Chess is perhaps my favourite game (I prefer the British spelling of the adjective, because “U” are right in the middle). I might even like it more than Scrabble, which I absolutely adore. I just wish my family still had one of those old Scrabble sets with the wooden tiles. Excuse me while I cry. If only my keypad had little windshield wipers to dry off the letters as the teardrops plummet like tiny tapered bombs from my eyes; for now I guess the mini-umbrellas with the toothpick stems will have to do, even if they interfere with typing.
Yes, I’m mad about chess, even though I may be the worst chess player on the face of the earth. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone with a greater knack for losing the game. However, I’m equally ill-adept–or should that be inept–at most other games (and am no great shakes at Scrabble either, or Monopoly or Clue, and forget about Stratego; I’ve never played Risk, and had beginner’s luck when I played poker with my brothers a few years ago, but I’m superstitious enough not to get more involved in it, as I have an addictive personality and am apt to develop a serious gambling habit if I do; I’d probably end up getting my skull staved in by Joe Pesci with a shovel and buried in the Nevada desert).
At least I’m consistent. The best thing about failure is that it makes you feel so generous. Knowing you’ve done your best to defeat your opponent in vain enables you to masochistically revel in his or her victory and bask in your happy assailant’s gloating contempt for you, the vanquished party, as you secretly hog the moral high ground, feeling noble for your sacrifice instead of guilty for having damaged another person’s fragile ego, which might have traumatized him or her for life.
So let’s take a look at some of these new rules, shall we? They’re guaranteed to make your chess game even more of a challenge–as if slogging it out on the tessellated cerebral square with some brooding brainiac weren’t already enough of a headache to begin with.
1. Black starts instead of white. Why should white always get to go first? Fuck white. To hell with that racist bullshit, the KKK and the Aryan Brotherhood or whatever the heck they’re called be damned in the fires of everlasting ignorance–as if they needed any help in that department. Less power to ’em!
2. The king has the same mobility that the queen normally does. This keeps the poor schlub of a monarch from feeling so emasculated, as he invariably does if you play by the official rules of the game. He’s supposed to be the fucking king, for Christ’s sake! Let him act like one for a change.
3. Use dice to move the pieces. This way the pawns can move across the board more easily, and everyone else can too. But there’s a built-in handicap for some pieces, namely the bishop and the castle, as they’re hamstrung by this rule. They can no longer move all the way across the board. Neither can the queen or the newly-empowered king. (What a shitty rule, come to think of it. Let’s throw it out and move on to the next one. Besides, it’s a pain in the ass to keep track of dice, especially if you have or play with kids. They’ll lose ’em for you every time.) By the way, this rule only applies to the knight if you roll a three or a six; his L-shaped maneuvers are a sacred and inviolable part of the game. (It just occurred to me that if you use two dice, instead of just one die, the rule might be cool. Try it out and let me know how it goes. It’s also better because, as Freddie Mercury would say, “I don’t want a die.”)
4. To keep the king from getting too uppity about his newfound powers (and to prevent him from straying and getting involved with your opponent’s queen, or even hunting for an inaccessible princess), the queen is granted the knight’s L-shaped advances along with her usual moves.
5. Here’s the best move of all: in setting up the board, alternate black and white pieces. It will be a bitch for you to remember which pieces are yours and which ones belong to your adversary, but isn’t chess already the ultimate game of concentration (excluding, say, Concentration?)? If you get too confused, you can always sew little uniforms for your players, or make wee name tags, but I guess that defeats the purpose of the rule.
Good luck, have fun, and don’t blame me if you lose your mind in the course of sharpening it. Pencil tips have broken just as easily. Turn the crank gingerly, ease up on your grip on the pieces, and everything should be just fine.
To invert a phrase, may the worst man lose. (My apologies to grammarians, since “best” and “worst” should, technically, involve a minimum of three people. So there’s another cliche we can throw out–“May the best man win.” Let’s alter it to “May the groom win, or at least not have to feel like a total loser? No? Just thought I’d ask.” Or how about: “May the bride and groom win the capacity to love and understand each other deeply, despite the travails that are bound to ensue; alternatively, may they win a happy and prosperous divorce”?)
Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines and rev up your chess boards!