A proposal for Chess with a rule change

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  • A proposal for Chess with a rule change

    In post #19 in the thread Opera Euro Rapid 2021, Brad Thomson wrote the following:

    "Not long ago many of us were complaining about all of the boring draws in chess. Now the time controls have been radically sped up, more blunders take place as a result, which leads to more decisive games, and thus no one complains. It seems that we prefer bad chess to good. Bad is exciting but good is boring."

    Of course what he is referring to is the growing tendency towards blitz and rapid events at the top levels of chess. Since so many draws are happening at these levels in slow time controls, organizers have increased events with shorter time controls, pursuing a greater quantify of decisive games.

    What this got me to thinking was about some rule change that could provide a "new" chess that would not replace normal chess, but become a side by side alternative. Perhaps (if it actually became popular) it would have its top level events at times when normal chess is in a quiet period of top level events.

    So here is the rule change, and it is quite simple yet quite substantial: Whenever two Pawns are blockading each other, either Pawn has extra move options that it doesn't have in normal chess. These options are to discourage totally blockaded Pawn formations. So the extra moves are the normal capturing move, that is moving diagonally forward to either the left or the right, but in this case, the move may be made to an EMPTY SQUARE. In other words, a capturing move without any capturing. Also, to make it even more interesting, the blockaded Pawn may move 1 square to either side. If it does this from its starting square, it still maintains the option to move 2 squares on it's first FORWARD move.

    These options are only available when Pawns are blocked from forward moving by enemy Pawns. Being blocked by enemy Pieces does not allow these options. The logic is that Pieces are eventually going to want to move away and clear the blockade, but Pawns under normal chess rules cannot unless a capture presents itself. It is my thought that Pawns blocking Pawns is one reason why chess has become rather static and drawish.

    Obviously this change would dramatically affect all stages of a chess game: opening, middlegame, endgame. It would create a whole new version of chess, which by the way I tentatively call NBP Chess (Non-Blocking Pawns Chess).

    It could be that someone else in chess history has already proposed this rule change, and if so, I hope somebody can point it out. So for now, I don't claim to be the originator of the idea. But I would like to hear opinions on how NBP Chess would differ from regular chess. Well, obviously one thing is opening theory would have to be developed from scratch.That alone means a lot less draws and some very interesting games for decades to come, I think. Pawn endgames would also be changed. Many of the drawn Pawn endgames might not be drawn any more.

    One thing for sure is that Pawns will have more opportunity to reach their 8th rank and promote. It will take pieces to blockade them. Passed Pawns will still exist, and will be created more easily. I think this would make the game more exciting.

    So in addition to thinking of this idea, I have also created a software engine to play it. I modified an engine I had coded in the past, a normal chess engine which played around 2000 level I think. It was easy to make the rule change in the code. I have just tried playing a few games and already it looks very interesting. Soon I will post in this thread some games played by this engine.




  • #2
    A few months back Kramnik published analysis of a bunch of new variants. One was that pawns can move sideways at any point in the game. Another was that pawns can move two squares at any point in the game. There was a possibility to play some of the new variants at Chess.com. I'm not sure if one of the variants was allowing pawns to move diagonally without a capture.

    I'm not sure if limiting the change to cases when pawns are blocked really makes sense. The point is not so much to avoid blocked or otherwise drawish positions, but to limit theory and put some of the creativity back into chess. For me, Fischer Random is one of the best options, but it has the drawback of being pretty ridiculous when played at fast time controls like 3 0 or 5 0 which are the most common ones online.

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    • #3
      These sorts of discussions come up from time to time and they are interesting. Capablanca said chess was played out, but he was proven wrong. Fischer said the same thing, and perhaps he too has been proven wrong. But time exists and chess evolves and develops, thus sooner or later chess WILL be played out, if it is not already. The world champion often plays odd, quirky, second or third best moves in openings so as to get off the beaten track. This is strong evidence to suggest that chess either is, or soon will be, played out. The last match for the world championship contained NO decisive games until sped up time controls took effect.. This too is strong evidence to suggest that chess either is, or soon will be, played out. So what to do? Apart from radically speeding up time controls so as to produce "exciting" blunders?

      I have long advocated Fischer Random, but we have at times witnessed that when it is played the positions are nonetheless given in advance and all competitors play the same "random" positions. This defeats the purpose to some extent. The players should not know the position until they sit down to play. Pargat offers proposals that would change the game radically, and this is possibly a good thing, but there are also lesser changes possible that would not have such a dramatic effect. Chess is perfect as it it, the problem is that the game is finite, it has been around for centuries, and humans have taken the game seriously and worked very hard at it.

      Again, what Pargat proposes is interesting, though it would change the game very radically, to the point where one wonders whether the name "chess" should even apply to the proposed variant. There are two changes to chess that I have always wondered about, though I do not mean to suggest that they would necessarily make the game better, or less played out. Chess is played out, if it is, precisely because the same starting position takes place for every game. Thus, Fischer Random is the simplest, best answer, it seems to me. But if chess is an analogy, or a metaphor to war, then there are two possible rule changes that would make the analogy/metaphor more accurate. In war, prisoners are taken (pieces are captured), and when the aggressor breaks through to the enemy stronghold (the eighth rank) previously captured soldiers/equipment (captured pieces) may be recovered. But in chess we can promote to a Q even if our Q has not been captured. This denies the analogy/metaphor. What if in chess the player can promote only to a captured piece? This would be a serious change to the game, because before a player was to promote, if he/she still had his/her Q, he/she could sac it before promoting. I suspect this rule change would lead to more decisive results, regardless of time controls. Another possibility is this. In war the generals can put forces onto the battle field, but they can also remove them. How often in chess do we come to a position that would be far better than it is, possibly winning, if only one of our own pawns was not blocking the crucial file? Thus, why not allow a player to simply pull one of his/her own pawns off of the board on any given move? This too I am sure would lead to more decisive results, even in slow time controls. I advanced this idea to Lawrence Day a long time ago, and he liked it very much. He even named it "the detonation move."
      Last edited by Brad Thomson; Wednesday, 17th February, 2021, 12:26 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Interesting idea(s) Brad... I don't recall either of your suggestions from previous proposals about "improving chess" but perhaps I missed them...

        The proposal to get more in line with "war" by allowing promotion ONLY to an already-captured piece is in fact one of the most often misinterpretations of the current rules of chess. A lot of beginner's are certain that this must already be the rule - one told me it was because there aren't spare pieces in the set [of course many sets now come with an extra Queen for both sides].
        I am ok with this suggestion for the reasons you already stated, but I note that this only affects a tiny number of positions that occur in normal games - obviously only in promotion scenarios.
        Nevertheless, it might be a useful tweak although it might mess up a lot of studies! (one would have to modify studies and FEN notation to note whether available-promotion only was in force...

        The other idea that Lawrence Day dubbed "detonation move" is also kind of interesting and clearly would be an available option more often that promotional situations...

        My head currently is dealing with the already played-out version of chess so variants are not something I ever play or much think about...

        "Captain, I'm giving it all she's got..."
        ...Mike Pence: the Lord of the fly.

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        • #5
          One of Kramnik's suggestions was "no castling" . At least one tournament took place using this rule, and the draw ratio was very low.

          A very simple rule change, and databases would be able to manage the games with no changes.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
            One of Kramnik's suggestions was "no castling" . At least one tournament took place using this rule, and the draw ratio was very low.

            A very simple rule change, and databases would be able to manage the games with no changes.
            This would work for a while to be sure, but it is not a permanent solution. If every game were to start from the same position, regardless of what it was, then opening theory with the help of the engines would soon catch up.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Hugh Brodie View Post
              One of Kramnik's suggestions was "no castling" . At least one tournament took place using this rule, and the draw ratio was very low.

              A very simple rule change, and databases would be able to manage the games with no changes.

              Hi Hugh, and yes I had heard about Kramnik's no-castling idea. It's interesting for sure. I wonder if you or anyone else here that might be good with using chess databases can do the following:

              Find out from your database (this should be possible with ChessBase but I dont' know about any other database), do a query for all games that lasted longer than N plies where N is something like 60 let's say (30 White and 30 Black moves) and where neither side castled. From these games, determine what % were drawn. The reason we specify N of 60 or similar value is to eliminate short draws.

              So if you don't get too many games, you can decrease N until you start getting quite a few games. I wonder what the % of draws would be compared to all chess games of N or more plies. Of course, we also might want to restrict the ELO of the two players to be above some value like say 2400, since at least in my case I am interested in top level games.

              Oh, I also wanted to say that my rule change would not require any changes to FEN notation, but I might have the only engine in the world at this moment that can actually play moves using my rule change.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Brad Thomson View Post
                These sorts of discussions come up from time to time and they are interesting. Capablanca said chess was played out, but he was proven wrong. Fischer said the same thing, and perhaps he too has been proven wrong. But time exists and chess evolves and develops, thus sooner or later chess WILL be played out, if it is not already. The world champion often plays odd, quirky, second or third best moves in openings so as to get off the beaten track. This is strong evidence to suggest that chess either is, or soon will be, played out. The last match for the world championship contained NO decisive games until sped up time controls took effect.. This too is strong evidence to suggest that chess either is, or soon will be, played out. So what to do? Apart from radically speeding up time controls so as to produce "exciting" blunders?

                I have long advocated Fischer Random, but we have at times witnessed that when it is played the positions are nonetheless given in advance and all competitors play the same "random" positions. This defeats the purpose to some extent. The players should not know the position until they sit down to play. Pargat offers proposals that would change the game radically, and this is possibly a good thing, but there are also lesser changes possible that would not have such a dramatic effect. Chess is perfect as it it, the problem is that the game is finite, it has been around for centuries, and humans have taken the game seriously and worked very hard at it.

                Again, what Pargat proposes is interesting, though it would change the game very radically, to the point where one wonders whether the name "chess" should even apply to the proposed variant. There are two changes to chess that I have always wondered about, though I do not mean to suggest that they would necessarily make the game better, or less played out. Chess is played out, if it is, precisely because the same starting position takes place for every game. Thus, Fischer Random is the simplest, best answer, it seems to me. But if chess is an analogy, or a metaphor to war, then there are two possible rule changes that would make the analogy/metaphor more accurate. In war, prisoners are taken (pieces are captured), and when the aggressor breaks through to the enemy stronghold (the eighth rank) previously captured soldiers/equipment (captured pieces) may be recovered. But in chess we can promote to a Q even if our Q has not been captured. This denies the analogy/metaphor. What if in chess the player can promote only to a captured piece? This would be a serious change to the game, because before a player was to promote, if he/she still had his/her Q, he/she could sac it before promoting. I suspect this rule change would lead to more decisive results, regardless of time controls. Another possibility is this. In war the generals can put forces onto the battle field, but they can also remove them. How often in chess do we come to a position that would be far better than it is, possibly winning, if only one of our own pawns was not blocking the crucial file? Thus, why not allow a player to simply pull one of his/her own pawns off of the board on any given move? This too I am sure would lead to more decisive results, even in slow time controls. I advanced this idea to Lawrence Day a long time ago, and he liked it very much. He even named it "the detonation move."
                Hey Brad thanks for the response. I'm not worried about the use of the word "chess" because there are so many variants of chess that use the word, and chess is not patented or copyrighted. Even Capablanca had a variant of chess that he invented, can't remember the name but I think it still used the word "chess" but I might be wrong about that.

                The other thing about that is that I wasn't proposing that FIDE or anyone else replace normal chess with my changed version. They can exist side by side, and the change is minor enough that a regular chess set can still be used (but extra Queens are recommended because promotion would happen more frequently). So the new NBP Chess would probably appeal to people who are relatively new to chess, because they could play it without worrying that their opponent is much more booked up on openings due to years of study. The same goes for endgames, it would all be new to all the players.

                I used to really be in favor of Fischer Random but eventually I realized it only changes the opening. In the middlegames, you end up with typical chess positions and very likely have some static and blocked Pawn formations. There could be a Fischer Random NBP Chess too, for those that really want to change the openings.

                I am thinking in the future I may want to launch a web site where NBP Chess can be played. I have no intention of patenting it or taking ownership if it... like I said, I may not even be the originator of this idea. But I think some newer chess players would be attracted to it for the reasons given above.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Patrick Kirby View Post
                  A few months back Kramnik published analysis of a bunch of new variants. One was that pawns can move sideways at any point in the game. Another was that pawns can move two squares at any point in the game. There was a possibility to play some of the new variants at Chess.com. I'm not sure if one of the variants was allowing pawns to move diagonally without a capture.

                  I'm not sure if limiting the change to cases when pawns are blocked really makes sense. The point is not so much to avoid blocked or otherwise drawish positions, but to limit theory and put some of the creativity back into chess. For me, Fischer Random is one of the best options, but it has the drawback of being pretty ridiculous when played at fast time controls like 3 0 or 5 0 which are the most common ones online.
                  Hey Patrick, thanks for the response. I think the variant that allows Pawns to move 2 squares at any time is called Torpedo or else Torpedo Chess. I think it's just Torpedo. And I think chess.com has it as a playable variant.

                  Thanks for mentioning that, I may modify my program to allow for NBP Torpedo. Wow, that would really expand Pawn promotions! I think that would be super exciting.

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