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 … ⇒
about 2670 fairy pieces+conditions! Of them just 51 were used in more than 500 published problems. And more than 2100 were used in less than 10 problems (out of them about 1000(!) was used in one problem only!)
Well, I’ve asked for this statistics not only out of curiosity. I have many thoughts and ideas about development of our fairy chess. Still not ready to formulate it quickly, still have to settle some thoughts in my head, still would be willing to see if anybody is interested in creating some better order in Fairies.
But before all the questions, you’re welcome to see the full statistics: in Excel file for download | or in PDF (51 page) for easier watching. Maybe somebody would help with English translations (I’ve made it for the top elements only).
Would very much like to know the names and to congratulate the inventors of our TOP 21 (>1000 problems composed)! Thanks to your comments the list is getting inventors’ names:
|Number of problems||Inventor||year of invention|
|5||Neutral piece||Neutral piece||4963||T.R.Dawson||1912|
|8||Madrasi||Madrasi||2829||Abdul Jabbar Karwatkar||1979|
|9||Circé échange||PWC||2631||Umberto Castellari||1975|
|10||Pièce Royale||Royal piece||1983||T.R.Dawson||?|
|11||Pao||PAO||1908||the ancient Chinese piece Cannon||?|
|12||Lion||Lion||1790||J. de A. Almay||1940|
|13||Maximum blanc||White Maximummer||1772||1926?|
|14||Take & Make||Take & Make||1579||Hartmut Laue||2006|
|18||Chameau||Camel||1149||from the ancient Muslim Chess|
|19||Cylindre vertical||Vertical Cylinder||1114||Teodoro Ciccolini||1836|
|21||Andernach||Andernach||1026||Hans Peter Rehm &
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!
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?
Romeo Bedoni is probably responsible for about 800 of the 1000 uniquely used conditions.
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.
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…
Well, I’m particularly _not_ glad! See my comment below. “Genuine fairies”, “Heterodox”? what’s the difference?
I’m ready to volunteer as the 8th dwarf (I’m 5’8″). 😉
Ha-ha! I like it!! …but who are those seven others? 😉
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
Not surprisingly top five is T.R.Dawson
Circe is not Dawson, but Monreal.
You are right. Thanks
If anybody knows the years of inventions, please let me know too! I’ll update at least the top list with the names of inventors. It will be interesting to see also how old each condition is. Thanks!
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 🙁
GFC is available in Kotesovec site.
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?
Thanks a lot! Have updated the TOP 21 list with those names! Myself I’d be curious to know when the neutral piece was invented 😉 Also, I believe Take&Make is quite recent to compare with some others in the same top list. So, it is kind of extremely successful one! Well, I guess with the big support of Pierre Tritten 🙂 But even without Pierre’s 473(!) problems it would still stay in this list!
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
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.
… 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.
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.
Sorry to interrupt the important discussion about classification of fairy chess forms, but here is some information to fill gaps in the table of most-used forms (thanks mainly to Kurt Smulders’ Sprookjesschaak 1987):
Pao = the ancient Chinese piece Cannon (which TRD adapted to create the grasshopper)
Vao, Leo: introduced by P. Seyfert-Bilterfeld 1936
Lion: J. de A. Almay 1940
White maximummer: unclear, the earliest example in WinChloe is from 1926 (the WinChloe figure for number of white max problems includes “double maximummer”)
Take&Make: Hartmut Laue 2006
Locust: unclear, the earliest example in WinChloe is from 1926
Camel: from the ancient Muslim Chess (the earliest example in WinChloe is by TRD 1913)
Vertical cylinder: of ancient origin, first documented by Teodoro Ciccolini 1836
Andernach: bernd ellinghoven (?) 1993, but based on Tibet Chess by Edward D. Kelly 1972 (which was essentially “Andernach for Black”)
Maximummer: TRD 1913
Nightrider: TRD 1925
The list of most used fairy elements is updated one more time! Thank you very much, Kjell!
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.
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.
PWC (or Circe Echange) seems to have been invented by Umberto Castellari in 1975.
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).
Vlaicu and Shankar Ram have mentioned the fairy STIPULATIONS I’ve missed in my statistics. It’s just because I have much more of worries about the uncontrolled growing of fairy pieces and conditions. But the number of fairy stipulations is quite limited. 44? Maybe the “8th dwarf” could help to create a list of them? 😉
Now, why have I started this topic?
I believe, there’s a difference between the freedom and chaos, and what we face in fairy chess is more like running into the chaos. I’m not sure if all inventors were aware of the conditions we already had. How many duplicates, how many variations of one and the same.
Could we expect an objective award when the judge might face any of about 3000 different fairy elements? Or should we think about the limitations for official competitions like WCCI, FA?..
What I’d like TO DO TOGETHER in the first place is:
To make a CLASSIFICATION of fairy pieces / conditions / stipulations. No ready solution from me. For example, it might be general split to standard (frequently used) and rarely used conditions. It might be grouping by behaviour: hoppers, observers, nature/type/role-changing… Some short description, keywords for each group for possible search.
[I’ll be back with the thoughts about the USE of fairy classification if getting any support here. I’m not really sure if any of you or how many of you care about these questions. If I’m alone, there’s no sense to continue. So, please, give me your opinions!]
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. 🙂
No, no, it’s not like I’m going to make this classification myself and needing good luck wishes! I’d like to know how many composers care about such things and would involve some energy on improving them. I was thinking about the possibility of joint work, and the classification won’t be a property of JF, but the topic to discuss on WFCC meetings. We have so actively working solving committee but I believe we’re very much missing fairy committee in our organization.
About the “standard” category – agree, the wrong word. Fashionable, most used, approved for official competitions? There might be some right name for it. And such category couldn’t be fixed, but updated.. let’s say, once in a year upon the results/statistics in composing.
The classification stored in database would never be too detailed. It can be presented with main headers only, each having inside threads, opening for showing more details. But the presentation is the easiest part of the job.
My main questions are if fairy composers would be interested in making some order in our fairy elements (not only for our convenience, but it is also our history to keep: the names and dates); and if all invented elements should be allowed in the official competitions like WCCI and FA?
It would seem that the first question that needs to be addressed regarding this issue is whether a descriptive (documenting the chaos) or prescriptive (bringing some order) classification is desired.
Judging by the Julia’s comment it’s the latter, but following the other comments here, I’m not sure.
If, nevertheless, it is about order, then a number of new questions arise:
– What is a fairy? (E.g. is SingleBox, formerly an official chess rule, a fairy? hs#? like helpself, but where sides cooperate to build not s#1, but s#2?)
– What is a stipulation? (Are reflex, series etc really stipulations or conditions? E.g. series-help = help + “White must pass unless can reach the aim”)
– What is a condition and what is a piece (Which is the Imitator?)
It seems natural that before classifying, the classes need to be explicitly and unambiguously defined. Perhaps these definitions are even more important than the classification itself, which may follow naturally.
These topics are not new and were somewhat explored at the MP forum, most notably by Kevin Begley, without definite resolution or consensus, I’m afraid.
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.
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:
But this is wonderful statistics!! Thank you! It doesn’t look so dangerous as pieces and conditions, but still something to think about.
(and I have no idea what “Reciprocal Help” means… ;-0 )
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!
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.
Should Win and Draw be added as the goals in fairy endgames?
Yes, Marjan. They are present as stipulations in WinChloe.
Thanks, Shankar. They are absent in the BCPS Fairy Glossary. Perhaps this discussion could help some unification, especially in the online sources.
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.
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”!
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.
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…
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:
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:
I hope this is a worthwhile contribution!
It’s absolutely wonderful contribution! Exactly what I was looking and hoping for. A very clear vision of possible structure put in a short and clear words.
I believe, each little step in “brushing” some part of our fairy jungles would be an important contribution. And it would be very good if this discussion would help us to find some way how to make those steps!
Thank you, Chris!
I would suggest an online repository, to which anybody would be allowed to add or edit. Such a repository could use the classification structure outlined here by Chris and myself.
Julia could be the custodian. Any new entry/modification could be cleared through a committee of 2 to 3 experts.
As regards the software to be used, there are any number of “Knowledge Management” programs available, both free and paid. Julia can select whichever seems convenient.
The online repository would be the best way, agree! But I’d rather invite you, Shankar, to be the moderator (“custodian” 😉 ). It’s hard for me to lead one more project myself, two websites are quite a lot already.
Yes, technical part seem to be easier. The most sensitive part is a committee. Dear fairy experts, your help and involvement is needed!
Glad to help, Julia. One important question: how are the results of any analysis to be presented? In a document, or a database, or something else? If a database, we would need someone knowledgable to set it up.
Another question: to what extent have you considered any of the earlier attempts to classify fairy elements that must have been made over the years? Anthony Dickins A Guide to Fairy Chess is too old to be much use, but a modern one is Stephen Emmerson’s 2018 A Glossary of Fairy Chess Definitions. This can be downloaded from the British Chess Problem Society at http://www.theproblemist.org/downloads.pl?type=gloss. (This may not work as a link, but the BCPS website address is http://www.theproblemist.org/) This glossary is stated not to cover everything (in particular, fairy boards are omitted), but it should provide a guide – and i note with some satisfaction that its main breakdown into sections is very similar to mine!
I’d really prefer the experts to decide or lead us. I’m not the one. I’m better in technical things, but would want to invite Juraj Loric to show the classification he’s made, and anybody else who has made any attempts about it too.
I’m sorry I haven’t see this great work by Stephen Emmerson you mentioned (A GLOSSARY OF FAIRY CHESS DEFINITIONS, http://www.theproblemist.org/downloads.pl?type=gloss ). It looks to me as a big step in the direction we’re discussing. I’ve written to Stephen. Would very much like to include him here.
Technically, I believe the most convenient way of keeping the glossary is the database. Then ordering, search, presentation becomes very flexible. Of course, the data from the base can be exported to any document.
Myself I could create SQL database. For JF’s problems and Fairy terms I use mySQL database. Any Excel data can be easily exported into it. Presentation on the webpage is easy to make too.
Your grouping is fine. Only I would make some changes:
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!
Fair enough, Shankar. My “Piece Modifiers” could certainly be a sub-group of “Pieces”; incidentally, I have since found the term “Piece Attributes” as a better name for it.
But I’m unsure about “Aims”. I note that in an earlier comment you said that the WinChloe database included 153 Aims, but can you give some examples? To me, the stipulation of a problem is simply a clear statement of its aim!
I too had the same thinking about stipulations. But Christian Poisson’s bifurcation in WinChloe enlightened me!
An aim is the final objective: mate, stalemate, check, capture, move to a square, etc.
A stipulation is how the aim is achieved: direct play in opposition, help play, self, reflex, helpself, series, etc.
See my stats posted here earlier: https://juliasfairies.com/fairy-elements-statistics/#comment-52371
Thank you, Shankar, I see it now. Aims and Objectives go together, but they appear to be completely separate from the other three, Pieces, Conditions and Boards. So would it make sense to put these two in a separate database, i.e. leave them out of the main database? (This would seem to take us back to what Julia was suggesting at the outset!)
Having all in one, or having separate databases would be a design decision. Any modern database tool would be able to handle both without any difference in performance or convenience.
But as regards ease of use, a single database might be better. You can just filter the groups you want to see. And change filters as required. This would be better than switching between different databases. But again, having a sufficiently sophisticated database front end would hide these details from the user. He wouldn’t know whether the data was being pulled from a single database or more than one.
Shankar, what these 10.000 classes might mean?
I don’t know! It was a passing remark by TRD in Caissa’s Wild Roses. Maybe a search through FCR or his other writings might turn up something.
One obvious sub-group of the conditions main group would be “move restrictors”: maximummer, minimummer, single combat, black must capture, ohneschlag(no captures), black must check, checkless chess… In fact, the reflexmate could be considered as a selfmate with the condition “white and black must mate if possible”!
Yes, I quite agree with Shankar Ram: the reflexmate is a Condition,
and … it should be expelled from the Stipulations. the goal here would be coded as s#n, and the condition Reflexmate would be mentioned underneath, as we do with Circé for example. The old notation could be kept as it is, until a new notation is enforced. Both would be sufficiently clear for users
An addition to my list of what needs to be recorded about each piece/variant: links. It will not apply in every case., but some fairy elements have clear links with other elements in different groups or sub-groups; e.g. kamikaze pieces and the kamikaze condition, holes in boards and Haaner Chess or Haanover Chess. (This last was taken from the Emmerson Glossary; I had not heard of Haaner or Haanover Chess before.)
Incidentally, we could perhaps do with a general name to cover all the items on this list: ‘points‘ maybe?
Relations? or maybe even tags? One or more tags can be assign to each element.
Tags are OK. But even better would be a bi-directional linking or cross-referencing mechanism. For example, if “holes”(board group) is linked to Hanner Chess, Haaner chess(condition group) should also have a link pointing back to “holes”. Such a back linking mechanism should be automatic or else it would be tedious to do manually.
Some table of cross-references? But this is a technical detail about the implementation. If we add tags to each record/element, then would find a way how to connect? Or?
Probably, we wouldn’t start from the database but more like from some Excel table to define all groups and attributes? Something easy to understand and edit for everybody involved?
I agree. An excel table would be the easiest to start with. Perhaps Google Sheets, which can have collaboration by multiple users.
Designing the columns needs some thought. If we add columns for each sub-group, they would be empty for the non-applicable rows.
Yes, agree, Google Sheets would be fine! I believe that when designing the columns we’d get some more ideas. Visual presentation is always helpful.
I was also thinking about the languages and names of elements in different programs. The main language should be English, but many names are translated into French in WinChloe. Some names we write in one way under the diagrams, but in solving programs they look a bit differently (in one word, with ‘-‘ etc..).
Probably, it’s time for me to summarize the main ideas from this thread in a new post, right? Here were’re getting already too long and spread…
Some more statistics about fairy pieces from PDB (https://pdb.dieschwalbe.de/statistic.jsp?s=pieces)
Cool! Didn’t know PDB had this option.
Here’s one more:
These two PDB queries contain a wealth of information!
Definitions of many fairy pieces and conditions. Really mind blowing!
This raises the question whether Gerd Wilts has already put a framework in place and we should try to build on it, instead of trying to re-invent it?
Besides this framework, there is also the slightly different framework used by Stephen Emmerson in the BCPS Glossary. Going back to an earlier point, neither of these frameworks use the WinChloe section heading ‘Aims’ as well as ‘Stipulations’. I have had second thoughts on this point; I can see the logic behind using Aims as a sction-heading, but the word ‘stipulations’ is normally used in the stand-alone sense without reference to aims. Thus a problem would be described as a helpmate rather than having help-play ending in mate. The Popeye and Jacobi solving programs both operate in this way. Also, i think that anyone using our database to look up a particular stipulation would like to find the information in one place rather than two. But of course the WinChloe scheme goes against this.
If we look at the way stipulations are defined in the Popeye manual (image attached), it is a combination of aims, ways to achieve this and move lengths. This is quite similar to WinChloe’s scheme.
A stipulation as generally understood, is actually a combination of “ends”, “means” and move lengths. This translates into the schemes of both WinChloe and Popeye.
Thank you, Shankar; I accept everything you say. But if stiputations are a combination of aims and other things, it must surely follow that aims are included in stipulations, and that a Fairy Chess database does not need a section headed ‘Aims’ as well as a section headed ‘Stipulations’!
It helps to reduce the number of rows.
Listing combinations of ‘x’ stipulations and ‘y’ aims takes more space (and time and effort) than listing ‘x’ stipulations and ‘y’ aims separately.
x*y > x+y, even if some combinations are not used.
Fair enough, Shankar, but it seems confusing to have the word ‘stipulations’ used indiscriminally in two distinct ways. I think you need one term meaning stipulations in the normal sense that includes aims, and another term meaning stipulations in the WinChloe sense that does not include aims!
I agree! Stipulation as understood in a non-WinChloe context includes both the aim and the method to achieve it.
So, I propose “way” as an alternative term for stipulation in the WinChloe sense.
Therefore Stipulation = way + aim!
Now our 5 top level groups are:
That looks better, Shankar – though it might be more user-friendly to leave ‘Stipulations’ on the top level and move ‘Aims’ and ‘Ways’ down to the next level.
But this private discussion is looking a bit ridiculous in the context of the main debate about the validity of the whole project! So I suggest we abandon it now and bring it up afresh the next time the content of the top level comes under discussion. No need to reply if you agree.
Your suggestion is good. Keeping Aims and Ways as sub-groups of Stipulations makes the top level more concise.
As regards validity of the project, it will be Julia’s decision … and she hasn’t given up yet!
I have no idea. The dictionary in Die Schwalbe (available on the website, but in German) summarises some of the concepts.
I have many (many hundreds of) files stored unsystematically on my computer, and my guess is that the number of fairy elements is at least about ten times the amount of those in the Schwalbe dictionary (is there somebody who is willing to count those?).
My guess is that I would take some more 50 years to include them all, but most of those have been mentioned and used exactly once, and for hundreds of them not even a single example problem exists. Is it worth the effect?
So, my answer to the question “How many fairy chess elements have been published so far?” probably should be “Way too many!”. Some decades ago, Peter Kniest, Bernd Schwarzkopf and myself wanted to write a comprehensive book (with German-like systematicity and cross-references) on that, our working title was “Caissas Dschungelbuch” (Caissa’s djungle book), but new elements were faster and more frequently invented before we could type them into the computer and sort them accordingly in the system. So we resigned. (In German magazines, many editors and authors published notes that they would work on similar issues, but none was finalised. Stapff’s “Einführung in das Märchenschach” (early 1950ies) is the only one that ever was printed. In some books, e.g. on the Wenigsteinerjahrespreis or on problems with fairy promotions, my co-authors and I included relatively large annexes with fairy definitions. Here at least problems are printed side-by-side with the definitions.
Thanks for listening/reading.
There’s been many very positive comments about the idea of classifying the field of Fairy Chess, but here’s my take.
One of the things which attracts people of a certain temperament to Problem Chess is exactly its chaotic nature! Just like the Wild West there’s no laws, no borders, no prohibitions – anybody is free to roam anywhere.
We’ve had many attempts to derive order from the chaos – various Schools dogmatically setting down their artistic principles, those trying to formulate criteria for judging, with others striving to systemise the myriad thematic elements both strategic and formal. That none of these have come to very much means there’s something about our pasttime (and its practitioners) which resists dogma and systemisation.
Fairy chess of course ups the ante in terms of chaos – as has been pointed out above, if we can’t even define the basic concepts: ‘piece’, ‘stipulation’, ‘condition’ then how are we to proceed? Also it’s a moving target with fashion continually changing. We seem to have a new condition appearing every week, although very few have staying power, as most of them don’t have much to offer except novelty.
I can understand anybody looking at this scene and concluding that ‘Something must be done!’, but I’m afraid it’s a lost cause, but THAT’S NOT A BAD THING!
But if everybody is free to have the chaotic behavior, why do we expect some objectiveness from the judges of our competitions? Why do we look for the points and titles? Why do I use some rules publishing your problems? Why do we care about the authorship, originality, correctness of the definitions, the way of presenting the solutions?..
Well, I’ve expected that many composers keeping silence during this discussion think about the same: everything was so good, we don’t want her to put any limitations on us! 🙂
I want to tell you what I know from my experience. Most of you have longer one as composers. But not so many as editors and organizers of composing competitions. Publication of any problem takes some time. Problems with very new or unclear fairy conditions take even longer time. Next, most of such problems are not really those appreciated by other fairy composers (I can see how many times is visited each publication). And after all, our judges get the hardest job of analyzing, evaluating, comparing… But the term of originality becomes very much unclear for the uniquely used condition.
Yes, a new condition appearing every week.. Quantity or quality then? As a butterflies we can fly from one to another, smelling each just a bit never getting deeper into the taste.
And yet everybody is free to fly! Everybody can invent their own elements and rules, compose whatever we like, and publish it (or not) where we can… But I strongly believe that those who are willing to get something from the society has to come down to the ground a bit, has to follow some rules, and to respect the work of editors and judges who provide the service for them.
With each year it’s getting harder to find fairy judges ready for this tremendous work. And have you seen what section of WCCI / FA usually is the last one to get ready?
Someone needs to invent “machine judging”. 😉
Neal, next statement sounds completely wrong from my point of view:
Forget dogmatic extremes of each school, think how Bohemian school made us liking Model mates, or how Logical school made pleasant order in our minds. The schools, criteria, and classifications have brought us patterns to recognize, and goals to reach. They inspired most of the masterpieces we know, while not depriving us from freedom to improvise and invent. They helped discriminate good from bad key, harmonious from disharmonious play, complex from banal tactical motives. Isn’t the main pleasure of both composing and solving in creating an order in the initial chaos?
don’t waste time with this redundant discussion. chess composition (& fairy chess) is an art among other arts like painting or (music) composition; here we have our grandmasters like bach, mozart, beethoven, mahler, shostakovitch… (etc.) – but also some 1000 more or less unknown composers/styles. 1 example: before malevich published his “black square” (1915), picasso (& friends) developed the cubism & duchamp made his early ready mades: “bicycle wheel” (1913), “bottle dryer” (1914). all these 3 quite different “styles” were not accepted in the beginning but created a school, many others were not so successful. but some of them were published (in exhibitions) & they were judged: often stupid/conservative, sometimes clear-sighted. anyway: history of art/music/opera/literature/film… decided later which works survived as masterpieces or were forgotten, exceptions/errors possible (e.g.: who regards lem as philosopher?). therefore I think that any try to find a system to judge art works must fail because it is impossible. I agree with the remarks of hans gruber.
julia’s request concerning kjell’s remark about andernach (chess): petko is the inventor of andernach & anti-andernach. both were published in the fairy chess meetings in andernach with composing tournament. here we try to introduce promising new fairy conditions – such as make&take or take&make or wormwholes. the theme always is a secret until the meeting starts, but we take care that a computer-program is available. the selection in the past was quite successful – see fide-album. anyway: if you are talking about fairy chess it’s always not bad to subscribe feenschach.
Thanks, be! But when was that Andernach meeting announcing Andernach condition? I believe such promotion of a new fairy condition with thematic competition during Andernach meetings is a very right approach. So, from the beginning the condition get some selection of best composition by different composers.
A very different are inventions for the own use only…
The year of the Andernach condition must be 1993 as I indicated in my previous post. I was there in Andernach and participated in the tourney; I looked up those problems in WinChloe.
Have got an email from bernd where he has changed his mind and writes:
“Andernachschach introduced in Andernach 1993 – invented by hans peter rehm & -be- (or vice versa) – tourney was judged by a collectiv.
Antiandernachschach introduced in Andernach 1996 – invented & judged by petko petkov.“
This sounds a bit like the “If you label me, you negate me” argument and has veered the discussion into a different path!
But we were discussing some initiatives to classify and group fairy chess elements. Not anything about merits or demerits of artistic schools or creativity.
Granted that prior attempts may not have been entirely successful. But I strongly believe that in today’s networked world, with anybody being able to contribute in almost real time, we have a chance.
Of course, we have a chance! And will succeed!
But you’re right, and Chris too, our discussion goes in too different directions.. So, let’s make some order in it too 🙂 Our main project for now is the classification itself. There’re no doubts it will be useful. And there’re no doubts it’s a huge project. But I’m so glad to see your involvement!
Later today I’ll publish a new post to summarize all we have about the classification for now to direct our discussion. You’ll correct my post if I’ll be missing anything, I hope!
First, I would like on behalf of us all to thank Hans Gruber and Neal Turner for their comments (dated October 23) that have made us pause to reconsider the validity of our proposals for a new database of Fairy Chess elements. I am torn by the arguments presented on both sides. On one hand, I endorse Neal’s plea for freedom in chess composition. My own fairy output has largely been based on conditions that I have invented or helped to invent myself (see elsewhere on this website for Get Off, Move on or Stay Put: plug, plug!); these inventions were motivated by a (largely unfulfilled) desire to propagate ideas that other composers might find useful. On the other hand, I look at the inordinately long and apparently random lists of pieces and conditions in the Popeye manuals and reflect on my ignorance of most of them, and I respect Julia’s plea for composers to accept some degree of order.
Now, both Hans and Neal have predicted that an attempt to bring order to Fairy Chess by including all invented pieces and conditions in one new database will end in failure – and Neal implies that this failure would be deserved – but both Shankar and Julia believe the project could succeed. But what if it did succeed? I very much wonder if the sheer number of fairy elements that the completed database would have to contain might leave users unable to get anything useful out of it (except perhaps by directly looking up some particular element). I wonder further if its great size and complexity might discourage people from trying to use it at all!
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. (Of course, this giving of light might in itself result in an increase in order, but that would be a bonus.) As I see it, making light rather than order the aim behind the database would have two big advantages. First, I cannot see how anyone could object to it; an increase in knowledge and understanding must be a good thing, whatever one’s views about order and disorder. Second, a project aimed at bringing order will only begin to produce results as it nears completion, but a project aimed at giving light may produce results from the outset; as the saying goes, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness! So this project will have produced useful results even if it has to be abandoned with only a small fraction of elements included.
I am quite optimistic myself, and assure that the project will not fail. At least it will be considered as bringing some light in the field of Fairy Chess.
Someone asked one day a mountaineer why he was taking the risk of climbing a given mountain. The answer was: because it’s there! Our mountain is the classification of Fairy Chess elements!