Fairy Chess Experiments


I’ve been working on (implementing and modifying other people’s concepts mostly) some new chess variants for Nefarious and I to play (like Chesskers that I mentioned a while back) — she loves chess already (and often chooses to play it over normal video games), but these modifications are tons of extra fun for her. Today we started playing Fairy Chess, which is a catch-all term for chess variants that are often differentiated by having new types of pieces but other than that usually having the same rules. We started today by using a “joker”, which is a piece that takes on the properties of whatever piece your opponent has just moved, giving it a really fascinating effect on strategy. We also changed the bishops into archbishops, of the sort that can “reflect” when they hit the edge of the board. One of the reasons I picked these two is that the joker becomes less powerful as the game progresses, and the archbishop becomes more powerful as the board clears, in addition to their other interesting qualities. Nefarious had no problem picking up how to use the new pieces and quickly trounced me. She’s quite sharp at chess when she’s paying good attention, whereas I admit that I am not as bright as I would like to be.

I have two other variants on chess that I’m going to fiddle with. First, I want to play with a two-phase chess game in which there’s a set-up phase where you both put your pieces on the board one-by-one, back-and-forth, and, more interestingly, select from a pool of fairy chess pieces, so there’s a strategy involved in how you lay out your formations, and also what pieces you choose specifically to compete with those your opponent goes with. This is sort of inspired by Bobby Fisher’s chess variant in which the back row is randomized, done in order to stop people from relying on memorized openings. The other idea I want to play with, and I think it will take some experimenting to make it fun, is a variant I call “war in heaven”. The game is played with two boards (either simultaneously, or in phases… I’m not sure), and when you take a chess piece, instead of being discarded, it goes to “heaven” (the other board), and wages a second battle there. The capturing player presumably gets to play the pieces they take. It might work.

I’m always interested in hearing about other people’s chess-like experiments.

Anyway, today we’d planned on going to the Science Centre to see Body Worlds but unfortunately when we got there it was sold out, so after getting a refund for our parking (and warned a bunch of other visitors to turn around), we headed down to T&T supermarket near Cherry Beach — which is across the street from the loud-music-emitting Cirque Du Soleil Ovo tents, which we have front-row tickets for next weekend, woo woo! — and picked up some sushi and Japanese candies and then went to the park to eat our late lunch and play before coming back and doing everyone’s lice treatments.


  1. Ursula wrote:

    You’re really one of the most creative and attentive fathers I’ve seen, the way you raise that beautiful child is inspiring. But make sure to see BodyWorlds, it’s amazing, I think I remember you saying it was the Story of the Heart, saw it in Tampa Fl. Amazing! I hope this doesn’t ruin it but they have a freaking camel! A camel! Sorry just really enthusiastic about plasinated bodies.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  2. MissLiss wrote:

    Don’t know any chess variations I’m afraid, but if you, Caitlin and Nefarious like Scrabble I have a couple that make it more fun for younger persons.

    TAKE TWO: put all the tiles upside down in the middle of the table. Pick up 7 letters, make words intersecting crossword-style on the table in front of you. When all tiles are used, yell out “Take Two!” and everyone takes two more tiles and must fit them into the grid. Gets exciting when you are behind and have to break it up and start again to fit the new letters. (Damn you, Q, damn you!) The words don’t have to be complicated, so it’s suitable for all ages. Also good for when you have too many players. Score by adding tiles horizontally and vertically.

    DOUBLES: use 14 tiles in two racks instead of 7 (two players only). This makes it much easier for new spellers (more letters to choose from, less congestion on the board), but is also harder against more advanced wordsmiths! Games are generally faster than ordinary games.

    Thought I would share these as a trade for Fairy Chess. Hope they’re not just common knowledge games, my family played these a lot but friends didn’t seem to know of them. (I’m keen to try out FC, and await the “official” rules for War in Heaven with bated breath!)

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 2:48 am | Permalink
  3. Shannon wrote:

    We were at the previous show, and they had a camel there as well… it was very cool, I agree!

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:08 am | Permalink
  4. Elizabeth wrote:

    I am curious about what treatment you will be doing in an effort not to be lousy. I have read that there are new, less toxic cures that work better than in days of yore.

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  5. smyttie wrote:

    You could try this : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_boxing … but then your daughter might win even more. :-)

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  6. Shannon wrote:

    We just did the R&C chemical shampoo… 10 minutes of poison on your head.

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  7. Elizabeth wrote:


    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  8. leah wrote:

    my friend is doing concession at cirque de soleil :)

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  9. I’m not a huge chess player but I throughly enjoyed The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. Have you read it? Waitzkin was a chessmaster himself, and his father wrote Searching for Bobby Fisher.

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  10. Shannon wrote:

    I’ve done very little reading on chess…

    Monday, October 26, 2009 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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