Stealth Chess

That Time I almost Lost at Chess…To a GIRL!…Who’s Younger than Me!

Luckily for me she backed herself into a stalemate and my pride was slightly less destroyed than it could have been. Like our Cripple Mr. Onion post this post is a bit of a bonus this month. Being a game invented by Terry Pratchett (well, more an adaptation of a classic game) we decided it needed a mention.

Being Stealthy at Chess:

Stealth Chess is much like normal Chess in the sense that all the regular rules of Chess apply and all the normal pieces are present and used. The game is altered by the widening of the board by one row on each side; these rows are called Slurks, and the addition of two pieces to each side which are Assassins. The Assassins start in the Slurks next to the Rooks, and only the Assassins can move in the Slurks. Unfortunately we did not have a Stealth Chess board lying around so we had to make do with a normal Chess board and imagine the additional rows, additionally the pieces that look very different to the others are pieces we borrowed from a different set to act as the Assassins.

Stealth Chess staring positions.
Stealth Chess starting positions.

Like in normal Chess all normal rules apply with the addition of the rules concerning the Assassins and Slurks. Assassins move one space in any direction but can move two to capture. Only they can move in the Slurks, and now you get the complicated bit; the Assassin can move as many spaces out of the Slurks as he has in the Slurks. To clarify, if over the course of 6 moves the Assassin has moved six spaces in the Slurks (including just backwards and forwards) the Assassin may move up to six space out of the Slurks, when exiting it, in one move and then an additional space to capture. So:

This white Assassin has moved three spaces in the Slurks:

So its in range of the Black (purple) Queen.
So it’s in range of the Black (purple) Queen.

So on exiting the Slurks it can capture the Queen like so:

So the Queen gets taken.
So the Queen gets taken.

Now the only point of ambiguity we have in this is “can the Assassin move through other pieces in this way?” Our answer was yes as, if you read the rules as laid out on Wikipedia here or the Discworld Wiki here, it describes the Slurks as another board under the existing board. So rather than moving down the side of the board it represents a space under the board which the Assassins move through and pop up to capture things. Additionally to all of this Assassins cannot take each other, out of professional courtesy.

The End and Other Things:

Normally I destroy my sister at Chess and our game of Stealth Chess was going the same way until I made one massive error and then it nearly all ended in tears. Except after a long time she managed to fight me into this position:

How it all ended.
How it all ended.

Which of course is Stalemate. However I think by the fifty-move rule it may have already been stalemate but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway that’s the last time I lose concentration.

So a few last comments about Stealth Chess:

  • It’s given me an awesome idea for a two tiered version of Chess… Literally building two Chess boards that sit over each other.
  • Also to build an actual Stealth Chess board with the Slurks and proper Assassin pieces.

A couple of interesting “facts” about the game are:

  • On the Discworld it’s thought to actually be the original version of the game – “this belief is corroborated by the in-world discovery, in a tomb in Muntab, of a preserved corpse with an 8×10 board embedded in its skull and a pawn hammered up each nostril”
  • The master of the game in the Discworld is – ” Lord Havelock Vetinari, provost of Assassins and Patrician of Ankh-Morpork.”

All in all it’s an interesting adaptation of Chess and a bit difficult to get your head around if you’re so used to thinking about Chess in the standard way. It’s well worth a play, and you don’t even have to buy anything if you already have a Chess set and a bit of imagination!

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