Sunday, May 30, 2010

Relay Chess

There are countless chess variants; obscure and popular; weird and playable. In an earlier entry I listed some of my favourites. However, I now realize that I forgot an important category of games - those variants that (mostly) retain the standard rules but add an element of physical skill. Chess Boxing seems to be the new big thing and I have already had an entry on Kung Fu Chess. I suppose Drinking Chess (Shots Chess) is still the best known, and may return to this activity as well as the related Valhalla tournaments in a later entry. However, for now I will concentrate on variants better suited for younger players.

If you ever need an outdoor activity for young chess players, then Relay Chess may be the solution. The main rules are:

  1. Relay chess is a competition between two teams. On each team there should be somewhere between three and seven players. The teams don’t necessarily have to have the same number of players but the players should keep their place in their team's queue.
  2. The teams are placed some distance away from a chess board. The distance should be sufficient to make it difficult for the players to see what’s going on. Preferably there should be an arbiter near the board.
  3. Use a chess clock with a reasonable amount of time (e.g., 10 minutes for each team), so that the players will have to run and move quickly in order not to lose on time.
  4. The player first in the white row runs to the board, makes his first move and presses the clock. As soon as the white player has pressed the clock, the first player on Black’s team may start running.
  5. A player who has completed his move should immediately return and take his place (at the back of the queue). The next player on his team may not start his run before the previous player has returned (and the player on the other team has completed his move and pressed the clock).

In addition it may be a good idea to agree on this (but remember that this should be fun and don’t spend too much time on the finer points of the rules - a rematch is usual the perfect way to resolve a discussion):

  • Should the players be allowed to inform their team about their latest move and the position on the board or give advice? Shout advice to the player at the board? 
  • What happens if a player makes an illegal move? Stumbles over the board? Loses a piece on the ground?

I hope to add some pictures to this entry in a few days as there is an informal Norway-England competition coming up.

Coming next: Basket Chess.

Friday, May 21, 2010

German Review of the Killer Repertoire

Yesterday I stumbled over a very interesting German language blog 'Schachtraining' (yes, it means chess training) with a brief review of 'A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire'. If you read some German, you could do worse than following this apparently frequently updated chess blog.

For those not reading German, here is an attempt to translate the summary:

"Die meisten der vorgestellten Systeme können ohne großen Aufwand erlernt werden und erfordern nur geringe Variantenkenntnisse. Selbstredend dürfte dadurch sein, dass der Spieler demzufolge keine großen Stellungsvorteile erhoffen darf , aber die Solidität sichert ihm zumeist ausgeglichenes Spiel. Ein Repertoire für Praktiker auf Vereinsniveau. Wer im Besitz der Erstausgabe ist und die Systeme im Repertoire hat, wird voraussichtlich mehr von spezialisierter Literatur profitieren, anstatt das Update zu erwerben."

"Most of the systems presented can be adopted quite easily and demand only modest knowledge of exact variations. This may be due to the systems offering no sizable opening advantage but their solidity will at least ensure you equal play. A repertoire for practical players at club level. Presumably, if you already have the first edition and have adopted the repertoire you will profit more from specialist literature than from getting this update."

(My German is to a large extent based on the language's similarity with Norwegian and contains an element of guesswork. So any improvements/corrections will be appreciated.)

I don't quite agree with this conclusion and may add some comments at a later point.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Killer Repertoire in Marsh Towers

In his chess reviews today, Sean March among other reviews "A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire". The potential buyer can also find a snapshop from one of the new games I added and his impressions regarding the extent of the update. I don't think his estimate of 5 new game references on a double spread is far off but I know that the changes are far from uniformly distributed.

Marsh has certain doubts about some of the repertoire choices but seems quite satisfied with the update and concludes:
"This is a neat little book which can provide serious ammunition for keen club players."