Calvin’s Commentaries: Kamikaze Chess

There are a few hundred chess variants out there, and finding the ones that offer the most potential for fun without requiring a computer to figure out the moves is a definite challenge.

P.E. Robinson, creator of Kamikaze Chess has gone about things a bit differently.

There are no complicated new chess pieces here. Instead, Robinson has created what is sort of a new board. It is the same 8X8 grid, but land on a square, flip the card that makes up that spot, and you find what are essentially traps.

The game, which comes in a box about the size of a Reese’s Cup if the cups were square and not round, makes it rather easy to travel with.

The idea is to take the 32 cards which have ‘traps’ and lay them out as the black squares on a board, then playing a regular chess game with the cardboard pieces also provided. That is a fine idea, although knowing every stop on a black square is going to throw a monkey wrench into the game may be too much for many.

Facing the prospect of game changing elements such as ‘trade’ where you swap the moved chessman with any other on the board, or ‘sudden death’ the moved piece is lost, is a tad overly chaotic.

Yet in the tradition of Knightmare Chess, there is something just fun about the concept that Kamikaze Chess offers.

So are a couple of ideas I have played around with to maintain the ‘traps’ but reduce the chaos.

Mark half the32 cards, and then randomly lay the pattern. Only the marked cards are traps when found.

Along the same lines, each player takes half the cards, so eight marked and eight not. Lay those out as desired on your home two rows. Only the opponent’s piece triggers a card to flip, (assume your army knows where the traps are to avoid them).

This gives players a chance to remember where the traps are to lure in the opponent, or it can be random as well.

However you play with these cards, there is a lot of potential for some random fun, and mayhem in your game.

The game works for checkers too, which is kind of interesting in itself.

The game did have me wondering why Robinson created it. So off went an email to find out.

“I learned to play chess from my grandfather and father,” he replied. “Now I play with my kids, but I was seeing them consistently being deflated because someone playing a true game with more experience always has the upper hand and is always a step ahead. I wanted to come up with a crazy (or fun) way to make games more unpredictable than having the best player just outright smash the other player, as a means to keep spirits high and odds more even.”

Robinson said the game came together quite quickly.

“I design very quickly and had a prototype within a month or two that was playable,” he said. “After that, game testing was pretty straightforward with multiple age groups and skill levels to try out.

Once we refined the problem areas, we developed more formal, brief rules, which ship inside each game, that help start and guide players to a new kind of chess match every time.”

In terms of the best element of the game, Robinson said, “The compact aspect with big gameplay has been a priority since day one. We wanted an extremely small form-factor (2×2- inch square) that can expand to be a full size 16×16-inch game board, multifunctional and fun – all for a lower price than most other games and in one pocket-sized box.”

This is certainly a great game option for chess players, especially players who face opponents of different skill levels and want to add so randomness to level the playing field and just have fun.

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