Staying Fresh

Staying Fresh

IM dpruess
Sep 6, 2011, 4:46 PM |

Consider the delightful and very popular strategy game Magic the Gathering. The constant addition of new sets of cards to MTG keeps the game fresh, giving all involved plenty of new strategies to talk about at regular intervals. Magic players get to be very creative all the time.

Chess players on the other hand, tend to fall into ruts. Every chess player, at some point in time, finds that they are tired of some opening. Or tired of playing a game that feels the same as the previous game over and over. Or labels one game or another that they have played as "boring." We have different parts of the game that we find interesting, and our moods and lives change, but for everyone, chess sometimes lacks that "new feeling."

The equivalent to new cards would be new pieces. Every 4 or 6 months, you would chuck the bishop and replace it with a crab, which only moves forward like a rook, and only captures sideways like a rook. Your king would move like a knight, while your knights would move like a king. The queen would move like a bishop and a knight instead of like a bishop and a rook, and we would call her the consiglieri. Or we would create a set of 4 pieces of almost identical value to the knight and bishop, and at the start of the game, the players would get to pick which four pieces they wanted on b1, c1, f1, and g1. They could also pick what to call their pieces. Me, I'm going to beat you with Naruto, Vin, Kvothe, and a Sugar Glider named Alekhine.

Those who like fresh are already convinced without further argumentation, so I'm addressing you who are thinking that I'm an idiot, that if not for rating inflation I'd be a B player, and that chess has a history, a texture, thanks to the long development of the game. Well, you are right too. That we can play a game now, and then compare it to a game played by Harry Nelson Pillsbury, with the same pieces and a similar structure on the board, is an amazing facet of our game. That the writings of Richard Reti can be so relevant and illuminate us is a precious thing. And we should not lose that. But, again, let's turn to Magic the Gathering for the solution.

You run tournaments with different formats. In MTG, some events use a set of cards you are given (or choose from a pool) on the day of the event, to build the best deck you can. In other events, you build your deck in advance using only cards from the newest couple sets of cards. In yet other events, you build your deck in advance using all the old cards. The equivalent in chess would be to: sometimes run chess tournaments with the original pieces on their original squares; to sometimes run chess tournaments with the original pieces with starting squares shuffled; and to sometimes run chess tournaments with a few pieces changed. (Each format would have its own rating: Classic, 960, and New).

This way, chess could maintain its venerable history and tradition, while also gaining creativity and freshness. *stomp* *stomp* I feel so Fresh! *stomp* *stomp*