If you read my previous blog post you know already I became a big Economy Chess fan. After two games played against its creator we decided to see if a chess engine would help him to beat me. He used Houdini 1.5 and I played on my own without using any databases, chess engines, and books. I believe the below will show you why I like this chess variant so much. The video on the bottom of this post was made by my opponent. You can watch our game`s record and read my opponent`s thoughts.
Settings (if you don`t know the rules please check forums in our EC group).
Placement - On Original Spot (i.e. a bought piece has to be placed on a square where pieces of the kind stands before a chess game starts)
Production - May Always Produce (when a player`s got enough coins they may buy a new piece(s) regardless of squares they own)
Promotion - Steal Cash (i.e. if a player promotes their pawn they get all the opponent`s coins and the pawn is removed)
Movement - Produce or Move (i.e. a player may either make a move or buy a piece(s) when it is their turn)
Quantity of pieces available during the game / price of one piece
Although I had never played against Houdini I knew I wouldn`t be able to beat it in standard chess. When I play a chess engine I usually lose because I can see its idea behind moves too late to do anything against it and because I make so called inaccuracies. The easiest way to beat a chess engine (or most of them) in EC is to buy a piece(s) to create an "illegal" position, e.g. 9 pawns, 17 pieces of one colour. I didn`t want to play this way. Since the number of coins is very important I will add it in the analysis below - #1/#2 (#1 shows how many coins a player owned after their turn, #2 says what their income per turn was after their turn).
Opening Stage (i.e. moves when players haven`t got coins enough to buy new pieces)
We all know the opening is a very important part of the game. I`d say it is even more important when it comes to EC. I knew Houdini would make no mistake but it would not care about the coins. I did not want to castle for castling blocks two squares where I could place new pieces if needed. Although I am a 1.c4 lover I played 1.d4.
As you can see both players have got coins enough to buy a pawn. Although an engine would say the position is equal I think I was standing better. I had more coins and better income. Black would have to move their king or king`s rook to be able to buy king`s knight or bishop. My rook on h file was strong for I was going to be able to "double" it in two moves by moving it up the board and buying a new one.
And I played $Bf1 (6/12) which is something Houdini did not expect at all. He thought he had the upper hand after its move but my move changed everything. The "human part" of my opponent had to make a decision now whether they would follow the engine or buy a new piece, too.
I had a small advantage for my opponent informed me about the score (evaluation) given by his engine. Consequently, it was easier to see whether I had the upper hand or not. I took the number given by the engine and took into account the difference in coins and income, owned squares and the position. Anyway, my opponent bought three pieces on his next move: 19...$Bc8 (a new bishop on c8), $e7 $h7 (new pawns on e7 and h7) - 15/14. Buying more pieces at once makes EC really challenging. You can have a great plan how to attack and just a couple of pawns supported by a minor piece can get you into troubles.
I bought a new knight (20.$Ng1 - 1/16) on move 20 and it was my opponents turn.
Since I wanted to increase my pressure on the queen`s side and was a bit worried his rook could come to the c-file and cause troubles I got a new rook - 28. $Ra1 (15/21)
The score given by the engine must have been really terrible. No wonder my opponent bought some pieces to make it better. 28...$Bc8 (B on c8), $h7 (pawn on h7) - 4/14.
Time to get a new knight to strengthen my queen`s side: 32. $Nb1 (0/20).
My opponent failed to see my fork threat and got two new pieces: 39...$Nb8 $Bc8 (5/18).
And I was ready to buy a new queen. I had to make those couple of moves to earn coins enough to be able to buy a pawn together with the queen - 45. $c2 Qd1 (0/22).
And my opponent buys a new army.
49...$Nb8 $c7 $d7 $f7.
Since I was going to launch my final attack I got another rook (52. $Rh1 - 17/24).