A new chess app for iPad/iPhone is creating a bit of a buzz on the various tech news feeds I read. "Really Bad Chess" is chess game with an interesting twist. Instead of starting as a normal game, it is kind of a hyper charged version of Chess 960, with players starting with a random collection, and arrangement, of pieces. However in this case, the arrangement, and collection of pieces is asymmetrical. One side might have 2 queens, 3 rooks, 7 knights, 2 pawns, 1 bishop and a king, while the other might start with 6 pawns, 2 rooks, 4 knights, 3 bishops and a king. The pieces start on the back two ranks, the king is always on the correct starting square (as far as I've seen), and the moves are the same as in real chess.
Clearly this random set up favours one side or the other, but this is in fact part of the game. When you start, you will normally get the stronger collection of pieces, but as you win, your in game ranking improves. And with each improvement, the balance of forces becomes more even. Once you get above 50 (the scale is 0 to 100) then it is the app that will end up with a stronger army.
So far I've only played a couple of games, but have found it fun and challenging. Possibly the hardest thing to overcome is that unfamiliarity of the starting position, which sometimes reminds me if positions found in interschool chess. A lurking bishop or a clump of knights might cover more squares than I initially expect, so double checking every move is required. On the other hand I suspect the AI isn't that strong (deliberately so) so it is more about observation than deep thinking, which is what I would want from an app like this.
Currently it is available for iOS, and can be found by searching for "Really Bad Chess" at the app store.