CHESSES: chess variants for nonexperts, nonplayers, and the very playful

Pippin Barr (previously) writes, "I have a history of making variations on existing games (see also: PONGS, BREAKSOUT, SNAKISMS), and Chesses (source, CC BY-NC) is a continuation of that. I find chess a really interesting game to play around with because it's so classic and sort of monolithic – it's fun to mess with tradition. Other than kind of formal enjoyment involved, I suspect the variations might level the playing field a bit and allow non-experts (or even non-players?) to play some chess."

Chesses essentially arose from my interest quite a while ago (like in 2014) in "gravity chess", which would be played with the board rotated 90 degrees such that when you play a piece out into space it falls to the bottom. In fact, I worked on this for a little while with Tom Curtis, but we ran out of steam somewhere along the way (he was doing all the work, to be fair) and it didn't materialise. Now that I'm a better programmer than I was, and pretty comfortable with chess programming in JavaScript thanks to previous projects (Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: Chess Edition and Rogess), I figured I could make a move on it.

I went through a larger set of ideas for chess variants that might be interesting specifically played via a computer (rather than just playing on a chess board), and of course culled some (fare thee well, Mirror Chess, Swaps Chess, and Pawn Chess). Mostly I tried to end up with a set that I think are genuinely somewhat interesting to play – both just to try to understand how to do anything sensible, and then beyond that to try to play "well" in the new version.

Chesses is also another data-point in the ultra-detailed process documentation approach called MDMA. So, if you want to, you can read a lot about the game's development by reading its process documentation, by going through its commit history, and by reading the research questions.