Animals in Chess
I love animals *check username*. Our animal brethren have been with us since the history of man. I bet you didn’t even notice they’ve been with us since the beginning of chess too. Oh, you say “Of course I have, there’s 4 horses sitting on the board right now”. Thank you captain obvious but here’s a list of some of the animals you might not have noticed that made their way into the chess world.
-Elephants – Another piece, actually. When the Bishop was invented, a groove was inserted into the top of the piece to create 2 symmetric prongs, representing elephant tusks. I believe in Russia and some Arab nations it is still known as ‘Elephant’. Anyone hear of the Elephant trap? Ya. Exactly.
-Birds – An opening and a fairly good chess player. Bird’s opening was made popular by Henry Bird and is identified with the move 1. f4. Bird himself was a man of great enjoyment, always pleasant over the chess board. Read more about him here.
-Rats – The rat defense is characterized with the moves 1. d4 d6 with the English variation being 2. c4 e5 . There is some controversy over what the name of the opening really is (Pillsbury defense, a form of the Pirc defense, more). I like the Rat defense, I’ll stick with that. I’m also going to call 1. e4 e6 the mouse defense from now on (sorry France).
-Dragons – Yes it’s an animal, a mythological one. The Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation was named so after the pawn chain from h7 to d6 looked similar to stars in the Draco Constellation. Considered an extreme sharp opening with massive attacks against both players on opposite sides of the board. Heck, there's a variation called the Levenfish. I approve!
-Crabs – No, Really. I swear! The crab variation is an option in the Kadas opening (h4). Characterized by the moves 1. h4 … 2. a4. I guess they look like pincers? No idea. Crabs - Great with butter, not so great in Chess.