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April 8, 2009 9:05 PM   Subscribe

MateMaster. Flash chess problems ranging from "mate in 1" to the fiendish "mate in 6." (via JiG)
posted by juv3nal (42 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
*cries*
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:10 PM on April 8, 2009


Apart from the bizzarre setups, I spent more time identifying the weird pieces than finding the mates.

This is not because I'm good at chess.
posted by pompomtom at 9:14 PM on April 8, 2009


(that said, more chess problem sites is better than fewer chess problem sites...)
posted by pompomtom at 9:14 PM on April 8, 2009


I forgot how bad I am at chess. Takes me right back to middle school chess club.
posted by dead cousin ted at 9:27 PM on April 8, 2009


fyi: seems "Beginner 34" is problematic according to JiG comments.
posted by juv3nal at 9:36 PM on April 8, 2009


I've just started playing chess. At the age of 30. I figured it was about time.

I picked up a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Chess back in January and read how the pieces move, and about opening strategies and did all the chess problems and got pretty good. I play against my fiancee, who learned the game at a much earlier age than me. In total number of games won lost, it's standing at 4-3 in her favor.

It's a great game. I can see why it's so enduringly popular. But at times it really shits me since the way chess pieces move sometimes doesn't make a whole lot of sense for their role. I understand that it makes sense, as a game, for certain pieces to move in certain ways but what I'm talking about is more about translating what a unit would do on the battlefield vs what the same unit does as a chess piece.

For instance, the Knight. Moves in an L shape 3 spaces. Can jump over friendly and enemy units. Great! But why can't it capture/kill an enemy unit as it jumps over it?

Pawns move one space forward and capture diagonally. OK, great, understood. Except on their first turn when they can either move one space forward diagnonally to capture an opposing piece OR move two spaces forward and capture no pieces. Huh?! Why not allow a pawn, on its first move, to either move;

* one space forward diagnonally to capture an opposing piece
* two steps straight forward OR
* one step forward and one step diagonally if doing so allows it to capture an opposing piece.

This, to me, makes more sense than the current rule, which says that if a pawn moves past an enemy unit on its first turn by moving two spaces forward, it can be captured by the enemy unit its passing. It defies belief that a King or Queen on the battlefield, surveying the land would issue instructions to their pawns to say "OK, look, you can EITHER move forward 2 steps in a straight line, or one step forward to the left or right to capture an enemy unit. And that's it. Seriously. DON'T YOU EVEN DARE MOVE FORWARD ONE SPACE AND THEN FORWARD LEFT OR RIGHT TO ANOTHER SPACE TO CAPTURE AN ENEMY UNIT! Because if you do, hoooo boy there will be trouble to pay!"

And on the King and Queen, why is the Queen the more powerful unit? Given my understanding of the role of the King back in days of yore, often going out on the battlefield and fighting alongside his troops, that he would be the most powerful unit, with the Queen more powerful than all units except the King. So let's see the movement axis of the King and Queen reversed. It would also be interesting to see how this hack would change the way people use this powerful but valuable piece.

Anyway, I understand that the responses to this are "it's an age old game and the rules as written are perfect and provide a great game of strategy" or simply "If it aint broke..." and that's all well and good. Indeed, I'd agree. Great game. But why can't we spice things up a bit, now that we're in the 21st century?

Basically I think there should be some kind of chess-hack. Custom rules that people can use or draw from to spice up this centuries old game. In the same way that people have created home brew rules for Catan, Monopoly and countless other games, why not have some kind of home brew rules database for Chess? Not as a permanent, lasting change that affects the rules at Chess tournaments etc, but just for fun?

Anyway, that's all I, as a Chess noob who has quickly learned to love the game, have to say. Oh, except for that this site is great for Chess noobs like me who love working out the best ways to beat people and need all the practice they can get. Thanks for the link!
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:36 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


So if I can solve all 88, would that make me a MasterMater?

I'm so, so sorry
posted by armage at 9:38 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm not very good, but I checkmated it on normal, and then twice on difficult. Try it!
posted by Monstrous Moonshine at 9:49 PM on April 8, 2009


Effigy2000: The Chess Variant Pages
posted by sappidus at 9:52 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Basically I think there should be some kind of chess-hack. Custom rules that people can use or draw from to spice up this centuries old game.

I just blew your mind.
posted by juv3nal at 9:52 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Effigy2000, here's a listing of chess variants.
posted by brain_drain at 9:53 PM on April 8, 2009


or there's also that terrible, not-at-all-on-point site sappidus cited, I guess.
posted by brain_drain at 9:55 PM on April 8, 2009


Cool! Thanks sappidus (and brain_drain). You know I googled and googled for something like that months ago and found nothing. This is why Metafilter rocks.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:56 PM on April 8, 2009


A shout-out for brain_drain's particular link, which is a nice, curated subpage on the Chess Variant site that novices would be well-advised to start with.
posted by sappidus at 9:58 PM on April 8, 2009


Effigy's post makes me wonder - where did chess come from? Was it playested and balanced over centuries?
posted by heathkit at 10:02 PM on April 8, 2009


Basically I think there should be some kind of chess-hack. Custom rules that people can use or draw from to spice up this centuries old game.

MtDewd, who will probably show up here once he wakes up, is an excellent chess player. To spice things up when we were young, we used to play Jetan (aka Martian chess), which was invented by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the fifth of his Barsoom books, The Chessmen of Mars.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:11 PM on April 8, 2009


It defies belief that a King or Queen on the battlefield, surveying the land would issue instructions to their pawns to say "OK, look, you can EITHER move forward 2 steps in a straight line, or one step forward to the left or right to capture an enemy unit.

If it helps, I've always thought of this in terms of a swordsman, who will walk straight forward, but slash his sword sort of to the side.

(Then, of course, he has to walk over to loot the corpse...)
posted by pompomtom at 10:15 PM on April 8, 2009


Effigy2000, both the power of the queen and the ability for pawns to move two spaces on their first move were introduced into the game as adaptations to the original rules, in order to speed up play. I don't have relevant links on hand, but any Google search for chess rules history should support this. At one point in time, the queen had the same moves as the king. Giving her free reign over the board was a deliberate decision to make the game more lively, and the adaptation stuck.

Being able to move pawns two squares on the first move was a rule introduced to speed up the opening game. It was never meant to give the pawns greater strength, or more maneuverability, which is why the en prise rule exists -- the two square pawn move should not, and cannot, be used to overcome the pawns essential immobility.

The irony of course is that the rules you have a problem with are actually a kind of chess hack to begin with!
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 10:18 PM on April 8, 2009


which is why the en prise rule exists

I think you mean en passant. En prise just means a hanging piece or pawn.
posted by pompomtom at 10:25 PM on April 8, 2009


I got stuck on beginner 32 :(
posted by rubah at 10:54 PM on April 8, 2009


By the way, I found lots of good chess sites just through delicious tags.

Oh, and feel free to challenge me to a game...

www.chessatwork.com
posted by wilful at 10:54 PM on April 8, 2009


/waits for wilful to move...
posted by pompomtom at 11:14 PM on April 8, 2009


Number 34 is worse than problematic, it's mad. There's just no conceivable way in hell to solve it as a forced mate. Even if black skips a move, there's no way to position the white pieces to deliver checkmate in 2. As a helpmate, sure...
posted by paultopia at 11:26 PM on April 8, 2009


I got stuck on beginner 32 :(
<spoiler>queen sac.</spoiler>
posted by juv3nal at 11:30 PM on April 8, 2009



Number 34 is worse than problematic, it's mad. There's just no conceivable way in hell to solve it as a forced mate. Even if black skips a move, there's no way to position the white pieces to deliver checkmate in 2. As a helpmate, sure...


Yeah, I think the speculation over on JiG is that the colors got flipped. I think black has a mate in 2 from the starting position.
posted by juv3nal at 11:33 PM on April 8, 2009


Oh my god, that chess engine is a total piece of crap. It hasn't implemented castling, and as an opponent in the play game mode it makes completely random moves. And it falls for scholar's mate. SCHOLAR'S MATE!
posted by paultopia at 11:33 PM on April 8, 2009


black has a trivial mate in 2 from the starting position on 34: Re1+ Qxe1 Qxg2#, or, if white takes the other legal move, Re1+ Nxe1 Qh1+
posted by paultopia at 11:35 PM on April 8, 2009


>It hasn't implemented castling

To castle, select the square occupied by the rook with whom your king is castling.

No, this is not intuitive.

On the other hand, the engine is sufficiently weak that, well, castling is pretty much a waste of a move.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:05 AM on April 9, 2009


dear god i suck at chess

i am charlie gordon retarded

"Punctuation, is fun!
posted by sourwookie at 12:06 AM on April 9, 2009


Basically I think there should be some kind of chess-hack.

Not what you were thinking of, perhaps, but surprisingly cool: ChessRogue.
posted by JHarris at 1:29 AM on April 9, 2009


If only there was a way for me to wait, feel stupid, and be bored while someone else gets to act all smug for having more patience than me...
posted by knowles at 3:28 AM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coincidentally enough, "MateMaster" is what I'm called by all the ladies.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:53 AM on April 9, 2009


See also
posted by DU at 5:13 AM on April 9, 2009


Ew, the user interface makes my eyes hurt, and I can't even parse these pieces. The game of chess is hard enough without having to squint to figure out whether some piece is a bishop or a pawn.

The best interactive tactical chess problem site out there is the Chess Tactics Server, though some people prefer Chess Tempo because of CTS's emphasis on speed.
posted by dfan at 5:47 AM on April 9, 2009


I think you mean en passant. En prise just means a hanging piece or pawn.

Yes, thank you.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 6:31 AM on April 9, 2009


Hmn. I got a random Mate in 5 Moves with the black King starting off in check and my move. I took took the king with my queen but didn't "win" or "lose." That makes it a rather untrustworthy test overall. If I'm having trouble solving any problem, how am I to know if it's because I can't see the right approach or if the system just set up an impossible task?
posted by effwerd at 7:26 AM on April 9, 2009


Remember that game Battle Chess? I'd like to see a modern update.
posted by box at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2009


I think this is a great e-mail chess application. Check it out if you get a chance.
posted by Upon Further Review at 8:33 AM on April 9, 2009


Here is the link. http://www.soundkeepers.com/chess/e_mail_chess/index.php
posted by Upon Further Review at 8:34 AM on April 9, 2009


Effigy2000: And on the King and Queen, why is the Queen the more powerful unit? Given my understanding of the role of the King back in days of yore, often going out on the battlefield and fighting alongside his troops, that he would be the most powerful unit, with the Queen more powerful than all units except the King. So let's see the movement axis of the King and Queen reversed. It would also be interesting to see how this hack would change the way people use this powerful but valuable piece.

There is actually a great book on this which points out that it's only called the Queen in the Western European tradition, in other traditions it's the Vizer, and the piece was renamed in the late Middle Ages. Yalom cites a number of possible inspirations for the tradition: romance and chivalry, the growing role of Mary within Christian theology, the existence of women who wielded great political and military power, and the fact that these women were paying for the books that documented and standardized the game.

Anyway, I understand that the responses to this are "it's an age old game and the rules as written are perfect and provide a great game of strategy" or simply "If it aint broke..." and that's all well and good. Indeed, I'd agree. Great game. But why can't we spice things up a bit, now that we're in the 21st century?

You mean, in contrast to Fischer random chess, crazyhouse, atomic chess and other chess variants that have been created? Of the variants, I think crazyhouse and fischer random are probably the most playable.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:46 AM on April 9, 2009


Expanding the mobility of the king would take checkmate, along with most tactics that demand the king's vulnerability, out of the picture.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:50 AM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


>It hasn't implemented castling

To castle, select the square occupied by the rook with whom your king is castling.


It really for serious doesn't have en passant, though.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:15 PM on April 9, 2009


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