by Judith Weizner
In a startling press conference
this morning, Regina Piscopo, the new president of the Confederation Internationale
des Echecs, announced the first m odifications of the rules of chess since the
The announcement followed months of negotiations
between traditionalists and post-traditionalists (known as the Fianchetto Sinistor),
which have been conducted with a degree of secrecy rivaling the Manhattan Project.
The Fianchetto Sinistro had long maintained that chess, in its 600-year-old
present form, had not only become irrelevant, but was also exerting an increasingly
pernicious influence on society with it sexist, royalist, religionist, and violent
concepts. The organization holds that certain post-traditionalist innovations
will bring the game into harmony with 20th-century thinking.
in the appearance of the board and pieces will become official concurrently with
the revisions in the rules. The prototypes unveiled at today's news conference
elicited gasps and low whistles of appreciation.
Because the old chess
sets symbolically promoted interracial strife, the checkerboard of the new boards
eschew the traditional black and white in favor of a handsome combination of light
chartreuse and deep purple squares. (Post-traditionalists point out that the contrast
between dark and light still enables the color-perception-challenged to enjoy
the game.) It is believed that the new designer colors may also induce more girls
to take an interest in chess, although there has not yet been conclusive research
on the subject.
The figures themselves are of a simple style reminiscent
of Stanton but with minor alterations. The King and Queen have been replaced by
the President and the Spouse, virtually indistinguishable from one another in
The Knight has been supplanted by the Bodyguard. Traditionally,
the Knight was represented by a horse, but animal-rights activists had pointed
out that the Knight's move, due to its convoluted nature, was deemed too dangerous
for a large animal with thin legs. The new Bodyguard sports a suit and sunglasses.
The Bishop has been displaced by the Journalist, a thin figure in a raincoat.
The Rook or Castle has become the Homeless Shelter, a two-story square
figure, and the Pawn has been replaced by the Taxpayer, a stooped figure of indeterminate
sex. All figures are either light chartreuse or deep purple except for the Journalists,
which are either very light pink or dark red depending on whether they play chartreuse
The need to update the game became apparent several years
ago when a spokesperson for the National Organization of Women pointed out that
the Queen's subordinate position to the King, despite her superior mobility, was
a very poor role model for women.
Studies undertaken subsequently under
a grant awarded by the National Endowment of the Arts demonstrated that the traditional
game of chess influenced children to become aggressive and bellicose.
"Children were being exhorted to 'crush', 'trap' and 'repulse' their opponents."
Ms. Piscopo explained.
Such phrases as mating net and queening square
were also found to be deeply offensive to many people.
After the new
board and figures were introduced at the news conference, copies of the new rules
were distributed to journalists following the news conference. A summary of the
most important changes follow here:
• The President
can make unlimited horizontal and diagonal moves, the Spouse
unlimited vertical and diagonal. If one is in check, the other must come
to his/her rescue. Should this not be possible within two
moves, a Taxpayer
is sacrificed. (Formerly, the
King could move only one square at a time, while
the Queen had great power, being able to move unlimited number of squares
in any direction. After extensive consultations with NOW,
the roles of the
President and the Spouse were equalized
so that neither is subordinate to the
• The Journalist moves only to the left.
Bodyguard retains the old Knight's move but may compensate for the
Journalist's leftward bent by moving one square to the right when the Journalist
is stranded at the edge of the board.
• The term castling has been supplanted by sheltering and takes
five Taxpayers have been exhausted.
• All other moves have been retained.
At the close
of the press conference, Ms. Piscopo expressed her appreciation to Hillary Clinton
and the leadership of NOW, PETA, NEA, and ACT-UP for their significant contributions
to this epochal change in chess and its rules. She noted that next year her organization
will begin discussions with the American Crossword Society.
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