Beyond Chess Back Story

A few weeks ago I posted the rules for a chess variant called Beyond Chess. I thought I would write more about how I came to find the game and how it helped me learn something about the game that I didn’t know before.

I found this game on eBay. I have no idea what I was looking for, because I’m not normally going out of my way to look for chess variations. The auction didn’t attract a lot of attention, and I ended up making the purchase for $15 which included free shipping. (I bought the game in March, 2016, so my memory is a bit fuzzy.) The game was listed as new but unfortunately was missing a pawn. I contacted the seller, and they looked all over but were not able to find the missing piece. That was disappointing. But rather than give up, I started a quest.

You may already know this, but I did not. It turns out that chess sets are categorized based on the size of the square. The bigger the square, the bigger the pieces. Since the king is the tallest piece, chess sets are sold based on the height of the king. When you go to your favorite online retailer or chess supply site, you’ll see something like this:

Staunton Tournament Chess Pieces, Triple Weighted with 3.75″ King and 2 extra Queens

A 3.75″ king is designed to be played on a fairly large tournament-style chess board. The Beyond Chess board is way to small for that. I found a web site that translated the size of the square (for Beyond Chess it’s 1″) into the size of the king (which for Beyond Chess was 2.5″). The next step was to try to search (on Amazon and other places) for replacement chess pieces in that size.

It was hard! I kept finding chess sets with much larger king pieces. Very frustrating.

Ultimately I found a web site that called the 1″ square board an “analysis” set. Bingo. That extra keyword was all I needed for me to find a set of replacement parts. And wouldn’t you know it… they matched – exactly – the parts that came with the Beyond Chess set! My original intent had been to simply toss the Beyond Chess set since it was incomplete and use the new set. Since everything matched, I pulled the two queens from the Beyond Chess set and added them to my new set, giving me a standard “two queen” option, and set the remaining pieces aside for replacement of lost parts later. But when the new parts came in, they were 100% identical to the pieces that came with Beyond Chess. If you’re interested, here’s what I got from Amazon.

Analysis Chess Set
Analysis Chess Set

It included a vinyl board (which I saved, but don’t need for the Beyond Chess set) and a bag with the appropriate sized pieces. The Beyond Chess set had a drawstring bag for the squares and a plastic bag for the parts. By finding these replacement parts I now have a nice bag for the chess pieces as well. But most importantly while I was searching for the replacement bits, I managed to learn something! Cool. 😎

What exactly is an “analysis” set? It’s designed to set up a position for discussion and, well, analysis 🙂 rather than actually playing the game. With the smaller pieces it doesn’t take much space, but it’s also not necessarily very comfortable to play.

Speaking of playing…my younger son enjoys chess, and we have played quite a few spirited games. I remember one in particular where he had a column of two rooks and a queen that I just could not break up, no matter what I did! We’ve played three or four games of Beyond Chess so far, and every single one of them has been different. Being able to move a square gives us an entirely new dimension to think about. In two of our games I have been able to check-mate with a piece / square move combination. Put the king in check, and then move a square out of reach and it becomes check-mate as the king can no longer escape. We have not tried any of the variant starting board positions, so I don’t have any comments on that yet.

Beyond Chess is interesting. I’m glad I found and bought it, and I’m looking forward to introducing this game to more folks.

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