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MatPlus.Net Forum General Fairies: retro-content?
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(1) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 10:23]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-04-17]

Fairies: retro-content?

Opinions wanted:

In a fairy problem, which form should be the default, and which should be the (explicitly stated) twin?
a) Never Presume Any Retro Content (unless explicitly activated),
b) Always Presume Retro Content (unless explicitly restrained), or
c) Either case must always be explicitly stated (because problem chess is incapable of intelligently managing common standards)?

(= 5+1 )
Circe Parrain

a) No Retro-Content

Try: 1...e2?, but lacking retro-content, no rebirth is possible: thus, no mate!
Sol: 1...c5! 2.Kxe1 ...c6[+wPe2] 3.Kf2 ...c7 4.Kg3 ...c8=Q 5.Kh4 ...Qg4#

b) Retro-Content

Try: 1...c5?, but due to retro-content, a rebirth is forced: thus, [+wBf2], stalemate!
Sol: 1...e2[+wBf2]! 2.Kxf2 ...e4[+wBf4] 3.Kf3 ...d2 4.Kxe4 ...Bb8[+wPa8=Q]+ 5.Kd4 ...Qd5#

note: the only possible retraction (-1.bKxBf1 ...Bg2-f1[+wP d1/e1]+ etc) is necessary to prove the bishop's rebirth (rebirth is otherwise presumed illegal).

For the record, I favor option d) I have no opinion; but, fairies should default to the same rule as that which applies in orthodox chess, since orthodoxy is inherently defined -- due to its utter lack of definition -- as a singular instance (a temporal subset) of the fairy form. Thus it warrants no special favoritism (default rule standards should apply equally).
Actually, that's not entirely true -- I favor the presumption of retro-content, in all cases, because forcing an explicit statement of this tends to read like an unwelcome hint (hints are like butterfly wings -- force the solver to touch the hint, and it may damage the composer's subtle intention of flying on the 'splendid insincerity' of a presumed, and carefully concealed, retro-content).
For example, the composer may prefer to present the above problem, and test the solver's resolve to check the retro content (the need to explicitly warn the solver of retro-content would be ruinous to such intent).

This one example (many other arguments are possible) clearly demonstrates a compelling, vital need to support (indeed insist upon) the codification of universal standards -- via a complete Fairy Codex, carefully sanctioned by a democratically elected body, based upon recommendations by a counsel of considered experts, with diverse perspectives.
The first step is to admit the need for fundamentally clear standards.
There is no denying that this undertaking (correcting decades of carelessness) presents considerable challenges; and, there is no certainty in predicting how these remedies may impact the personal path of the title-seeking composer.
Unfortunately, we all (problem enthusiasts) have inherited a pounding series of valueless historical blunders; and, the need for correction now supersedes all luxuries of personal self-interest, and partisan gamesmanship.

But, unless a plurality will stand in recognition that this debt is owed, that our collective integrity is paramount (and it demands the establishment of fundamentally honest standards), then historical blunders will only continue to mount, while challenges for the future continue to snowball (unto the inevitable crash of a non-redemptive bankruptcy).
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(2) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 12:23]

Due to the fact that I almost never compose fairy problems
(I freely admit my incompetence - I would have to wade
through pages of definitions just to understand your example)
I opt for "Not for me to decide", but at least I'd like to
point out the following:
Retro in an orthodox n# (or e.g.) is relatively "fair game"
and in 99% of all cases, it amounts to Black has the move.
Any problemist should have a retrostalemate detector running
in the background of his brain, and the reasoning to prove
retrostalemate stays relatively same. Thus, if a problemist
"had" you, shame on you, and a retro warning would be merely
a spoiler - think of the classic Kc8 Pb6/Ka8 Pa7, which might
be simply published with the stipulation "Win".
Of course, it would be a spoiler as well for a fairy problem,
but here the retro reasoning can get as complicated as you
may think, so the viewers reaction in the end, rather than
"You snookered me straight, you ganeff!" would be
"How could any sane person think of THAT?"

Thus my golden rule would be:
If the solver blames himself, don't tag "retro" (default for
all orthodox problems).
If the solver blames the composer, tag "retro".

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(3) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 12:38]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-04-17]

Thanks for sharing your opinions, Hauke.
I do appreciate feedback.

Unfortunately, experiences may vary -- so, I'm afraid your golden standard is far too malleable (read: subjective).
No composer can possibly guess whom a specific solver (let alone each and every solver!) may blame for the application of some retro-element, in any given problem.
In fact, solvers may shift their blame (over time), when confronted by the identical problem (in direct proportion with experience, it seems, solvers increasingly blame themselves).

I can certainly appreciate your unease with fairy elements; in the most non-condescending way I can possibly express, believe it or not, I once saw things the same way. In fact, I'd bet that my reluctance must have been much worse! Ultimately, a confluence of distant butterfly flaps were probably necessary to convince me to venture into the exotic worlds of fairy chess.
But, the key difference is worth noting: the fairy composer is gifted with the possibility (and, of course, burdened by the responsibility) to manipulate every element of their expression -- limited only by the strain (of imagination and comprehension) that their audience may be willing to accept (or deem justifiable).
I would liken the freedom to what a science-fiction author must experience: when done correctly, it provides more than just some unfamiliar, futuristic setting -- it allows the audience to wander an imaginary world, as real as now, and experience a newfound inquisitiveness, as familiar as our very first day.
Nothing could be more intoxicating.

For the sake of discussion, suppose you did not limit yourself to the one narrow rule option...
Further, suppose that the aspect of selecting (and creating) a specific rule-environment, to promote your idea, was viewed as a critically important aspect in expressing your originality (so important, in fact, that sometimes the exploration of an imagined environment constitutes an idea, unto itself!)...
As such, I expect that you would inherently recognize the importance of establishing objective standards, governing all Fairies (including all subsets of Orthodoxies, perpetrated over all time)...
In this hypothetical case, I wonder, what option would you suppose might be favored?
I wonder: given this proper perspective (the freedom to wander within a multiverse view of fairy rule options), how could anyone prefer a standard for retro-content which differs from the present orthodox convention?

True, there are cases, in the fairy realm, where the expression "no retro-content" may be seen as redundant and/or needlessly repetitive. For example, any Platzwechsel Circe problem, with less than 32 units can have no retro-content (as annihilation is impossible, without some additional fairy element).
However, only in rare cases must retro-content be explicitly removed -- presumably only when absolutely necessary (read: when failure to do so would somehow alter the intent).
The responsibility for this determination must rest with the composer, and no matter how much they might prefer to neglect it (in order to mindlessly accept all output spat from a computer), the composer should not be allowed to pass their burdens down to every fairy problem with a genuine retro intent.
The fairy composer with retro intentions has no capacity to shoulder this unwarranted burden (other than going out of business).
Similarly, fairy elements which require excessive exclusion of retro-content (an extreme rarity!) would, this way, be called to bear their own burdens.
Most everybody accepts that retro-impossible fairy positions are not flaw (with debatable exceptions, perhaps); however, it is quite another matter to disregard all possibilities of retro-content, for the sake of assuring a false parity with the solving tools.
There is no good argument for establishing software tools as the ultimate authority over fairy elements, or retro-legality (note: laziness is not a worthy argument); and, double goes for the analogously obscene idea to define fairy elements according to the implementation of specific software versions (bugs, and all).

If somebody has a contrary position to offer, I welcome it, here.
In fact, in the interest of helping to establish a common standard, we all should entertain contrary opinions.
Bottom line: correctness always depends upon intelligent, universally agreed standards.
If for no other reason than this, the Codex should be expanded, to begin covering elements of Fairy Chess.

A few tangential matters to remember:
1) For many people among the general public, orthodox chess may be equally viewed as repulsively complex (identical to how you may view some other fairy chess subsets). I expect members of this forum would overwhelmingly agree that the attitude of such surrender only conspires to hasten the holder's own misfortune (at least with respect to so-called "orthodox" chess); strangely, several will never connect how fairy chess offers the very same opportunity.
2) Orthodox Chess (if defined as the latest FIDE Chess player's rule book) is never distinctly more than a few years old, and it represents merely one fairy condition (leveraged off Shantraj).
3) If we should prefer a simpler set of rules (note: I do not dispute the value of simplified rules), curiously, I am unaware of any effort to help Chess progress in that direction. In fact, it's a pitiful tragedy that a simpler set of rules would actually require an extraneous set of fairy conditions! I'd certainly welcome remedies for this situation.

Finally, as for Parrain Circe: it's really quite simple (it is only complicated by FIDE's special case rules):
A captured unit is reborn from the square of its capture, immediately upon the following move, according to the vector identical with said move.
If this vector points off board, or to an already occupied square, the unit is annihilated.
So, in the example, black's last move must have been to capture a bishop, on f1 (which must have given rebirth to one of the white pawns, on the first rank). Therefore, the presumption of retro-content would necessitate that the same white bishop is inherently awaiting rebirth, in the diagram.
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(4) Posted by Joost de Heer [Friday, Apr 18, 2014 23:04]

Usually legality (and thus retro content) is ignored in fairy chess. E.g. more than 16 pieces on one side without a fairy condition actually making this possible, passed pawns with anticirce, or Haaner chess without holes.

Somehwere in the '90s (I think) I published in Pat a mat a helpmate in 2, Parrain Circe, with a rebirth on the first move because it could be proved that the move before the diagram position was an ep capture, unfortunately without a try which would fail due to the rebirth. It wasn't published with a 'retro' warning however. I don't know if anyone actually solved it. I can't remember the composition anymore, but it was not a pretty one.
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(5) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 12:31]; edited by Kevin Begley [14-04-19]


If you manage to locate that Parrain problem, please share it.
I especially like problems which show rebirth by retro!
Plus, there's something about your problems that I (generally) find refreshing.

As for standards... I am not bent on establishing a set of commandments, and following them to the letter (I'll be a sinner, laws or not).
I wish our many unwritten standards and conventions were better codified, because I believe new enthusiasts are entitled to such a document (so that they might discover expectations, by some process other than rejection, and failure); plus, I am confident that the process would compel a very concise and logical set of standards, thereby improving the consistency (and fairness) of our contests.

For example, yes, most (though perhaps not all) judges will tolerate more than 16 units per side.
But, unfortunately, most of these same judges would turn around and throw darts at any problem using more than 8 pawns per side!
Why? Often there is no consistent reason, whatsoever -- most simply grade according to whatever unwritten conventions were passed down to them (experience: from having cycled through the same inconsistent rejection chamber).

The maintenance of secretive and unreasonable conventions, in my view, constitutes a barrier to entry.
And, even elitists must concede: we don't have the luxury of such a frivolous exclusion policy.

Yes, it is important that we explain the old variety of standards -- this is necessary for the future to interpret the past; but, the opportunity for growth can not be rooted in inconsistent traditions.
My one commandment: "Thou shalt not inhibit the future." ...and, allowing inconsistencies to continue flourishing, at the most fundamental level of our model (e.g., leaving fairy versus orthodox standards unresolved), constitutes a trespass upon this covenant.
The best way to honor this commandment, paradoxically, is to make way for the past (read: always presume retro content).
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(6) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 16:09]

@Kevin: Point absolutely ceded - that's why I called it "golden".
It's certainly not something what could or should be written in a codex.
(It was more an argument why fairy *could* be treated differently.)

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MatPlus.Net Forum General Fairies: retro-content?