ParserComp 2023: Xenophobic Opposites, Unite!

This is basically a followup to last year’s You Won’t Get Her Back by the same author. Once again, we have a chess problem with a light fiction wrapped around it. This time it’s about checkmating a lone king using just a king and two bishops, the bishop on white and the one on black being the “xenophoboc opposites” of the title, working together to pen the enemy in. I found it fairly easy to get the hang of herding the king around, but it gets difficult at the very end, where you have to get things positioned just right to avoid stalemate.

At first glance, the whole thing seems like just a slight variation on YWGHB, but on reflection, it’s more technically impressive. I commented before on how the position in YWGHB constrained the possibilities, cutting the game short whenever you made a mistake. This game is much freer, letting you play however you want and responding reasonably. It’s not a full-on chess engine — it only has to control one king! — but it’s clear that there’s a bit more than a look-up table in there, something it surfaces in the flavor text between moves, as the game acknowledges the enemy king’s increasing confinement and the bishops tut-tut at your mistakes.

1 Comment so far

  1. matt w on 30 Jul 2023

    Andrew had another chess study game which I think was in last year’s IFComp, Zero Chance of Recovery. When I played Zero Chance of Recovery last year it kept prompting me to do something to get a Truly Good End and I couldn’t figure out what, but I got it this year. (Hint if needed: vg unf abguvat gb qb jvgu trggvat n orggre bhgpbzr va gur purff tnzr.)

    To be a little grandiose, this one is more simulationist while the other ones are more puzzles. The other two are based on classic puzzle studies, which is why they can cut things short when you make a mistake, while this one is a standard endgame technique which gives you a lot more freedom, and so the flavor text needs fuller programming.

    (I don’t know if it’s thematic that these games all start with letters at the end of the alphabet, but I had to go through Andrew’s entire IFDB entry to find the third chess study game, and wow there seem to have been a lot of Very Vile Fairy File sequels. There are also a couple of puzzlers depending on chess rules, Fivebyfivia Delenda Est and one about Fourbyfouria, but you’re not quite playing chess in them.)

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