After the initial release in April 2021, the last release in August 2021 covered some 476 elements. No updates to the database have since been made. This was mainly due to our decision to implement a new format wherein alternative classification choices could be shown together. While this “Grand Unified Theory” is still under progress, we are happy to present some new classification ideas by Thomas Maeder, Maryan Kerhuel and Chris Tylor. These will, hopefully, be eventually integrated into our GUT!
Back in May 2021, Thomas Maeder proposed a classification model for the Stipulations group. It used a two-dimensional matrix for the “Play” group. His original outline is here and a slightly modified and coloured version by NSR is here.
Maryan Kerhuel started work on a classification model for the Conditions group from October 2021. He has included the relationship between conditions and piece attributes. His latest version can be seen here (Group and sub-group definitions) and here (Spreadsheet with 300+ conditions from WinChloe sorted by name [sheet 1] and by classification code [sheet 2]).
After a break, Chris Tylor returned to the project from February 2022, with a comprehensive document covering all the existing plus some new elements and attempting a different approach, which can be seen here. Chris’s words from the introduction: “…I would like to dedicate it and any further versions to Julia – as being the person with the vision to set this project in motion in the first place.”
Our project has now covered more than 90% of the top frequently used elements in WinChloe and almost all the elements in Popeye, as well as other unsupported ones. We are taking a break while we continue adding new elements and also work on modifying the visual interface to show alternative classifications of elements and groups, as also other related information like history and example problems. This may take some more time.
Till then, for your reading pleasure, we present one more “by-product” article and a listing of matplus forum posts on fairy definition and classification related content (with hyperlinks to each post)! – Shankar Ram, FCCP project
(Introduction) Some elements can be included in more than one group. We have chosen the commonly followed classification. Such cases are indicated when they occur. Generally, the rules applying to one element in a group can be applied to another group to create new elements or sub-groups in that group. For example, the rules of the Vertical Cylinder can be applied to particular pieces as an attribute to create “Vertical Cylinder pieces”. The rules of Circe can be applied to specific pieces to create “Circe pieces”. The attributes of certain pieces can be applied to all pieces to create a condition as in “Chameleon Chess”. Certain stipulations can also be interpreted as conditions and vice versa.
(Stipulations) In some cases, a stipulation may have another stipulation as a goal. For example, the HelpSelfmate has Selfmate in 1 as the goal and Help Play as the play.
(Goals) There is some disagreement about whether some goals are actually conditions. An alternate definition considers a goal to be a condition if it results in the rules of the game being changed. If not then it is a valid goal. Typical examples of this anomaly are Series movers and Reflexmates. A series mover changes the rules of “alternating play by both sides”. A Reflexmate adds the Reflex condition. However, due to these two being considered as stipulations for a long time in published sources, literature, the WFCC codex, Solving software, the FIDE Albums and other competitions, it would be difficult to change their classification. We continue to follow the existing practice in these and other similar cases while acknowledging the alternate interpretations.
(Reflexmate) Could also be considered as a Selfmate with the condition “Reflex Chess”.
(Play) In general, all types of play could be considered as consisting of White and Black playing either in opposition or cooperation.
(Series play) Could also be considered as a condition. by stating that one side simply passes while the other side moves.
(Conditions) Using new boards (instead of plane 8×8), new pieces (instead of KQRBSP), cooperation (instead of opposition) and new goals (instead of checkmate) could also be considered as “changes in the rules”. Therefore, usage of new boards, pieces, goals and help play could also be interpreted as using new conditions. A helpmate would have to be called as #n with the condition “cooperation chess”. We will not go down this rabbit hole!
(MAFF) This condition is considered as a goal in WinChloe, though it is shown as a condition in most sources.
A specific criticism of our classification was that we have not defined the different main groups clearly and unambiguously. We feel some amount of ambiguity and exceptions will always be present.
However, we have only built on earlier work:
T.R.Dawson: In Caissa’s Wild Roses in Clusters considers Normal chess as consisting of a playing space, six men with specific freedom of movement, and various limitations on move freedom. These are equivalent to our main groups with stipulations and conditions being considered under a single group called limitations. He further continues by saying that Fairy Chess comprises the study of all such elements, taken in arbitrary groups at will.
A.S.M.Dickins: In A Guide to Fairy Chess (Dover Edition), groups elements into Fairy Pieces(p8), Fairy Boards(p14), Unorthodox Stipulations(p21), and Conditional Problems(p22).
WinChloe: Each problem has to be defined by Stipulation, Aim, Pieces and Conditions. Any new boards supported are covered under Conditions. Our Play and Goal is equivalent to WinChloe’s Stipulation and Aim.
Popeye: Each problem has to be defined by Stipulation, Pieces, and Conditions. Boards other than the 8×8 are not supported.
BCPS Glossary: Has the groups Stipulations(divided into Play, Goals and Other), Pieces and Conditions. Boards are not covered.
We feel our classification of the main groups matches these sources and there is no need for further justification. Still, this matter was discussed in the initial posts on JF and an attempt was made to define these groups. See the comment. We will work on further improving these group definitions. Our first target was to first publish an interface with a reasonably large list of popular elements so that it could be immediately usable.
We do feel that our work is of value, despite the scepticism and disdain expressed.
During our discussions and correspondence,
We have searched for, compiled, catalogued, acknowledged and used a long list of sources on the internet by our other friends covering the same subject.
We discovered gaps in various groups which could be filled by new elements.
We found and corrected mistakes in existing definitions.
We identified and resolved ambiguities in the definitions of some elements.
We came across differences in the software implementations of the same element.
We saw the relationships between seemingly different elements.
We found the same elements existing under different names.
We have contacted various friends for help with some elements and they have generously responded.
We have presented an easy and searchable interface for the user to navigate and explore the various groups, elements and their definitions in three different modes.
In the depressing climate which pervades the world today, our project was a source of friendly interaction and inspiration.
Finally, We have, once again, come to understand and experience what TRD meant when he said: “Fairy Chess sets the heart and mind of all who know it aflame with passionate love of its joy“.
Our above response may not satisfy everybody. But we are here for the long haul and all suggestions for improvement will be considered. Gens Una Sumus.
“One of the benefits of our Classification Project is the opportunity to study some rarely used fairy elements and also fill in gaps in their grouping. One such study resulted in this “mini-article”. More such will follow!” (NSR)
To summarise, our list of Reciprocal types are:
1 Reciprocal (Grazer) Helpmate (Reci-h#). Help Play – #1 & h#1 by B.
2 Reciprocal HelpSelfmate (Reci-hs#). Help Play – #1 & s#1 by W.
3 Reciprocal (Grazer) Selfmate (Reci-s#). Direct Play – #1 & s#1 by W.
4 Reciprocal SemiReflexmate (Reci-½r#). Direct Play – #1 & semi-r#1(h#1) by W.
JF Fairy Terms database (the old JF’s database of fairy elements which is still in use for the definitions of fairy pieces/conditions for the original problems). With the time the FCC should replace the old database fully.
The SEARCH function is added to the Fairy Chess Classification Project!
From the FCCP‘s main page you see:
Our thanks to all the maintainers of these sources. Going forward, we plan to add more elements from all these sources as well as any interesting elements that are freshly invented. We will also add more information to each element like history, popularity, solving program support and example problems. Also planned is a user interface to search and explore the elements. In these dark days, some light and order! We welcome you to join us!
Please post your opinions, suggestions and queries! – The Fairy Chess Classification Project Team
Some interesting information about Chris Tylor, our most active contributor to the Fairy Chess Classification Project: In December 1888, T. Fisher Unwin, the London publishing house, published a 112 page book of poetry called “Chess: A Christmas Masque” by Chris’s Grandfather, Louis Tylor. (Masque: a type of theatre entertainment including poetry, singing, and dancing, performed in England in the 16th and 17th centuries).
The British weekly The Spectator, in its 22-Dec-1888 issue, described the book as “A LITTLE poem, this, but dealing with great mysteries, and one which will commend itself to those who, like Milton’s fallen angels, love to reason of- ” Providence, Fore-knowledge, Will, and Fate, Fixed Fate, Free-will, Fore-knowledge absolute.”
Viktor and Andriy quoted this book as a new addition to their anthology of world chess poetry. And with poetic license, they said Chris’s work in chess problems was a creative link to and a continuation of his Grandfather’s book!
The book has been considered culturally important and has been reprinted recently. A public domain PDF is available here.
Somewhat in the spirit of Lewis Caroll, it starts with a dream by a boy who falls asleep on Christmas eve, before a chess board and sees the chessmen start to move and speak. Here are some excerpts:
A pleasant dream. Me thought the smooth square board
Grew rugged as the chequered field of life;
My chessmen took a human shape and moved,
The White with purpose good, and the Black with ill.
When the play is over, and the match is won,
Times of joyous contest ended, joyous rest begun;
Then the players, foes no longer, only rival friends,
Drink a parting health together; So the evening ends
When the play is over.
Read the full book from the link above, or better still, buy a hard copy online!
Published with a gratitude to the initiator and author of this article, the soul of Fairy Chess Classification Project, Shankar Ram! (JV)