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Store:  Classic, 2-Player Games, Family Games
Edition:  Chess Sets
Series:  Chess
Genre:  Abstract Strategy
Format:  Board Games


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Ages Players
8+ 2

Manufacturer(s): Hasbro, Parker Brothers

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Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.2 in 8 reviews

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One of the first games ever, and best ever.
March 11, 2003

This game is one of the first games ever made, the first simaliar type board game found, was dated back over 2000 years ago. It is impossible to know who the original creater was. The version of chess we know of right now was popularised around the 1200's and amazely the same rules still apply today(the special rules like castling were put in the 1400's). One thing noticable about this game is how it hasn't been 'solved' by computers. Unlike checkers and tic tac toe which have been 'solved'(a game being 'solved' means there's a way to play with out ever losing).

I really do not think the fact that chess doesn't work with modern military tactics really matters. The Knight, which hops arounds, is a very good piece in closed situations, whereas the Bishop is better in more open games. Things like this evens the game up.

Many beginners often think that going first will mean a complete advantage. Well this is surprisingly not true. If you know the basic princibles of chess, you will not lose because of going second.

One thing I love is the amount of choices there is in this game. There are always equally different moves for every situation, meaning it is impossible to master the game. I reccomed this game for everyone who likes tactic based games.

by Bart
Games 100 material here!!
June 26, 2000

After reading Todd's review below, I decided to give this one a try myself. All I can say is, 'Wow!' This game is destined to become a classic! I've only played Chess 268 times and I'm already thinking about what I'll do differently next time.

There are quite a number of possible moves in this game, giving it great replay value. I also think that although abstract, this game is quite accessible to both the casual gamer and hard-core wargamers (the instructions fit on the inside of the box!)

Now a few problems I have with this game. First, setup is a little annoying. I can't remember if it's 'King on Color' or 'Queen on Color' and find that I have to refer to the diagram on the box to setup properly. When your opponent's King piece is in danger you are also obligated to warn him by saying 'Check.' I feel this takes away any possibility of surprise, and thus, you often spend a lot of time chasing the elusive King around the board. I know the price is darn good but I have to say the pieces are on the poor side; being nothing more than hollow plastic tubes with very little detail, and flat black and white colors. But don't let these minor details deter you from trying this awesome game!

For the price, I highly, HIGHLY recommend getting this game.

Oh yeah, a computer version of Chess would be neat too.

A great new game about medieval war
June 25, 2000

I recently stumbled across this neat little game (top seller on Funagain), and I was very surpised to find a game of this strategic depth from a company like Parker Brothers. My wife and are totally addicted.

The game simulates a war between two kingdoms. Each player controls his/her army, which consists of pawns, knights, bishops, castles, a queen and a king. The object of the game is to capture the opponents' king. It's essentially Elchfest, but instead of trying to get your Elk to the opposite island by 'flicking' discs, you're allowed to physically 'lift and place' your pieces.

The game obviously borrows from many of the current successful German imports: Billabong (board of light and dark squares), Through the Desert (many possible moves), and Settlers of Catan (cardboard box). However, the best way to describe Chess is that it's Bosworth with pieces instead of cards.

While the game is fantastic, I'll be the first to admit that the theme is pretty weak, however. It's essentially an abstract game at heart. The game would play just as well as a battle between mafia families, bean varieties, or types of poisonous frogs.

What's really great, though, is the price. With many German games currently selling at $20-40, the $3.38 is a total steal. Parker Brothers seems to understand the value behind offering a great product with no fluff (ala Cheapass games).

Parker Brothers has really stepped it up a notch. This is far better than their previous offerings like Don't Wake Daddy, Wicket the Ewok, and Care Bears Touching Tune. It now appears that they are now committed to producing quality games, which is a great sign for us hard-core gamers.

One annoying thing: Parker Brothers once again refuses to credit the name of the designer. When will American publishers realize that they should give credit to the individuals behind the games?

All in all, this is an excellent little game. It plays pretty fast, too, which makes it a great filler before or after a serious night of gaming.

Strong theme, but antiquated
June 29, 2000

I must disagree with Todd Etter about the relevance of the theme to the game. While Mr. Etter describes the theme as weak, it is in fact an integral part of the game. For example, the 'knight' pieces are capable of 'jumping' over other pieces. This would clearly make no sense in an abstract strategy game, as it would disrupt the aesthetic created by the sliding motion of all the other pieces. On the other hand, the 'jumping' capability is well explained by the fact that the pieces represent riders on horses, showing that the theme plays a role that abstract strategy cannot.

This works to the game's disadvantage, as the fact that the theme is so thoroughly combined with the play means that the game is temporal, bound to antique modes of combat that have no relevance in modern society. Since the game offers no appeal to society's sensibilities in the year 2000 and no insight into our culture, its popularity is surely transient. The game's heyday has passed and it will surely evaporate from shelves and the game scene.

Indeed, with its clear racial overtones pitting black against white and its stereotyping of combatant's roles and powers based on social caste, the game grates against the nerves of even those who usually disdain politically correctness.

One might argue that the so-called 'pawns' (the very word a distasteful reminder of the repugnant prejudices of the game's designer) are capable of 'jumping' two squares ahead and hence provide a counterexample to both the blending of the 'knight' jumping into the theme and the lesser abilities of the lower social castes. However, this so-called power is available only at the piece's first move and is simply a ruse to get the game moving more quickly. Actually, this reveals another weakness in the game: its slow pace. The 'pawns' are made to advance more quickly early in the game so as to bring about strategic situations sooner. Otherwise, players would lose interest before interesting plays developed. In spite of this kludge, the game drags. Even though there are only two players, the time between a player's turns can be several minutes.

This problem is so bad that many players have been forced to resort to workarounds. Some gamers actually 'play by mail,' using a cryptic notation to specify moves and emailing them, or even physically mailing their moves, to opponents. While this very much decreases the game speed instead of increasing it, it provides players the opportunity to seek other, more productive or entertaining uses of their time while waiting for the game to progress. One can hardly comprehend the appeal of a game that is so tedious that one must interpose other activities to keep the game interesting!

Other gamers use clocks to artificially increase the pace of the game. Although not described in the documentation, this common rules variant subjects a player to forfeiture of the game if their time runs out. Indeed, the game is so lackluster that players have developed innumerable variants in vain attempts to improve it: decorator-designed pieces, alternate-theme pieces, different board shapes, boards with an added dimension, moving boards, rules permitting 'toroidal' movement from one side of the board to the other, computer animations that portray battles between combatants, et cetera. No other game in history has caused so many players to become dissatisfied and try to improve the game.

Best non luck game there is
June 26, 2000

This game everyone knows, lots of people own a fancy board, and no one wants to play. The reason no one wants to play is that it is only fun if you have two equal players battling it out.

Even then, there is no way to blame losses on the whims of fate, so there are few consolation prizes to be had. The effect of these two negative biggies is that this game is only truly played and enjoyed by relative equals, or those who are intellectually engaged with memorizing patterns.

Intelligent strategy will not gain you ground once you have fallen behind a good player, you will be defeated. Numerical superiority generally turns into decimation through forced trades. Is that fun? Yes, and no.

Play it a few times, and then put it in the closet like everyone else does.

by Paul
There's been better
June 26, 2000

The pieces have very artificial movement restrictions which are not intuitive nor easy to remember. Due Pawn, En Passant and Castling are rules which have been introduced to make up for prior revisions in the rules, and as with many other games, these 'patches' muddy the purity of the game further.

A variant of Chaturanga from India, this is a fairly unpopular Westernized ruleset. Japanese Shogi presents far more possibilities with returning captured pieces to the board, and the more varied board and intriguing piece combinations of Xiangqi (the most played game in the world, also called Chinese Chess) far surpass the cobbled together hash of what is now called 'chess'. It is no wonder that Chess is the least played world-wide of any of these variants.

The quality of the components of this set are fair at best. Usable for teaching.

Too many problems
June 26, 2000

While Chess is an interesting abstract game, it has some problems.

The rules make a half-hearted attempt to be 'politically correct'. The King is clearly the most important piece, but the Queen has had her powers of movement, which logically should be the same as the King, increased to appear more powerful, thus suggesting 'equallity'.

There are a number of 'fiddily' rules. Most pieces have different powers of movement, but most capture with the same move. But the pawn moves and captures using different moves, and has an exceptional 'en passant' (no translation of this term is provided) capture that is completely out of left field. In fact the pawns, perhaps in order to compensate for their weakness, have at least three 'special rules' that only apply in certain situations. For example, pawns may only move forward. But this would mean that they could be in a situation where they can't move, so a special rule has been added that they become a different piece when the run out of board. (The set doesn't come with the pieces needed for this substitution.)

The big problem is that the game may get into a situation where it is one player's turn, but there are no legal moves. Instead of finding some way to continue, the game simply ends in a draw. There are also several other ways the game can be drawn, some of which allow a player in a weaker position to escape losing.

These situations don't come up every game, which is why I didn't give this only one star.

The Broadway musical doesn't deserve this
June 26, 2000

I must differ from the first reviewer's assessment. Chess is a colossal waste of time. The set-up is static, the physical pieces are poorly designed (THIS is a bishop?), and the player who goes second is at a clear disadvantage. Many games end--after several HOURS--in a draw. Finally, uttering 'Check' when the king piece is under attack doesn't approach the thrill of, say, jumping over three enemy tokens, landing on the final rank, and shouting, 'King me!'

Maybe this game would have been more successful as 'Elfenchess,' where players could lay down cards to determine the travelability of certain squares. Maybe Parker Brothers should offer booster packs of collectible chess pieces with different powers. Maybe errors have arisen in translating the rules from their original German (where the game first surfaced in the 1980's under the title 'Ersatz-Schadenfreude-Gestalt').

Or maybe not. If I were the designer, I wouldn't want my name on the box, either. If this is Parker Brothers' idea of progress, give me 'The Room 222 Board Game' any day. The pieces DO make a nice sound when they are thrown against a wall, though.

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