I like chess; I’ve always liked chess. Perhaps that’s just my general favor of board games, or perhaps it is the greatest game ever: that’s not for me to judge. Still, I’ve played it for a long time, and still play and enjoy it. In the past few years I played very little, though. That was mainly because I was no longer in school, and the main place I used to play chess was in my math class after I had finished assignments. I still played on my phone, but the AI on there is far too dumb to be interesting or far too hard to be fun. It just wasn’t like playing with the average or slightly below average casual chess player. I say that because I’m very bad at the game. According the chess.com, at the moment I’m about a 700, which is very low (and everyone beats me). I’m getting better, but my head just doesn’t really work for chess. Even though I enjoy playing the game, figuring out even a few of my opponent’s next possible moves just doesn’t click in my brain. From the middle game on I barely know what to do.
And with chess, it’s never really been just the game. Even though I enjoy the game, there is so much more surrounding it. I’m almost forced to look at it since I can hardly find the time to play chess, mostly because when I do play board games they are for more than two players, because it’s just easier that way. So I mess with the board. A set up chess game, unlike many other set up games, looks quite nice sitting about, so I bought a few different ones to change out now and again, and then a few more. I have quite a few chess sets now, and every time I find one different from what I have at an affordable price, I buy it. There are so many different permutations of chessmen that I’m not sure I could ever see them all, and that means I can afford to only get the ones I want. Looking at them, and playing on them is great, and the tactile feel of each different set is wonderful.
Beyond that I also enjoy looking up variants and strategies. I’m no good at employing the strategies and tactics myself, and I can barely remember them at times, but clever puzzles and other such things are very fun indeed. I think my favorite part, though, is the variants. Chess is such a simple concept, and its individual pieces break down so well, it seems like it would be infinitely variable, and it is. From regional variations like xiangqi and shogi (more on xaingqi next article, hopefully) to piece variations (chess 960 and most older variations) to board variations (hexagonal chess) to adding cards (Knightmare chess) and even just creating a whole new game from chess-like mechanics (the Duke, etc). Having all the different boards, rules, and pieces, and knowing the different games is just fun, and it immensely increases the options one has when attempting to start a game.
Still, I find myself going back to basic chess quite a bit. It is a masterfully-crafted game that may indeed last, almost unchanged from its current state, for a significant portion of human history. It’s a one-in-a-million formula that is great for both casual and experienced players (as long as people of vastly different skill levels generally play each other in moderation, and those on their own levels more). I hope to play more often in the future than I have been, but even so I know for certain that I will continue playing, both in real life, and on the computer, and even when I inevitably lose, I will have a blast