Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

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  • Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

    In looking at the original old chesstalk thread on Heterodox Chess, there seems to be some sort of a malfunction that occurs (perhaps some posts were too large, before the max. number of characters allowed in a chesstalk post was reduced some time ago). The malfunction disrupted my attempt to make a post (though not to view the existing posts). Hence I'll start a new thread on the topic of the thread, since at the least I have links to share from the new version of The Chess Variant Pages website:

    The first link is to a webpage (with 2 colour diagrams) that I authored for my 10x10 'Sac Chess' variant, which is actually just starting to be played (by 2 players) using the website's Game Courier play by mail capabilities. I may get into some playing of it myself, if I can find the time at some point in the New Year:

    http://www.chessvariants.com/index/m...mid=MSsacchess

    A second link is to another webpage I authored, for my four dimensional chess variant, 4*Chess, which has many coloured diagrams. At present this game is unavailable to be played on Game Courier:

    http://www.chessvariants.com/index/m...4chessfourdime


    Some time ago I noticed Paul Bonham's Option Chess also had a webpage devoted to it (though the webpage was not authored by Paul); it credits Paul as the inventor, shows a brief summary of the rules, and gives an external link for more info as well; the game is unavailable on Game Courier presently:

    http://www.chessvariants.com/index/m...=MSoptionchess
    Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
    Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

  • #2
    Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

    The first game of 'Sac Chess' finished some time ago. The game took 36 moves until checkmate. Long ago I had guessed that a well played game might take as many as 120 moves on average(!):

    http://play.chessvariants.com/pbm/pl...s-2015-350-655
    Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
    Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

      The first game of 'Sac Chess' finished some time ago. The game took 36 moves until checkmate. Long ago I had guessed that a well played game might take as many as 110 moves on average(!):

      http://play.chessvariants.com/pbm/pl...s-2015-350-655
      Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Thursday, 24th December, 2015, 10:36 AM.
      Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
      Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

        The second game of Sac Chess ever played is almost over, IMHO. Too bad Black clearly passed up more than one way to deliver checkmate in one move at move 69; I was greatly enjoying that a more full-blooded game (than the first Sac Chess game, ended with a checkmate due to a blunder) would have finished in less than 70 moves (the average chess game being 40 moves, if someone resigns before mate presumably). An average of 5 moves (10 ply) are taken for a pair of pieces to be traded in a game of chess, I read somewhere. If the second Sac Chess game ever (link below) is typical, the ratio for Sac Chess could be that two pieces are exchanged at a faster pace of about every 3 moves (6 ply) on average in a given game:

        http://play.chessvariants.com/pbm/pl...m-2015-350-699
        Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
        Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

          The first two (online) games of my 10x10 Sac Chess variant were finished some time ago, and a further two are now in progress. I'm a player in one of these games, after deciding to get my feet wet with any form of online chess once again, after a long break (I'm also concurrently playing a game of Glinski's Hexagonal Chess, with the same opponent). Here's a link to my Sac Chess game, as it stands at the moment (about move 40 currently):

          http://play.chessvariants.com/pbm/pl...er-2016-11-848

          Also, fwiw, here's a link (with sub-links) listing the 10 chess variants that I've invented to date, of which only Sac Chess has been programmed by someone to be played online (on Game Courier); perhaps someone may be inspired to be creative with their own variants too:

          http://www.chessvariants.com/index/m...y+Kevin++Pacey
          Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
          Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

            My latest chess variant... tentatively called....

            Preparation Chess
            ============

            For hundreds of years, orthodox chess has been played from an opening position that is totally quiescent and evenly balanced. No pieces or pawns are under attack, there are no threats anywhere on the board.

            Given that, it is relatively easy using heuristics and some calculation of lines to find developing moves that contribute towards controlling some of the center of the board or towards setting up for flank attacks on the center. Indeed, these are the goals of orthodox chess opening play.

            But now, here's a thought for those who like to think: imagine a variant such that, while the opening material balance remains equal, there is no guarantee of a quiescent starting position. Instead, the starting position is determined randomly, with the only guarantee being that neither King would be in check.

            Well, the first thing you would imagine is that for most such starting positions, one side or the other (and most often, the side to move first) would have a commanding advantage, initiated by some string of captures and / or checks. Most such games would end quickly. This would be a correct assumption and this wouldn't be much fun nor much of a challenge.

            But now imagine a further change included in this variant: once a random but materially equal starting position is set up, each side starting with White must make 3 moves in a row that neither capture material nor give check. And then White must make one MORE such move, so that while White retains the advantage of first move, it is BLACK who gets to make the very first capture or checking move. Pawn promotion moves are allowed throughout as long as they don't capture or give check.

            If you think about this for a moment, you will realize that being presented with such positions and tasked with making these 3 or 4 "preparing" moves is different from, and perhaps more difficult than, anything you do in orthodox chess. If you are long trained to consider lines that include captures and checks, it is very hard to suddenly NOT consider such moves.

            Let's say you are White and the random (but equal material) position has multiple pieces of both sides en prise, and maybe even a mating threat or two (under orthodox chess rules). What you have to calculate is what moves to make, and what moves Black can make in reply, that KEEP your decisive advantage.

            It is something like in boxing, where you've just knocked your opponent down, he is dazed but manages to get up before being counted out, and just as you are ready to move in, the bell sounds to end the round. The rules prevent you from immediately winning the match, and you have to think about how to best attack from the opening of the next round. Well, that's somewhat easy in boxing, but in our chess variant, the period when you aren't allowed to attack isn't a period of inaction. Both sides get to "prepare" for the opening of the attacking round, and in fact MUST do so.

            It's just as difficult if you're White and the random position heavily favors Black (under orthodox rules). You have to find a way to extricate yourself from the difficulties, and in your calculations, you have to find best moves for Black that don't capture or give check. This last point is what makes this task so different from orthodox chess. It's basically a whole NEW skill that doesn't manifest in orthodox chess.

            Yet in real life war situations, such a skill does come into play. For example, the recent Russia / Ukraine conflict in which various ceasefires have been in place: both sides had their military forces set up for conflict, but had to hold off for a number of days, knowing that the day was coming when the ceasefire ends and conflict resumes. What gets done, what decisions get made during those few days is critical to what happens afterward.

            Anyone can try this. Just find a way to set up positions randomly where equal material is on the board for both sides. It doesn't have to be full material for both sides: to reduce complexity, you can set a material limit for each side. Leave the Kings for last, and put them where you think they are safest for each side. Then assess the situation, maybe even use a computer engine to find best continuation in orthodox chess. Then try and find the best continuation with the restriction against captures and checks.

            You will immediately recognize the difficulty, especially on the very first such move where you have to calculate lines 7 plies deep that don't allow captures and checks.

            The other thing to note is that such positions are ripe for human analysis under these rules. There isn't an engine that plays under these rules....

            Well, actually, there is. I've written it. It will take any legal FEN position where White is to move and calculate moves for each side knowing that only when Black's 4th move comes along will captures and checks be legal. I'll include an example at the end of this post.

            If you don't like the idea of random starting positions... start from the orthodox starting position, and extend the preparation moves idea as far as you want. Maybe make it that only on Black's 8th move can captures and checks begin. What you are really doing is restricting the opening tree, so this isn't as interesting as the random starting positions... although you could try it with chess960 starting positions.

            But it is the random, materially-equal positions where you have to consider all sorts of tactics (pins, forks, discovered attacks etc.) that may already be on the board, but can't be played immediately. How to keep the maximum number of your advantages in place (maybe even increase them) while reducing your opponent's advantages? This kind of thinking must balance both offence and defence!

            The random nature of the starting position means that in any individual game, you might lose simply because you were positionally beaten from the beginning. Thus this variant, if used for competition, would best be played under fast time controls so that many games could be played in a reasonable time such as 2 or 3 hours.

            The more fun part would be not the competitive aspect, but taking such positions and treating them like puzzles. Try to find lines that turn horrible opening positions into even or better by the time the preparation moves end. That's 7 plies of analysis for each position. Of course, that number is arbitrary, and you could try changing it to more or less, but in all cases, keeping it an odd number because if White gets first move AND gets first checking / capturing move, that would be too large a built-in advantage to White. I think that 7 plies is the Goldilocks number.

            Now, here's an example to give you an idea:


            Each side has 27 material points. As much as this may seem like a problem position, it was randomly produced. There are threats and counter-threats all over the place. A position like this could NEVER come up in an actual game of orthodox chess, unless the players were deliberately trying to produce such a monster of complexity.

            If this were orthodox chess with White to move, Black has a decisive advantage, but it's not easy to see a line all the way through to a reduced position that could be determined as decisively winning. Just look at the line that Stockfish came up with after many minutes of computation, and the score it gave to this line was approximately -19.0 meaning 19 Pawns in Black's favor:

            1.Bgxe5
            (1.Rxc1 d2 2.Bf3 Nc4+ 3.Ke4 Nxb2 4.Rca1 Qb4+ 5.Kf5 d1=Q 6.Rxd1 exd1=Q 7.Bxd1 Qxa5+)
            1....exd1=N+ 2.Kf3 Nxb2 3.Ne7! Rf1+ 4.Kg4 Rg1+ 5.Bg3 Qxe7 6.f8=Q+ Bxf8 7.Nf7+ Kg7 8.h6+ Kh7 9.Ng5+ Kh6 10.Ra6+ Kg7 11.Ne6+ Kh8 12.Nxf8 Qe2+ 13.Kf4 Rf1+ 14.Kg5 Qe3+ 15.Kg4

            and at this point it becomes clear that White has no counterplay against Black's superior material forces.

            Hard enough to find a line such as this.... now imagine that you have to play, as White, 4 consecutive moves that do not capture nor give check, with Black restricted to 3 such moves. You could spend DAYS analyzing that over the board and still might not have a clear conclusion!

            Well, I put this into my program and here is what it came up with making moves for both sides:

            1.Ng8-f6 Qf8-c8
            2.Ke3-f4 d3-d2
            3.Ra5-a8 Rc1-a1
            4.Nf6-e4

            Now Black begins the segment where all normal chess moves are allowed, and I used Stockfish again to evaluate this position. It scores it about -20.2 for Black, which is interesting: normally, in orthodox chess when a position is evaluated strongly in favor of one side or the other, one expects that further moves only make matters more decisive. Here, without recourse of either side to capturing or checking moves, we see hardly any change at all in the situation for each player. This would appear to indicate that the program is picking equally good moves for each side.

            I invite anyone to submit random positions (equal material) where they wish to play against my engine. You can either make the first move or have the engine make the first move; the latter gives you the first capturing and / or checking move as your 4th move.
            Only the rushing is heard...
            Onward flies the bird.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

              It struck me today that one thing that might allow a computer engine resistant chess variant to be produced is to introduce a quasi-random element, one that often gives humans the edge. If the idea is workable, chess engine assisted cheating or the superiority of engines over even top humans may largely go away as concerns in the minds of possibly many. Computers as yet cannot be programmed to do advanced moral thinking, as far as I know, and I suspect they might never be able to even if nominally Technological (AI) Singularity is achieved. Morality takes into account even emotional feelings, and there seems little doubt that computers can never be given a soul of the sort many think we may have.

              How might such a chess variant based on humanity's grasp of morality work? Well, the best we have for an expert in morality could be a law school or seminary teacher, for example. For the sort of chess variant I have in mind, it would be a kind of combination of the knowlege of moral issues and chess that a player has, as well as his chess skills (kind of like chess boxing combines chess and boxing - another variant that may be computer resistant to some extent). Before making a move in such a chess variant, the moral expert (teacher) or an assistant arbiter asks the player a skill testing question (could be multiple choice). If his answer is acceptable, he gets to move, otherwise he loses his turn, much as in some dice chess variants. Like chess boxing, this is perhaps not the sort of chess variant you can play on your coffeetable at home with a guest, but you could play it in a tournament hall or on the internet (securely guarded large trivial pursuit-style card decks, or databases, of moral Q & A's might be used). Young children may be at a disadvantage at times, but at least some adults might not mind that at all.
              Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Saturday, 25th June, 2016, 08:02 PM.
              Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
              Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
                It struck me today that one thing that might allow a computer engine resistant chess variant to be produced is to introduce a quasi-random element, one that often gives humans the edge. If the idea is workable, chess engine assisted cheating or the superiority of engines over even top humans may largely go away as concerns in the minds of possibly many. Computers as yet cannot be programmed to do advanced moral thinking, as far as I know, and I suspect they might never be able to even if nominally Technological (AI) Singularity is achieved. Morality takes into account even emotional feelings, and there seems little doubt that computers can never be given a soul of the sort many think we may have.

                How might such a chess variant based on humanity's grasp of morality work? Well, the best we have for an expert in morality could be a law school or seminary teacher, for example. For the sort of chess variant I have in mind, it would be a kind of combination of the knowlege of moral issues and chess that a player has, as well as his chess skills (kind of like chess boxing combines chess and boxing - another variant that may be computer resistant to some extent). Before making a move in such a chess variant, the moral expert (teacher) or an assistant arbiter asks the player a skill testing question (could be multiple choice). If his answer is acceptable, he gets to move, otherwise he loses his turn, much as in some dice chess variants. Like chess boxing, this is perhaps not the sort of chess variant you can play on your coffeetable at home with a guest, but you could play it in a tournament hall or on the internet (securely guarded large trivial pursuit-style card decks, or databases, of moral Q & A's might be used). Young children may be at a disadvantage at times, but at least some adults might not mind that at all.

                Kevin, you probably figured that I would respond to this. First of all, there's the chess variant angle, and second of all, there's my interest in philosophy of human morality.

                So, some comments. Firstly, when you say that a player loses his or her turn, this immediately reminded me of my own variant of Best-of-7 Ping Pong Chess which I posted about somewhere on ChessTalk (but not in this thread). The idea there was that the two players, before each move, play a best-of-7 points ping pong set in which for all 7 (max) points played, the same player is serving. The winner of the set is the player who gets to move in the chess game. However, no player may get more that 3 chess moves in a row: if a player has just moved 3 times in a row, the opponent automatically gets to reply with no ping pong played. Then after that reply, the ping pong is played again, where the player serving all 7 (max) points is the one who did not make the last move in chess.

                This variant would yield some quick games, because the King is allowed to be captured if it was in check previously and the player who is attacking the King wins the ping pong set and gets to move again. So putting the King in check would become very high priority, ahead of many positional considerations.

                Have you given consideration in your moral chess variant to limiting how many moves in a row a player may make, and to whether King capture should be allowed to end a game?

                Also, I'm wondering what type of questions would get asked.... would there be a deck of cards with questions, like Trivial Pursuit? How subjective are the questions and their answers? Wouldn't they necessarily have to be questions with definitive, factual answers, devoid of opinion?

                If you're going to have a moral expert who decides on the correctness of an answer, well, that's like watching Judge Judy on TV (not sure if you're familiar, but Judge Judy is a TV judge who presides over trivial small-court claims, and she is highly opinionated and makes snap judgements based on whether someone 'seems' guilty or not, and there is no appeal). I am generally against any sport or game which involves judging. Several such sports are in the Olympics and that I find to be just asking for trouble. And as much as I like boxing, I hate the judging aspect of it: they should box until one or the other can't continue.

                Incidentally, when you speak of a 'quasi-random event' introduced into chess, this is exactly what I had in mind with my Option Chess variant posted on Chessbase.com in which each player has (initially) 12 Option tokens that can be played before a move, which entitles that player to then make 2 moves in a row, where the first move cannot be a check or a capture. Quasi-random is a good way to term this, because in most cases, i.e. where no obviously winning 2-move combo is available, neither player can fully determine whether it is advantageous to play an Option on a particular move or to hang onto the Option for a later time in the game (they are more powerful in endgames).

                But I do believe that humans would be better at making these decisions than computers would be.
                Only the rushing is heard...
                Onward flies the bird.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                  Hi Paul

                  I mentioned securely guarded trivial pursuit style decks, or large databases, as possible Q & As sources, near the end of my post (it looks like you quoted it after I did my hopefully final edit of it), so these are the possibilities (for internet play a database of Q and A's would be the only option).

                  A player missing his turn for a wrong answer is the raw idea I had. I haven't thought of which dice chess variant with such a rule that I'd prefer yet. I just put this whole idea 'out there' for those who might like to think it over or modify it possibly. I gave basically the same post on another website, The Chess Variant Pages, too. I don't know if the idea is at all a winner, but I don't mind if someone else runs with it. Knightmare Chess is a variant based on purely randomly changing the rules, by a card deck, during a game, and I was looking for something less random that might elude a machine's capability. Knowledge of trivia might not do the trick at all, but I thought knowledge of morality may do.

                  There may be more than one answer to any particular moral question, but I'd hope if multiple choice Q & As were given, it would be almost always be clear to someone morally knowledgable that only one choice could be appropriate. The questions could be based on commonplace social rules, too, which would be related. Regional differences in terms of Q & As could be minimized as much as possible, if even necessary. At least with multiple choice answers, an element of true luck may work in your favour if you are not sure. Especially if there are a low number of possible answers, say just 2.

                  [edit: Now that I think of it, a sort of trivial pursuit style card could also be a small database device that also lights up red (wrong) or green (right) for 1 of 2 answer choices offered and selected from; that would make this variant idea more workable at a tournament hall I'd suppose.]

                  [edit: An example moral question might be: "A man drops a $5 bill and walks away. Do you: 1) offer him the bill, or 2) take it, because you found it"? A less simple one might be "You're a healthy boy and there are three similar cookies. Your younger sister is blind and cannot speak. Do you: 1) split 1 in half, take 1 and 1/2 & offer the rest to your sister, or 2) take 1 and offer 2 to your sister"?]
                  Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Sunday, 26th June, 2016, 01:55 AM. Reason: Spelling
                  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
                  Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                    I've edited my last post a bit, in case anyone missed it.
                    Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
                    Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                      Fwiw, below is a wikipedia link re: artificial intelligence. I may not have looked hard enough, but I didn't see mentioned explicitly (or perhaps otherwise) the pursuit of a goal to mimic human moral thinking (however sophisticated) with a computer:

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence
                      Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
                      Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                        Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
                        Fwiw, below is a wikipedia link re: artificial intelligence. I may not have looked hard enough, but I didn't see mentioned explicitly (or perhaps otherwise) the pursuit of a goal to mimic human moral thinking (however sophisticated) with a computer:

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence

                        Science fiction is rife with material dealing with a future in which AI turns against humanity, seeing it as a threat. While this isn't a 'moral' problem, it does demonstrate the idea that even future AI would have no moral dilemma in eliminating humanity. And many futurists of today believe this is a serious problem and that we should curtail the development of AI until we can ensure such a scenario can't happen. Personally, I think we're not even within 1000 years of needing to worry about that. But an AI making a decision that hurts or even kills individual humans, this is very possible. It's just that the AI decision wouldn't be "Must kill humans."

                        The human concept of morality can be viewed in both an evolutionary and a creationist light.

                        For the evolutionary view, it could be argued that morality 'came from' a concern for self. That is, if one sees one human killed by other humans for no good reason, a revulsion for that act might develop in an individual out of fear that such a fate might be coming next for him or her. Therefore over time we may have developed a set of rules for moral behavior in order to feel a sense of security. But it could also be argued that those who would want such a set of rules would be the weakest among us -- those most susceptible to being next in line for some kind of senseless 'immoral' treatment. And in an evolutionary process, the weakest do not survive. So one could legitimately wonder how the weakest got their way.

                        A well-known novel that deals with such questions is "Lord of the Flies", highly recommended to anyone interested in such things.

                        If this process for the development of morality in humans is to be believed, then for an AI to develop morals, it too must have a 'concern for self'. An AI must then have, or be able to have or to develop (evolve), a sense of self. This was the point brought home in "2001: A Space Odyssey" with the computer HAL refusing to open the pod-bay doors to let Dave back in from a space walk, and even more so later when being shut down and asking "Will I dream?"

                        Are we anywhere close to giving AI a 'sense of self'?
                        Only the rushing is heard...
                        Onward flies the bird.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                          Originally posted by Kevin Pacey View Post
                          I may not have looked hard enough, but I didn't see mentioned explicitly (or perhaps otherwise) the pursuit of a goal to mimic human moral thinking (however sophisticated) with a computer
                          You're definitely not looking hard enough. The question of AI and morality is happening now. Just look up self driving cars.

                          http://cacm.acm.org/magazines/2015/8...-cars/fulltext
                          https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2...ving-cars.html

                          Remember Watson, the Trivial Pursuit Champion? Well it's being used for everything from looking for cancer to offering legal advice to coming up with new cooking recipes based on what flavors it thinks people will enjoy together (Moroccan Almond Curry, anyone)? And yes, they also programmed it to debate morality issues with you. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/ibm-superco...issues-1447413

                          Besides, if you are going to offer questions like you proposed, they will be so trivial that yes, a computer can answer them, or they will generate disputes among players over which one is right. If if answer a moral question and some judge says "Wrong", do you think I'll react "Oh, guess I was wrong about my moral values"? i don't think so.

                          Back to the drawing board Kevin.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                            Originally posted by Garland Best View Post
                            ...
                            Back to the drawing board Kevin.
                            Fair enough Garland. On The Chess Variant Pages someone said much the same, except being unaware of your Watson link. On the bright side, he pointed out that I may be underestimating Knightmare Chess, which he described as being close to Calvinball, but without the game losing structure, requiring intuition and ingenuity:

                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knightmare_Chess

                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvin...bes#Calvinball

                            http://www.chessvariants.com/index/l...930d0bbd99c81c
                            Last edited by Kevin Pacey; Sunday, 26th June, 2016, 01:41 PM. Reason: Adding link
                            Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
                            Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Heterodox chess (chess variants) thread 2.0

                              Somewhat off topic, I wonder how Watson the supercomputer might one day propose to resolve seemingly intractable moral issues such as any number of situations currently existing in the Middle East.
                              Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
                              Murphy's law, by Edward A. Murphy Jr., USAF, Aerospace Engineer

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