and Cash is King...
January 3, 2007 10:50 PM   Subscribe

A disturbing chess set uses the US war in the Middle East as inspiration for its pieces. This is only one modern take of many variations of sets which play off of religious/cultural conflict. to The game itself generally has had a turbulent relationship with religion. In the 13th Century, Pope Innocent III excused post-chess homicide as an involuntary act. Some modern Muslims don't approve of chess, despite Islam having probably introduced it to Europe. Judaism also has a long, if disputed engagement with the game, including enduring anti-semitic attacks about "Jewish" gameplay. The Taliban banned chess in Afghanistan, and the game has returned after their fall (though it now sounds like the Afghan women's team has been withdrawn).
posted by dkg (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Make Lovechess, not war.
posted by jonson at 10:57 PM on January 3, 2007

fancy chess pieces that are not uniform (ie, two different pieces for the rook) or do not resemble the classic design in some fashion are close to impossible to play :(
posted by Satapher at 11:00 PM on January 3, 2007

Interesting post. I was thinking the same thing as Satapher about the difficulties of having all of the islamic pieces the same. But now that I think about it, when I was traveling in muslim countries I mostly just saw people playing backgammon. (And playing it REALLY fast at that.) Never really saw any chess.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:03 PM on January 3, 2007

All this about chess sets, and no mention of the Civil War chess sets that were endlessly hawked on 80s American TV commercials?
posted by dw at 11:12 PM on January 3, 2007

$4350!?! For a chess set that looks like it was painstakingly hand-crafted by drunken, lobotomized monkeys?

Well, at least it's big enough to provide shelter beneath it in a rainstorm, but goddamn! For 4350 spanks I could buy and build two brand new computers and spend the other $1,350 on hiring an artist to craft whatever chess set I want.

Or I could spend $50 bucks on some clay and pizza and let the nearest kindergarden class have at it.
posted by loquacious at 11:42 PM on January 3, 2007

Yeah, I'm with loquacious on this one. Putting aside how tacky and irritating the chess set is in the first place, it looks like crap. Total crap. For that much money I would expect a much, much nicer chess set. There are many overpriced chess sets I've had my eye on over the years, but at least they looked good. ugh
posted by Stunt at 11:52 PM on January 3, 2007

Oh, but cool post, dkg. Thanks.
posted by Stunt at 11:53 PM on January 3, 2007

WTF do killer whales have to do with the war?
posted by iloveit at 11:53 PM on January 3, 2007

Yeah, cool post. And I dig the "stealth" play option - I've played chess with plain checkers just for the practice of remembering opens and moves, to train how to visualize how pieces behave - 'cause if you don't keep track of it all you're screwed and the game is over. At least until you get bored enough to try it again.

Then again, I also like playing "warp" and "3D" chess.
posted by loquacious at 12:01 AM on January 4, 2007

I'd say that chessboard not only looked bad, but seemed to lack any real imagination to it. I just noticed (duh) that the black side is just 16 of the same friggen piece. meh on the set, yay on the post
posted by edgeways at 12:04 AM on January 4, 2007

But for $4350 bucks I want a AI robotic chess set that has little epic robot battles on the board, with intermissions for readings of classical literature or small tragicomedic plays by the robots as well as the serving of fine beers.

No, not beer chess, which is cool and much more affordable, but not nearly as cool as a troupe of hard-fightin', fine-actin', beer servin' chess ro-bits would be.
posted by loquacious at 12:06 AM on January 4, 2007

I just noticed (duh) that the black side is just 16 of the same friggen piece.

That's intentional. It makes playing chess extremely difficult if you're not used to mentally tracking all of the pieces.
posted by loquacious at 12:07 AM on January 4, 2007

Also, I've determined that you should all just go ahead and anoint me as Most Awesome Dude of The Planet so we can be getting on with the Awesomeness.

I really, really don't want the job, but I figure it's going to be the only way we'll ever get flying cars that transform into killer giant robots with laser-beam eyes, kitchens you clean out with a hose, hot live sex in pill form, free beer fountains and all kinds of other Awesome stuff we really do all want.
posted by loquacious at 12:12 AM on January 4, 2007

Shame the terrah set is so shit... the beer one looks cool. The shot-glass sets I've been given are a little difficult to play with.
posted by pompomtom at 2:01 AM on January 4, 2007

Cash is king

I laughed.
posted by matteo at 2:28 AM on January 4, 2007

This stuff can be great. Get two sets, one of the Civil War theme, another of the Star Trek theme.

Then have the South beaten by Klingons.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 AM on January 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

From the 4th Link: In 1495 the Inquisition saw victims of persecutions stand in as figures in a game of living chess. The game was played by two blind players. Each time the captured piece was taken, the person representing that piece was put to death.

Now that's how to execute someone!

Nice post.
posted by MrMustard at 5:26 AM on January 4, 2007

loquacious for God! (You wouldn't even need a campaign manager!)
posted by pax digita at 5:29 AM on January 4, 2007

There are a few intriguing artistic innovations to this chess set: Cash as King, Liberty as Queen, Pope and Rabbi as the bishops, troops as pawns, the identical nature of the black pieces. Each of those makes a statement that makes you think of the US involvement in the Middle East in a new way. So, this chess set an interesting and worthy artistic piece, imho.

However, the craftsmanship does look rather crude. Way below $4350 worth.

But aside from the cost and craftsmanship, some aspects of it are compelling. I've neer played chess before where al the black pieces were identical and I simply had to remember which was which. And there ARE aspects to our Middle East interventions that are similar (not being able to tell native insurgents from imported terrorists from innocent locals).

Interesting, too, the premise that we are all about protecting out King Cash, when that's really what the Radicals are really trying to capture, with concepts such as "Liberty" merely being powerful pieces on the board, but not the real goal or motivating factor.
posted by darkstar at 7:12 AM on January 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

How appropriate that the American pawns are infantrymen.
posted by papakwanz at 8:38 AM on January 4, 2007

the standard design of chess pieces is known as the "staunton design". i refuse to play on a non-standard set.
posted by bruce at 10:56 AM on January 4, 2007

Play it by trust
posted by jcruelty at 11:02 AM on January 4, 2007

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