# Proposal to add standardized variation sequences for chess notation

Philippe Verdy via Unicode unicode at unicode.org
Wed Apr 12 07:45:06 CDT 2017

```2017-04-12 8:35 GMT+02:00 Martin J. Dürst <duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp>:

> On 2017/04/12 00:44, Philippe Verdy via Unicode wrote:
>
> Some Asian chess boards include also diagonal lines or dots on top of their
>> crossing (notably 9x9 boards are subdivided into nine 3x3 subgroups by
>> such
>> dots). These chess boards do not alternate white and black "squares" ;
>> beside this, the cells may also be rectangular (longer vertically than
>> horizontally)
>>
>
> [mostly OT]
>
> On Go boards, the grid cells are definitely rectangular, not square. The
> reason for this is that boards are usually looked at at an angle, and
> having the cells be higher than wide makes them appear (close to) square.
> However, because diagrams are usually viewed at close to a right angle, Go
> diagrams use squares, not rectangles.

That's not a valid reason.  "Go" uses **square** cells not **rectangles***
because of the form of the pieces (round) and the fact they must nearly
touch each other to surround other pieces.

But in Asian chesses the forms of grid cells is adapted to the form of
pieces: the narrow pentagons are traditional, but not required. Many
Japanese people playing it on a computer screen see non narrow "pieces"
that are in fact just symbols in squares, and the cells will be square. The
board is also not observed horizontally by players. The width/height ratio
of grid cells adapt to the ratio of pieces and the avialable surface.
"Human" chess players are playing on the ground with square cells (tiles on
the floor or strokes drawn).

And these Asian chess have wellknown variants with triangular cells: these
use square or round pieces played in equilateral triangle cells. The narrow
pentagonal pieces are not used. But the symbols on pieces are the same (the
reules of game are different but similar in spirit).

And nothing prevents plyaing western chesses on boards like traditional
Asian ones with flat pieces that are not necessarily in a square.
Rectangular boards with narrow pieces are used only on large boards where
players are sitting on both sides, these boards and sets of tiles are
expensive. Smaller versions to play on a table use square boards like in
many games, with cheeaper boards and pieces sets. The games rules remain
the same, the form will adapt and because we are speaking of Unicode
encoding, the aspect ratio is not relevant: we are encoding characters, not
glyphs with specific aspect ratios. And if the pieces are represented only
by symbols, or circles or squared will not change the game: they are just
pieces. As well the glyphs for pieces can use cursive or simplified
sinograms, this does not matter: today most palyers use pieces with
simplified non cursive strokes. The traditional pieces are in museums or
used in specific gaming circles, they are pieces of art.

What I mean is that we are talking about a proposal that is futile: it does
not cover the real needs. What we currently have in Unicode is a set of
characters for pieces, but the proposal attempts to mix concepts to
represent something else that pieces, i.e. some boards.

I deeply don't approve the proposal (based on variantsfor pieces) and would
prefer a more general model applicable to many other games (including
crosswords):

A set of characters to represent board cells independantly of pieces played
in them. Then use the existing characters
(letters/digits/symbols/emojis...) with them. The encoding should just be:
<CELL+ZWJ+PIECE> when there's a piece inseide or just <CELL> for the
absence of piece. An empty board will just rows of <CELL> and no piece.

For western chesses we just need two base cells: white cell and black cell.
For Asian chesses only one is needed (size ratio does not matter), the
white cell. A

Then comes the encoding of grids: these could be variants of cells,
square/rectangle being the default, two variants would be used for
triangular cells and hexagonal cells, but we would need left-half and right
half cells for them.
The encoding would be <CELL+VARIANT SELECTOR FOR TRIANGLE/HEXAGON>. The
triangular variants in fonts would have left-side and right-side bearings
that would be removed and would become netative via standard kernings when
they are envoded side by side (just like there's kerning pairs in
"AVAVAVA"). The hexagonal variants would extend abit above and below the
standard line-height (vertical kerning would occur between rows)

For go we need cells variants with border lines passing through their
center: they are like the existing box-drawing characters (single stroke
versions), except there's a lack of a cell with central dot. These should
be <BOX-DRAWING+VARIANT SELECTOR for dots>. the pieces are existing white
and black "stones" (which may also exist with their own Emoji like
variant). We can also encode <BOX-DRAWING+VARIANT SELECTOR+ZWG+STONE>

With such system we can represent many, many more games. It is much more
general, it will work also for draughts, crosswords, "scrabble", "boggle",
and really many, many games.
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