Going Forward to Light and Order!

Going Forward
to Light and Order!

by Shankar Ram

Our chess problem field is not gaining as many new followers as it should. There is a competition for ways to spend leisure time: various other board and video games – most of them available online, as well as the old ways like music, movies, serials, sports – again mostly online. Also, the regular game is experiencing a boom, with more OTB and online tournaments. But here too, players are less interested in chess problems, than before.
In this atmosphere, we should try to make our hobby as attractive as possible for newcomers. The biggest area in chess problems is the category of fairy chess. Here, more and more new forms are being invented. The easy availability of chess problem solving software is probably helping in this. But this has created a big obstacle for the newcomer, who might well be scared away by the plethora of incomprehensible terms under the diagrams!
Therefore, this project is an attempt to provide an easy and helpful way for a newcomer to find the definition of an unfamiliar fairy element, as well as some additional information about its history, popularity, software supporting this element and of course, some carefully selected example problems which bring out the characteristics of the element.

In the process of this project, we need to classify the various elements into groups and sub-groups, along with linkages between similar elements – in short, produce a taxonomy or knowledge organisation of fairy chess elements. This will aid understanding, meet the human need for orderliness, and help to check whether a particular element is already existing.

Of course, various sources are available online, many of which meet the above objectives. These have been used as the basis or foundation for this project. All of them have been listed and acknowledged. However, all of them have some shortcomings in terms of completeness, being up-to-date, clarity, example problems and organisation. Our project is an attempt to address all these shortcomings.

We welcome all comments and suggestions!


A great work to classify fairy elements has been already done mostly by Shankar Ram and Chris Tylor! (Julia)


Fairy Classification, step 1: sources and more…

Fairy Classification project: step 1

Our Fairy Classification project has started, motivated by the great enthusiasm and good will of Chris Tylor and Shankar Ram! Now our small group is moving from the Preliminary questions  to the next steps. The main ideas of this post are :

  • to inform everybody what we currently do;
  • to get your comments/suggestions about the current steps;
  • to involve more members to our working team.

On this first step we’re very grateful to:

If anybody still feels himself enthusiastic about our project – please, join us! Your suggestions and info about sources, classification, fairy definitions, historical facts, etc, may help a lot!


Fairy Classification: preliminary questions

Fairy Classification: preliminary questions

If the project of creating some better database of fairy elements might succeed? If we’re ready to jump into it? Who would be ready to join the team? What is the order and what’s the freedom? And what’s is the main purpose of this database?

Let me quote the words of Chris Tylor’s comment which has just appeared: “I now propose that we go back to basics and make the overall aim of our new database not so much to produce order as to give light – to show users new properties and applications of a range of fairy elements, together with the way in which they relate to other elements (or perhaps stand alone), and maybe in the process point users to ways in which new advances might be made.”  – Agree!

Let’s summarize the most important ideas from about 80 comments to Fairy Statistics post:

1. Statistics about fairy elements

2. INTRO to the classification: questions to the definitions of the classes, by Dmitri Turevski

3. Preliminary Classification, suggestions by Chris Tylor and Shankar Ram

4. Sources of information for classification and definitions

If we’re getting into this project, from the moment when the new database appears and has some entries I can start presenting it on JF. So, it might get in use before the whole project might be considered as finished or being up to date 🙂

For now I’ve created a GoogleSheet document Fairy-Classification for online work. The statistics and preliminary classification groups already included for future correction. I’d like to ask Shankar Ram to accept my invitation to be the main moderator of this project. The right to view/edit the document will be granted to all members of the team.

Welcome to join the project!

Your comments and updates are highly appreciated!


Fairy elements: the statistics

Does anybody know the approximate number of fairy elements (pieces and conditions) we have? Just try to guess!

I believe, for now WinChloe‘s Echecs database (by Christian Poisson) is the most comprehensive source of published problems and existing fairy elements. The last update of Echecs database from 12.09.2020 contains 785,899 problems! Well, this is the information visible to all users of WinChloe. But there’s something else, not so visible, but still existing – Fairy pieces and condition invented. I’ve asked the implementer about it. So, thanks to Christian we have an astonishing statistics! The number of invented elements is …   ⇒

If composing with the “TOP” fairy elements we’d be understood by most of other composers; the same time it would be harder to create something original here; but the originality would be felt and appreciated and valued by the most!