Chess Space

An Examination of Chess Conceptual Space

This is an initial attempt to formalize the geography of chess space, the conceptual area where chess and chess variants exist in the larger “game space”. It comes out of a few observations of styles and patterns of a handful of the designers and some of the thousands of existing chess variants. The goal is to provide a multi-dimensional "map" or diagram of relative positions of games within this mental space.

Categories and Boundaries
A few categories will be set up to determine the first set of attributes.

  • Boards: size, shape, number of board positions, pieces per position, dimensionality, connectivity, type of positions, board changes during play
  • Pieces: type, range, footprint, mechanisms of movement, special powers, mechanisms of capture, exact pieces used, promoted pieces; each individual piece is one datapoint.
  • Rules: every different rule is its own unique attribute, but they can be broken up into types or categories of rules. Initial placement rules, first move rules, goal rules [capture of king, occupying a point, achieving a configuration…], movement rules, exceptions, promotion rules, capture rules, restriction rules [direct facing rules, river-crossing rules, fortress rules], special powers, special turns

Boundaries will be discussed generally, as there can most likely be no absolute boundaries between 2 closely related but different games, such as chess and wargames. And talented designers deliberately design games that blur most possible boundary lines.

  • One boundary that everyone agrees upon is that there must be at least one royal piece in the game, one "king".
  • The requirement of a royal piece brings with it the need for non-royal pieces.
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