On 1-May-21, Julia made a post on the matplus forum about our project. After this, many concerns were raised in the thread. This is our response.
We thank all the contributors of the thread for their opinions and insights.
We have added notes, at various points in our document, to present the alternative views expressed:
- (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.