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Eye Candy

Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:43 pm
by TomD
Allow me to tell my Musketeer Chess story.

I’ve been eyeing the Musketeer pieces since I first discovered them a few years ago. I’m the typical buyer for them: I love chess but haven’t had the time to memorize openings, or even to play many games. I own Gothic Chess and Omega Chess sets and have given them as gifts. My main activity has been as a Scouting Chess Merit Badge counselor (good stories there).

Recently my 7-year old granddaughter got involved in an after school chess class and became quite enthusiastic about chess. I got her a Chess Life for Kids subscription and then said, what the heck, and I ordered the Musketeer pieces.

I was very impressed after they arrived. They are well designed and well made. The artistry was most impressive. There was just one problem: they were too big! Here I saw my ignorance at work: all of the chess sets that I had used with the Scouts were analysis sets, much smaller than tournament sets. So I ordered a tournament set and board.

When I opened the second order I discovered I had made another mistake, but a fortuitous one. I had ordered the first board I came across on the online catalog with 2.25-inch squares. It turned out to not be an 8x8 board but a 12x12 Musketeer board! So, I set up the board with all the available pieces as eye candy for my granddaughter. She loved it, especially the animal themed pieces – Elephant, Hawk, Leopard, and Unicorn. She wants to play with them, but I told her no, she has to become a better player of standard chess first (nice motivation, eh?). BTW, this whole episode has reoriented me back to standard chess as well, and I’ve been getting her a few books on it.

Attached is the ‘eye candy’ board. In arranging the pieces, I decided to keep the standard pieces together on the back row, flanked with the Omega variant pieces. The Musketeer pieces occupy the next row, and pawns ahead of them. It seems a bit impractical for real play: it could be called Musketeer Frenzy or Musketeer Bloodbath, with so many powerful leapers right behind the pawns (originally I had the two rows reversed a la Grand Chess to slow down the leaping, but I decided standard pieces on the back row would be better for transitioning from standard chess). Adding a second row of pawns (Next Gen / Super Pawns?) behind the regular pawns might slow the frenzy, and it would introduce real phalanx style warfare, but would likely turn the game into the chess equivalent of a long Monopoly game.

The Musketeer pieces are also arranged in rough order of point value, with the Dragon and Spider in the center as the highest value pieces and moving to lower values toward the sides. I did violate this consideration in the placement of the Cannon and Fortress, because I wanted all pawns protected at the initial state of the game – and aesthetically, it turned out that placing them in front of the Rooks looks good.


Re: Eye Candy

Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2020 7:21 pm
by musketeerchess
Sorry for this late answer.

What an inspiring story.

And your story is exactly one of the main reasons i started to make these pieces.

In fact, chess with the opening knowledge is no longer the game i used to love: to compete with others you have to learn so much data in openings that it’s no longer fun. Also the fact that the games between elite players became much more technical due to all the home work done in the openings with a very low winning percentage.

I love chess,and this millenial king of games should remain a struggle between two brains on the board.
For me it’s not important if you win or lose, i try to produce the best brain storming on the board and i allow my opponent to ask for takeback moves. Naturally, my main goal is to win, but i enjoy the thinking and strategic planning almost as muchnas winning a game.

I like to spiceup the games with the new pieces either replacing classic pieces with the new rules or introducing the new pieces according to musketeer rules ( these rules are for advanced players because they are perfect to lower white’s advantage as the side playing first, and for that to be true black must be very careful when placing his pieces and must think about white’s strategy and try to counter it) and the more i play chess variants and discover the huge potential and joy these games provide, the immensity of new possibilities, the less i play classic chess.

I also discovered that when i play classic chess from time to time, i compete very well against the others (even strong players) and this proves that chess variants not only maintain chess skills but further develop them.

Re: Eye Candy

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2021 8:31 pm
by TomD
OK, so I did it! I revised the original Eye Candy board with 2 sets of Sparta pawns, please see below.

I also added the Maharaja that I created from a Dragon body and a Spider head. It is next to the King, and so there are two royal (checkable) pieces. Finally, for symmetry I added a second Queen.

Frankly, this is INSANE. I wonder how long a game would take. Maybe I'll find out, my granddaughter saw it physically set up and wants to play it.

Thinking about it, the two rows of pawns, and the ability of the Sparta pawns to take pieces behind them, would seem to counterbalance the power of the Musketeer leapers.

Re: Eye Candy

Posted: Thu Mar 04, 2021 9:59 pm
by TomD
My granddaughter and I started this game, but we left out the Omega Chess pieces (wrong size). We took an adjournment so she can take a breather and play some music on her recorder. The game was pretty intense. I did have to help her walk through a couple of exchanges. Due to the fact that she needs a bit of coaching. I'm allowing her to take back the occasional bad move and so I'm not recording the moves. At this point I'm down 11 pieces (1 Queen, Chancellor, Archbishop, 1 Bishop, 2 Spartans, and 5 pawns), she's down 9 (1 Queen, Fortress, Leopard, Unicorn, 1 Spartan, and 4 pawns).

In my original post I speculated that a game like this would involve 'phalanx warfare'. That turned out to not be the case, probably because I elected to make many of my pawn move two squares rather than one. My granddaughter did less of that and so had more trouble moving major pieces out. The restraint on the Musketeer leapers is real unless some pawns move two squares.

By now it has become obvious that at this stage (beginning of the middle game perhaps?) the game can be accurately described as 'theatre warfare'. The 12x12 board and the Musketeer pieces including Sparta pawns combined to create three separate theatres in the center of the board, one directly in the center, one on the left and one on the right. Interplay between theatres happens but so far is minimal. At this point some of these 'theatre' exchanges have largely played out, especially in the I5-L7 squares.

If we resume I'll post more. Here is the position at adjournment:

Re: Eye Candy

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2021 9:14 am
by jerome

very impressive boards :)

Did you see we added a "Play" feature to the board painter ? It should allow you to share large boards positions with just one link and it's easy for you or others to move pieces and send back new board states without rebuilding everything.

=> viewtopic.php?p=1022#p1022


Re: Eye Candy

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2021 2:07 pm
by TomD
Thanks jerome! I hadn't seen that new feature and I will familiarize myself with it.

I'm not sure this game is going to be finished soon, as in a couple of days we are going to rearrange our family living situation in response to the winding down of Covid restrictions and the vaccinations. I'll keep posting as I have updates.