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!


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Marjan Kovačević
Marjan Kovačević
15 days ago

Amazing figures, amazing statistics!
In a quiz, my guess for total number would be only 150-200.
About inventors, I would try guessing by randomly using names of T.R.Dawson, P.A.Petkov, some Indian, German and French composers 😊
Do we have 5 times more fairy elements than active composers?

Joost
Joost
15 days ago

Romeo Bedoni is probably responsible for about 800 of the 1000 uniquely used conditions.

Kjell Widlert
Kjell Widlert
12 days ago
Reply to  Joost

Perhaps not 800, but quite a few there are … I think Alphabetic Chess (ABC) and Disparate are the only ones of his inventions to have really caught on.

Vlaicu Crisan
Vlaicu Crisan
14 days ago

Several fairy elements have been also used in various WCCT, which might explain why they are more popular. Some of the names of the inventors are not very difficult to find out: Thomas R. Dawson. Pierre Monréal, Abdul Karwatkar and Hartmut Laue popping in the mind.
However, there are many chess variants which were not invented by composers. Some of these variants have not been yet explored in chess composition, so I guess we will still have a lot of work to do.
I am particularly glad you did not include as genuine fairies the helpself stipulation or stalemate aim – these should probably be considered as belonging to heterodox genres. But making order in the Fairy mess would probably need more work than Snow White and the seven Dwarfs could afford…

shankar ram
shankar ram
9 days ago
Reply to  Vlaicu Crisan

Well, I’m particularly _not_ glad! See my comment below. “Genuine fairies”, “Heterodox”? what’s the difference?

shankar ram
shankar ram
9 days ago
Reply to  shankar ram

I’m ready to volunteer as the 8th dwarf (I’m 5’8″). 😉

shankar ram
shankar ram
8 days ago
Reply to  Julia

Maybe the modern, WFCC ordained version of these guys: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Sages_of_Greece 🙂
We have an Indian version too: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saptarishi

Last edited 8 days ago by shankar ram
seetharaman kalyan
seetharaman kalyan
13 days ago

Not surprisingly top five is T.R.Dawson

Juraj Lörinc
Juraj Lörinc
12 days ago

Circe is not Dawson, but Monreal.

Seetharaman
Seetharaman
12 days ago
Reply to  Juraj Lörinc

You are right. Thanks

Kjell Widlert
Kjell Widlert
12 days ago
Reply to  Julia

I think much of that information can be found in A Guide to Fairy Chess (Dickins) and Sproekjesschaak (Smulders), but I don’t have those available here in the summer house 🙁

shankar ram
shankar ram
9 days ago
Reply to  Kjell Widlert

GFC is available in Kotesovec site.

Marjan Kovačević
Marjan Kovačević
12 days ago

Here is what I found on net about the top ten:
1. Grasshopper – T.R.Dawson, 1913
2. Circe – Pierre Monreal, 1967
3. Maximummer – T.R.Dawson ? When?
4. Nightrider – T.R. Dawson, when?
5. Neutral piece – T.R.Dawson ? When?
6. Anticirce – ? ?
7. Koko – ? ?
8. Madrasi – Abdul Jabbar Karwatkar, 1979
9. PWC – ? ?
10. Roayl piece – T.R.Dawson ? When?
——————————————
Long ago, nominating one composition for the prestigious N.A.Macleod Award for “the most original and striking problem” (of any genre) published in The Problemist, the fairy section editor commented: “Probably the first presentation of the Kazan chess” …
25 years later, WinChloe contains only 5 examples of Kazan chess. Four of them are by the inventor, published 1995-97.
The main question is: could we use word “originality” for the first (or the 10th) presentation of a new fairy element?

Joost
Joost
11 days ago
Reply to  Julia

From ‘Les pièces neutres’: C’est en 1912 que T.R. DAWSON inventa et présenta, pour la première fois, les NEUTRAL MEN dans le Reading Observer. (It was in 1912 when TRD invented and, for the first time, presented the neutral men in the Reading Observer)
There are four compositions in LPN from the Reading Observer 28.12.1912, all by Dawson:
wQc4 / bKa5 / nPc5, #2
wKa6 Pa7b5 / bKa8 Pa4 / nPb2, #3
wKd2 Rb4 Bd7 Se2 Pe5g2 / bKd5 / nSh1 Pd4g3, #2
wKh6 Re6g5 Bb6f1 Sd8 Pa3e3e4 / bKa6 Re8 Bd6 Sf8 Pa4a5d7e5e7g6h7 / nSc4, #2

Last edited 11 days ago by Joost de Heer
Kjell Widlert
Kjell Widlert
10 days ago
Reply to  Joost

AntiCirce was invented by Fernand Calvet; that’s why have have a “type Calvet”. The earliest example in WinChloe is from 1970, so probably it was invented around then.

Kjell Widlert
Kjell Widlert
10 days ago
Reply to  Kjell Widlert

… and Köko was invented by Heinz Zander, who lived in Cologne (Köln), the name is short for Kölner Kontaktschach. The earliest example in WinChloe is from 1988, so probably it was invented around then.

Kjell Widlert
Kjell Widlert
6 days ago
Reply to  Kjell Widlert

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Alphabetic Chess was invented by Roméo Bédoni. His earliest ABC problem i WinChloe is from 1985, so probably that is the year. WinChloe contains an example by another composer from feenschach 1977, but I assume this is an error – I will check this when I have the opportunity.

shankar ram
shankar ram
9 days ago

The success achieved by any new fairy condition /stipulation /piece /board is a matter of luck, in addition to its intrinsic potential, and also time. Madrasi took 4 years. The helpselfmate stipulation took decades.
Incidentally, stipulations have not been included as “fairy elements” in the above analysis! The hs# stipulation has over 4000 problems in WinChloe.

Last edited 9 days ago by shankar ram
shankar ram
shankar ram
9 days ago
Reply to  shankar ram

Of course, in addition to the # stipulation, the h# and s# stipulations are practically orthodox. The hs# may well join them, though it is still included in the fairy group. It would be in the 6th place, above AntiCirce, in the above ranking. That leaves the =, r#, h=, and others to be analysed, as also the series movers group.

Last edited 9 days ago by shankar ram
Vlaicu Crisan
Vlaicu Crisan
9 days ago

PWC (or Circe Echange) seems to have been invented by Umberto Castellari in 1975.

shankar ram
shankar ram
9 days ago

From the Auxiliary Tables(as of the latest update) of WinChloe, the number of entries is:
Fairy Pieces: 1574
Conditions: 1354 (2928 cumulative). This includes special boards.
Stipulations: 44 (2972)
Aims: 153 (3125)
There may be some overlap or duplicates, but the final figure is a nice round number! (5^5).

Juraj Lörinc
Juraj Lörinc
4 days ago
Reply to  Julia

My views on the classification matter are as follows.
Probably many people tried to classify fairy chess elements (I am guilty as charged as well), and undoubtedly the classification is possible. However, the classification should be detailed enough (to allow some reasonable use) and not too detailed at the same time (to prevent inaccessibility for most potential users). Even if one succeeds with this task, publishes his classification rules/principles and applies it to current corpus of fairy problems, suddenly somebody comes and publishes a new fairy element(s), that do(es) not really fit into the system.
(Btw “standard” is dangerous category – a fairy element can become out-of-fashion or conversely, become rather popular. “Behavioural” properties are fine, as long as they are used wisely, WinChloe puzzle approach to pieces definitions being an example, but still difficult to apply on fuzzy type – e.g. Maorider-lion)
So if you embark on this adventure – good luck and strong will, you will need them. 🙂

shankar ram
shankar ram
4 days ago
Reply to  Julia

The number of stipulations in the WinChloe tables is indeed 44. But if combined with the number of. “aims”(153), we get over 6000! Obviously many of these combinations would not have been tried out.

shankar ram
shankar ram
2 days ago
Reply to  Julia

Some statistics of the top Stipulation+Aim combinations in the current WinChloe database can be seen in the attached image. These cover 92% of all the problems in the database. The remaining being retractors, retros and other miscellaneous types. Some observations:

  • The hs# stipulation has overtaken the r# and maybe deserves a separate section in columns and the Album
  • In the series movers, the sh# stipulation has more than double than that of the series mate. Maybe all series movers should have a separate section too? (Already there in Strategems).
  • After #, = and ==, the “move to square” is the most frequent aim
  • The “Reciprocal Help” is an infrequently used stipulation. Maybe it could be as fruitful as the hs#?
Winchloe-Stip-Aim-Stats.png
Last edited 1 day ago by shankar ram
shankar ram
shankar ram
1 day ago
Reply to  Julia

Reciprocal Help: identical to the usual help play stipulations, but on his last move, Black must also have an option to mate(or =, +, x, etc.) White!

Last edited 1 day ago by shankar ram
shankar ram
shankar ram
1 day ago
Reply to  shankar ram

Definition from the BCPS glossary (http://www.theproblemist.org/downloads.pl?type=gloss) :
Reciprocal Helpmate (Reci-H#n): Black starts and helps White to a position where either Black can mate White on Black’s nth move, or play another move and allow White to mate on its nth move (as in a H#n). If n is a half-integer, White starts.

Chris Tylor
Chris Tylor
1 day ago
Reply to  Julia

Hi everyone; I would like to join this discussion, but have been having trouble with my computer. But where to start? I am interested in fairy classification; in my “Get Off, Move On or Stay Put” piece that Julia had kindly just published for me I discuss a number of fairy variants within a planned classification system. But I appreciate that a classification of the full range of fairy variants and pieces would be a mammoth underaking!
I will post this now, and try to say something more constructive later on.

shankar ram
shankar ram
1 day ago
Reply to  Chris Tylor

Welcome, Chris!
Your monograph put up by Julia was something that had intrigued me long back – when I saw a note in The Problemist then, that spoke of the “interactions happening when more than one piece occupies the same square”!

Chris Tylor
Chris Tylor
1 day ago
Reply to  shankar ram

Thank you, Shankar. As you see, this was something that I had been sitting on for a long time before plucking up courage to do something more about it. I hope you find some of itinteresting.

nicolas dupont
nicolas dupont
2 days ago

Julia said “what we face in fairy chess is more like running into the chaos.”
I strongly agree. If we want to transform this jungle into a clean garden, there is a preliminary requirement – to accept to eliminate the “weeds”. As an example there are so many ways to rule out how a pawn on its first row is moving.
It is everything but necessary to deal with such a variety, the only implication I can see is to discourage newcomers to learn about such an amount of particular cases. Some of them are clearly folklore and rarely used, such as in Einstein Chess where a pawn on its first row may move one two or even three steps forward…
But the fact is that composers, in their majority, seem not ready to cut useless branches in order to clean up our fairy world. And indeed there are strong arguments to not going that way. For example harmonising rules would make unsound a big number of already C+ published problems.
On the other way the present situation is clearly not good, so we are imo in a strange situation – we should do something to reach some universality/transparency in the fairy rules, but acting that way would create new issues…

Chris Tylor
Chris Tylor
1 day ago

OK, here I go – with apologies for saying things that have already been said by someone else!
If the mammoth task of classifying all fairy elements is to be undertaken, one important step would be to divide the elements into clearly different groups. I see the following groups:

  1. Fairy pieces. A large group, needing much subdivision. Some sub-groups would be straightforward, e.g. leapers; others much messier, e.g.hoppers; while some pieces would stand alone or be hard to group, e.g. imitator.
  2. Piece modifiers; i.e. ways of modifiying the properties of a whole range of pieces, e.g. royal pieces, neutrals. This should be a small group.
  3. Fairy variants. A large group, and hard to subdivide. Some variants would form fairly clear sub-groups, e.g. Circe variations; others might go in pairs, e.g forms and anti-forms; most would probably resist classification.
  4. Boards, e.g vertical cylinder, boards with holes. This should be a small group.
  5. Stipulations. Rather different, as has been said, and orthodox stipulations might as well be included. A small group, anyway.

If the classification task was undertaken, it would seem logical to start with the small groups, and leave 3 until last; this way, any general difficulties might be identified early on. But before starting anything, it would be necessary to identify what is to be recorded about each piece/variant. I see the following:

  1. Name or names.
  2. A description or summary of the properties or rules, perhaps defined in terms of the properties or rules of something else, e.g. a rook-lion as a lion moving on rook lines only.
  3. History, i.e. inventor and date (if known).
  4. Approximate number of known examples (which would need updating at intervals). The WinChloe database has been mentioned as a source, but there should be others, e.g. the PDB.
  5. The solving programs (if any) that would support the piece/variant, together with the symbol or name that each program uses for that piece/variant. Besides WinChloe and Popeye there is also Jacobi; are there any others? This might need updating as programs are developed.

I hope this is a worthwhile contribution!

shankar ram
shankar ram
2 hours ago
Reply to  Chris Tylor

Your grouping is fine. Only I would make some changes:

  • Stipulations
  • Aims
  • Pieces
  • Conditions
  • Boards

These fit into the classical grouping defined by TRD in CWR as Space/Men/Limitations. To this I have added WinChloe’s stipulations and aims.
These 5 can form the top level groups and we can add as many sub-groups, and in a hierarchy, as required.
Your “Piece Modifiers” could be a sub-group of “Pieces”.
Incidentally, in Caissa’s Wild Roses(CWR), TRD mentions that “…I have systematically analysed the more obvious types of limitation in about 10,000 classes.”
And this was in 1935!