rightly called Mantri or Prime Minister by us. Chaturang or Shatranj actually means "Four units of war".
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(7) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Monday, Jun 9, 2014 14:32]

I don't think that Neal is "dissappointed" by "capturing transformations" in general, or with the good problems which utilize a condition to present some original idea.
The point is in hundreds of published "originals" which do not present any original idea but only the well known trivial features. Mere "jumping of the pieces all over the place" for trivial reasons could be found in million problems and a "new" condition will not automatically make it original.
Original problem will combine many trivial features, but only to achieve a "non-trivial" content that was never seen before.
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(8) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Jun 9, 2014 20:37]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-06-09]

Re: Indian Chess.

I already know all that.
Probably everybody here knows all that (except that your "Four Units" translation is off -- it's closer to Four Limbs, in the military sense of divisions).
Despite the story of its origin, Chess has no honest analogy to war.

If chess was a war game, every Russian schoolchild would know that Kasparov should be honoring treaties; they'd tell that shirtless patzer when his Chess helmet is on backwards.
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(9) Posted by Ganapathi Ramaswami [Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 07:04]

Where would 'Chameleons' and Sentinels' be fitted in, in the Transformations scheme?
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(10) Posted by Neal Turner [Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 11:25]

'Chess has no honest analogy to war'

I suppose there must be some people who, on regarding the pieces set up at the start of a game, don't see any analogy with two armies facing each other on the battlefield - but in over 50 years of playing Chess I've yet to meet one!
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(11) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 20:15]

Wars were fought like that before the invention of Cannons.
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(12) Posted by Kevin Begley [Friday, Jun 13, 2014 01:29]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-06-13]

Chess is not even close to war simulation -- analogy exists neither in strategy, nor in tactics.
Never, in the history of war, have two completely equal armies symmetrically opposed one another, with perfect information, in perfectly alternating time.
As GM Hans Ree correctly notes, the game of tag provides a much improved analogy.

Curiously, those who believe that they see two opposing armies on the chess board have reasoned, completely circularly, that their own interpretation must demonstrate the validity of their analogy.
Generally, such interpretations actually reveal a person's primary introduction to the game.
First, the "war game" pitch is generally employed to heighten the game's appeal to young boys.
Second, there exists an underlying reason for teaching boys to see the chess game in this particular way -- and the repetition of this bad analogy is likely one of several components which help explain the persistent gender differences in our game's history.

I was told this same war story, at around age 4½ (just slightly ahead of the '72 Fischer Boom), by a US Marine who had seen combat, firsthand.
Gradually, I came learn that the chess game has no possible connection, whatsoever, with any honest description of war.
I suspect that those yet to outgrow these false analogies probably fail to appreciate the damage this story does to the goal of full inclusion, and how destructive it is to the goal of diversity (that's what maturity taught me -- such concerns do not exactly come naturally to boys who grow-up with three brothers, no sisters).

It is difficult to deny that the underlying purpose of these analogies is to specifically drive away those opponents to whom some boys would fear losing.
So, the war analogy might offer a secondary revelation -- it says something about our introduction to the game, but perhaps it says more about our cultural perception of women.
To the extent that war has existed in Chess, gender has always been its target.

By the time your nieces ask to learn the game, hopefully, for their sake (if not for your own well being), you'll have already come to appreciate the genius of GM Hans Ree's improved analogy (hint: it begins the process of encouraging a level playing field).
Things are changing -- today, women serve honorably in the US Marine Corps.
Think what it will say about our culture, if chess (and chess problems) fail to achieve better parity in representation.

Still, boyish war fantasies are everywhere -- they're the 800-ton elephant on the board, and the position they occupy is hardly on the flank.
You could fairly describe this as the predominant theme in chess.
Many great chess players (especially those who have never seen war) have overlooked the boyish nature of this war analogy.

"Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent's mind." -- Bobby Fischer.

This quote, better than any other, reveals just how completely boyish can be the delusion of this war analogy.
Take care not to forget that Bobby's first opponent was his older sister (and note how much he relished that lifelong victory)!
Your chess opponent is not your mortal enemy, and crushing minds is neither the object of war, nor the object of the chess game.
But, don't fault Bobby too much for the blunder -- he only said what he was conditioned to say (chess focus denied him the maturity necessary to overcome this delusion, precisely when it should have taught him to see the position from his opponent's perspective).

The tragic irony of his quote: if anyone's mind suffered deformation, it was the mind of a boy named Bobby, who needed help but received none.

The war analogy has proved a "winning" swindle for boys in chess, but a man only swindles himself to believe sound his own targeted salesmanship.
If you've ever actually heard an honest, firsthand account of combat, you'd immediately understand that cheap analogies are not appropriate.
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(13) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Friday, Jun 13, 2014 08:04]

>>>It is difficult to deny that the underlying purpose of these analogies is to specifically drive away those opponents to whom some boys would fear losing.

Very interesting observation Kevin.
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(14) Posted by Neal Turner [Friday, Jun 13, 2014 11:20]; edited by Neal Turner [14-06-13]

Nobody's saying it's a war simulation, we're saying it's a war game - a game that presents a stylised form of warfare.
And because it's a game, of course you must start with a level playing-field and a well-defined set of rules.

Anybody is free to draw any analogy they want.
I'm certainly no respecter of tradition, but in this case I'm going with the hundred generations of people who thought they were playing a war game.
And you're perfectly free to write them all off as childish, sexist, conditioned or deluded on the basis of an alternative analogy which you don't even bother to expand on.
So even if we went with your put-down of the battlefield analogy, you haven't given us any reason to accept the 'Tag' concept as superior.

In the end analogies are subjective, often whimsical, notions which home in on some aspect of a topic to liken it with something else.
An analogy which points to the obvious similarities will gain more traction than one which focuses on obscure points, so don't be surprised if your idea doesn't have many takers.
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(15) Posted by Kevin Begley [Friday, Jun 13, 2014 11:40]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-06-13]

@Ganapathi Ramaswami,

>Where would 'Chameleons' and Sentinels' be fitted in, in the Transformations scheme?

The outline I showed was deliberately pruned, to reflect the central idea of this thread, concerning "transformation of position, by rebirth, based upon captures."
A more complete outline is an important step to fundamentally develop a coherent language for expressing formal Chess problems.
However, only WFCC has proper authority to oversee the creation of a universality coherent language, by which any chess problem may be described (the WFCC charter specifically reserves such authority, and such responsibility, for itself).

The good news is: anybody (even a complete beginner) can craft a complete and sound outline, by following a simple set of rules.
As a matter of fact, the complete beginner probably has a pronounced crafting advantage -- the experience of veteran problemists tends to be completely overshadowed by extreme difficulties in escaping from their own dogmatic constructs (faith in a faulty model is far worse than ignorance).

First rule: clear your chessboard.
Unlearn everything you know about the formal language of chess problems -- our language has no coherent rules of grammar, and our dictionary contains neither fundamental meaning, nor adequate distinction.

Second rule: begin from square one, and axiomatically define a distinct set of essential terms, categorically.
What is a chess problem?
How you answer this question will define the nature of our affiliation (with one another, and with WFCC).

To what extent can we (should we) differentiate chess problems?
Should our definition necessarily exclude the set of all draughts problems? Card games?

Should we define the chess problem such that it excludes Morley's famous problem (how many squares on a chess board?)?
What of the question first posed by Max Bezzel (the eight queen's problem) -- is this not a chess problem?

Do we include Shogi problems? Xiangqi problems? Chess-360 problems? Or, should all such problems be reserved to the international Federations for these games?
What if an International Circe Chess Federation emerges -- do we then forfeit all Circe problems to them?
How you answer these questions will define the nature of WFCC's affiliation with other federations (including FIDE); therefore, it says something about our personal affiliation with other federations, and it might even reveal something about the nature of FIDE involvement in composition titles.

What kinds of chess problems exist?
FIDE Albums tend to answer this question by listing all currently popular stipulations, sub-divided by move numbers, with a separate category for any unpopular stuff; this is not a categorical answer to the question, and it teaches us nothing about the nature of problems (particularly chess problems).

A particularly challenging question to answer: what are the essential elements of a chess problem?
The diagram (the board size, board shape, the interconnections of squares, the position of units on the board, etc)?
The rules of play (the rules governing units & movement, the default "orthodox" rules, the set of fairy elements, etc)?
The conventions (castling rights, en passant rights, rules governing prior history, rules governing soundness, duals, etc)?
The stipulation (motivation of play, the aim or goal, the number of moves, a terminating option, etc)?

There are problems which require no diagram. Others require no stipulation. Some chess problems require neither convention, nor even rules of play.
It is better to instead define, as broadly as possible, a formal class of chess problems (which must contain the full set of essential elements), for the purpose of standardizing the grammar of our language.
The aim is not to be a grammarian, but to create a foundation for our language, which will allow for the description (and classification) of a diverse range of chess problem ideas.

As we grow to better understand the essential elements of a chess problem, naturally, our language will evolve.
Meanwhile, a formal construct helps to develop the language (and helps reveal the more fundamental structure of elements).

If you wish to insist, for example, that units can have a specific set of attributes (note: the popeye model provides for a number of such attributes: paralyzing power, HalfNeutralness, capturablity, etc), then you are obligated to distinctly define the meaning of this term. You burden yourself to differentiate the attributes of a unit, from the set of fairy units (such that a complete beginner will always know when to use a fairy unit, and when to use an attribute of a unit).

aside: if you want to predict the future value of a solving tool (or a database, or even a chess problem journal), look no further than the coherence of their model -- nearly always, that is the limiting reagent responsible for arresting their development. The more coherent your language, the more you can express, and the more you will comprehend.

When you eventually arrive at the question of where Sentinels fit into your outline, you might classify them to be a "transformation of position, by "birth" (additional units into the diagram), based upon movement." Naturally, you will want to create subcategories for the arbitrary rule options governing such births (e.g., what unit-types may be born into the diagram? of what unit-colors? following vacation of what unit-types? what is the maximum number of unit-types in a diagram? etc), but it would be a terrible mistake to start from here -- your primary obligation is to connect this category to the structure of a chess problem.
Is "Sentinels" a fairy condition? a condition upon a unit? is it an attribute of a unit?

A foundation is necessary, which governs the types of units, before pawns can be magically born anew into our diagram.
Similarly, Andernach Chess can not be explained, without having first developed the set of unit-colors possible.
Remember: just because some inventor has labelled "semi-neutral" to sound like a type of unit-color, or "traitors" to sound like a fairy condition, provides you no information to properly classify these elements (the former might well be classified as an arbitrary mechanism to transform unit-colors, whereas the latter might well be accepted as a kind of unit-color).
The difference is, you will have created a fundamentally sound classification system -- a language rooted in meaning, governed by grammatical rules, capable of expressing far more chess problem ideas.

Just like in chemistry, and physics -- the simpler the elements of your model, the greater will be your ability to see the bigger picture.
Eventually, rather than discovering new fairy elements, our model will predict them.
The process requires small steps, toward a standard model, a language capable of describing everything in our chess problem universe.
You can make your own... but, only WFCC can provide the leadership, oversight, and standardization necessary to make it universal.
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Three questions