Chess

AS MUCH of the nation recovers from seasonal excess, it might be the ideal time for a quiet game of chess: not the real thing, you understand - that would be far too stressful - but rather some variant, which, in the event of defeat, would provide its own alibi. If the idea of chess variants grabs you, then the ideal book will be appearing next month: Popular Chess Variants, by DB Pritchard (BT Batsford Ltd, pounds 14.99).

A strong chess player and an expert on games in general, David Prichard four years ago brought out an extremely learned Encyclopaedia of Chess Variants, which he published himself and contains descriptions of some 1,450 chess strains.

His new work is, as the title suggests, much more popular in intent with quite detailed instructions on a mere 20 variants, the first 18 of which can be played with a standard chess set - the last two, which can't, are Chinese Chess and Shogi.

While I've encountered and played a few of these before, many of the others sparked only a very vague memory or were completely new. One of these was the mind-bending "Alice Chess" in which there are two boards side by side, with one starting from the normal initial position and the other empty. The rules are simple to state but confusing to follow:

1. A move must be legal on the board on which it is played.

2. The square to which the piece is moved must be vacant on the other board. 3. On completion of a move the piece is immediately transferred ("through the looking glass") to the corresponding square on the other board.

Pritchard gives several complete games but rather than stretch your - and my - ratiocinatory processes at this fragile time here is the Alice Chess equivalent of, as he says, "Fool's Mate": 1. e4 d5 2.Be2 dxe4 3.Bb5 mate! At the end, "board B" is empty and "board A" looks as though a normal game has been played but it's mate because any piece attempting to interpose would fly off to "board B".

A couple of weeks ago, I received a splendid CD-Rom called Zillions of Games, a "generic game-playing engine" that can play a whole gamut of different board games after being fed the rules in special script files. The CD, which costs $29.95 (plus $10 postage to the UK) is available from http://www.zillions-of-games.com and currently contains nearly 300 different games, though free upgrades are already available.

Among these are over 20 chess variants including Extinction Chess, in which the object is to wipe out any one of the opponent's six "species" - king (which can be taken), queen, rook, bishop, knight, pawn.

Here is a short sample game given by Pritchard and won by R.Schmittberger: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Qe2+ Be6 5.b3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Qf6 7.Bb2 0-0-0 8.Nbd2 Bg4 9.0-0-0? Bxf3! 10.gxf3? (10.Qe3! was forced) 10...Qf4 and White can't prevent either 11...Qxd2 or 11...Qxc1 so he resigned.

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there