Bidding-Go and shuffle-chess

In the last few months I have been very unproductive playing a lot of Go.

Unfortunately go, like chess, suffers from mirror play and nerds who have read books on opening theory (Called Joseki by go enthusiasts). This blog post presents a Go-variation which removes these unfun components. I also rant about

Shuffle chess

Its rules are simple:
– Set up the black side, but randomize the placement of the back row.¹
– Now mirror this position for whites backrow.
– Then play a regular chess game.

I love this variation of chess, because it evens the playing field between me and the book-nerds that memorized opening theory.

It removes the ability for book-nerds to gain an advantage by reading up on starting positions. It’s the chess equivalent of removing the internet from pesky netdeckers in TCG’s.

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest the primary reason regular chess remains dominant is a collective sense of sunk-cost associated with all those books they spent time writing and reading.

¹Bobby Fischer, created a popular variant of this known as chess960. It complicates the setup, to preserve opposing bishops and castling. Shuffle chess is better. My reasoning is a blogpost of its own


Unfortunately shuffle-chess still suffers from mirror play, as the starting positions are symmetric. This variation of an entirely different game doesn’t!

I present to you, bidding-go!

Bidding-go ruleset:
– Place 4 black and white stones randomly on the goban.
– Each player now bids Komi² on the color they would like to play.
– The player who bid the highest komi, gets to pick their starting color. Their opponent gets to start with the same Komi as the winning bid.
– Play a regular go game, black goes first.

This variation solves multiple problems with go:

  1. There exists no Joseki
  2. starting positions are almost always asymmetric, preventing mirror-go. Also Asymmetric gameplay is more fun.

This variation will likely suffer from front-loaded decision making, similar to the impact of your beginning settlements position in Catan. A bad starting bid will lose you the game, which is unfun. It make take a while to get a good bidding-intuition.

If you try out my variation, let me know how it went!

² Komi denotes the amount of starting victory points the white player gets for going second.

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