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StrongChess:

The evolution of Chess


By

Pardu S. Ponnapalli, Ph.D.


Dedicated to

My brother Vani who I enjoyed playing chess with.

May your soul rest in peace, brother.

Copyright 2015 by Pardu S. Ponnapalli.


Table of Contents
Preface to the 1st Edition
Chapter 1 StrongChess
Chapter 2 Illustrative Game
Conclusions
Preface to the 1st Edition

Chess is thriving. There are ever less round robin tournaments and ever
more World Champions. - Robert Huebner

I am a lifelong fan of chess. I used to play avidly when I was in university, a long time ago. I
have seen the game become increasingly more predictable and too well analyzed. Openings are
memorized 15 moves deep, and computer analysis has made even the middlegame predictable.
The mystery, joy and just human interest have gradually diminished- replaced by deeper and
deeper trees of analysis by computers and people polishing their technique until its a lifeless
exercise. Watching games now is almost like watching two machines play.
I wanted to infuse creativity, randomness and bold play back into chess. So I invented a game
called StrongChess. StrongChess consists of a board with 10 columns and 8 rows. The first row
(for the white pieces) consists of a rook, a knight, another knight, a bishop, a queen, a king, a
bishop, another bishop and a rook. The second row consists of 10 pawns. The setup for black
matches the white setup.

The extra pieces add a lot of spice to the game. The openings are uncharted, the middle game is
complex and there are no existing computer programs that can defeat you. StrongChess returns
chess to its roots - a match of intellect and personality between two human beings with a lot of
tension, drama and fun.

I introduced this idea a few years back in my book Just a Bunch of Crazy Ideas. .My book had
mixed reviews- in contrast the idea of StrongChess received almost unive rsal praise. The idea of
returning chess to its roots as a conflict between two people with ups and downs, mistakes and
twists during the game struck a chord with people.

Read and enjoy.


Chapter 1 StrongChess

I consider chess an art, and accept all those responsibilities which art places
upon its devotees. - Alexander Alekhine

Chess started out as more of an art than a science. Technical proficiency at certain tactics were
always a part of the game, but since all positional principles were not well understood, there
were a lot of flaws ( looking at it retrospectively) in the early recorded games. Somehow the
flaws dont spoil the games though. You can still enjoy them, despite the flaws- in some ways
the flaws enhance the suspense because you never know when one side or the other would
commit a massive blunder.

In order to return to that state, I invented a game called StrongChess. The idea behind
StrongChess is very simple. You expand the number of columns to ten and keep the number of
rows at eight still. To populate the additional squares you add a knight and a bishop to the mix.
The number of pawns increases to 10. The board now consists of 8 ranks (rows) still, but consists
of 10 files (columns). The initial setup would be rook, knight, knight, bishop, queen, king bishop,
bishop, knight and rook along the first rank. Pawns would occupy the second rank. You mirror
the setup for black. The rules stay the same- castling short means king goes to h1 and rook goes
to g1. Castling long means king goes to c1 and rook goes to d1. This proposed configuration is
shown in Diagram 1.
Diagram 1- StrongChess initial position

The rules for StrongChess will be very similar to regular chess and will be familiar to anyone
who understands the rudimentary aspects of chess. These rules attempt to cover every situation
on the board, but where there is doubt, a study of the rules and the spirit should be achievable.
Any situation which cannot be resolved should be referred to the inventor of the game, the author.
The following is a formal description of the rules, mostly for the sake of completeness.

There are two opponents in StrongChess who move alternately on a rectangular board which has
8 rows (ranks) and 10 columns (files). The board consists of white and black pieces. The play
alternates between the white player and the black player until the game is concluded. The game
can end in a draw or with one or the other king checkmated. A player may also resign on his/her
turn or offer a draw. A threefold repetition of positions automatically results in a draw. If neither
player can possibly checkmate, the game is a draw.

A StrongChess game is played on a board consisting of 8 rows (ranks) and 10 columns (files).
The squares alternate between light and dark. At the beginning of the game each player has 20
pieces. The white player has light colored pieces and the black player has dark colored pieces.
All of this is illustrated in Diagram 1 above.

The structure of the board is as follows, with algebraic notation for the squares:
a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h8 i8 j8

a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h7 i7 j7

a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 g6 h6 i6 j6

a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5 i5 j5

a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 h4 i4 j4

a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 h3 i3 j3

a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 f2 g2 h2 i2 j2

a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 h1 i1 j1

Diagram 2 Algebraic notation for StrongChess

The 10 vertical columns of squares are called files. The eight horizontal rows are called ranks. A
straight line running from one edge of the board to an adjacent edge is called a diagonal. The
files are designated from left to right as a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,,j, The ranks are labeled 1-8. The initial
position is shown in Diagram 1 above.

No square can be doubly occupied by pieces of the same color. If a piece captures a piece of the
opposite color, the captured piece is removed. The bishop moves diagonally but cannot leap over
any other piece. The rooks move vertically and horizontally on ranks and files but cannot jump
over any existing piece. The queen can move along any diagonal and also vertically and
horizontally. It too cannot jump over pieces. The knight moves in an L shape in any direction,
and can jump over other pieces. These rules for StrongChess are identical to normal chess rules.
The presence of the extra pieces adds a lot of complexity to the game and increases the number
of possible moves considerably.

The pawn can move forward one spot vertically if the spot is unoccupied. On the first move it
may move 2 spaces if the space is unoccupied. For captures, the pawn can move diagonally
across one space. A pawn crossing two squares which crosses the opponents pawn on the way
can be captured as if it only moved one space (en passant capture as in regular chess). When a
pawn reaches the eighth rank in the opposition territory, it can be exchanged for a bishop, knight,
queen or rook (promotion as in regular chess). The king can move to any adjoining square not
attacked by an opponent's piece or pieces. Diagram 3 and 4 show the kingside castling
mechanism.

Diagram 3 Position before White king side castle


Diagram 4 Position after White king side castle

Diagrams 5 and 6 show the castling mechanism for queenside castles.


Diagram 5 Position before Queen Side castle
Diagram 6 Position after Queen Side castle

Symmetric rules apply for black. This again is very similar to the standard chess rules. If either
the king or the rook has already moved, castling cannot be done. Castling is prevented if the king
has to cross through the scope of the opponents pieces and is in check. The line between the king
and the rook must be clear to execute a castling maneuver

The king is in check if an opposing players piece attacks it. No piece can be moved that will
expose the king of the same color to check or leave that king in check. This is the same as
standard chess rules. The remaining rules are all identical to standard chess rules in regards to
checkmate, draws, resignations and stalemates. Wherever a rule is not explicitly stated, the rules
from standard chess are meant to be applied to StrongChess.10. Each move must be made with
one hand only. A player may adjust a piece if he/she expresses his/her intention of doing so. An
example would be by announcing I'm going to adjust.
Chapter 2 Illustrative Game

When a chess player looks at the board, he does not see a static mosaic, a 'still life', but a
magnetic field of forces, charged with energy - as Faraday saw the stresses surrounding
magnets and currents as curves in space; or as Van Gogh saw vortices in the skies of
Provence. - Arthur Koestler

In this chapter, Im going to illustrate the richness of StrongChess with a relatively short game. I
intend to expand on this in the future with multiple illustrative games. The main purpose is to get
the idea across of what sort of positional and tactical considerations come into play in this
version of chess.

Move 1: f2- f4 f7- f5


The first move is a standard King pawns opening- its immediately apparent that there is an
expanded center in StrongChess, which includes squares d4,d5, e4,e5,f4,f5,g4 and g5. Pieces
placed there have greater scope for action. Also, there are a rich number of opening variations.
d2-d4 (Bishops pawn), e2-e4 (Queens pawn), g2- g4(Kings Bishop pawn), i2- i3 ( aiming at a
fianchetto of the Kings bishop, and b2-b3 ( aiming at a fianchetto of the Queens bishop). This is
just a minor sampling of what Im sure will be many opening systems that will emerge.

Move 2. i1-g3 c8-d6

The second move is a struggle to grab the center. Whites knight now controls the e4 and g5
squares, and black replies by exerting pressure on e4 and protecting f5. One disadvantage of
blacks reply here is that it locks up the d7 pawn, which could be active in supporting the center.
Move 3. g1-d4 c7-c6

Move 3 for white brings out one of the Kings bishops. Note that the square g7, which is normally
weakly supported in regular chess and can lead to blitz attacks, is actually well defended in this
version. Both a knight and a bishop support it. The purpose of bringing out the bishop is to castle.
I think the principle of getting your King to safety still holds, but the extra square hanging at the
end of the board means theres a lot of scope for attacks with the rooks- more so than in regular
chess.
Move 4. g2- g3 d8-c7

White continues with development, making a pawn move to get his other Kings bishop into play
and castle King side. Black develops his Queens bishop and looks like he is preparing to castle
Queenside. Games like these usually lead to great tactical duels with attacks along the wings.
Move 5. h1- f3 h7-h6

White continues preparing for a King side castle. Black makes a move to reinforce the center and
get his King side bishop out. He might have been better off continuing with his Queen side castle
preparation.
Move 6. 0-0 b8-a6
Move 7. e2-e3 i7- i6

Move 7 shows the very unique power of two white bishops to be used as a battering ram against
pawns. The presence of two bishops of the same color is a very powerful tool. I suspect this type
of combination of bishops will prove to be better than the value of a rook but still not quite as
good as a queen. White opens up an attack on the j pawn with the e2-e3 move, forcing black to
defend with i7- i6.
Move 8. c1-b3 b7-b6

With this move, White exerts a lot of pressure on the black queenside. Note that the presence of
two knights and the size of the board allow the knights to swing towards the edge of the board;
this is distinct from ordinary chess, where usually the knights move towards the center to retain
effectiveness. StrongChess allows for more concentrated and effective activity from both the
bishops and the knights. Black both protects the c5 square and the a7 square with his b7-b6
advance.
Move 9. b1-c3 e8- f7

White brings a lot of pressure to bear on both the center and the queenside with both his knights.
Black, perhaps unwisely, proceeds with his plans to castle queenside.
Move 10. d1-e2 a6-b4

Whites move 10 poses an immediate threat to the black knight on a6. Black reacts with a
counter threat by moving the knight to b4 and threatening the c2 pawn and forking the rook and
the queen.
Move 11. e1-d1 0-0-0

White moves to protect his pivotal pawn with the queen, no less! Note the very interesting
configuration of two white bishops and the queen on the same diagonal. This could lead to some
very interesting sacrifices of a bishop for two pawns. For example, white could now take the i6
pawn with the bishop and trade a bishop for two pawns. I dont think in this situation it offers
any great advantage, but its a fascinating configuration. Black proceeds with his queenside
castle plan.
Move 12. g1-e1 i8-j6
Move 13. a2-a3 b4-d5

White threatens the black knight and is evidently preparing for a queenside attack. Black retreats
to the relative safety of d5, but unfortunately a lot of white pieces are trained on the knight there.
Move 14. c3xd5 e6xd5

White exchanges the knight, leaving black with an isolated pawn. Note that I played both sides
of the board for this game at high speed. I wanted to explore possibilities of how the pieces move,
and my rapid play I think left Black in a worse position.
Move 15. a1-c1 h8- i7
Move 16. d2-d3 g7-g6
Move 17. c2-c4 d5xc4

White is opening up lines to the king by advancing the c pawn. Black takes the pawn, thinking
that allowing it to advance even further would be worse.
Move 18. d3xc4 j6-g5
Move 19. c4-c5 b6xc5

White progresses his attack furiously and the black King is getting exposed. Meanwhile, black
has the beginnings of a very rudimentary attack on the white King. Things dont look so good for
black at this stage.
Move 20. d4xc5 d6-c8

White has opened up lines to the black King and additionally threatens the black a pawn. Black
executes a retreat of the knight to protect the pawn, but this boxes his own King in.
Move 21. f3-c6 e7-e6

The bishop to c6 move for white is devastating for black. Not only does it threaten mate, his c
pawn cant be moved to defend it (he will lose a rook for a bishop doing that) and so he is forced
to move the e pawn to defend with the queen.
Move 22. e2-b5 h5-d6

The double white bishop pair puts some excruciating pressure on the black c pawn in front of the
king, and black brings in his knight from h5 to d6 for additional protection of the square.
Move 23. d1-d4 c8-b6

White threatens to completely obliterate all shielding in front of the black King by moving his
Queen to d4. Black responds with the only sensible defense by moving his knight to b6. This
also reinforces the c pawn and protects it from whites attack.
Move 24. e1-d1 g8-h7

White increases the pressure on the pinned c pawn by moving the e rook to d1, while black tries
to bring his white squared bishop into play, but its probably going to be too late to reconfigure
his pieces to do that.
Move 25.a1-b3 d8-c8

White is moving in dangerously. If he can get his knight to b7, its checkmate. Black, desperate
to break the pin on the c7 pawn, moves his king. Its a mistake. There were probably better
defensive attempts, although its a bad position and black probably wont last long in any event.
Move 26. b5-a6+ c8-b8
Move 27. c6-b7 d7-d5

The two white squared bishops form a tight grip around the black King after white moves one
from c6 to b7. Black tries to relieve his cramped position by advancing the d pawn and bringing
the queen into play.
Move 28. b3-a5 c7-d8

The white Knight on a5 now threatens mate on c6. Black moves his bishop to d8 to make a flight
square for his King on c7.
Move 29. c5-d6+ d8-c7

The bishop check at d6 also brings the Rook on the c file into play. Black has no choice but to
take away his only flight square.
Move 30.a5-c6++

This is a diagram of the final position where black has been checkmated.

There are so many permutations on this board that I spent weeks thinking about variations. There
is a rich amount of imagination and play involved. With so many bishops and knights on the
board, there was much scope for creativity, errors and experimentation. Because of my modest
skills as a player, I could not see the entire range of possibilities and permutations, but it was a
ton of fun nonetheless. I'm certain Grandmaster caliber players will be able to mine this game for
a lot of variety and joy. I can imagine a Kasparov or Tal like player with vivid imaginations
would really love this complex version of the game. Computers could easily be programmed to
play this type of game, offering up new challenges to players from the inception of the game.
Conclusions

"You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is
only wide enough for one." Mikhail Tal, World Champion (1960), and one of the greatest
tactical geniuses in the history of the game.

Bear in mind that I am a very modest chess player in the larger scheme of the chess world I
expect that if this game catches on, there will be massive imagination and tactical strategies that
emerge for StrongChess. Even at my level, I can see some potent combinations with the aid of
two light squared bishops, for example. I want StrongChess to be in a stage where regular chess
was at the turn of the century not all principles were clearly understood, and there were a lot of
discussions on the direction of chess. Those sorts of discussions add a lot of interest in a game.

I hope the illustrative games caught some of the spirit of whats possible in StrongChess and it
inspires the imagination of chess players everywhere. Thank you for patiently working through
the game with me and reading my commentary. If you are like me, you are anxious to play a few
games on your own on a board. For a limited time, Im offering free boards (I pay for
shipping) , anywhere in the United States. If this book has sparked your imagination, c heck out
more information on getting your free StrongChess chessboard at:

StrongChess-The Evolution of Chess


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