A really enjoyable, and challenging, time was had by everyone at the Enjoy Art Gallery where an Asian chess variants tournament took place on Cuba Street on Saturday. Present were the elite of the Wellington chess scene, Russell, Scott and Anthony, along with a few other people, and me. Just over half of the entrants were from the chess club, and predictably we dominated the top half of the table. In fact, in every game between a member and a non-member, Wellington Chess Club came out on top!
|L-R Peter Stoeveken, Simon Palenski, Alan Aldridge, Nova Jiang|
The tournament was the brainchild of Nova Jiang, a New Zealand artist based in Los Angeles, whose idea it was to design pieces that reflect the power of the pieces and the different ways in which they move. The idea originated in an examination of Artificial Intelligence and computer based methods of thinking as opposed to human ones.
The pieces were designed on a computer and brought to life with a 3-D printer. The tables were put together manually just before the exhibition.
The tournament was scheduled for 4 hours on Saturday afternoon, and it was hoped that all competitors would be able to try out each variant once, and play for 8 rounds. Nobody could work how to schedule this, so we just organised an ordinary Swiss and as far as possible players selected variants they hadn't already tried. This worked quite well, and, as far as I am aware, nobody did play the same variant twice.
The time control was set for 15 minutes each to complete all one's moves. There was a lot of sitting down before games working out all the rules, so we only had 6 rounds, with all the non-chess club competitors leaving after 5.
|xiangqi, or Chinese chess, reputedly the most popular board game in the world|
The 8 variants were Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Burmese, Thai, Mongolian, ancient (Western) and modern Western.
|Alan and Russell in round 1|
Before the tournament I was widely tipping Anthony Ker to be the favourite, as he has such a wide range of gaming abilities. (He is also an international standard bridge player, for example.) However just before the tournament Scott revealed that he was quite an experienced xiangqi (Chinese chess) player, and had even played the game online. He was lucky enough to get to choose the variant (one person had to choose each round) against both Anthony and Russell, and he chose xiangqi for Anthony, and Korean chess for Russell, which is quite similar. He won both these games and looked set to win the tournament.
|Scott and Peter struggling with shogi|
Along comes our very own Peter Stoeveken, the hero of the Johnsonville Mall tournament a week earlier, who had also won his first 3 games - he challenged Scott to a game of shogi, Japanese chess, arguably the most complex and difficult of all the variants. One of the complicated things about this game is that if you capture an opponent's piece, you can turn it round and put it back on the board as one of your own pieces. This makes the board incredibly confusing (and full!). Scott totally dominated in his game against Peter, but he thought for too long and lost on time! This basically decided the tournament.
Peter won his first 5 games, then drew with me at shatranj (ancient chess), so finished half a point ahead of Scott and Anthony. A slightly unexpected result, but a totally worthy winner! Congratulations Peter, second time in a week.
Many many thanks to Nova Jiang, and to the Enjoy art gallery for organising this tournament. It was quite hard on the grey matter, but brilliant fun to play. It has certainly given me the urge to explore further these fascinating variants of our beloved game.
Final Cross Table
No Name Loc Total 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 Stoeveken, Peter 5.5 7:W 8:W 9:W 2:W 4:W 6:D 2 Wastney, Scott 5 3:W 9:W 4:W 1:L 6:W 5:W 3 Ker, Anthony 5 2:L 0:W 5:W 6:W 8:W 4:W 4 Dive, Russell 3 5:W 6:W 2:L 7:W 1:L 3:L 5 Aldridge, Alan 3 4:L 10:W 3:L 9:W 10:W 2:L 6 Sellen, Ian 2.5 11:W 4:L 8:W 3:L 2:L 1:D 7 Trevelyan, Peter 2.5 1:L 11:W 10:W 4:L 9:D 0: 8 Cauchi, David 2 0:W 1:L 6:L 11:W 3:L 0: 9 Palenski, Simon 1.5 10:W 2:L 1:L 5:L 7:D 0: 10 Klein, David 1 9:L 5:L 7:L 0:W 5:L 0: 11 Fraser, Matilda 1 6:L 7:L 0:W 8:L 0: 0:
|David Klein vs Peter Trevelyan|
|Nova demonstrates Thai chess to some visitors|
|David Cauchi vs Matilda Fraser|