[Retros] reward for stalemate
andrew at anselan.com
Fri Jun 20 03:58:12 EDT 2014
We do both agree that the rules of chess have changed and will change.
Many problemists including myself will want to explore what new rules can offer, as old areas become exhausted, and the conventions should track this. For example, I can see Chess960 becoming increasingly popular as a game and as a source of compositions that should be treated as orthodox. A possible merging of FIDE rules with USCF rules could have interesting consequences. Also conventions themselves may change, even if not in response to rules alterations, and this will probably have an impact on existing problems.
We need to recognize our duty to preserve the heritage of previous composers. As Guus has suggested, each composition must be time-stamped, and can be judged against the rules and conventions which applied at that time. In no sense then can a composition be considered to be “ravaged” by rules or conventions which appeared later. It is always safe & protected. But equally we are protecting future generations of composers from being unfairly constrained by historical ideas. It’s also possible that a composition is anchored in an earlier (or later) time period than the timestamp would suggest. That’s totally fine too.
I consider use of timestamps in this way is absolutely essential for the health of the hobby, particularly in the retroanalytic domain which depends so crucially on the precise rules.
It will require scholarship to go back in history and document adequately the rules and conventions as they applied in history. But at least we can do a good job for the present, and future. In fact such scholarship should also track themes, tasks and stylistic preferences, which contribute so much to the understanding of a problem. However, that’s clearly a much bigger effort.
To show a glimpse of how the old world differed, one very interesting link is http://www.chesscafe.com/skittles/skittles455.htm, showing the perspective in 1887. I would point out item 8:
Dummy Pawns are not allowed; that is, a Pawn that reaches the eighth square and remains a Pawn. There is much discussion on this point, owing to the "dummy " being theoretically allowed in games by clubs following the B.C.A. code of 1862; but it is better to discard it altogether, as its presence is of doubtful service in problems.
This shows an issue which was evidently a matter of concern in the 1880s, but now has vanished from our interest. But would we want mark as cooked any problems from that period which had pawns on the 8th square? Of course now, we would celebrate them as allowing us to feel part of a historical community and culture.
So in summary: the conventions have a duty to represent equally the interests of past, present and future composers, in a changing world. The only possible way to do this that I can see, is to allow for timestamping, and to accept that the kingdom of chess problems is not frozen, indeed it moves. Indeed it does.
From: Retros [mailto:retros-bounces at janko.at] On Behalf Of Kevin Begley
Sent: 20 June 2014 14:31
To: The Retrograde Analysis Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Retros] reward for stalemate
>"I hope that GM Short mentioned that this idea came from Lasker! (And I know that he reads a lot of books about chess history...)"
Actually, GM Short mentions that this idea is not original, and it came long before Dr. Lasker -- that is: stalemate was once considered the equivalent of checkmate (and the reasoning is clear: if the goal is to capture a King, and movement is compelled, stalemate and checkmate are an equivalent guarantee that the aim will be realized, upon the following move).
This was a firm rule, adopted by several countries, long before there ever was a chess game federation (before Lasker, and before Steinitz).
>"At least an introduction of a 0.75/0.25 rule by FIDE would not spoil the conventions of the problem community completely..."
You seem to have missed my point, entirely...
FIDE can implement any rule it wants, and it should have absolutely zero impact upon WFCC conventions (or rules).
Our conventions can not be based upon the rules of a game federation -- the WFCC charter clearly grants authority to define our own rules, and our own orthodoxy (which must be completely static, unlike the continually evolving game of FIDE chess).
Once we do that, it will always be possible to correctly represent any changes in FIDE rules (along with rule changes that FIDE is unlikely to ever adopt).
The first step is to acknowledge the independence of Problem Chess (from the chess game) -- the chess game does not precede Problem Chess. The selfmate and the camel came first.
FIDE is entitled to make any law they find agreeable to their own specific purpose (to advance the game) -- and nothing they do can be permitted to spoil (even slightly) the conventions of the problem community.
>"...one would have to distinguish between draw studies and stalemate studies; and this would be less of a challenge for solvers, because a stalemate would have to be mentioned in the stipulation explicitly."
Not in the stipulation -- the rules (or fairy conditions) of the problem must be stipulated.
The trick here is to realize that FIDE chess can never be considered the orthodox form of Problem Chess; this never was the orthodox form, and it never be adopted as such.
A proper orthodoxy does not evolve (except when it must, to better represent possibilities in problem chess -- and, such changes would threaten all existing problems with broad impact (read: any change to the orthodoxy of problem chess would necessarily require a profound reconsideration of impacts to all existing work).
Recall that the folks who subscribed to the false belief that FIDE chess is a proper orthodoxy, failed to notice that their own problems were being impacted, by changes to the FIDE player's rule book (e.g., I have shown, as have others, that FIDE's rule for dead reckoning destroyed the intent of several sound studies -- which can no longer be considered orthodox; and ravaged many formal problems, which were once based upon orthodox rules).
Any tiny deviation from orthodoxy, and you potentially impact every problem, in every genre, based upon every condition!
Therefore, WFCC must take responsibility for its own orthodoxy, completely independent of the rules of any game federation.
Once established, it will be possible to stipulate any set of rules, to properly realize all possible FIDE rule books.
But, there exists no FIDE rule book which can provide Problem Chess with a stable Orthodoxy -- orthodoxy is not what the popular majority wants (or believes) the rules to be, it is the default rules, upon which any set of rules may be easily declared.
>"I agree with you that consistency is of prime importance for our rules; and it would be helpful to have default settings. However, even these might evolve over time (like in your picture of flowing bridges, if I understand it correctly)."
Yes, it is entirely possible that the Orthodoxy of Problem Chess may be in need of structural repair (e.g., to allow for unforeseen circumstances), but in general, there is one very good reason that we (problemists) should strive to make this as stable as possible: any change to the foundation can impact all the infrastructure depending upon it.
Every time we make a tiny modification , we have to carefully consider the structural impact upon all kinds of existing compositions! This is a daunting task. Therefore, it is important that we design this bridge to be stable, and to do that, WFCC must begin by examining the very root of our foundation.
They can no longer ignore the fact that their classification is based upon terms which have neither clear definition, nor clear meaning.
For example, WFCC has repeatedly failed to provide any definition for their term "Fairy Chess," yet they happily segregate problems (and even recognize judges) according to such meaningless terminology.
Note: the definition of Fairy Chess can not be found in the antonym of any FIDE player's rule book (if it were, then countless problems drafted under any previous FIDE rule books would necessarily become Fairy).
These old fights for dominance (who gets to be "Orthodox") are far too petty for this community to continue.
At some point, we must take responsibility for the damage this has done to the integrity of our art form... and to its legacy.
I have no agenda to supplant the crumbling orthodoxy with something similarly unstable, for the purpose of gaining a dominant advantage for my own vision of chess problems -- far from it (I have repeatedly resisted this temptation, even when others pretend to want my proposals, I understand very clearly, that improvements must come from the larger problem community, and decided in accord with the WFCC charter).
I depend upon the full objectivity of this community to design a stable and lasting orthodoxy, from the most fundamental level, wherein no kinds of problems will be systematically treated as an inherently inferior product.
The longer we delay this project, the further we erode the integrity of our own structures, the smaller this community will become...
If we don't put aside the petty political fights (for our own advantage), and help encourage WFCC to build a proper foundation, we encourage the abandonment our own legacy.
Fundamental honesty (and fairness!) is the cornerstone of a lasting legacy...
No title will endure, if the art of problem composition is not upheld.
>"Now I will have breakfast and then start a short holiday, without e-mail contact..."
Have a good breakfast, and a great holiday.
On Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 10:27 PM, "Bernd Gräfrath" <retromode at web.de> wrote:
I hope that GM Short mentioned that this idea came from Lasker! (And I know that he reads a lot of books about chess history...)
At least an introduction of a 0.75/0.25 rule by FIDE would not spoil the conventions of the problem community completely: you could still have mate problems and studies with the stipulation to "win" (which then would have to be augmented to "by mate"). However, one would have to distinguish between draw studies and stalemate studies; and this would be less of a challenge for solvers, because a stalemate would have to be mentioned in the stipulation explicitly.
I agree with you that consistency is of prime importance for our rules; and it would be helpful to have default settings. However, even these might evolve over time (like in your picture of flowing bridges, if I understand it correctly).
Now I will have breakfast and then start a short holiday, without e-mail contact...
Gesendet: Mittwoch, 18. Juni 2014 um 21:25 Uhr
Von: "Kevin Begley" <kevinjbegley at gmail.com>
An: "The Retrograde Analysis Mailing List" <retros at janko.at>
Betreff: Re: [Retros] reward for stalemate
GM Short actually covered this option (awarding 0.25 for the stalemated player, 0.75 for their opponent).
I am struggling to recall why he concluded that this would be a terrible mistake.
I know he was adamant that stalemate should be worth the full point.
>From my perspective, it does not matter so much.
Whatever might improve the game, for fans of the game, is certainly worthy of the college try.
The "game of the mad queen" was never logical (not in my eyes, nor in the eyes of most theoreticians in the day -- even Capablanca and Bird considered it theoretically improperly balanced) -- it just happened to win-out, over other alternative rules (becoming the default -- the "orthodox" -- version), because it happened to play better, as a game.
The default rules for Problem Chess require a completely different orthodoxy (because the rules of the game are becoming increasingly turbulent, given how significantly computers have impacted play). Nobody scoffs at Capablanca's "Draw-Death," for example, after carefully observing the statistics from high level correspondence chess matches, today!
I think we all probably share the opinion that stalemate is an important component of great studies (even GM Short goes out of his way to concede this point), but I find no credible reason to believe that a great study can not be based upon an alternative set of rules -- even within rules which completely eliminate stalemate (by regarding it equivalent to checkmate), a talented composer will manage to find (and exploit) new advantages.
And, regardless what changes the board game may experience, in the interest of securing a television audience (or for whatever purpose FIDE may deem desirable), the orthodoxy of problem chess should be divorced from FIDE's healthy turbulence. Our default rules require consistency (after all, virtually every fairy problem ever constructed will have stipulated a default to a specific set of rules, which can not evolve).
The trick for the problem community, in my view, is to achieve two goals:
1) Seek an optimal default, which will endure (even if the chess game sees radical changes), and
2) Keep bridges flowing between chess problems and the chess game, which can be easily instantiated, for every subtle change to each FIDE rule book (past, present, and future).
On Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 10:29 PM, "Bernd Gräfrath" <retromode at web.de> wrote:
in SCHACH 10/2013, Arno Nickel discussed the increasing number of draws in correspondence chess; and against this, he recommended something which was previously suggested by Emanuel Lasker:
While a win would give 1 point and a loss 0 points, stalemating the opponent might be rewarded with 0.75 points (and the stalemated opponent receives 0.25 points).
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