Option Chess

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  • #61
    Re: Option Chess

    Originally posted by Mathieu Cloutier View Post
    That right there. Keep things simple.

    I'm not against chess variants, but the rules of chess are complicated enough as it is. If we have to add a dozen of rules to play a variant, I doubt it will catch on..
    Chess variants include: the use of a chess clock, especially for time controls more rapid than that of regular tournament play; the "pawn" game, which is used to teach beginners how to play with pawns; handicap chess, in which one player gives an advantage to a weaker opponent; and so on. They are here to stay because they are ubiquitous.

    Canadian poets have an expression (from Arc Magazine): "We all began in a little magazine." Chess variants might be viewed in the same light, as beginning in some small, out-of-the-way place like, perhaps, ChessTalk. We don't really know where things will end up; hell, we don't even know who invented chess itself. Let's be glad that it stuck and wasn't forgotten.
    Dogs will bark, but the caravan of chess moves on.

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    • #62
      Re: Re : Re: Option Chess

      Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
      Fwiw, here's a link to a wikipedia discussion of computer Arimaa, which may give a good idea of how computer-resistant it is (at least compared to chess):

      [edit: personally, I would be tempted to suggest creating something like a 10x10 Arimaa variant later on, if normal (8x8) Arimaa doesn't prove to be computer-resistant enough in the long run.]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Arimaa

      [edit: Also, here's a website devoted to Arimaa:

      http://arimaa.com/arimaa/

      ]
      Here's a link to pictures of a protype decorative Arimaa set, in a project dated 2010:

      http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/5571...ts-coming-soon

      I like that there are drawers for the pieces (one can see a knob for a drawer in at least one picture), especially considering that there is no fixed starting position in Arimaa. This set would seem to be usable on a coffee table (no need to have any pieces randomly placed on squares or beside the board, for one thing), although the set possibly may be a little awkward to store on a shelf, at least without knowing its dimensions. The board is attractive enough (at least to me), even when empty of pieces (I imagine), with its sunken trap squares being an intriguing feature, that it might inspire a guest in one's living room to ask to play a game of it.

      I am tempted to take up playing Arimaa, even in my 50s, but I wish there were over-the-board events being held in my part of the world, at least. Cash prizes like for chess events would be great, but I suspect (without checking) that at least the Arimaa internet events don't have these.

      The main reason I am tempted to take up (or at least buy a book on) Arimaa is that it seems to be at least proven (and also researched and hypothized) to be impressively computer-resistant, especially compared to the chess-like variants I know of, the more I mull it over. Even if current supercomputers might relatively quickly become great Arimaa players if allowed to play (not a given, that they would be great, or would be allowed to play humans competitively - as is forbidden in the contest rules that are in effect for Arimaa programs to try to beat top humans before 2020), no one would be in a position to cheat at Arimaa with such a machine, or at least they would use it for more profitable purposes.

      Just looking quickly with a Google search, I get the idea that desktop computers today are about the same power as 1980s supercomputers. If processing speed increases about 1,000,000 times every 20 years or so, I reckon that in 20 years a desktop may be as powerful as today's supercomputers. By then I'll be in my 70s, so if a desktop then poses a threat to Arimaa, I won't be as concerned as I could be if the same were true right now.

      Doing some guesswork based on the link to computer Arimaa in my own quote above, I estimate that in a 12x12 board Arimaa variant having 48 pieces per side (regardless of number of piece types, as long as basic rules are analogous), and with 5 moves per player per turn, for every 3 half-turns of this variant there would be about the same number of legal possibilities on average as there are with 14 half-moves in standard chess, on average (i.e. about 35 legal moves per turn). That's as opposed to about the number of possiblities with 8 half-moves in chess being about equivalent to 3 half-turns of standard 8x8 Arimaa (with 4 moves per player per turn, which makes for about 17,000 possibilities in a legal half-turn on average), in terms of average number of possibilities, as the link in the quote mentions. I then estimate that such a 12x12 Arimaa variant might (if substituted for standard Arimaa) be fairly computer-resistant for about 20 years longer than standard 8x8 Arimaa. That's IF there's no big breakthroughs in the field of quantum computers (if these come to be, hopefully, for the sake of Arimaa players at least, their computing power will be inaccessable to the average person for a long time, just like the computing power of current supercomputers is).

      [edit: here's a link to a wikibook on Arimaa (includes explanations of strategy & tactics):

      http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Arimaa

      ]
      Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Sunday, 9th March, 2014, 04:59 AM. Reason: Revising estimates of 12x12 Arimaa variant figures
      Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
      Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

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      • #63
        Re: Option Chess

        Originally posted by Mathieu Cloutier View Post
        That right there. Keep things simple.

        I'm not against chess variants, but the rules of chess are complicated enough as it is. If we have to add a dozen of rules to play a variant, I doubt it will catch on. You won't attract people by telling them: 'Hey buddy, you know about chess? Well I have a much more complicated game for you!'

        The only chess variant that really caught on is Fischer random. And it is also very easily explained, even to a beginner or to somebody who knows very little about chess.

        I tried looking at a position and calculate as if it's option chess and that's just too much for me. Way too much rules added on an already complex game. Very impractical for live games with reasonable time controls, too.

        And if only all these rules made it simpler to beat computers. So far, it seems that almost everbody agrees that this game, although maybe fun to play for some, is clearly a step in the wrong direction in terms of computer resistance.

        I've said it before: you are trying to achieve two goals with this game (more tactical/exciting chess AND computer resistant).

        I don't want to be all negative, but I would advise as Simon: keep it simple. For example, just removing all the 'en passant' stuff would make this much simpler without changing the nature of the game.

        Well, then, lets all play checkers! So simple... and yes, solved by computers.

        Of course, I do see this dilemma between simplicity and the need to be computer resistant. But if we are to convert chess players to some variant that is computer resistant for at least a few decades, we have to make it look as much like chess as possible. They won't go for Grand Chess or Seirawan Chess.

        Option Chess is close to the ideal in the respect of looking like normal chess. No new pieces, no bigger board, just a few tokens used to make 2 moves in place of 1. And the restrictions on the 2 moves are necessary because otherwise it degrades into quick domination by the first player who succeeds in capturing 2 pieces in 1 turn (which Option Chess disallows). Allowing 2 captures or 2 checking moves on one turn would indeed give computers a bigger upper hand over humans. But the restrictions in place for Option Chess make the game much deeper than just grabbing 2 pieces at once and cruising from there. Where you, Mathieu, have given up on looking into positions, I have spent the past couple of weeks investing several hours into doing just that. What I'm discovering is that Option Chess doesn't necessarily have MORE tactics than chess, just DIFFERENT tactics and different rebuttals to tactics, and also it demands a certain sense of harmony of piece movement. There's a greater sense of teamwork of the pieces in the game, both in offense AND defense.

        I'm sorry that Option Chess is too much for you, Mathieu. Meanwhile, Louis Morin is engaging me in two simultaneous email games, and why would that be? It's because where you see only obstacles and complexity, he sees opportunity for some new tactics and fun. It's not too much for him, he understands the rules. And Simon Valiquette, even though he isn't playing the game, he had the insight to bring up some very pertinent points and questions, and even gave examples of new possible stalemates using double move options. These guys aren't GMs or IMs as far as I know, and I'm just a rusty chess hacker, yet I can look at a chess position and immediately start seeing Option Chess double moves and counter double moves. Yes, I made the first official blunder, but that was done in a very quick fashion. Since then I've put more time into it, and the ability to see the patterns is coming to me. That tells me that you are in the minority and are maybe just not wanting to learn it (although you do get bonus marks for at least trying).

        You state that Option Chess is 'clearly' a step in the wrong direction in terms of computer resistance. But you never provide any compelling evidence. You mention an increase in tactics which would favor computers, but you forget that only 1 capture or 1 check can be made with a double move sequence. I think Louis is going to learn this too in our email games: just playing double move after double move in an effort to bludgeon the opponent to death isn't going to succeed against best play (but it will certainly make for lively play and great post-game analysis). The double moves give new defensive abilities, which was part of why I allowed either the first OR second move to be used to eliminate a check.

        Also, you mention the special en passant rule. This is an allowance for those who like positional chess. Why cover the available squares of a piece if that piece can simply move twice and avoid capture on a covered square? The en passant rule, as I have discovered in analyzing positions, keeps positional play alive in Option Chess. And this is something the computers will have trouble with.

        Yes, I am trying to accomplish the two goals you mention. Succeed or fail, what will be will be. I don't see those two goals as mutually exclusive nor the achieving of both of them as impossible. Ultimately, Option Chess may end up different from what I have now, but I don't think much different. And I will eventually offer financial incentive to engine authors / AI programmers to try and dominate human opposition in Option Chess, just as the inventor of Arimaa has done for his game. But he did it on the cheap: $10,000 isn't nearly enough to get anybody to make a serious, prolonged effort unless they have a passion for doing it. I'm going to up the ante a little from that because I want as many people as possible trying to do it. And I'm ok if it happens, it may lead to a new variant that springs from Option Chess.
        Only the rushing is heard...
        Onward flies the bird.

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        • #64
          Re: Re : Re: Option Chess

          Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
          ...
          here's a link to a wikibook on Arimaa (includes explanations of strategy & tactics):

          http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Arimaa
          In doing some research, I'm getting the impression that the popularizing of Arimaa may have been badly hurt, possibly in the unaltruistic search for greater profits, as generated by this otherwise possibly more-deserving-of-eternal-popularity board game. Generated, that is, by Arimaa's licencing conditions for vendors, etc. (perhaps someone can understand the full effect of the following link better than I can):

          http://arimaa.com/arimaa/license/current.txt

          Here's a link showing what's been licensed re: Arimaa:

          http://arimaa.com/arimaa/license/

          [edit: here's a link to a discussion of the possibility of bringing Arimaa into schools. Note that in a couple of places there's the phrase 'it's up to Omar' (a reference to the game's inventor - here we can kind of sense all of the drawbacks of having a benign 'ruler' rule over all commercializing etc. of a game). There is also talk of Arimaa someday displacing chess, i.e. not complimenting it - an echo of an old argument between Paul B. and myself regarding some chess variant(s) displacing/complimenting chess (I took the position that displacement was inevitable if a variant(s) is successful):

          http://arimaa.com/arimaa/forum/cgi/Y...num=1365713748

          ]
          Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Saturday, 8th March, 2014, 04:25 PM. Reason: Grammar
          Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
          Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

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          • #65
            Re: Re : Re: Option Chess

            Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
            ...
            here's a link to a discussion of the possibility of bringing Arimaa into schools. Note that in a couple of places there's the phrase 'it's up to Omar' (a reference to the game's inventor - here we can kind of sense all of the drawbacks of having a benign 'ruler' rule over all commercializing etc. of a game). There is also talk of Arimaa someday displacing chess, i.e. not complimenting it - an echo of an old argument between Paul B. and myself regarding some chess variant(s) displacing/complimenting chess (I took the position that displacement was inevitable if a variant(s) is successful):

            http://arimaa.com/arimaa/forum/cgi/Y...num=1365713748
            Here's a link that leads to a link (near bottom) showing a list of active players (at arimaa.com, where online tournament games are held) that goes back about for a week's worth of logins. There seems to be a bit less than 200 active players currently per week, I'd estimate:

            http://arimaa.com/arimaa/
            Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
            Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

            Comment


            • #66
              Re: Re : Re: Option Chess

              Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
              ...
              here's a link to a discussion of the possibility of bringing Arimaa into schools. Note that in a couple of places there's the phrase 'it's up to Omar' (a reference to the game's inventor - here we can kind of sense all of the drawbacks of having a benign 'ruler' rule over all commercializing etc. of a game). There is also talk of Arimaa someday displacing chess, i.e. not complimenting it - an echo of an old argument between Paul B. and myself regarding some chess variant(s) displacing/complimenting chess (I took the position that displacement was inevitable if a variant(s) is successful):

              http://arimaa.com/arimaa/forum/cgi/Y...num=1365713748
              Personally, if I invented a game with the potential for greatness that Arimaa has, I wouldn't greedily look to profit from almost every aspect of the game (which may be at least slowing its popularization). For example, a lot of potential writers on such a game may be turned off knowing that every time they wish to write a book on it, they have to seek approval from someone besides a publisher (unlike for chess), not to mention possibly give a cut on book sales to that someone. There are several other ways I can think of that the existing licensing requirements may have hurt Arimaa.

              If I invented such a game that has the potential to be a big hit, it might actually be the most profitable for me (and best for the popularization of such a game in the long run - an altruistic goal) just to ask for a small cut whenever someone makes/sells a board & set of that game (and after I pass on, making and selling such boards & sets becomes like selling chess boards & sets, i.e. a matter of public domain, rather than a cut continue to be given to some company that I founded). Then the game could become popular much faster, say in my lifetime, and I might well end up making far more money than having a sweeping license over all commercialization etc. of the game.

              [edit: I would also want to at least try to make sure of someone setting up a regulated world federation, for running the official world championships of such a game.]
              Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Sunday, 9th March, 2014, 05:29 AM. Reason: Grammar
              Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
              Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

              Comment


              • #67
                Re: Re : Re: Option Chess

                Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
                ...here's a link to a discussion of the possibility of bringing Arimaa into schools. Note that in a couple of places there's the phrase 'it's up to Omar' (a reference to the game's inventor - here we can kind of sense all of the drawbacks of having a benign 'ruler' rule over all commercializing etc. of a game). There is also talk of Arimaa someday displacing chess, i.e. not complimenting it - an echo of an old argument between Paul B. and myself regarding some chess variant(s) displacing/complimenting chess (I took the position that displacement was inevitable if a variant(s) is successful):

                http://arimaa.com/arimaa/forum/cgi/Y...num=1365713748
                Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
                Personally, if I invented a game with the potential for greatness that Arimaa has, I wouldn't greedily look to profit from almost every aspect of the game (which may be at least slowing its popularization). For example, a lot of potential writers on such a game may be turned off knowing that every time they wish to write a book on it, they have to seek approval from someone besides a publisher (unlike for chess), not to mention possibly give a cut on book sales to that someone. There are several other ways I can think of that the existing licensing requirements may have hurt Arimaa.

                If I invented such a game that has the potential to be a big hit, it might actually be greediest for me (and best for the popularization of such a game in the long run - an altruistic goal) just for me to ask for a small cut whenever someone makes/sells a board & set of that game (and after I pass on, making and selling such boards & sets becomes like selling chess boards & sets, i.e. a matter of public domain, rather than a cut continue to be given to some company that I founded). Then the game could become popular much faster, say in my lifetime, and I might well end up making far more money than having a sweeping license over all commercialization etc. of the game.

                [edit: I would also want to at least make sure of setting up a regulated world federation, for running the official world championships of such a game.]

                Kevin, I somehow think you are prying for a response from me to somehow compare Arimaa and its commercialization efforts with either Option Chess or with my 'other variant' that will be released to the public later this year. Even if that's not what you're looking for, I'll offer what I can so far.

                I only first heard of Arimaa in the past few weeks, so there's not too much I can say about it yet. I have ordered and received my Arimaa package, including the book "Arimaa Strategies and Tactics" by Jean Daligault. It's an excellent looking book BTW, plenty of diagrams and excerpts from games. Hopefully it's not full of typos and other errors. When I'll get the proper time to fully investigate it is another matter.

                Arimaa was released to the public November 2002, so it's been around a while. While it is fond of flouting its "World Championship" events and of asserting its resistance to computer engine dominance, it's hard to know whether anyone is making serious efforts on the latter, and for the former, it seems there are only 2 or 3 very good Arimaa players IN the world. And not very many Arimaa players besides them. But even as recently as October 2013, it seems the inventor posted about the great success of the project, so one can only conjecture as to what he saw in mind for it back in 2002. Did he really think it would displace chess in schools? How many registered players worldwide did he plan to have 10 or 12 years on? I'd imagine much more than what they seem to have.

                I'd just like to additionally point out that $10,000 is a measly sum to offer for someone to go to all the effort needed to write a program that can defeat the best human players, especially given all the restrictions. But who knows, maybe that's the point? Maybe money isn't supposed to be the object. If I were retired, I'd certainly give it a shot.

                All in all, I'm glad to find out there is a game like Arimaa and that it has some staying power and that it is both like and yet totally unlike chess. When I understand its rules and techniques better, I can comment further. I'm interested to know whether there is anything in the physical / human world that Arimaa can be said to resemble, in the way chess is thought to resemble war. Perhaps, with the whole idea of pushing and pulling pieces around the board and into 'trap' squares, it will be found to resemble quantum mechanics! That would be something. Perhaps even the lack of a draw in Arimaa is like unto the concepts of the Schrodinger wave equation and wave function collapse:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wavefunction_collapse

                I don't think it should be taken as 'greedy' for the game's inventor to try and recoup some of what he and others have put into it. A patent for one thing isn't cheap or easy to come by.

                Rather than greed (via licensing) being the problem, I think it may be that the game doesn't distinguish itself enough, especially from chess. The web site claims that its advantage for school programs over chess is that it is easier to learn. But AFAIK, chess does not have a public perception as being particularly hard to learn for kids. The computer resistance aspect is interesting. That should make Arimaa a hot topic in university-level AI research, but not so much a 'must have' in K12 programs even as an extracurricular.

                I agree with you, Kevin, about the action of setting up a regulated world federation. I wonder if the Arimaa team, beginning even before November 2002, had an actual business plan and / or a business model? Did they seek out seed capital? Or, as it seems, are the inventor and his immediate family and relatives / friends the only investors in the project?

                Arimaa as a project is very different from what I will be trying to do. I have a very grand vision in mind for the future of my project, especially looking as far as 10 years out. Option Chess is only a component of this vision, and in fact you'll notice that I've made Option Chess and its rules public information, meaning I cannot patent it at some future time. I suppose I could trademark the name, but Option Chess is to become part of a bigger something. So I have no inclination to restrict Option Chess, but would be happy to see engine authors write engines for it and web programmers to offer it on web sites.

                I think Louis Morin is about to discover the pure pleasure of immersion into the magical and seemingly endless pathways that open up in Option Chess. Hopefully I don't blunder and cut our pleasure short.
                Only the rushing is heard...
                Onward flies the bird.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Arimaa vs. chess

                  Hi Paul

                  I was looking to see whether anyone agreed with any of my thoughts on Arimaa, especially re: its licensing restrictions.

                  The following is, potentially at least, a great way to curb the spread of Arimaa (i.e. just one important example given of a thing that requires a license to be granted):

                  * I want to hold an Arimaa tournament where the organizers charges a registration, entry fee, sponsorship fees, etc.

                  Luckily, chess events (or clubs) don't need to be similarly licensed, for no one holds such a binding patent on the game. I don't know whether the inventor of Scrabble (or his descendents), for example, received or receives a cut of any fees charged for each Scrabble tournament that has been or ever will be held while their patent hasn't expired, if there is a limit to how often it can be renewed.

                  [edit: in doing a websearch, I came across one of many links to Scrabble legal issues:

                  http://home.teleport.com/~stevena/sc...al/issues.html

                  It states near the bottom that the patent expired in the early 1970s.
                  Here's another link (to the history of US Scrabble events):

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationa...e_Championship

                  It may be a coincidence, but it it is noted that the first officially approved Scrabble tournaments in the US began in the mid-1970s.]


                  P.S.: as far as a 'world' federation for Arimaa goes, it would currently in effect appear to be Arimaa.com, which holds the (exclusively online) world championships annually on its website.
                  Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Monday, 10th March, 2014, 11:22 PM. Reason: Grammar
                  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
                  Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

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