lichess.org

Team for trying out new variants

Chess is a beautiful game, but can sometimes get a bit repetitive. Therefore, we like to play variants: games based off of chess with a couple of rules slightly modified to create a new experience. On lichess, we already have a lot of cool variants, but there are still many more, way too many for lichess to implement all of them.

So, I came up with an idea: a team based on trying out new variants and having fun with them. It would work like this:

• If you want to play a variant with someone, first check if there is already a forum thread running for the variant.
• If there is, react to requests that have already been made / post a request in the thread.
• If there isn't, create a new thread where you post the rules of the variant in the first post and a request for someone to play it in the second post. This keeps it neat and organized.

The reason I'm posting here first is because I'd like to hear your opinions on this. Please tell me if you would be interested in such a team and what you think a good name for such a team would be.

This looks interesting. How would people play new variants? Is it by posting moves in forum or is there other ways to play?

The point of the team is really just to bring people together that want to test out new variants and have some fun with that. Once the players are together, they can decide how they want to play the variant on their own. Here are some ways to do it:

Most variants can be played on the regular lichess board, so you could just challenge your opponent and when one player has won, the other resigns. You can take ChessWhiz' videos as an example: he comes up with some extra rule(s), for example: "You may only move forward" and then he puts out a challenge on his Twitch chat that somebody can click on and plays the variant. Whenever somebody makes a illegal move, they just move back using the "take back" feature.

If the variant can't be played using one of the regular lichess variants, maybe a study could be used. This would be somewhat clumsy, but I don't see a better way.

If neither of these options can be used, for example because the variant is played on a 10X8 board, the players can use private messages to exchange moves.

I don't like the idea of players posting their moves in the forum, since it's unnecessary for other players to read the games of others. It would also be prune to other players suggesting moves and talking about the game in any other way.

Note there already exists a community of chess-variant afficionados, which has its own server for playing arbitrary variants at chessvariants.com . It could be that these variants typically deviate more from orthodox Chess than you care for, though. (E.g. Capablanca Chess with B+N and R+N compound pieces on a 10x8 board would be considered very close to orthodox Chess there.)

Also note that I developed a simple turn-based server that can be very easily configured for a large range of Chess variants, with arbitrary board sizes and (almost) piece movement. The game would be pubicly visible, but there is no way for people to post comments this is probably not a problem. See for instace http://hgm.nubati.net/variants/elven .

To clarify, I envision a forum thread could look something like this:

Title of the thread: forward chess
Post #1 (by PlayerA):

Forward chess is a chess variant in which the only legal moves are moves which bring a piece up the board, so closer to the eight rank for white and closer to the first rank for black. If a player has no legal moves, the game ends in a draw, except for when he is in check. In that case, he loses.

Post #2 (by PlayerA):

Does anybody want to play a game of forward chess? I propose the time controls 1+4 and 3+0.

Post #3 (by PlayerB):

Yes, I'd like to play against you. Let's play 3+0.

The players than challenge each other and play a game of forward chess.

@HGMuller #4

Yes, my idea is more based on variants that differ from chess in one or two rules, more than an entirely different game. Also, I bet chessvariants.com doesn't have such a beautiful interface as lichess :).

Your server seems very limited and doesn't seem to support things like extra ways to win, which is something I like more than just a bunch more pieces thrown into the equasion with the hope of making the game more interesting.

Personally I don't like the 'Game Courier' interface used by chessvariants.com very much. It is based on server-side scripts, which sort of wrecks the performance, as you have to wait for server response for everything you do. (Even if it is just stepping through a game.) I was not trying to promote it as an alternative for Lichess, just as a possibility to do things that are currently impossible on Lichess (like 10x8 boards). Despite its shortcomings, it seems to beat just exchanging e-mail messages. And availability of opponents is usually much more important than the quality of the interface anyway.

My server is indeed very 'bare bones'. It is inteded to be a virtualization of the woodware you would normally put on the table, but accessible through the internet. So it gives you a board of the desired size, and a set of pieces of sufficiently many types, and pretty much leaves it to you and your opponent to play a game with that. Highlighting of pseudo-legal moves is a nice extra, and in practice quite useful when pieces with unorthodox moves participate. But the indicated moves are not enforced; it is up to your opponent to check the legality of moves, just as it would be in an over-the-board Chess game.

As such, winning conditions don't really have to be programmed into the server. The players (or audience) can see who has won, and the loser can simply resign in such a situation to make the server aware of the result (to store it with the game).

None of that would be any better if you played a game by exchanging e-mails.

I'd join such a team. Maybe play, if the variants are interesting and easy to play with a lichess board (e.g. atomic would be impossible to play without server assistance). I wouldn't play in studies or by exchanging moves, so no N+B or 10x8 games for me.

One variant idea I know and would try a bit move : the board is subdivided in 2x2 blocks (a1/b1/a2/b2 is one block, c1/c2/d1/d2 is another, etc.) ; pieces can only move from one block to another, but can't stay within their block. Consequently, pawns are very restricted in their movements, Kings often can't take opponent queens adjacent to them... and more.

Call it "variant testers", and open it :)

So far, I feel like this idea might become successful, so I decided to open up the team. Here it is: lichess.org/team/variant-testers

@HGMuller #7

I haven't fully explored your tool yet, but I haven't been able to find a way to make a custom variant. What do I have to do?

If your tool is capable of allowing two users to play a game of chess with every type of piece and board size: that's great! It is true that it doesn't need to "support" extra ways to win the game, that was silly on my part. However, it would be nice if there was a way to put down / remove pieces from the board (so you could play variants like crazyhouse and atomic chess).

I see your tool as a way to make this team even more successful, since not all games have to be played on lichess. I just wanted the lichess team to bring together people to play new and interesting variants.

@lecw #8

That's totally fine! If all you want is just some extra added rules to the game of chess, that just makes it easier to play. It's actually what I had in mind when I first thought of creating this team.

Great. Maybe advertise a bit in other variants teams, and in other threads opened by people looking to play more variants ? There's a big S-chess thread somewhere, I think some of the people there would be interested.

Reconnecting