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Subject: Punching Bobby Fischer rss

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Ethan Van Vorst
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Chess. You've played it. And you have an opinion on it. You're either in love with it, hate it, or have this ambivalent "ehhh" response when challenged to a game.

Just listen to what Murray Head had to say on the subject.



I was introduced to Chess around the age of 10 by my older sister Liz, who was something of a Chess Champ for a spell of time in her teen years. The game itself is classified by BGG as "abstract". I'm relatively new to BGG, so I'm not sure exactly what that means except perhaps that the gameboard doesn't show a map or concrete landmass you're playing on, per se, but rather a checkered board on an 8 x 8 grid. If this is the case then technically doesn't this make Checkers an abstract game? Food for thought. At any rate, I will write this review as if you, the reader, have never indulged in the "Game of Kings" and will only cover the basics of how this great game works.

The Pieces
The game is strictly 2 player. Typically one side will be white and the other black (the pieces, not the players). Each side is given:

8 Pawns
2 Rooks
2 Knights
2 Bishops
1 Queen
1 King

These are set up on two ends opposite each other. If there is ever any confusion on if you've set it up properly, remember the old mnemonic, "Queen on her own color", and you'll be set right.


Image courtesy of Kevin Iacoucci/BGG, and an extremely beautiful board and pieces, I might add.

Each piece on the board has a varying degree of, for lack of a better word, power. The Pawn, for instance, is the weakest. It can only move forward and attack targets one square diagonal of it, should any be there. I'll go through the laundry list for each piece so that you may get a better grip on how they work. I'm not expecting anyone to become Gary Kasparov's protege after reading this, but you'll get the gist.

Pawn - Moves forward one space at a time. It can move two spaces one-time if it starts its move from the starting line. It can endanger any space diagonal/forward of it but can't attack anything directly in front of it. It is the only piece in the game that cannot move backwards, although the lowly Pawn does have one thing going for it that none of the other pieces can claim. If the player manages to get his/her Pawn all the way to the other end of the board that player can exchange it for a more powerful piece. There are 8 of them total and they start in a sort of "shielding" position in the row directly in front of your high-value pieces. If you're still confused, look for the little short pieces. Yup, that's them.

Rook - The Rook, also known as the "Castle", is an interesting piece in a bad situation. It begins it's game in a very inaccessible area, essentially "landlocked" behind pieces that in many games aren't even likely to move at all. The Rook can travel laterally and horizontally as many spaces as it wish, provided it has a clear line of sight to its destination. The Rook, due to its poor starting area, is often trapped behind the lines, and you'll seldom see them come into play until near the end of the game when large swaths of the board are empty and it has room to maneuver. The Rook has one special ability that no other piece on the board has, that is it can perform a nifty little move called "Castling". Castling involves making sure that the Bishop and Knight between the Rook and King are empty, at which point the King can move 2 spaces towards the Rook (the only time the King is allowed to move more than 1 space) and the Rook will move just outside of the King, typically creating a little security zone, if you will. This also has the added benefit of freeing the Rook to roam the board looking for victims for it's pent up rage. devil

Knight - No, not Michael Knight. And not Christopher Knight. Not even Ted Knight. Just plain ol' Knight. The Knight, typically in the shape of a horsehead, sits on the back row, 2nd from each end. There are two of them and they are special in that they are the only piece that can hop over enemies and land behind them. Their "flight pattern" will always be shaped like the letter L. Ultimately they move 3 squares at a time, just with a little left or right turn at the end. Kind of like that irritating Tetris piece that comes down and screws everything up. Knights are considered by many to be the true power house of the game, and given that they can get to places where other pieces can not, I'd say that this may be true.

Bishop - These guys are 3rd from the ends on the back row. Bishop pieces will usually be tall, slender, and are typically depicted as having a pointy top (again, if you don't know what you're looking at on a Chess board, this may help). Bishops can move diagonal as many spaces as they wish provided the way is clear. They are a very powerful piece if used correctly.

Queen - One mean Mama, the Queen is inarguably the most powerful piece on the board. The Queen can move in any direction she wishes as many spaces at a time as she wishes, if there are no pieces obstructing the way. She'll always be standing right next to the King. And bear in mind that this gal wears the pants in the family.

King - The most important piece on the board. Protecting your King and getting the opponent's King is the entire point of the game. The King itself is a moderately powerful piece in that it can move in any direction (like the Queen) but only one square at a time. And you don't want to ever put the King on the attack in any way, shape, or form unless there's no other option. Keep him buried under layers of defense.

Gameplay
Gameplay proceeds like this. White moves first...then black. It alternates between the two. The immediate goal of the player is to put the opponent's King in jeopardy, otherwise known as putting him "In Check". When a King is in Check it means that he is in a direct line of fire, so to speak, with an opposing piece that can take him on the next move. The King must either move to a safer position, or another piece must act as a meatshield and bar that opposing piece's line of sight, or alternatively take that piece.

If there is no way to escape the Check it becomes known as "Checkmate", a phrase that has become a popular euphemism for "you're screwed", or "Game over man, game over!". Also Jeff Goldblum used it in the so bad it's halfway good movie "Independence Day" (a movie with lots of chess in it by the way) just before the aliens zapped NYC. But that's beside the point. If you find yourself in a position where being Checkmated is inevitable, one may lower their King on it's side in a position of surrender. This is particularly embarrassing when you're forced to do this after playing a 7 year old opponent.

Strategies
I will only lightly touch on this subject. There are tons of books on Chess strategies available. They're typically written in a high-handed manner and sometimes pretty inacessible to the layman. In terms of Defense I find that the "Two Knight Defense" is reliable and will give you a pretty solid front to present to an opponent, although it limits the mobility somewhat of some of your rear echelon pieces.

The Two Knight Defense

In the picture above Black has moved into a classic Two Knight Defense. It basically entails moving your two Knights out in front of the crowd and freeing up space for one's Bishop and Queen to move out and start wreaking calamity upon the player. It's common and pretty reliable.

One thing you want to avoid at all costs is called the "Fool's Checkmate". It's hilarious when you're able to pull one off, and I've seen it happen before, but you don't want to be put in that position yourself!


Fool's Checkmate

This is also known by the moniker of the "Two Move Checkmate" and will make the person on the receiving end probably hate Chess for life. Note how Black can move thier Queen down in direct line of sight with the White King (Check) but that the King cannot go anwhere without getting away from that evil harpie. Notice also that there's no other pieces that can pull Secret Service duty in the meantime...it's impossible. Checkmate. And a particularly nasty one that leaves the ego bruised on your opponent.

Legacy
Let's be honest here. Your average Chess Master comes across in equal parts dorky and scary genius. If you doubt my words go read up on some Chess forums...it is enlightening. They do not typically play anything but Chess (imagine a world with no Fortress America, Poker, or even Sorry!...the horror) and if the person is really serious about the game they focus much of their time/lives trying to perfect their game. I know this because as I said waaay up at the top, my sister was once (and perhaps still is without my knowing) a Chess Expert.

My advice is to play games with someone your level (if you're a beginner) and I feel reasonably confident that you'll come to like the game, perhaps even love it. Maybe you'll even awaken the little Chess Boogeyman I'm sure is trapped in everyone's brain but only a special few are able to set free, and take games to astronomic levels. Chess is one of those rare games that lets you "plan out" moves well in advance without having to worry about card decks, dice, or spinners, and once you get the knack for it you can oftentimes visualize your moves (and if you're especially skilled at prognostication your opponents) well in advance. Try to see what's happening on the whole board, rather than focusing too much on just one portion of it (a problem I have) and always work your pieces so that your opponent has their back against a wall.

Go off my child. You are ready. Go and find your inner Murray Head.






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AxonDomini
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Welcome to BGG! Nice to see a review for chess, which only pops up every now and then here.

StealthDonut wrote:
The game itself is classified by BGG as "abstract". I'm relatively new to BGG, so I'm not sure exactly what that means except perhaps that the gameboard doesn't show a map or concrete landmass you're playing on, per se, but rather a checkered board on an 8 x 8 grid. If this is the case then technically doesn't this make Checkers an abstract game? Food for thought.


Actually, yes, Checkers is an abstract game.

Abstract games are simple games that have no theme, or a theme that is so paper-thin as to be meaningless. They also usually have simple rules, a very basic playing space, zero luck and no hidden information. Check out the GIPF series of games for some of the most highly regarded abstracts around these parts. You can see them all at the project_GIPF BGG wiki page.

While I still enjoy chess, I must admit the newer breed of abstracts have captured my attention due to the fact that they play in a much shorter amount of time and are much easier to teach new players, yet still offer plenty of depth. Still, chess and it's chinese counterpart Xiangqi are still games I enjoy playing if I can find an opponent at roughly my skill level.
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Michael Howe
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Good job. Two points, though. One does not normally tip one's king over to resign; this is a common myth about chess. The normal way of resigning is to say "I resign" and extend your hand. Also, the two knights defense is pretty unusual mostly because white's third move is unusual nowadays, and the two knights is also considered a bit risky, often involving the sacrifice of a pawn in exchange for position. There are more useful and safer defenses for a beginner to learn.
 
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Michael Kandrac
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Tipping the king over was common in my experience, especially when one couldn't bear to mouth the words, or harder still, vocalize those hated words.

Gg
 
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Ethan Van Vorst
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mhowe wrote:
Good job. Two points, though. One does not normally tip one's king over to resign; this is a common myth about chess. The normal way of resigning is to say "I resign" and extend your hand. Also, the two knights defense is pretty unusual mostly because white's third move is unusual nowadays, and the two knights is also considered a bit risky, often involving the sacrifice of a pawn in exchange for position. There are more useful and safer defenses for a beginner to learn.


I cannot pretend to be any kind of expert on Chess, however I've been using the Two Knight D for as long as I can remember. During freshman PE class in high school, I was part of a 4 man "nerd crew" that opted to play Chess in lieu of engaging in physical exercise. No sweating means no needing to shower, which in turn means your glutials won't be feeling the sharp sting of a whipcracked moistened towel end on a daily basis by guys twice your size. One of my nerd buddies was this Asian kid named Michael who was really, really good at Chess and he taught me the 2KD as an optimum defense. The two Knights and mixture of Pawns and the freed Bishop could put up a good defensive line around your center of the board and could also free up the Queen if the need arose. But even after that, years later, I noticed that a lot of people I would play against used the 2KD as a sort of default defense.

 
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J Buchman

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Great Header Title!

Unfortunately, chess players are very self-absorbed in "their" game. They labor under the assumption that to get better, you have to study, study, study. There have been more books written about Chess than any other sport and I believe it. You can buy hundreds of DVDs on How To Get Better from a whole host of authors named Vladimir or Dimitri.

Another reason the attention is focused on Chess is the use of their algebraic notation system. Not only do you get to record your own miserable games and go over them, but you get to try to figure out countless grandmaster games in that plethora of books mentioned above. It would be nice if some of the newer board games had notation so that games between relatively good players could be played over in say, a magazine.

I have recently expanded my horizons to some of the newer board games, like Caylus, and have noted the very strong similarity with chess. The same thought processes are there in both games and I imagine playing one of these games with a very competitive chess player would not be much fun for the casual, social player.

With regards to the Two Knight's Defense, There are over 400 different chess opening systems out there and half the battle is choosing a repretoire that aligns with your personality, so the sky is the limit.
Even this defense has the dreaded "Fried Liver Attack" associated with it as mentioned above.

Jeff
USCF 1900
 
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Jason Martin
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mhowe wrote:
Good job. Two points, though. One does not normally tip one's king over to resign; this is a common myth about chess. The normal way of resigning is to say "I resign" and extend your hand. Also, the two knights defense is pretty unusual mostly because white's third move is unusual nowadays, and the two knights is also considered a bit risky, often involving the sacrifice of a pawn in exchange for position. There are more useful and safer defenses for a beginner to learn.


I agree. The first opening I teach all new Chessmen is the King's Indian, which is a solid opening at any level of play, and tends to go well with the style most new players adapt.
 
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