Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chess variants; three logic puzzles

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

It is estimated that there are around 1,450 chess variants ranging from hexagonal and three-dimensional to fourhanded and circular. A complete description of these variants is, of course, impossible but the most thorough is the Encyclopedia of Chess Variants by David Pritchard.

You can obtain the book from Games and Puzzles Publications, P.O. Box 20, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4YP United Kingdom.

The price is about $41 although it may have changed by now.

The book is designed to entertain as well as to introduce many excellent yet largely unknown games. It also serves as a reference on chess variants, the first book to attempt a comprehensive survey on the subject.

The variants have been collected from all over the world and dates from ancient times up to the present day. About half can be played using an ordinary chess set.

It is by no means complete, as more variants have been invented from the time it was published in 2000. Offhand, I can mention two inventions by Cebuanos, chess infinitum by chess-patron Boojie Lim and powerchess by Jun Perez, both of which will be featured next week.

Aside from Chinese chess or XiangQi and Japanese chess or Shogi, whose adherents number in the millions, the other variants have a limited following and most have become extinct with the authors’ deaths.

My own survey and research shows the following variants to be popular even now: Killer or Suicide Chess, Atomic Chess and Fischer Random Chess, whose current champion is grandmaster Michael Adams.

David Pritchard, who seems to be an authority in chess variants, says the following are the most popular aside from being original: Extinction Chess, Racing Kings, Displacement Chess, Randomized Chess, Marseillais Chess, Double-move Chess, Progressive Chess, Kriegspiel, Alice Chess, Triplets, Avalanche Chess, Hostage Chess, Coordinate Chess, Knight Relay Chess, Magnetic Chess, Dynamo Chess and Ultima.

CIRCE. My favorite is Circe Chess, not on the list above, in which captured pieces are reborn on their starting positions as soon as they are captured based on the following rules: 1) Pawns return to the start position on the same file they are captured. 2) Rooks, knights, bishops return to the starting square, the same color as the square they are captured. 3) Taken queens go to d1 (white) or d8 (black).

For instance, a white pawn captured on b4 is reborn on b2, a black knight captured on f6 is reborn on b8, a black rook captured on the same square is reborn on h8. Castling with a reborn rook is permitted.

If the square that the rebirth should take place is occupied, either by a friendly or enemy piece, the captured piece is not reborn – it is instead removed from the board and takes no further part in the game.

LOGIC PUZZLES. Here are three simple logic puzzles which may seem easy but in reality arerather difficult to an ordinary person. There are no tricks here. Chess players should have no problems here, or do you? E-mail your answers to me or text it to 0920-813-6507. All correct answers will be acknowledged in my column next week.

1) Bulbs – Imagine you are in the room with three switches. In an adjacent room are three bulbs; each switch belongs to some bulb. It is impossible to see from one room to another. How can you find out, which switch belongs to which bulb, if you may enter the room with bulbs only once?

2) The man in the Elevator – A man lives on the 10th floor of a building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening – he gets into the elevator, but if there is someone else there or if it was raining that day – he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the seventh floor and walks up three flights of stairs to his apartment. Can you explain why it is so?

3) Sheikh’s Heritage – An Arab sheikh tells his two sons to race their camels to a distant city to see who will inherit his fortune. The one whose camel is slower will win. The brothers, after wandering aimlessly for days, ask a wise man for advice. After hearing the advice, they jump on the camels and race as fast as they can to the city. What does the wise man say?

No comments: