Saturday, January 17, 2015

Game Review: No Stress Chess by Winning Moves Games

No Stress Chess by Winning Moves Games

The most popular Christmas gift in our family this year is J's new game No Stress Chess. It comes with standard chess pieces, a two-sided board (one side with standard notation, the other with pictures of where all the pieces start), instructions, and a deck of cards.

Best gift ever?

The deck of cards includes cards for each chess piece. Each card shows how the piece moves and any special rules (pawns capturing on the diagonal, moving two spaces initially, getting promoted; knights jumping over other pieces).

Sample cards from the game

In the simplest variant, players draw one card at a time and then play that card and move the piece depicted, which can result in no move at all (pieces are blocked or the player no longer has that particular piece). Each player has his own discard pile, so that green card above can be played to use either card previously played. Play continues until the opponent's king is captured (since a checkmate position doesn't necessarily mean the player can capture the king on the next turn--the player needs to have a card for the checking piece). This variant with the cards makes chess easier to learn and allows players to build skills.

Other variants include drawing a hand of three or five cards and choosing which card to play, making the game more flexible and increasing strategic thought by the players. In all these variants, castling and capturing en passant are not allowed (though they are explained in the rules for those ready for regular chess).

We have played all these variants as well as regular chess with this set. J has learned quickly and accurately how to play. For me, it is nice to have new ways to play the game that make it more equal for less skilled players. If you have someone who wants to learn chess, this game is a great way to start.

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