Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bookshelf: a pretty good little book on row games

I didn't actually have high hopes when I came across this in a library game section but I was pleasantly surprised. Lots of interesting variants and plenty of opportunities for introducing mathematical topics and teaching across the curriculum.

Tic Tac Toe: And Other Three-In-A Row Games from Ancient Egypt to the Modern Computer
by Claudia Zaslavsky

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Gaming -- that other chess set is just sitting there

Back at the turn of the millennium when I was wasting away in the suburban hell of [redacted], I found myself killing a lot of time at the Borders down the street. Most days there would be a old man sitting at one of the tables with two chess sets set up up side by side with the edges of the boards touching. At the side of the table was a hand lettered sign inviting people to try the new game, superchess.

I never had the heart to tell him that the game he invented had been around for decades. That's not to say chess with twice the pieces on an 8x16 board isn't a good idea. It's a simple but elegant variation on the game and since, unlike most fairy chess, almost all of the moves and rules are unchanged, it stays remarkably true to the original game.

You move your pieces just as you normally would, only over a board that's twice as wide. You can't castle but other than that the only difference is the objective. Here you have two choices. The more common seems to be where the winner is the first to capture both opposing kings but I prefer playing for first blood (first player to capture a king wins).

You can find a more detailed discussion here or you can just grab a couple of boards and jump right in. As a chess variant, it's not as interesting as hexagonal chess but it's still definitely worth a try.