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Store:  Family Games
Edition:  Bosworth
Series:  Chess
Theme:  Dork Tower
Genre:  Abstract Strategy
Format:  Board Games


second edition

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Ages Play Time Players
8+ 20-60 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Mark Alan Osterhaus

Manufacturer(s): Out of the Box Publishing

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Product Description

Bosworth adds the speed, variety and unpredictability of battle to the game of chess. In fact, this international favorite has been called the most enjoyable chess variant ever!

Each player in Bosworth controls a small kingdom represented by the 16 pieces of a chess set. The way these game pieces are introduced, the innovative board design, and the 3 and 4 player options create this dynamic game of battlefield chess.

To win, you will need a combination of skill, timing, luck ...and maybe just a little help from your friends!

Product Information


  • 64 Game Pieces
  • 16" x 16" Game Board
  • Quick Play Rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4 in 2 reviews

Bosworth is chess made FUN!
November 18, 2002

I had an opportunity to play several games of Bosworth earlier this year, and enjoyed it immensely!

Since many people already understand the basic movement rules of chess pieces, and those that dont can pick it up quickly, the learning curve on this game is almost non-existent. We all got a 60-second rules explanation from the games owner, and jumped right in with few questions.

While Ive got great respect for the game of chess, Ive never been a big fan of it. But Bosworth is a purely fun version of chess. First, youve got four players participating, so the game is less predictable, and there are many opportunities for temporary and shifting alliances during the game. Second, the game board is smaller, forcing more continuous conflict instead of making the game all about setting up huge, complicated offenses and defenses. Everyone has fewer pieces on the board at any given time, and a well stocked resource of replacements, so losing a piece to an opponent isnt the devastating blow it can be in chess. Third, the game feels like it moves quicker. With fewer possible moves for a player to make on each turn, the decision is made quicker. And watching the other three players make their moves is also engaging because youre never sure how theyll decide to play. Will they leave a piece undefended against you in hopes of an alliance with another, stronger opponent? Will they drop their alliance with you and team up with another opponent? With they do something else totally unexpected? There are no 'standard openings' in Bosworth, and its very refreshing.

I havent played this with my kids yet, but I plan to. My sons a chess fan, and Im sure hed enjoy Bosworth. Im betting that I can get the other members of my family, who are definitely not chess players, to get into the game as well.

My only complaint with the game was the components. I played the first edition of the game, which used rectangular playing cards to represent the pieces. The cards were also nearly the same size as the spaces on the board. These two factors made playing the game a little awkward physically. But, it looks as if the second version of the game has solved this issue completely by replacing the pieces with thick cardboard disks and making the grid spaces square. Be sure you get the second edition of this game, and not the first. With that, Id have no complaints with the game at all, hence my 5-star rating.

Fast, fun, four player chess
January 01, 2006
When I originally played Card Chess, I wasn't sure who would be interested in this version of four-player chess. While I enjoyed it, it certainly wasn't for everyone; Chess purists would be unhappy with how the game worked, and folks who didn't like Chess were unlikely to be won over. When I read the rules to Bosworth, I figured that the same thing would be the case, as it was another four-player variant on chess. However, John Kovalic's artwork and the small board interested me, so I was ready to give it a go (Oh, who am I kidding - I'm always ready to play a new game!)

As much as Card Chess intrigued me, I found Bosworth to be a "tighter", nicer game. While retaining a luck element (something I wasn't adverse to), Bosworth also uses a mere sixteen to twenty-four spaces, as opposed to the sixty-four of the chessboard. Using almost the same rules as chess (with a few distinct differences), the game is a quick, deadly affair and plays equally as well with four as with two. (Three is a little "iffy".)

(I'm assuming the reader knows how to play chess.)

The game is played on a five by five grid of squares with the corners not used. Each player places four pawn pieces on each end space on their side of the board. If there are less than four players playing, the sides of the board that are not used have markers placed in them to show that those four spaces are not used. Players take the rest of the twelve pieces (the rest of the chess set - but pictures on the side of a disc, rather than plastic pieces) and shuffle them into a pile, drawing four of them into their hands. One player is chosen to go first, and then play proceeds clockwise around the table.

On a player's turn, they must move one of their pieces on the board, just like that particular chess piece moves. All pieces move the exact same way that they do in Chess, with the exception of the pawn and King. Pawns may, in addition to their normal move, move one space sideways in either direction, except in their own "base camp" - the four starting spaces. Kings can actually capture their own pieces and can move into check and be captured. Players don't have to announce that they have put a king into check; but they may if they wish, forcing the enemy to move it out of danger, etc.

After moving a piece, and possibly capturing an enemy piece they land on, a player then must fill all the unoccupied spaces in their field camp with pieces from their hand. The player then fills their hand with pieces from their draw pile. If a player runs out of pieces, they place markers into their empty field spaces, effectively shutting them down. When a player captures an opponent's king, that player's pieces are removed from the board, and the capturing player receives the queen of the opponent to use, even if it's already been killed. Play continues until only one player remains, who is declared the winner!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The artwork on each piece shows a picture of one of the characters from John Kovalic's popular comic Dork Tower. Lest players become confused, like in most themed chess sets, a silhouette of the real chess piece is shown in the background. Each piece is a large, round cardboard token (a little thinner than I'd like), with a background in red, yellow, blue, or green, to differentiate between players. The board has some campsite and tree artwork on it, and the dark green/light green coloring of the spaces helps get one away from the stark contrast of many chess boards. Everything fits nicely into a flat, smallish box with more artwork from Mr. Kovalic.

2.) Rules: The four page rulebook does not take for granted that players already know how to play chess - the moves for each piece are explained in the rulebook in illustrations and explanations. At the same time, the rules that are different than normal chess are italicized, so that players can quickly skim them to learn the differences and grasp them. The game is easy to set up and learn - only about thirty seconds if the players know chess - possibly longer otherwise (I don't know).

3.) Tight: Bosworth is a bloody affair, with pieces being killed right and left. In such a small area and especially when four players are playing, it's impossible for the game to go on too long, and deaths occur all over the battlefield. Sometimes a player can get into a difficult position, when many of their pieces are dead; because the other player(s) can simply kill off each of their new pieces as it lands on the board. It's tremendously difficult to guard against more than one player at once, and this may frustrate some people. With three players, the game is especially deadly for the player in the middle, as they are caught in the middle between players on both sides.

4.) Pieces: While queens are still the most powerful pieces, the tight, small board causes the positions of the others to change somewhat. Rooks aren't nearly as strong, since they are often boxed in and can't maneuver around as well. Bishops are probably just as good on the small board. Knights are extremely useful, as they can jump pretty much all over the board in only a few moves. The pawn is also more capable - as there are just so many of them! - making them fairly deadly.

5.) Kings: it's very easy for kings to get trapped by pieces - in the fact that there are so many more pieces, and so fewer spaces. Thus, the rule that a king can capture his own piece, which usually is only resorted to when a player has no other choice, is a nice rule. While it seems a bit sadistic for thematic purposes, it does come in handy; and I've used it several times in my playings.

6.) Randomness: There is a bit of randomness in the form of what pieces you draw. But I have yet to see a player who didn't hold their king until the end, anyway, or a player who complained that the luck of the draw was the reason that they lost. For me - you simply had to make do with the pieces you got when you got them. If you drew knights early, then it was time to get them into position where they could slaughter the enemy. If you drew rooks, then you wanted to get them out where they had more room to maneuver, etc.

7.) Fun Factor: I can see serious Chess players divided on whether they like the game or not. Some might see the smaller board and multiple opponents as a challenge. Others might be irritated at any change to their precious rules. For ordinary folk, like myself, Bosworth allows me to play Chess in a light, fun way. Sure, you can get all serious about the game; but since movement is more limited and play a bit more chaotic, it's just too tough to get serious about it. Most Bosworth games that I've played have only taken about half an hour to complete, and that's the light, fun feeling that I want.

As long as the game is played with people intent on having a fun, quick variant of chess, I can see Bosworth going over very well. It's fast, a bit chaotic, but still retains the basic feel and tactics of Chess. Strategy and well thought out opening moves aren't going to do a person much good in Bosworth. Tactical maneuvering and learning how to deal with pieces drawn both by oneself and the opponent(s) will. I usually shy away from Chess because of the fact that there is no luck in it and most opponents take it a bit too seriously. Bosworth has neither of those problems.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"

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