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September 12th, 2022

This is a variation of chess that is designed to bridge the gap between experienced players and those just getting started. Normally, games for newbies against skilled players are demoralizing. Who wants to play a game after losing 7 games in a row? No one. Such games are also often boring for experienced players. Two problems, one solution:


Enter flip chess.



Instructions: Set up the board normally. Each player makes a move. Then, a coin is flipped. If the coin lands heads up, the board turned around, meaning: the players swap sides. Then the above instruction is simply repeated: each player makes a move and then the coin is flipped.



Why does flip chess work? 


Most importantly, by the end of the game, when one side has won (or drawn) both people playing the game have contributed to the win. The game is still fun without being demoralizing for the newbie player. Equally important: the game isn’t boring for the experienced player. Each flip of the board presents a fresh chess puzzle to work on, and it allows the more experienced player to develop both sides of the board without getting into the recursive loop that occurs when trying to play yourself. The newbie player also gets to see more developed boards - something that only comes about far down the learning curve.


While this might not work for elite players, flip chess likely bridges the gap between most players. But more importantly, this form of chess is more likely to keep a newbie interested. I have seen far more people give up on playing chess due to a demoralizing string of defeats than I have seen people grit their teeth and make it through the initial learning curve.


It’s interesting to think what sort of play might evolve with flip chess. Right now the sample size is very small (basically me and a few people I’ve tried it with), but with a larger sample size there’s an interesting set of new tactics that might evolve that take into consideration the randomness introduced by the flipped coin, more akin to poker… but this is yet to be seen.

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