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MatPlus.Net Forum General Swapping Chairs Chess
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(1) Posted by Kevin Begley [Sunday, Dec 2, 2018 14:39]; edited by Kevin Begley [18-12-02]

Swapping Chairs Chess

Like every US chess problem enthusiast on Thanksgiving, I remember Dan Meinking, whom we lost too soon, just over six years ago.
This year, I was thinking about a fairy idea of his, called Swapping Kings (where any check results in the swapping of Kings), which I helped him refine, when it occurred to me that his idea should be extended.

Instead of swapping just the Kings, why not swap the entire position? Better yet, why not swap chairs with your opponent?

So, as a variant game, Swapping Chairs Chess works like this:
A player who gives a check (which is not mate) must swap chairs with the opponent, and continue the game from the opposite side (trying to win against what was once their side).
Note: double-check counts as a non-checking mate (it doesn't nullify -- by doubling -- the swapping of chairs).

If played with a clock, don't hit the clock after playing checks, and flip the clock to the other side of the board, so as to retain your time (positions are swapped, not time management skills).

Unless I'm unaware, this very simple idea might be a very interesting original variant -- it gives rise to a variety of strategies (obviously, cross-checks and self-check being key), and it may be exceedingly difficult to assess a player's position (this might be a game with greater immunity to artificial intelligence). Plus, it's very simple and fun (even when you're lost, you're only one check away from literally turning the tables on your opponent).

In my estimation, this should be very playable (plus, it promises some exercise). I highly recommend giving this a whirl at the chess club -- and if so, please share your experiences here.

In problem form, the changing of colors is, umm, well, it's problematic.
We associate color with the player. It's not easy to disentangle the two. How can we call it "white to mate in 2", when white's plan may involve checking black (thus swapping colors), and checkmating the white King using the black pieces?

For problem purposes, I was going to suggest simply reversing the fen after a non-mating check is delivered (effectively swap chairs, but keep the colors associated with the player), but that's not entirely ideal -- the notation of the solution would not comply with the diagram.
So, I think just keep with the one diagram, and disentangle the colors (read: keep track of when white becomes black).

Maybe some problem-solving programmers can offer some insight about disentangling the player from the color.
I expect they'd want to reverse the fen and allow the player who gave check to move again, but then they'd have to reverse the moves, as well (so that it conforms to the original diagram).
Plus, they'd need to address the larger issue: how do you account for the number of turns a player uses?

Suppose a problem diagram stipulates: White mates in 2...

It could, of course, be solved in a near-standard chess way: I play a non-check, I prevent any check-swaps, and after any defense by black, I checkmate black's King on my next move.

But, there is another way: I check (swap to black), with black I play a cross-check (swap to white), then I answer the cross-check with a cross-checking checkmate to the black King.
That's close to the way a normal two-mover goes, except that here, I've taken 3 turns (not 2). Should that be considered a mate in 3?

Before you answer, consider this third option: I check (swap to black), and with the black pieces, I answer white's check with a mating cross-check (I mate the white King).
That's checkmate delivered in 2 turns, but it's unlike a standard two-mover -- it's closer to a ser-#2, but it's not -- it's somewhere in between.

These can't all be viewed as mates in 2. Seems to me, there's something wrong with the numbering system we use to stipulate chess problems.
Ask yourself: how do we count out a series-mover stipulation, if the fairy condition allows for color swapping.
Perhaps it would help if we stipulated the number of ply the intended solution requires, rather than offering moves to a given side?!?
Otherwise, the counting philosophy could use some explanation.
Same goes for the color/player entanglement philosophy.

Should we ask "player one" to deliver mate, and shake off the bias of a traditional color entanglement?
I have a dream... that one day, fairy chess will have a notation and nomenclature which makes immediate sense.
I haven't been to the mountaintop, but I am willing to take a few steps in the general direction (if somebody can point me to it).

I'd be interested to hear any ideas people have on these philosophical matters, and please try to address your perspective -- are you looking at it as a programmer, a problem editor, a solver, a composer, a variant gamer, or can you provide an holistic vantage point (can they all work together with such an unusual idea)?

If anyone cares to treat us all to some problems using this condition, I would very much appreciate it.
I may post one or two myself here, but it may take some time (with both the rust and the uncertainty about nomenclature).
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(2) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Monday, Dec 3, 2018 13:24]

Very interesting idea, Kevin.

It would seem natural to me to consider the checking move and whatever happens next until the other player has the option to move as a single ply.
In the same vein as a Take&Make capture is considered a single move, but in this case involving more radical changes to the game state.

So it would follow that your first option is a #2 and both the second and the third options are #1.
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(3) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Dec 6, 2018 06:40]; edited by Kevin Begley [18-12-06]

Thank you, Dmitri.

Offline, Vlaicu made a strong case for considering any series of ply (even with alternating colors) as one turn, in a manner consistent with progressive chess.
I appreciate your confirmation of his wisdom.

He also shared some diagrams, which clearly illustrate some of the cross-checking possibilities.
I encouraged him to share his thoughts here -- perhaps he may want to publish elsewhere!?
Stay tuned.

I worried this might be far easier as a variant (to play) than a condition (to compose with), due to the terminological chasm, and the fact that check-prevention strategies are rarely featured in problem chess.

Note: play the Swapping Chairs variant, and you'll soon appreciate the sacrificial threat: an early, unsupported Qxf7+ leaves your opponent down a queen (the game effectively allows players to sacrifice their opponent's pieces). Thus, the underlying strategy has much in common with the popular "three-checks-lose" variant (not exactly sure the name) -- check prevention/allowance/forcing(self-checks)/parrying(cross-checks) are key, even given the Progressive-Andernach-Swapping-Kings backdrop of this game. We don't often see problems featuring the "three-checks-lose" condition, presumably because check-prevention isn't sexy (read: doesn't easily shine in the solution).

But, Vlaicu's early sketches hint this variant idea might offer rich opportunities for trail-blazing fairy composers.
Time will tell.

Vlaicu also shared an idea to disentangle the player from the color.
Rather than white to play, he suggests differentiating players by Top/Bottom (of the board).
The player at the Top may start out black, but unfortunately, our old terminology failed to disentangle that player with a color.
At first, I favored Vlaicu's suggestion, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it doesn't fulfill the mission if the diagram remains constant (where white remains fixed on the bottom of the board for the duration).
Maybe First/Second Player (Player-1/Player-2) makes more sense, but I still hope somebody might present a better idea.

PS: at first I was depressed that a proofgame might not be possible, but then I realized that turns are quite a different measurement in a proofgame (checks and cross-checks would obscure the greater number of plies -- vs turns -- played). Furthermore, the diagram might conceal whether the player on the bottom of the board is playing the white or black pieces. I think short proofgames might work. Food for thought!
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(4) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Thursday, Dec 6, 2018 10:40]

Just random 50c, the main big concept (you may swap places with
your opponent if his move is too strong) *is* known
(I just read 15 years of ICGA Journal :-), don't ask me WHICH
game it was - a variant of 4-in-a-row, I think), but the
application to chess checks sounds brandnew. (Captures would be
another obvious contender.)

Indeed, now formalizing the rules is demanded.

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(5) Posted by François Labelle [Thursday, Dec 6, 2018 19:14]

For PGs, is Swapping Chairs equivalent to playing an orthodox game that doesn't end in check (unless mate), and not counting any checking ply towards the PG move count? If so, then I think that this should work:

After Gerd Wilts (P1178387)
(= 15+14 )

PG 3.0 Swapping Chairs

1. d4 e5 2. Kd2 Qg5+,Kc3 3. exd4+,Qxd4 Qg3+,Qe3+,Qe5+,Qxe5+,Kd8

I added Kd8 to Gerd's problem to avoid ending in check, otherwise Player-2's 3rd move seems illegal because incomplete (self-check if we give control to Player-1 on move 4).

For the proof of correctness, I tried various orthodox lengths, and subtracted the maximum number of checks among all solutions of that length. Here are the equations (in plies):

9 - 1 = 8
10 - 3 = 7
11 - 4 = 7
12 - 6 = 6 (1 solution in 3.0 moves)

Theoretically I should also try in 13 orthodox plies or more, but to yield a cook these longer games would need to contain an unlikely number of checks.
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(6) Posted by Geir Sune Tallaksen Østmoe [Friday, Dec 7, 2018 16:30]; edited by Geir Sune Tallaksen Østmoe [18-12-07]

Hauke, are you referring to the «pie rule», which means that the second player can choose to switch sides after the first player has made the first move? I have seen that rule in several games - Four in a row, Gomoku, Atoll, Ponte del Diavolo... It’s a good rule in games where the starting player has a significant advantage. Four in a row is a perfect example. The starting player wins by correct play by starting in the middle, but with the pie rule in play, the optimal starting move is to start in the third or fifth column, after which it’s a draw by correct play. I’m sure it would have worked in chess as well, but there is no need for it as White only has a small initial advantage.

The only «swap chairs» rule I have seen proposed in chess is as a response to draw offers: If you offer a draw, your opponent can either accept, decline, or decline and switch sides. The idea is to reduce the number of early draws, but the problem is that you might get endgames where the stronger side has given up on winning, but he doesn’t want to offer a draw and give the opponent the chance to switch.

Back to the topic, I think it’s a very interesting idea, both from a player’s perspective and from a composer’s perspective. My first thought as a player was that White must have a big advantage because of possibilities of an early Qxf7+, but it’s not so simple since it doesn’t work if the opponent can immediately follow up with, say, Bc4+. And as a composer, I imagine you can have some really long series of cross-checks (where I agree that such a series should count as one half-move). Even an otherwise orthodox #1 could turn out interesting, at least for a solver.
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(7) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Saturday, Dec 8, 2018 13:11]

Yes, that. Hey, Pie rule has even a Wiki entry. You live, you learn :-)

I just wonder whether a "swap on any" option would work in direct play.
At least with a different goal like "Reach field X".
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(8) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Dec 8, 2018 21:33]; edited by Kevin Begley [18-12-08]

Finally, I learn about the PIE RULE!!
Either somebody should have told me that many years ago, or somebody should remind daily that they did tell me this, many years ago.

As for formal rules, I have nothing more than the simple rule stated.
I thought it better to just drop this bird, and see where it flies.
I trust this will arrive in a better place if I let interested composers guide where it needs to go.

As for proofgames, I like the direction taken.
I even wondered if it would be "fair" to obscure the colors in a diagram -- if the 1st player has the black pieces, what's the proper way to represent that?
Maybe that's a bridge too far for solvers -- deducing "free ply" is likely challenge enough.

I do like the idea of a very long #1 or 2 (or h#, or s#, etc), of course -- who doesn't relish an opportunity to answer your own checks with cross-checks?
That's the obvious compositional nugget here -- but, I suspect that aspect of the condition may burn bright and fast (though, the time-frame for that is difficult to gauge). I don't know for sure, but how long can extended cross-checking remain fertile?

It remains to be seen whether composers find nutritional value from the main staple of the game -- the key strategic underpinning is sacrificing your men (with check) and (as rightly noted) retaining your new kingdom, while preventing your opponent from doing it first.
If not, it's interesting that composers may take a completely foreign perspective to what players would be fighting in the trenches.
But, that's what composers must do -- show the sun through the clouds.
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Swapping Chairs Chess