Check & Mate!

An Adjustment Of Chess

Now, I like Chess dearly, but if you are not playing against someone of the same skill level, there's almost no point in playing at all. If your opponent is more skilled than you, you will most likely lose. If your opponent is less skilled than you, you will most likely win. Not really any leeway there. I would like to adjust the game to the point that a beginner can conceivably win against a player of medium skill level somewhere between thirty to fifty percent of the time, thus broadly widening the ability of people of varying skill levels to compete against one another and still have fun. So, how do we fix this? We take a look at some of the major aspects of Chess that contribute to this and adjust them as needed. I believe the three main things blocking this are the complete and utter reliance on skill, the inability to affect your opponent's formations in any meaningful manner, and the size of the board placi too much importance on not making mistakes.

Firstly, the game of Chess is entirely skill-based. To change this, we can add some element of chance that will help alleviate this. I propose the use of cards. In some Chess teaching sets, a deck of cards is provided. Each card has on it a Chess piece and an explanation of how it moves. The beginning player learns how to play by each turn drawing a card and moving the piece on that card. I believe that this style of deck-based Chess removes too much of the dependency on skill, devolving the game into a simple luck of the draw scenario. Instead, I propose that each card have four of the six different types of Chess piece on it, and the player may choose a piece to move from the types listed on the card. This still allows for a moderate amount of skill to be involved in the game, but introduces an element of luck as well, due to the fact that on any given turn a player will only have access to sixty six percent of the piece types on the board, thus allowing for a wider gap in the skill levels of the opposing players.

Secondly, there is no way to directly affect your opponent's pieces. You have to avoid them or capture them, but there's no way for you to directly affect them other than removing them from the board. This means that if your opponent arranges his pieces in an advantageous manner that you are not equipped to deal with, you are now at a major disadvantage until your opponent chooses to alleviate the situation, which they are unlikely to do. This and similar situations mean that after one major mistake or mishap, and you may as well quit the game, as the only way to recover is for your opponent to then make an equally large mistake. This discourages beginning and less skilled players from continuing to play the game, and makes the game less fun for those that are willing to stick it out anyway. The way I propose this problem be solved is through the use of a third set of pieces that both players have control over. For now, I will refer to these as the 'Gray' or 'Mercenary' set of pieces. Each turn, a player would be able to choose whether to move one of his own pieces or one of the gray pieces of a type on the card they drew. Gray pieces would not be able to capture other gray pieces, but would be able to both capture and be captured by either black or white pieces. My proposed list of gray pieces are as follows: Four gray pawns, that move like kings instead of normal pawns, and two each of gray rooks and bishops. Adding pieces that both players can control gives you the ability to more directly affect your opponent's strategy in a manner that is not possible ordinarily in Chess.

Lastly, the board is a bit cramped. There's not a whole lot of room there. At any given time, as much as fifty percent of the board is taken up by pieces, leaving you only half the board to make your moves, many of which you can not do, due to the fact that's there's most likely something in the way. Normally, this just pushes further the concept of a completely skill-based game, but you don't have to artificially restrict yourself like that. Just look at Shogi, Chess' Asian cousin. In Shogi, you play on a nine by nine board, as opposed to Chess' eight by eight board, and your pieces still only take up two rows on either side, leaving five rows free instead of four. Even if that doesn't sound like a whole lot of extra space, the board is a lot more open, while the game is just as strategic, if not moreso, than Chess. I propose a ten square by ten square board, with the pieces being laid out as shown below. This increase in board size allows for more options when moving pieces, as well as making room for the extra eight pieces we have added to the board. Specific piece positioning on the field is a bit less important due to the fact that, in this increased space, it is less of a situation of every piece's placement directly affecting what you can or can not do with every other piece. This is still a factor in the game, just not to as great an extant as in regular Chess. Because of this decrease in the importance of piece placement, it is actually harder to make a mistake that will cripple your game, and easier to recover from such an instance, should it happen.


To summarize, introducing a deck or decks of cards that slightly limit which pieces can be moved each turn introduces a limited amount of luck manipulation to the game. Secondly, introducing a set of pieces that can be controlled by each player adds in extra levels of strategy while allowing you to tangentially affect your opponent's strategies in a more direct manner than was originally possible. Lastly, increasing the board size allows for a greater degree of movement around the board and slightly decreases the importance of piece placement, making it harder to make mistakes while making it easier to recover from one. None of these changes individually affect the game to a great extent, but together adjust the game to a point where someone with a basic grasp of the game could still win against an opponent of moderate skill level around forty percent of the time, which was my original goal going into this exercise. Additionally, I do not believe that any of these changes affect the game at its core; it's still Chess, thus keeping the game intact while making it more accessible. Mission accomplished.