Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chess: Bloodthirsty Gets You Schooled

The housemates and I have been playing chess for the last month or so. Chessboard is set up on the kitchen table. Moves happen slowly, i.e., someone walks in, looks at the board, eventually makes a move, then they take a 3 x 5 card with "Your Move!" written on it and put it on the other player's side of the table.

After a move, "Your move, dude." is sometimes spoken in the hallway where our rooms adjoin each other.

Today I played the housemate I'll call "WoW" (short for "World of Warcraft"; haven't asked them if I can use their names in the blog yet, so code names must suffice). I felt bad because today was his birthday and as he was a little rusty, he made a few mistakes that netted me a three piece and two pawn advantage.

As play progressed I got more and more bloodthirsty. I love to trade pieces and to check the King with my Queen on a rank, diagonal or file that will net me another of my opponent's pieces when the King is forced to move. And that's what I did.

Problem was, he moved up his Queen to protect his pawn (one of three he had left) on my side of the board that was two moves away from being promoted. After I moved, he slipped his queen in past the pawn, I checked the board, didn't see the threat and proceeded to eat his unprotected Knight with my Queen. Next move, he caught me in checkmate by sliding his Queen over and stopping in front of my King. I had nowhere to go as I was stuck behind my own pawns and I couldn't take his Queen with my King because that little pawn was protecting her.

I was shocked, but totally pleased. WoW rallied from a serious disadvantage to take the game, based on his quick realization that I'll eat pieces all day long when I have an advantage.

If you haven't played chess in awhile (or ever) I suggest you give it a try. It's fun and a great way to hang with kids and adults.

Got nobody to play with? Setup a board at a coffee shop, grab an extra chair and put up a handwritten sign that says "player needed, will buy your first cup of coffee". I guarantee you'll find someone to play with. Google has a whole section dedicated to chess. There are also chess gadgets you can put on your iGoogle homepage as well.

If you like playing but aren't keen on buying technical chess books, I recommend my secret weapon: Chess for Dummies. A very fun, very fast read that fills you in on chess basics and gives you great pointers on how to play the game better.

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