Playful Variants


This page contains modifications to the standard Crumble rules, typically with the motivation of inspiring enthusiastic kibbitzing, at the expense of the game's purity or theoretical excellence. Chess's Bughouse is a good example of what I'm talking about. But some variants, like Children's Crumble, have other motivations, such as making real Crumble easier to learn.

Chase Crumble

In this variant, each player must make a move that brings them as close as possible to the winning condition, as counted by the number of opposing pieces that would have to be flipped to their color in order for them to win. If multiple available moves would bring them equally close, they may choose from among those.

This version of Crumble is characterized by wild chase positions and unpredictable outcomes. Even more fun with a clock. Watch out for flying quadrilaterals!

Children's Crumble

This variant has no joins or captures, it allows only single-piece splits, and the winning condition involves connecting only two opposite sides of the playing field. This name can also refer to any playable subset of real Crumble.

Typically the intention in Children's Crumble is to gradually introduce each rule in turn, until Children's Crumble morphs fully into real Crumble. In the case described here, the rest of the rules might be introduced in this order:

  1. Add a third edge to the winning condition.
  2. Add captures
  3. Add multi-piece splits
  4. Add the true winning condition
  5. Add two-piece joins
  6. Add true joins

Why these particular rules, and why in this order? The idea is to start with something already playable, and introduce the rest of the rules in an order that someone might actually find them useful in play. The reason the first step is to increase the winning condition, is because the winning condition has the most profound effect on the strategy of play. At least, having once gone from connecting two sides to connecting three sides, the beginner will already understand the logic surrounding the strategic changes too.

Captures are added next because they make a big, obvious change to the position, and it's possible to duel over trying to capture as many pieces as possible. It will also ultimately introduce the idea that it's possible to gain more territory through a straightforward swap than a capture.

Multi-piece splits come next because they are fun and flashy, and because they introduce a number of strategic and tactical subtleties to the game. It becomes possible to make an aggressive move in one part of the playing field while threatening to make one in another part of the playing field. What is the difference between a split that leaves its pieces swappable and vulnerable, and one that is itself an attacking force?

After this, adding the true winning condition makes the game virtually identical to real Crumble, because joins are such a rarity in real Crumble anyway. Some people may prefer to stop here, and never add joins at all.

But joins are also lovely, and every bit as fascinating as splits. They may not occur frequently, but every move in chess is not to queen a pawn, and when it happens, it does change the picture of things.