Chess, Sort Of

Adam dropped a box on the table. Something inside rattled. “Do you want to play chess?” he asked.

Carol looked up. “How do you play?”

Adam lifted the lid and started looking at the pieces. “I don’t know. I think it’s some sort of war game like battleship or checkers. I bet we could figure it out.”

Carol pushed her colored pencils out of the way. “That sounds fun. Do you have the rules?”

Adam lifted the game board out of the box and unfolded it. He looked at the bottom of the board. “Nothing here,” he said.

“There’s nothing on the box, either,” Carol said, putting it back on the table. “There is a picture of the game all set up on the front of the box, though. So, I guess we could start there.”

“Do you want the black pieces or the white pieces?” Adam asked.

“The black pieces,” Carol said. They looked at the picture on the box and started to set up their pieces.

“This looks like the board for playing checkers,” Adam said. “Maybe we’re trying to get our pieces to the other side.”

Carol nodded. She straightened her row of small pieces. “That makes sense. And if the pieces meet, they can have a battle.”

“Rock, paper, scissors?” Adam asked. He picked up a horse-shaped piece and examined it.

“Sounds good,” Carol said. “And you get more points for taking out the bigger pieces.”

“And double for getting to the other side.” Adam started placing his row of small pieces. “These look like bowling pins.”

“I think they’re the soldiers,” Carol said. “Or maybe they’re the ordinary citizens.”

“Or penguins. Mine are penguins. What do you think the horses are?” Adam asked. “Centaurs?”

“Centaurs have people heads. Maybe these are soldiers who ride horses, like knights,” Carol said. “Or I guess they could just be fighting horses, but that’s a little weird.”

“I think they’re fighting horses that can talk. And these ones are aliens. Look, they only have one eye and big mouths. That’s kind of cool,” Adam said.

“And these ones look like buildings. I guess if they have fighting buildings and aliens, then they can have fighting horses. The ones with crowns must be the kings and queens.” Carol looked at the box and started to place the pieces on the back row.

“My penguins are all lined up now,” Adam said. “Where do the aliens go?”

Carol handed him the box. “Can the pieces move sideways and diagonal and backwards?” she asked.

“Do we need to decide that now?” Adam asked.

“Of course we do,” Carol said. “And we should probably decide how many points everything is worth. Games are more fun when everyone is playing by the same set of rules. It’s more fair that way too.”

“Fine, fine. I’ll get a paper and pen. I hope it doesn’t take too long,” Adam said.

“That depends on how much we argue,” Carol said. “So, can the pieces move in any direction?”

“Why not?” Adam said. “But only one square at a time, and we take turns.”

“That’ll take forever,” Carol said. “How about five squares?”

“That’s too many,” Adam said. “Three squares.”

“Deal,” Carol said. “One point for the citizens…”


“…and two for the rest?” Carol asked.

“Three for the king and queen,” Adam said.

“Great.” Carol put her last pieces in place. “So, who goes first?”

Adam looked at the box again and switched a few of his pieces around.   “Just a minute.   Okay, I’m ready. You got to pick the color you wanted, so I’ll go first.”

“That’s not fair. I’ll give you my pieces, and then I can go first,” Carol said.

“I don’t want your pieces. Besides, everything is already set up,” Adam said.

Carol frowned. “We could always trade chairs. I want to go first.”

Adam leaned back in his chair. “We should settle this like adults. Paper, rock, scissors?”

Carol held out a fist over a flat palm. “You’re on. Best two out of three?”