Border Chess – A New Game of Kings

By Dante DeAmicis

Video games are supposed to be the new kings of games. In a way they are, because with multiple games you can have multiple kings for multiple realms. Video games are like real dynasty struggles for not only can the players lose but the specific games can lose as well in the marketplace.

Still, the chess board holds on with its 2,500 year old connection to tradition. But it needs help. Just as changes were made in its early evolution, new changes need to be made for it to survive another generation.

Change should never be arbitrary or contrived but be done to serve a purpose. Ideally change should be suggested by other traditions. The tarot is contemporary with the great board and contains concepts that should have been incorporated into the game a long time ago. Redundant pieces and a lifeless game board practically cry out for new elements from old images.

Here is the chess I wish to promote. It adds or eliminates as few components as possible with a view to advancing to the next level of the same ancient game. The focus of my chess is the new border line or border zone between the two sides of the board. Just as in the tarot or in situational video games where a change in place or event changes the rules of the game, approaching “the border” requires a similar change in behavior and strategy.

The clearest need for change is in the board itself. The current board is lifeless and nondescript. The game environment should have its own character. My board will be a grid of 9 by 9 squares instead of 8 by 8. The 8 by 8 space has no center in row or square. I have remedied this. The new center row is the “border line” where new possibilities emerge and old ones disappear. The extra column is partly to accommodate one of the new pieces and, along with the new row, to create a center of the board.

Two New Pieces:

The Chancellor. He is the chief adviser, lawyer, and administrator of day-to-day affairs. His creation is at the expense of the second bishop, a clear redundancy. The Chancellor’s move is a “zig-zag” in equal number of spaces in two opposite diagonals. As with the Queen, his move changes at the border zone, where the three pieces can move unlimited spaces but only forward and back.

The Fool. Entertainer as well as subversive communicator for he can go where others dare not. He creates a cohesive identity by transmitting culture to the realm. The Fool is created by the extra column. He normally moves up to 3 spaces in only his half of the board and the border zone where he also may begin a move to exchange places with his counterpart where ever his counter Fool may be.

Rule Changes:

The Queen loses power after the Border Zone where she can only move unlimited spaces forward and back. The Queen’s unlimited power was added a long time ago to speed up the game. This change made just for speed unbalanced the game in some ways. Retaining the power on the home side only reestablishes some balance.

The Pawns gain power after the Border Zone where they increase their moves to unlimited spaces forward but they cannot move back. They still move diagonal to kill. Adding one-way power to pawns after the border affirms how just being in enemy territory creates a new power of opportunity for the normally powerless if they are willing to make a one way trip.

Border Zone interruption. Normally unlimited moves in a direction must end in the border before continuing with another move. This clearly establishes the board is two realms as well as two sides.

The Center Square is “The Library” where landing on it transports a piece to its counter piece’s starting. space if open. Otherwise it stays in the Library until it moves or is “over run” (taken without stopping the taker’s advance).

How would we test this version of chess? With an experimental tournament of course. To create visual interest the first “theme” board should reflect conflict in the test tournament locality for publicity purposes. In Lake County there is a long standing struggle between those who demand a return to the past in spite of that impossibility and those who wish to move forward while we still can. The imposed overlay of ignorance and intolerance on Lake County by reactionaries I call “Gooberstan”- the theme of the first Border Chess game board.

Welcome to Gooberstan. Not only is the County isolated by mountains but the last redistricting segmented the region into two, from what was always one, Congressional District. Even though the County as a whole has lost influence, the Southern District is fine with being attached to Napa and Santa Rosa. However, the Northern District segment has gotten totally screwed.

The poorer North Shore communities, a former sprawling Redevelopment District, and the incorporated war zone of Clearlake are now a backwater of a Central Valley Congressional District which we have nothing in common with. When we can escape the Goobertocracy for a while it is to go to Ukiah or Willits. At least we can get a bus in that direction. The effect has been to make the class war between the Goobers and the fixed income or no income denizens more pronounced.

There is no shortage of over-the-top characters and shameless behaviors in Gooberstan. I look forward to fleshing out this region’s high weirdness to create the first Border Chess game board.

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