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30 January 2005 @ 05:04 pm
More philosophical chess  
Philosopher Kings

In this chess variant, named after the concept of an "ideal government" from Plato's Republic, the King is a "Philosopher"-like piece. The supplemental 4×4 board is called the Æon, and the King's two kinds of movement are represented by a pair of markers caled Ideas, which move one space at a time orthogonally on the Æon (and cannot share a space). However, unlike in Dialectic Chess, the two Ideas do not correspond to passive and capturing movements: the moves represented by either marker can be used to move passively or to capture. The Ideas start on {1,0} and {1,1}, meaning that the King moves at the start just like a standard chess King. The same restrictions on repeating positions on the Æon between board moves apply as in Dialectic Chess.

Obviously, you couldn't move an Idea if your King is in check, since it could not remove check. It's also impossible to give check by making an æonic move, since doing so would also put your own King in check.

I'm conflicted about castling. Of course, you could play with traditional castling, or with no castling alowed at all. My current idea is that castling is allowed, but only if the King could arrive at the proper spot by repeated use of one of his moves in the same direction (in other words, one marker would have to be on any of {1,0}, {0,1}, {2,0}, or {0,2}). The usual restriction on inability to move the King through a space under attack holds, but if the King would not land there during his moves, the attack is irrelevant: e.g. if space F1 is under attack and one of the markers is on {2,0}, the player could castle kingside as the King would not be considered to have passed through F1 (however, this would leave the rook vulnerable to attack, so it might not be the best move to make in practice). The only real problem with this is that it's kind of hard to describe, but it does make the Æon relevant to castling.

Royal Philosophers

Well, we've made the King into a Philosopher piece. But what about the Queen? In orthochess, the Queen is a long-range (rider) equivalent of the King, move-wise. Why not bring that over?

Royal Philosophers Chess is the same as Philosopher Kings Chess, except that the Queen also depends on the Æon for her moves. The difference between the King's use of a move designated by an Idea and the Queen's use of that move is equivalent to the difference between the Philosopher and Great Philosopher in Dialectic Chess.

Since the Queen is also controlled by the Æon, it may be possible to give or remove check by moving an Idea.

Philosopher's Army

The Queen is also considered to be a combination of Rook and Bishop. So why not adopt that equivalence as well? Hell, why not go whole hog? Hence, Philosopher's Army Chess, where all but the pawns are Philosopher pieces.

This is a little different from the previous two. The Æon is the same, but there are three distinct markers: the Form of the Rook, the form of the Bishop, and the Form of the Knight. None of these can share spaces. They are initially placed, respectively, on {1,0}, {1,1}, and {2,1}. As you could probably guess, the Form of the Rook determines how the Rook moves (as a rider), the Form of the Bishop determines how the Bishop moves (also a rider), and the Form of the Knight determines how the Knight moves (as a leaper). The Queen combines the moves of the Rook and Bishop, and the King's moves are determined by the Form of the Rook and the Form of the Bishop in the same way that its moves are determined by the Ideas in Philosopher Kings Chess.

This variant is particularly interesting, because moving a single Form would have effects throughout the board.

A possible variant: having each Form move differently. The Form of the Rook would move one space at a time orthagonally, the Form of the Bishop would move one space diagonally (therefore, Bishops would always be colorbound—think about it), and the Form of the Knight would move one space orthagonally or diagonally (to make up for the Knight's leaper-only status, and the fact that this Form does not influence the King or Queen directly). This would, I think, more or less preserve the pieces' relative values.

Grand Philosopher's Army

The Philosopher's Army concept could easily be extended to a variant of Grand Chess. In this, the Marshall would combine the rider move determined by the Form of the Rook and the leaper move determined by the Form of the Knight, and the Cardinal would do the same for the rider move determined by the Form of the Bishop and the leaper move determined by the Form of the Knight.

Chiron's Chess

A slight variant on Grand Philosopher's Army Chess, this would alow the King to make leaper moves determined by all three Forms, including the Form of the Knight.

The name is a bit of a pun: Chiron was a Greek mythological character with the form of a centaur (although he wasn't considered a centaur, as he was unrelated to them), who was suppsed to be a great teacher. In fairy chess terminology, a centaur is a piece that combines the moves of a Knight (horse) and Mann (non-royal King). As the royal piece in this variant is the Philosophical equivalent of a centaur, the name seemed appropriate.

I have no idea if this is a bettergame than Grand Philosopher's Army Chess—it makes the King a bit more powerful—but the symmetry was hard to resist.

Guru and the Sages

A Philosopher's Army variant of Maharajah and the Sepoys: white plays the Sages, which is the Philosopher's Army, while black plays the Guru, a single piece combining the rider movement determined by the Form of the rook, the rider movement determined by the form of the Bishop, and the leaper movement determined by the Form of the Knight. White's goal is to checkmate the Guru, while black's goal is to checkmate white's King.

Possibilities for future exploration

Philosopher-hoppers are possible.

All of these "philosophical" variants of chess use a smaller two-dimensional chessboard to control the "philosophers". It may be possible to expand these concepts. For example, adding a third dimension in which the "thoughts" can move, which could determine another component of the affected piece. Or, staying in 2D, adding a "sub-thought" piece that can split from and merge with a rider's thought that would determine the direction of the first step of a rider's move, allowing a rider to become a bent rider (like a gryphon or unicorn) or a "skip rider" (a similar idea, except the initial move is in the same direction as the rest and only differs in length, like a wazir + dabbabahrider). In fact, there is no reason why the meta-"board" must resemble a chessboard at all!
Current Mood: creativecreative
scribe_of_stars on January 31st, 2005 04:46 am (UTC)

...That's the best tip I've ever heard to improve my game! Keep changing the rules until only I know how to win! :p