This game is not on the CD-ROM, but is downloadable
for free from our site.
following is a description of a project I undertook to try and harness
the power of the Zillions engine to assist me with an area of board
games research that had interested me for some time.
of the first things I did after purchasing Zillions was to start
writing a rules file for the ancient Japanese chess game of Chu
(Middle) Shogi. Middle Shogi is a large chess variant that had been
popular in Japan from perhaps as early as the late 13th century
until quite recent times. The game is played on a 12x12 board and
has 46 pieces on each side, some of the pieces being more powerful
and totally unlike any in Western Chess.
writing a Middle Shogi rules file for a couple of reasons. Firstly,
I wanted to see how Zillions would handle a large and very complex
game, and secondly I wanted to see if I could adapt it to make a
tool useful for dealing with Middle Shogi mating (end-game) problems.
composition of mating problems (tsume) for Shogi (Japanese Chess)
comprises as important a part of the literature and history of the
game as it does for Western Chess. During the 17th and early 18th
centuries arguably the greatest ever practitioners of this art were
not only composing Shogi mating problems but also published sizable
collections for the game of Middle Shogi. Two of these ancient Middle
Shogi collections (one of 50 problems and one of 100) were published
without solutions, and the thing that had intrigued me was that
for most of the problems in these collections solutions had never
a novice at Middle Shogi I knew that I would have little chance
of unraveling the long-held secrets of these Japanese chess masters
unaided. Then along came Zillions.
I had finished my Zillions-based Middle Shogi mating program I tested
it on some of the problems for which solutions were known and was
pleased to find that the program could quickly find the main line
of the solution if it was within 6 or 7 moves. I then turned to
the 100 problem collection. These problems were of such a high standard
that until very recently not a single one had been solved!
a short time I had used Zillions to solve two of the shorter previously
unsolved problems in this collection, and buoyed by this success
I started using it to tackle problems that clearly had much deeper
solutions. I have since used my Zillions based program as a tool
to aid in solving another of the problems that has a 38 move (!!!)
solution. While this solution was well beyond the effective depth
of the Zillions engine I was still able to use it to quickly search
positions through to a depth of 5 or 6 moves and in this way to
gradually work through to the solution. I'm now looking forward
to tackling some more of these great masterpieces from the past!!
availability of a package like Zillions has given me the opportunity
to make a contribution to board games research. It has also given
me an insight into the genius of a master problem composer who lived
over 250 years ago. Not bad for $29.95!
--> How to Play NIM Like an Expert
Steve Evans is a Zillions of Games customer and is not affiliated
with Zillions Development.