I would like to begin this article by explaining that what I am about to describe is not a “Chess Variant” in the conventional understanding. Of course, the following is indeed a “variation” of classical Chess, yet its function and purpose is one of “evolution”.
As such I regard Open_Sppej as a “system”, that is to say, an algorithm through which classical Chess may evolve.
Anyone who has been following my blog will know I have invented many Chess Variants and even conducted in depth studies into not only their own individual merits, but also into the wider field of Chess Variant design in general.
Amongst these essays are investigations into why the next evolution of Chess, as a world wide embraced phenomena, continues to elude even the greatest of players, whence still, even today, the international community merely continues to snail through an ancient played out game of sixty four squares.
Yet perhaps, as my own studies have finally led me to personally conclude, the next evolution of Chess is not a different game at all. Perhaps, one way or another, all the squares and pieces remain just as they always have been, all the ancient rules in tact and yet everything continues… in another yet more majestic reality.
Aye, recently in fact I proclaimed my Chess Variant, JepKnt, to be the “crown jewel” of all my good games. And indeed it still is.
But in truth, Chess itself is not looking for new pieces, or even more squares. We know this now. For after a century of pursuit we have to surrender to the continuing prevalence of evidence, that mankind and womankind, will not sacrifice the classical game.
And this is not least because, at the end of the day, we love all our Knights and all our other pieces of the board, just as they are and just as they always have been.
For herewith, what all Chess players and Chess itself both agree on, is that amidst all the seemingly impossible odds of an almost defeated challenge, the game itself must harbour the solution to this absolutely paradoxical conundrum… within its own biology.
Biology Of A Game
In truth, when something “evolves” it does not instantly become “something else”. Evolution is a process which takes, in biological realms, many thousands of years, during which time one would be challenged to notice much change at all.
The “next evolution” of Chess then, in my opinion, is a seemingly “natural process” taking place within its own biological infrastructure.
Thus what I have created here is a “blossoming of biology” within the very game itself.
Open_Sppej is in my view a quantum leap for the future of Chess evolution, for at its heart, Open_Sppej functions as the core computational process to an infinitely augmented modern version of the classical game.
Whence we look at the Chess board and, before the game has started, we notice straight away how all historic Opening studies are all founded on the core biological traits of how the pieces naturally develop.
The problem however which all Grandmasters identify, is how even these many historic Opening routes are nevertheless limited and finite, not only to a Grandmaster, but vice versa to the scholar who cannot even see as far.
Yet since, as the past century has revealed, the problem presented is not of how to increase the number of pieces or squares played, thence the problem must be instead of how to “evolve the biology” of the game itself.
For example, if during the Opening, we could place our White Knight on b3 instead of c3, how profoundly would that change the game and how could we actually administrate that ability without even changing the classical laws of piece movement?
Impossible? Or is it perhaps merely a matter of perception?
Human beings have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears… yet we can perform the most impossible of tasks. From free climbing sheer mountain cliff faces, to travelling several times the speed of sound… to solving several Rubik’s cubes simultaneously, whilst juggling them in one’s hands.
Here then I present unto the good reader Open_Sppej.
How Open_Sppej Works
An excited novice of the game will tell you how there are twenty first possible moves alone and after that an infinite number of eventual Opening possibilities.
Yet in truth and whilst the above claim is not completely inaccurate, only a handful of these first moves are actually praiseworthy of intellectual pursuit.
Let us for example observe the Knight.
Unless its nearest center Pawn has also been moved then it actually only has one square of worthy benefit to move to. If playing White, then Kingside this is f3 and Queenside this is c3.
Yet unfortunately, and as is historically renown, this square is most often a prison sentence to the humble Knight, who subsequently finds himself pinned by the opponent’s Bishop to his King or Queen.
A sacred ancient continuum of Chess? Or a position seen so many times it makes grown men cry from its damned eternal repetition…
To be fair, regardless of the classical algorithms enshrined in this most common scenario, it is unrighteously the most easily playable irritation of the game.
If only it were much easier instead, to prevent this common position from so frequently occuring.
The O_S System
Open_Sppej is thus, a “system” which allows players flexibility in their Opening setup, not just in how their pieces develop, but even unto the squares they develop from.
Open_Sppej gets its name from the reversal of my surname, “Jepps”, which in turn represents the metaphorical reversal of pieces positioned during the setup.
Here then are the rules of Open_Sppej.
- Whenever a player moves a first rank piece for its first time, the player may in that same turn, relocate any other first rank piece to the home square of the piece vacating.
- O_S relocations may only take place if both pieces have not yet made their first move.
- Relocation counts as a first move and thus a King may not Castle if it has relocated.
- Only one piece may relocate in any turn. Thus whence Castling, only one piece may relocate into either the King or Rook square; but not both.
- The King may relocate, but never to a Rook square.
- Rooks may only relocate to their own side of the board and only providing the path to its destination square is clear.
Immediately behold, for this new Opening system allows a once tormented Knight to relocate to any Bishop, King, Rook or Queen square!
A new Knight then, positioned on c1, or f1, can now with good reason, move to b3, d3 and e2, or, g3, e3 and d2! Furthermore, in doing so practically eliminating any chance of a crippling pin against his King or Queen!
To record a relocation we simply write the regular move as usual, but include the piece relocation afterwards, following a forward slash.
The relocation is written as the piece’s initial letter and home square file.
For example, if when playing the English Opening:
1. c4 e5
2. Nc3 …
… if we make our Queen’s Knight’s first move of 2. Nc3 to include a Bishop relocation from c1 to the Knight’s vacated square of b1, this would be recorded as “2. Nc3/Bc”.
Here “Bc” means the “Bishop” from the “c” file.
If we were to relocate the other Bishop from the “f” file instead, the move would be recorded as “2. Nc3/Bf”.
If it is plain to see that only one piece of its pair could legally relocate, then the file letter need not be included.
Whence relocating during a Castling move, it is important to additionally specify the destination square, referred to as “K” for “King” and “R” for “Rook”. For example, “0-0/BK”, or alternatively “0-0/BR”.
» All standard laws of Chess remain and are compatible.
For example a player may not relocate a piece from or into a square blocking Check, not even if it is only momentarily as the pieces exchange places, for you are still exposing the King to Check.
Likewise a King may not relocate out of Check since to do so would require illegally moving a different piece first. However, if the said piece is being moved in order to BLOCK Check, then relocation in that turn would actually be legal.
The reason why a King may not relocate to a Rook square is because doing so would defeat the purpose of Castling.
For example, let’s say the Knight vacates whilst the adjacent Bishop is still at home. Then we move the Rook to the Knight square and relocate the King to the Rook square. Now we have a position whereby the King is immensely fortified before the game has barely started.
Thus allowing a King to relocate to a Rook square would destroy the classical equilibrium of the game.
Open_Sppej is designed to be a system which naturally favours classical Chess Castling as the primary mechanism for King movements and this is even evident whence relocating the King to any other piece’s square.
For example, relocating the King to a Knight or Bishop square, whilst beneficial in some positions, actually blocks in your Rook, unless it has somehow escaped around the edge. Furthermore, relocating to the Queen square, whilst sometimes beneficial, merely means you have not moved it very far out of danger and now, since relocation counts as a first move, the King may no longer Castle.
Thus the Open_Sppej philosophy is one of maintaining the classical equilibrium. That is to say, whilst relocation may not benefit the King as much as the other pieces, it is good to observe how Open_Sppej equips the player with the ability to speed up Castling significantly, by releasing Knights and Bishops much sooner.
Thus, Open_Sppej ensures classical Chess Castling maintains the upper morale.
» Same coloured Bishops are an optional exploration.
Since the O_S system allows a Bishop to relocate to the other Bishop square, this brings into play the practical possibilities of two like coloured Bishops.
That is of course to say, two Bishops of the same coloured square.
Same or “dual” coloured Bishops can prove to be extremely dangerous, given of course the ideal conditions. Usually in classical Chess these concepts are only explorable once a Pawn has promoted to a like squared Bishop.
However, my predecessor invention to Open_Sppej, The Law Of The Folly, does explore in some detail the strategical possibilities of dual coloured Bishops during the Opening.
Whilst these two referenced studies explore the possibilities of a somewhat different “Chess Variant”, the analysis contained here of dual coloured Bishop Openings is completely compatible with Open_Sppej positions, albeit through a different mechanism.
Open_Sppej Opening studies are of course a new curriculum in the world of Chess and, just like all historic explorations, may take many decades to become wholey comprehensive.
However, a handful of Open_Sppej Opening studies have indeed began their journey into the continuum of explorative research and, as a welcome introduction to this new practise, I am proud to describe them herewith this article.
This is a new Opening created by Open_Sppej and gets its name from the ancient fairy piece of combined Bishop and Knight. It begins as a Bishop’s Opening, 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6, but whence 2. Bc4 White also relocates the b1 Knight to f1.
The logic within here is to allow 3. d3 and later… Ne3! Firstly, this d3 Pawn protects e4 without the Knight becoming pinned to the King, as would happen if 3. Nc3 were played instead, and secondly, the Ne3 to come provides some serious punch as shown in the next diagram.
Thus the game continues, 3. d3 c6 4. Ne3… here White not only increases pressure on the d5 square but also fends off a possible Black Bishop unto g4! Furthermore, this O_S route allows both the c and f Pawns to advance, particularly if the g1 Knight enters to e2. Black likewise relocates, but a bit later on whence the game follows as thus: 4. … Bb4+ 5. c3 Be7 6. Nf3 d6 7. 0-0 0-0/NK… Now! Black’s Knight is granted a new entrance unto c7… preparing for d5!
This is another new Opening created by Open_Sppej and is a variation of the English. It gets its name from the ancient Indian “Boat” piece, the predecessor of the Bishop. This Opening features two firmly anchored Bishops and a strong elusive character. The first moves which establish the Pirates Opening are 1. c4 e5 2. Nc3/Bf Nf6 3. a3. Here then if Black plays 3. … c6 then 4. d4 declares maritime dominance.
However usually the line continues, 3. … Nc6 4. e3 g6 5. Nge2 Bg7 6. 0-0/BK. Here now White is preparing to advance Pawn to f4! The theme of the Pirates focusses on the pair of anchored Bishops and cunning Pawn workmanship, whereby White strikes very hard at the center arena whilst spying the distant gold through a telescope. The very initial c4 Pawn is a two edged sword, serving as both a tactical offensive, but yet also as a red herring. Studies of the Pirates Opening are somewhat ongoing yet its demonstration here serves well as another example of how O_S can be employed.
This variation of the Polish Opening is a new system created by Open_Sppej, named in honour of the Grandmaster Savielly Tartakower and by the intriguing placing of a Rook (or thus a Tower) onto b1. It would thus be called the Tartakower Opening if it were not that there already exists an Opening variation of that name. The Polish begins, 1. b4 e5, after which White usually plays 2. Bb2, striking sharp at Black’s Queenside and counter attacking to the e5 Pawn. However in the Savielly Opening White plays 2. Nc3/R, instantly reinforcing b4 and strangling the central podium. Anyone studying the Polish will see this line as exciting, continuing with ideas such as 3. e3, thus perhaps advancing b5 and indeed more relocations are on the cards!
Giuoco Torino Opening
This new Opening created by Open_Sppej is a fantastic variation of the Giuoco Piano and gets its name after the Italian city Jepps adored. As mentioned briefly earlier, studies of the Giuoco Torino are still developing, but anyone familiar with the classical “Piano” position will identify straight away how the new Knight placement of 3. … Bc5/N greatly enriches the tactical recipe.
To summarise, Black has relocated his King’s Knight to f8 when playing 3. … Bc5/N. This move instantly grants Black options onto g6 or e6, instead of the standard f6, and perhaps even endorses an f Pawn advance.
So, a different game in many ways and certainly one I hope to be cherished by others in time to come.
Let Us Sppej
I have been working on the Open_Sppej concept for many years. It seems quite naturally accomodating now it has been described, yet as written previously, there were many hurdles to overcome.
These were not merely such as how to go about incorporating a clean and fluid ruleset, but inevitably when investigating the next evolution of Chess, one is continuously presented with other “rabbit holes” and possibilities which detour one from the real trophy ahead.
However and finally, I myself at least would like to proclaim Open_Sppej to be the profoundest way forwards unto the next evolution of international competition Chess.
Thank you for following my adventure.
An Understanding Of Mission Design
A Chessician’s in depth study of the mechanics of Chess and how these relate to an example evolution of the game.
JepKnt ~ The Jepps Knight ~ A Chess Piece
An example evolution of a singular piece and how such evolved traits may benefit the classical game.
The Game Of Chess & The Law Of The Folly
An early predecessor to Open_Sppej which investigates the numerous benefits of alternative piece setups.
Open_Sppej © Simon Jepps