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Subject: Chekov - A Light Review rss

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All of my 'Light Reviews' aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them, the options involved and general flow of play.


Game Type - Dice Game
Play Time: 10-25 Minutes
Number of Players: 2-3
Mechanics - Dice Rolling, Positioning
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 10 minutes)
Components - Good
Release - 2003
Designer(s) - Maureen and Alan Hiron

Image Courtesy of Pergioco


Chekov is another title in a series of light and also educational games from Playroom Entertainment. It also comes in a distinctive tin as per other games in the series such as Think Twice, Zippy and Catz, Ratz & Batz.

Like those other titles Chekov makes use of math and numbers but this one is certainly less complex than the others too.

It uses a very thin theme of a Russian Cossack dancer combined with the title but in truth these are no more than a bit of artwork and have no connection to the play of the game at all.


The Components

Befitting the games of this series, Chekov offers up only a few components to fit into the small tin box.

d10-1 Score Pad – The score pad contains some 60 sheets and these act as the board for each play. All players play on the one score sheet and 3 boxes at the bottom of each sheet are set aside to track scores.

But the central element of each sheet is the numbers, which represent the board. The numbers range from 11-66 with each row containing 6 numbers such as 11-16, 21-26 etc. Thus each value can be rolled by putting together the results on 2 six-sided dice. This leads into the play of the game, which I will cover shortly.

The result is that the game depicts a total of 36 numbers arranged in a 6 x 6 grid.

Image Courtesy of Wren

d10-2 Pencils – The game also provides 3 pencils in different colours. These are used by individual players to highlight which player owns each number as the game unfolds.

d10-3 Dice – It’s always nice when a dice game offers up nice dice and Chekov does this reasonably well. By all means they aren’t up to the quality of some games on the market but the speckled orange numbers offered up here are quite good for a game of this weight, size and cost. They match the colour of the tin nicely and many games in this 'genre' would simply provide the cheapest dice they could find. So hats off to playroom for this production decision.

It should also be noted that the dice feature the visual representation of the numbers 1-6 rather than pips. This is important on two levels as it supports the mechanics of the game (creating 2-digit numbers) and it reduces the need to count pips, allowing the game to be played by younger children without parent support or the need for more advanced mathematical understanding.

Image Courtesy of Wren

d10-4 Rules – Befitting a game of this light nature the rules are kept very brief and to the point. They do the job well and allow new owners to be playing no more than 10 minutes after opening the lid.

Image Courtesy of Wren

d10-5 Tin – Tins are something of a double edged sword, some people love them and others find them a pain to store alongside other games. Personally I like the style used by Playroom and the tin also doubles as a rolling tin. That allows the game to be played whilst traveling although the noise may get to some.

Image Courtesy of Wren

Given the price of a game like Chekov I think the component quality is more than reasonable. The pad my run out in short time if the game is very popular and for that reason I think they could have printed the sheets double-sided.

Of course the simple solution is to photocopy those last few sheets and 4 will easily fit to an A4 page…they just won’t fit in the tin anymore.

The Set-Up

The set-up for Chekov couldn’t be easier. Simply give each player a pencil, place the score sheet central to the players and choose a player to start the game and you are away.

The Play

Chekov requires its players to take turns in rolling the dice. The aim is to try and capture ('check off') numbers in order to score points as the game progresses.

The game flow is simple enough for anyone to grasp –

d10-1 Roll Dice and Select a Value – A player is required to roll all 3 dice together. Only one roll is allowed per turn so don’t look for any clever dice altering mechanics here.

Using the 3 values rolled (ranging from 1-6) the active player must choose any two to form a 2-digit number. The only restriction here is that a number cannot be chosen if it has already been ‘checked off’ by another player.

Once a legal value is selected it is recorded by simply circling the value on the score sheet using the player's coloured pencil. That number cannot be taken by anyone else during the course of the game.

d10-2 Scoring – A player will score points if they ‘check off’ a number that forms a ‘3-in-a-row’. These can be formed horizontally, vertically and diagonally and a 3-in-a-row will earn the active player 3 points.

Scoring can also occur if additional numbers are ‘checked off’ to add to a row of 3 or more, with 1 point being added for each additional number ‘checked off’ in a scoring sequence.

To clarify though, adding numbers to a scoring sequence will only offer up the new numbers and not score mega points.

For example, adding 2 additional numbers to a string will only earn 2 additional points and not a further 5, as the original 3-in-a-row was already scored.

d10-3 Triggering the End Game – A game of Chekov will come to an end when all numbers have been ‘checked off’ or when the remaining numbers will not offer enough points to surpass the score of the leading player (kind of like Match-play golf).

At this point the highest score is declared the winner. In the case of a tie the player with the most numbers ‘checked off’ is declared the winner.

The play really is as simple as that.

The Strategy and Educational Merit

As a teacher I like to comment on the educational aspects of games such as this and give parents and other educators some insight into the ages for which games would be appropriate.

There is no doubt that the strategy of Chekov is light indeed as it is essentially a positional game that uses the creation of 2-digit numbers as its determining factor. Given the 6 x 6 scoring grid it is optimal to select numbers early on that are in central positions as they will provide the greatest chance of generating scoring strings.

Beyond that the players need to consider aspects such as taking numbers that can block scores for the opposition…if they also represent positions that can lead to a score for you then all the better.

Within a few plays though it also becomes apparent that sometimes it may be better to not take an easy number that will offer a 3-point score in order to secure a position that may lead to scoring multiple lines at once in a future turn. This is of course a risky proposition as opponents may roll that final number before you do but it can be very rewarding to create a clever spider’s web of numbers and roll that 'key' that pulls it all together.

Educationally the game is good for helping children learn about the possibilities of dice. Not only can they be added, but digits can be put together to create 2 digit-numbers. At its simplest form of rolling, creating numbers, taking a number of choice rather than using strategy and creating 3-in-a-rows to score, the game can really be played by children as little as 4-6 with some parental support. Chekov builds on the notion of Noughts and Crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe) or Connect 4, both of which are fairly familiar games to most children. The use of visual numbers on the dice rather than pips reduces the need to count, which could be beyond some younger children.

But the game can scale up as well, although the engagement factor will be limited for some. The game can also introduce concepts such as chance and probability. If all 3 dice feature a different value then a player will be able to form up to 6 different numbers. Roll one pair of like values and suddenly only 3 different numbers can be created. These are good teaching moments for parents and teachers alike.

The final level to take the game to is the concept of the positional placement and seeing the score sheet as a 2-D field. This could likely challenge children up to the ages of 12 and 13 but the game play itself is unlikely to hold the interest of that age bracket for too long.

The Final Word

Chekov is exactly what it appears to be, a light game of limited appeal. It can certainly be enjoyable when played in small doses and even amongst adults it can evoke that ‘Dammit…ok play you again!’ kind of response but in truth the players need to be feeling pretty brain dead to pick this over something else on offer.

For that reason I really think Chekov is best suited to kids looking for a distraction, parents that want to amuse their children with something a little thought provoking and teachers that wish to introduce simple strategy games of target a particular learning focus.

For those familiar with other games from Maureen Hilton, this is the lightest of her games when compared to Think Twice, Zippy and Catz, Ratz & Batz. There is less maths here than in any of those titles and should young children understand the concept of ‘gates’ for scoring then they can largely play this one without the intervention of adults.

Review Links

For a full list of my 300+ reviews in a search-able Geeklist -

My Review Geeklist for Easy Reference

Other Game Reviews in this Series -

Catz, Ratz & Batz - A Light Review

Think Twice - A Light Review

Zippy - A Light Review

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