Now an officially sanctioned AsHmc club.
ChesSers was originally conceived by several residents of EastDorm (which includes, but is not limited to,
JoshMiddendorf, NickJohnson, and CurtisVinson) in October of 1999. The idea was originally born from the ChessVariant? BugHouse, in which two simultaneous games of chess are played on adjacent boards. The twist is that if you capture a piece, you hand it to your partner playing the opposite color on the other board to be placed anywhere on the board (with some constraints) as a single turn. Both games are timed independently, and a victory on either board means vistory for the whole team, so team play and communication, as well as quick thinking, are important.
ChesSers is an extension of the idea, but instead of playing Chess on one of the boards, a game of checkers is played. This means that checkers can appear on the chess board and chess pieces can appear on the checkers board, making for some surprisingly interesting strategy and interactions.
How to Play
The basic rules are:
- Checkers move, capture, and promote like checkers, and ChessPieces move, capture, and promote like themselves.
- The CheckersSide is forced capture (if you can take a piece, you have to; if you have multiple captures, you can choose from among them).
- On the CheckersSide you can only drop on black squares (the squares upon which the checkers start). Dropping on white has been tested and been generally decided to not be as interesting as the black-only drop rule.
- One team wins when that team CheckMates its opponent on the ChessSide, leaves its opponent without a legal move on the CheckersSide, or runs either opponent out of time.
- Pawns cannot be dropped on either the LastRank or FirstRank? on either board, and checkers cannot be dropped on the LastRank on either board. This is the only version of this rule which has been played. Certainly, other sensible versions are probably not broken, and should probably be tested for interest value.
- Pieces may be dropped for check, and for mate.
- Checkers can not capture en passant.
- Dropped pawns can move two on the chess board when they are on the second rank, but only one on the checkers board (Actually, this is open to debate; however, it doesn't come up often enough to matter all that much.). They can also capture en passant as normal on the chess board, whether dropped or initial. I for one would support pawns moving 2 spaces on general priciples as on option when dropped onto the second rank -JoshMiddendorf
- King-checkers move like ordinary checkers, but backwards or forwards, and capture by jumping forwards or backwards as normal. A piece which is promoted to a king ends its turn; the king cannot go on to make captures in the king fashion.
- A player must make at least one jump with a checker for it to count as capture, but then may choose to stop at that point or any subsequent point in a sequence of jumps.
- Checkers kings are not royal.
- The chess side of the game ends with checkmate; taking the chess king is not allowed.
- All that matters for determining the legality of a move is the final board position after the move has been completed. Thus, multiple checker jumps that temporarily expose the king to check are legal, so long as the king is not in check by the end of the move.
- The checkers side of the game ends when all of a player's pieces are captured.
- Partners may discuss moves and strategy as much as they want. (One could make a case for insisting that all such communication be public. It's arguable either way, though.)
- 10 minute times. This used to be because we didn't understand the game as well as BugHouse, now it stands as a matter of inertia, because games tend to take more moves then in BugHouse, and because we use the large DeathChessBoards. (We've also experimented a bit with 1-minute hourglass clocks.)
- Observers may kibitz by pointing out when a move is illegal on either board, after the player making the illegal move hits the clock.
- Generally, play is under nice rules: no touch move, players declare check, and when asked, a player should tell his opponent what move he last made. If an illegal move is discovered early enough in a move tree to be reversed, it is reversed. Other problems should be dealt with under the general principle that being a DumbAss is bad.
- Kibitzers will be castrated, except as noted above.
- Pawn drop: a place on the board where a pawn may be dropped with high probability of promotion.
- Sleazify (Sleazifaction/Sleazification?): closing the chess board up with checkers, so that it's difficult for either player to move or capture. Named for Sleazy, who in the couple of games he played tended to use lots of NormalCheckers in the center of the board.
- WHAT ON EARTH DID YOU PLAY!?: The DanishGambit. Really annoys your partner on the CheckersSide.
- Pulling a Wes: When a player on the ChessSide asks his partner for a piece when they are all on the ChessSide already. Named for WesTurner?, who did this quite often while learning ChesSers.
- Pulling a Wes II: When a player on the ChessSide tells his partner to play the queen or any other high-caliber piece, confident that he can handle the piece when it comes back to the ChessSide.
- The Spiritual Stone of Wes: A magical power-up that turns the player on the ChessSide into Wes.
- Force-capture mode: the state you are in, on the CheckersSide, when you will be forced to take large numbers of pieces in the next few moves (usually as the result of having a queen/rook/black bishop, either actual or promoted, on the table)
- Chaining: Intentionally putting your opponent in force-capture mode so as to be able to take all their pieces other than the force-capturing piece and then take it as well, leading to game.
- Invisible square: Used in two senses, both of which apply exclusively to the CheckersSide. Used to refer either to a white square your opponent is attacking but you are also defending (especially when the attacking/defending pieces are knights), or a square upon which you can, if your opponent queens a pawn, drop a checker to take the queen. Generally used to taunt your opponent; e.g. "Haha! I control all the invisible squares!"
- The Super Piece That Makes You Win: A term coined by AlexBobbs to refer to the piece you want your partner to give you that will lead to instant victory. Generally used in the context of situations where such as piece does not exist (i.e. teleporting pawns, triangular knights, or spell-casting checkers).
- Queen's gambit: Any opening on the CheckersSide that leads to both players getting early pawn promotions. Inevitably degenerates into massive carnage. (This terminology is not as confusing as it might seem; for reasons noted below, playing any chess opening with "gambit" in its name in Chessers is generally considered a BadIdea.)
See the ChessersTournament node for information on chessers competitions in the works.
It is very difficult to analyze Chessers in the same way that you might analyze Chess or Checkers individually. But a great deal of effort has been put into finding effective Chessers strategies. Here are some of the ideas that have been put forth.
Assigning piece valuations in the same way that Chess has piece valuations is a path wrought with peril. Especially on the CheckersSide, as a result of forced capture, this becomes completely impossible. For example, in Chess, there is no situation in which is would be preferable to have a bishop instead of a queen. But on the CheckersSide, the queen is very easy to force into a chain capture mode that prevents its owner from responding to attacks, but this is much harder to do with a bishop.
One proposal that can be used as a rough estimate, however, is as follows: 3-.5 for a Checker, 1 for Pawn, 2.5-3 for Knight, 3 for Bishop, 5 for Rook, 8-9 for Queen for pieces on the ChessSide, and .5 for Checker, 2 for Pawn, 4 for Knight, 2 for Bishop, 3 for Rook, and 4 for Queen on the CheckersSide. This is a very rough estimate though, and the caveats mentioned above should be taken to heart. More complicated systems have been proposed that attempt to take into account whether or not the piece has already been dropped and board position, but the consensus seems to be that piece valuations for Chessers are not a feasible way of evaluating the state of the game, especially on the CheckersSide.
Using the Pieces
The following list describes how the different pieces are generally used in Chessers:
- NormalChecker: keeps you alive, guards promotion squares
- NormalChecker (to drop): kills capital pieces, protects cannon fodder
- King checker: keeps you alive, allows for mutual protection (aka queen-proofing)
- ChessPawn: protects cannon fodder, threatens promotion, kicks knights
- Knight: forks stuff (especially checkers), guards promotion squares
- Black bishop: kills checkers, kicks knights, and possible used to guard promotion squares
- White bishop: keeps you alive, guards promotion squares, trades with queens
- Rook: protects cannon fodder, kills checkers without being too chainable
- ChessQueen: kills checkers, forks stuff (especially in the endgame)
"No matter what you do, don't let any pawns come over for the next 30 seconds" -- Every Joe Random ChessersPlayer
One of the most interesting aspects of Chessers is the way partners must interact to maximize success. For example, if one player is in trouble, the other player may often need to sacrifice their own position to ensure that he doesn't lose pieces that could be dropped on the other board to end the game. A player on the Chess side is often forced to protect his pawns, since they are very valuable as drop pieces, something someone experienced in pure Chess will not be used to.
Many of the unique aspects of chessers strategy are a consequence of the asymmetry between the two boards. Unlike BugHouse, there's no reason to assume that a trade that appears good for you will be even remotely good for your partner; in fact, the opposite is often the case. As a result, games tend to end on time, especially between players who are relatively evenly matched.
Additionally, the extreme disparity in starting power between the boards alters the opening strategy of both. The chess player must avoid openings (such as the DanishGambit) that provide extremely disadvantageous piece-flow to the checkers side. On the other hand, it is not necessary to worry overly about dealing with the initial piece-flow from the CheckersSide, since it will consist solely of checkers. The checkers player, of course, has the reverse situation. This tends to even out somewhat in the middlegame, at which point crucial piece-flow becomes much more game-specific.
Phases of the game
Both sides of the game seem to have vaguely well-defined phases:
- Opening: Looks mostly like a slightly oddball chess game, with occasional checker drops. Piece flow out is important; piece flow in somewhat less so.
- Middlegame: Piece flow in becomes more important as chess pieces start to return in large quantities. This is the phase of the game generally characterized by sleazifaction.
- Endgame: Concerned to a large extent with protecting your seventh rank from queening threats and with dropped pieces in general. Tempo is crucial in the ChessSide endgame; it is not at all uncommon for the losing player to be a single non-forced move away from CheckMate.
- Opening: For the most part, characterized by an attempt to avoid opening up your position to pawn-drops of various varieties and to force your opponent into a Zugswang position, where they must either give up a pawn drop or sacrifice material. The canonical openings on the CheckersSide involve large numbers of checker trades; however, there is a small but growing tendency to play "opposition" openings, which do not.
- Middlegame: Probably the best way of characterizing the standard CheckersSide middlegame is that it begins when one or both players can safely drop a pawn on the board without instantly winning or gaining a huge advantage. At this point, the board is sufficiently open that, through the use of "invisible squares" and blocking pieces, it is frequently possible to forestall the promotion of a seventh-rank pawn for quite some time. The game centers on promotion attempts, and on piece-flow back to the ChessSide.
- Endgame: Generally, though not always, involves a fairly small number of on-board pieces. Depending on the status of the ChessSide, one or both players is likely to have large drop potential. Often a game of attrition, in which players attempt to get enough of a material advantage over their opponent to allow chaining and therefore forestall the dropping of bishops, rooks, and queens.
- Late endgame: At this point, the outcome of the CheckersSide itself is generally no longer in doubt. The losing player is simply playing for time. This is the phase in which the infamous white bishop comes into its own.
- The End: A point after which the decision of the game is certain. This generally involves one player being chained while the rest of their pieces are gobbled up by the soon-to-be-winning player. The losing player is forced to capture with his last remaining piece, and it is then captured. Sometimes, however, the battle results in a war of attrition, with one player not forced to capture with his last remaining piece, but unless he or she drops a piece, it is inevitable that he/she will lose, and that person waits for a piece to drop.
It should be noted, however, that the CheckersSide is interesting in part because of its extreme variety. Though the above is probably a reasonable summary of most games played between experienced players in EastDorm, there are certainly games that do not fall into this classification. Probably the most common examples are Queen's gambit games, which branch from the opening to something vaguely resembling a late endgame, but with less piece-flow in.
Some Variants (both theoretical and actually played):
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Thank you whoever reorganized this page --JoshMiddendorf
See also: ChessersSuite