The Vintage Gamer #32: Chess Variants

   Posted by: Jim   in Board games, Podcasts

And so The Vintage Gamer returns to its regular yet irregular schedule. In this show I spend over an hour talking about one of my secret loves: chess variants. I talk about games of the past, games from other countries, and some other unusual variants. (and this barely scratches the surface). In addition, our new sponsor Bob stops by for a visit. All this, plus unrequested editorial commentary from a groundskeeper and a curious dog.

Show Notes:

Additional Links:

Final thoughts:

With all of these games, I know I screwed something up somewhere, so feel free to correct me.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 at 10:06 am and is filed under Board games, Podcasts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 comments so far


thanks for the many wonderful links to some crazy but fun-filled games… more power to you dude.

May 22nd, 2008 at 1:15 am
Rob Cannon

Really glad to hear from you again. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of chess, so I hope you have something else coming up soon!

May 23rd, 2008 at 5:23 am

Very, very soon. And not chess-like at all. Stay tuned!

May 23rd, 2008 at 6:40 am


I agree with your recommendation of Yasser Seirawan’s series. I do have one small update–it’s no longer published by Microsoft, but is now published by Everyman Chess. Furthermore, he has written a seventh book recently which was never published by Microsoft (much to my delight for the book and chagrin that I now have one mismatched cover in the series).

May 29th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Hello Jim –

Glad to see you’re back. I’d thought you’d taken your show to the abyss where many a good podcast ever return.

In this episode, you repeatedly refer to a game being “solved”. I was wondering if you could clarify that.

Do you mean there is an optimal strategy for either side?

Theoretically, every game of perfect information (including chess) has a saddlepoint. That is that each side has an optimal strategy, and if all sides adopt an optimal strategy (and why wouldn’t they?) then the outcome is fixed. To my knowledge, what that outcome is for chess has never been determined, much less what those optimal strategies are.

The fact that a computer could beat a human (or fail to beat humans) does not prove anything – either theoretically or intuitively. AFAIK, the best algorithms are still non-deterministic, relying on heuristics instead. That’s a far cry from proving that any position has an inevitable outcome.

Thanks for the show –

June 4th, 2008 at 2:09 pm

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