Interview with Ed Trice, creator of Gothic Chess

Onirik : Which improvements did you make to Capablanca’s ideas and why ?

Ed Trice : Capablanca’s piece arrangement left the pawns in the i-file undefended. The i-file is where your king would reside if you castled kingside, so this is an area that needs protection! Also, Capablanca had three pieces with diagonal capabilities placed in series: The Archbishop, Bishop, and Queen were in files c, d, and e. All of them could « point » across the board to the weakened area surrounding the i-file. For this reason, you could « sacrifice » your Chancellor and your Queen to mate with just the Archbishop with this « trick » checkmate:

1. d4 Nh6 2. Ci3!? Cg6 3. Qd2 f5 4. Cxi7!? Cxi7 5. Qxh6! gxh6?? 6. Axh6#

I analyzed many different 80 square arrangements, and wrote a paper on what I discovered. It was published by the International Computer Games Association (see ICGA Journal Vol. 27, No. 2 – June 2004, pp. 81-96.) You can also download this paper at for more information.

O : You made a game versus Judith Polgar, how the chess masters and great masters react when introduced to Gothic Chess ?

E.T. : The first Grandmaster to whom I introduced the game was Georgi Kacheishvili back in 1999 at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. After playing a few casual games, he said « This could be the future of chess. » International Master Larry Kaufmann played a few games with me back in 2001 when I was at the Washingtong, D.C. office of the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. You can see one of the games here.

Larry said that Gothic Chess « Is the best arrangement on the board I have seen so far. »

Susan Polgar played a game with me that is currently annotated at Wikipedia here.

She was a bit overwhelmed in the opening in that game but she battled back with an amazing display of tactics and won the game in remarkable fashion. Susan said Gothic Chess was « interesting », but this game was played late at night after she had 64 wins and 1 draw in a 65 board chess simul in Philadelphia on October 14, 2006. She was too tired to talk about it at length and her and her manager (now husband) Paul Truong had to get back to their hotel. The last thing she said about Gothic Chess was that it « holds promise for the future. »

Other lesser known masters and grandmasters have made favorable remarks about it. Typically, the first few games are evidence that their « board vision » is not fully tuned to the new game. But after 3 games of play, they are ready to bring destruction to those whose tactical skills are not in the same class. It was very interesting to watch Bobby Fischer destroy players during online play, for example.

O : The board is made of 10×8 squares. Why not 10×10 ?

E.T. : A very good question which I thought about a great deal. The short answer is: Because of the pawns.

Do they get to move 3 spaces on the 10×10 board on their first move? Can they also move 2 spaces on move 1 if they want? And how would the en passant rule (a French invention) become effected? For example, would 1. e2-e5 Ni10-h8 2. e5-e6 d9-d6 allow white to capture en passant? How about 1. e2-e5 Ni10-h8 2. e5-e6 Nb10-c8 3. e6-e7 d9-d7 where the black pawn only moves twice yet still « passes » the capturing capability of the white pawn on e7?

The 10×10 board makes the rules more complex because of all of the pawn-based decisions. So, for that reason, I elected to keep the board 10×8 in dimension.

O : How many players of gothic chess in the world ?

E.T. : I stopped counting the board sales after 50,000 were sold. I was no longer as excited as I was, and Gothic Chess had become a « real business » with the concerns (and problems) that occur in any other business venture. I would estimate by the number of downloads of the Gothic Chess program from and the board sales that there must be over 80,000 people playing Gothic Chess world wide.

O : When will the game between Karpov and Fischer take place ? And
where ? Will-it be on VOD ?

E.T. : I am describing this at the site of our blog. That is a very, very long answer, so you can read about it there.

O : On your website, the visitor do not know if he must be fascinated by the game or by Alexis. Is she really working for you or is it just for
marketing purpose ?

E.T. : Alexis is a fantastic person to work with and I enjoy her company a great deal. She works very hard as an actress looking to make it in Hollywood, and we support her goal in any way that we can. She comes to tournaments and she does help out either with being an assistant to the tournament director or a « problem resolver », but ultimately she will be a « big star » somewhere in California. Whenever we have a presentation or a function that generates publicity or when we are on TV, I have her there as our Public Relations representative.

O : What are the next challenges you want to address in the near future ?

E.T. : The cost of getting a college education in the United States has risen dramatically over the years. You can expect to pay $40,000 for an « average » four-year school. We are trying to take our annual College Scholarship tournament to a new level. We want to give away 4-year tuitions as a first prize, but we also don’t want 8,000 people in the same playing hall all at one time. So, we will try to run such events online in the near future. We only need to have 3 rounds online to have 8,000 people reduced to 2,000 with perfect 3-0 scores, at which time we can have a « semifinal » in a place and manage it much better. You can see how organizing this will require a great deal of effort.