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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

Basic Knightmare Chess Endings #8: Charge! 05/03/2019

59347718_10157337186462853_2174849337069142016_nI wrote on FB a day ago that everyone (but me, it seems) hated Knightmare Chess.

The chessplayers hate the card game because the cards are ridiculously overpowered. For example, Guardian is a 3-cost KC card with the capability of turning a most simple draw into a decision (the bishop-plus-wrong-rook-pawn endgame, which any serious chessplayer knows). That’s a 3-point card swinging a half-point in a most reduced position. Imagine what the 10-cost cards do in complex middlegames.

The non-chessplaying card gamers wouldn’t pick up Knightmare Chess because they figured their lack of chess ability would matter. That *should* be true, but Steve Jackson Games overcompensated for that by making most of the cards gamebreakers. And if that’s the case, why bother with a card game that needs so many prop objects, let’s play Munchkin. (I love Munchkin, Steve Jackson Games’ successful card game. The thing about Munchkin is that you mustn’t care if you win, which is true of many of today’s games; the play is the thing.)

I love Knightmare Chess, maybe because I’m the only chessplayer who bothered to reduce the positions to endgames. Other chessplayers figured correctly that the cards will prevent endgame knowledge from mattering, but the chess teacher in me said whether the games get there or not, in order to understand the true value of the cards (and pieces) is to strip the positions to nothing but. This is what’s wrong with so many chessplayers. They don’t bother learning endings because they figure if they lose in the middlegame or opening, what’s the difference. Those players can’t get past a Class A rating, trust me.

Let’s look at Charge!, a 6-cost card that enables a knight to make an additional hop. This means if your opponent plays the dreaded Harrstrom Gambit 1. Nf3 g5, your 2. Nxg5 is threatening to win the queen if you’re holding Charge!. Charge! almost doubles a knight’s mobility for one turn, which is pretty huge, hence the 6-cost.

diagram-7And in the case of this endgame, which is a draw with White to move, it’s a win with Charge!, because Charge! fixes the knight’s fundamental enggame flaw: its inability to change the tempo. When White plays 1. Ne7 Charge! Nd5, he’s successfully lost a tempo, giving the move to Black, who has to play 1…Kb8, then 2. Nc7 gains control of the queening square.

Categories Knightmare Chess

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