Re: Proposal to add standardized variation sequences for chess notation

From: Asmus Freytag <>
Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2017 10:43:39 -0700
On 4/2/2017 9:27 AM, Richard Wordingham wrote:
We seem to agree that it should be a graphic modification, rather than
as semantic modification.  The question I pose is, "Is it just a
graphic modification in this case?".  I'm not convinced that it is.  A
player starts with two non-interchangeable bishops.  <U+2657, U+FE01>
could only refer the white bishop that is restricted to black squares.
That's a semantic difference.

It's a matter of perspective.

Higher-level semantic constructs are encoded in writing (or graphic notation), and you can see the individual marks, signs, letters and symbols as the element of this encoding. However, how strongly any of these marks, signs, letters and symbols are associated with a specific semantic, and how fixed that association is, depends on convention.

For example, "left arrow" has a very loose associating with a broad range of concepts that somehow relate to direction. In contrast, "integral sign" is rarely associated with any concept outside calculus.

It's tempting then, to assume that the character for "integral sign" somehow directly represents the semantic of "integration" --- except it doesn't.

The same indirection is at play here.

My dislike for using variation sequences in the way Micheal appear to advocate is based on a different reason: the oft-stated fact that variation selectors may be ignored. If they are, any plain text that depends on the contrasting use of white and black chess background will become meaningless gibberish.

In these cases, explicit encoding would better cover what is desired: a reliable way to mark a distinction between different symbols (the two bishops are separate symbols, that also happen to express distinct, though related concepts -- it is not a single symbol with some ignorable attributes).

Now, for the case of suggesting the chess-board cell dimensions, I do not have the same objection to the use of variation selectors. If the variation selectors get stripped, the text may require manual formatting to look correct, but it will still contain the correct symbols (and applying the chosen convention, you will be able to know which bishop is meant).

That's much closer to the way variation selectors are intended to be used.


Received on Sun Apr 02 2017 - 12:44:04 CDT

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