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  3. Quarter Chess - Variant starting position

Some time ago, I endeavored to create a pawnless diagonally symmetrical 'starting' position with twice as many pieces; with no captures possible on white's first move. After some experimentation, I successfully found this position:

I've since played a few rounds of that position against some people, and it appears to be an approximately fair position as far as I can tell through play-testing it. If I recall correctly, at depth 36 Stockfish sees the identical moves 1.Nd3 and 1.Nf5 as the best at ~+0.35; however once either of those moves are on the board and Stockfish 10 is again allowed to reach depth 36 it evaluates the position on black's turn as 0.00, with no three-fold immediately visible on the best PV. I have also locally run a 16-game test between two instances of Stockfish 10 from that position at 30+90 time control, all of which ended in draws.

Seeing as each army occupies opposite quarters of the board, and can be visually sub-divided into 4 further quarters each with the king making up a quarter of the royal quarter; I derived the name "Quarter Chess" for that position. Where might I find a sub-community of players willing to play Quarter Chess against me + each other? While I did make mention of having played it against a few people, my opponents thus far have consisted only of those that I either know in real life or am well-acquainted with online; which hasn't offered me the best overall challenge level for my skill level or ample enough opportunity to play Quarter Chess.

I think this variant has too much power in too little space to be interesting under regular chess rules.

Under normal chess, each side starts with 39 points of material. 2 rooks + queen + 4 minors + 8 pawns. (10+9+12+9 = 39)

In your variant each side starts with 71 points of material. 4 rooks 3 queens and 8 minors. (20 + 27 + 24 = 71 points of material)

Add to that neither side has a single pawn. So there is no skeleton and each army is sorta moving around like a jelly fish.

However, that critique in mind this variant has some potential if the rules are changed. Racing King's rules applied as in the king may not be put into check. Also, each king is racing to touch either side of the board (The white king may go to the a1-a8 or a8-h8 wall to win whereas & the black king may go to the a1-h1 wall or h1-h8 wall to win)

So this way either king can head to either wall

& to spice things up I'd add compulsory captures as well like in anti-chess

Based on the experience that I have so far playing Quarter Chess against (a somewhat limited crowd of) other people, I disagree with your claim that there's "too much power in too little space to be interesting under regular chess rules". Once the position inevitably simplifies a bit, the best way forward becomes significantly less clear and one side usually ends up winning an exchange then the game soon after; though I admit this observation of mine is based largely on my own ~1200 level play while you appear to be rated ~2000.

Looking towards the results of the tests that I ran using Stockfish, Quarter Chess does indeed look fairly draw-prone assuming that Stockfish is necessarily playing optimally; so I think you're onto something with introducing other variant rules. However, I don't fully agree with some of the specific ones you picked; I think check and checkmate are needed for Quarter Chess to be at its full potential. King of the Hill rules verbatim would make for a frantic race to the center of the board fraught with checkmate threats, although making the opposite walls the target destination as you suggested instead of the center would make for an interesting game of who can slip away towards a wall first; I'd still include checks and checkmate. Given how quickly Quarter Chess already simplifies, I also don't think compulsory captures are necessary; captures are more often than not effectively compulsory without actually being compulsory anyway, so the option to keep complexities when viable is golden.

Additional variant rule discussion withstanding; would you be willing to play 4 rounds of Quarter Chess as it is against me sometime, such that we each play each color twice? I can't right now because I'm about to head to bed (need sleep), but whenever we've next both got a spare while. Looking at our ratings it looks very likely that you'll crush me with little contest, though I still hope that I can cause you to get a glimpse of something a little more interesting than you thought you were looking at. While some of the variant rules certainly would be really interesting additions to Quarter Chess, I still found the games that I did play of it as it is so far to be fun. I first came up with it probably around ~6 months ago if I recall correctly, and I'm still thinking about it now; something about it has held my interest for this long.

I agree that 3 queens and 4 rooks are just too much for 64 squares.
But the picture you created is art to me :)

Maybe something like this? It's not as beautiful as yours but maybe it makes more sense to play with weaker pieces (also in order to improve). The pawns aren't perfect, I just made that very quickly.

But we can play quarter chess too some time if you want :)

The games of quarter chess we played a few days ago were really fun, @schachschachschach; you're clearly a much better player than I am xD ^^ (; I've decided to review the first of the 4 games we played, specifically my mistakes according to the "learn from your mistakes" function here on lichess. Being that this is the game analysis thread specifically about quarter chess, it's probably only appropriate to share some of the games of it that we play + analyze them ourselves; yeah?

On move 3, I put my d6 rook in the relative safety of the d1 square to free up d6 for my b5 knight; preparing a fork of your e4 and f5 rooks. However, that move was too passive; with the main relatively minor threat it posed being far too telegraphed. All it really did was make me lose a tempo; which that early on was roughly equivalent to giving up a piece for free due to the frequency of exchanges that early on. Instead of attempting to prepare a fork of your rooks while moving a rook of my own to relative safety, I should've immediately thrown a punch at your e4 rook by moving my d7 knight to c5; forcing you to hold initiative by doing the exchange yourself using your f5 rook.

On move 6, I should've safely recaptured the rook that just captured my a5 knight using my c7 bishop instead of exchanging my d6 knight for your e4 rook; that one... I'll chalk up to phobia of running behind on time leading to not looking at the board nearly closely enough. That should've been obvious to me but it apparently wasn't at the time. On move 7, I probably should've known the only effect of throwing a punch at your queen after it recaptured the knight I used to capture your e4 rook would be squandering my tempo; however, using my rook on d1 to take your e1 knight was completely not obvious to me yet. I didn't see that your g3 bishop watching your e1 knight was pinned to your h2 queen by my c7 bishop; pins in general (especially diagonal pins) are still tough for me to spot properly, which I imagine is a big part of why you suggested that I play more games with less pieces on the board when our 4-game match was over.

On move 9 when you exchanged your g3 bishop for my c7 bishop, I should've used my b8 queen to retake instead of opening your f7 queen's line of sight to my b7 queen by using my c6 rook that had been in the way to retake. Then on move 10 I had an opportunity to simultaneously seal off the now-doubled main diagonal line of sight you had and throw a punch at the rook that had been sitting on a5 for a while, and just... tried to approach your f3 queen to eventually throw a useless punch at it instead? 10... Nce6??? Yeah, hindsight 20/20. That was a truly horrible decision on my part o_o; >.> It even took an eye off of my b7 queen right when there where two diagonal attacks lined up on it, and so actually stepped away from where your f3 queen was most certainly headed xD

On move 11, I recaptured using the wrong bishop + thus lost another queen for it. I think I noticed that one immediately after making the move, but decided against requesting a take-back over it because it was purely from my own shortsightedness and wasteful haste. I legit forgot + didn't see that I apparently had a rook sitting on e1 on move 13; looking back on that now, I can clearly see that I needed to have that rook do a retreat. Instead I threw a harmless punch at the queen that was ready to take my e1 rook without needing any additional excuse to.

I feel like I'm still only barely scratching the surface of why some of the moves I made were bad, and why the apparently better moves were better. Could you correct me on any points I got wrong + give me some further insight on the moves that I didn't catch all of the reasons why they were mistakes or would've been better, please? I think my biggest weakness overall currently is probably that I can't 'see' diagonals very well; which given the starting position of quarter chess, probably particularly impedes me in quarter chess and is also damaging to my ability to play standard chess well. I also particularly struggle to see any further than maybe 1 move ahead at best; a lot of my play is based around "what looks promising right now?" and the occasional "what might increase the potential of my next move?", I would imagine in often sub-optimal manner even for that.

If you'd both be willing, I'd love to see a 4-game match between you and @lurarose; that seems likely to be closer to an even match than what the match between you and me was~ (; I want to see the potential that quarter chess has when played between two skilled human players ^^ Ideally, I'd be skilled enough to be able to draw that out myself given a similarly skilled opponent; although it would seem that I'm quite simply not there just yet xD

@RadiantDarkBlaze I've read your analysis and it is okay... I have no corrections because that many attacking pieces on the board are just too much for me to calculate. I started thinking about the best moves somewhere at move 16. In the beginning I just randomly took what I could take. I figured out that a huge problem for both sides is that their queens are trapped and get pinned very easily. Queens should be in the center of the board not in the corner. I still would suggest that you make a variant with less pieces on the board. This is just overwhelming. I'm not motivated enough to think everything through starting with move 1 which would be necessary against a strong player like lurarose (would need ~45min to think) ^^