Chess for the Era of Desert Storm
THE game of chess needs to be modernized. It is seriously outmoded in its present state.Chess is supposed to represent war between two opposing nations. But while chess may have had some resemblance to war in the Middle Ages, it has no resemblance to modern warfare. Even the pieces in chess reflect its medieval origins: Each side has a king and queen, two knights and two castles. Each side also has two bishops, reflecting the important role that churchmen played in politics back then. Finally, each side has eight pawns - a pejorative term demonstrating class prejudice, which is unacceptable now. More important than the outmoded nomenclature of the chess pieces, though, is the plodding pace at which the game proceeds. In traditional chess, the players can take as long as they like when it is their turn to decide which piece to move, but they can only move one piece per turn. This isn't like modern war. One side is not going to politely wait around while the other side decides what it will do. Modern war, as the Gulf conflict demonstrated, is fast-paced. Both sides are moving lots of pieces at once. I would like to propose a few modifications that would make chess more relevant today. First, the medieval nomenclature should be thrown out. The king should become president, the knights should become generals, and the pawns should become soldiers. I'm not sure what to do about the bishops. Maybe they should become admirals to make up for the short shrift chess has long given to navies. The castles should become air force generals. This way, all three services would be represented in the game, just as they are in actual war. I can't understand how the medievals thought castles could move, anyway. Deciding what the queen should become is more difficult. Perhaps she should become secretary of state or National Security Council adviser. Actually, the players should be able to give all their pieces whatever titles they prefer. Some might prefer a democracy, others a dictatorship. The titles do not matter just as long as each piece makes the same type of moves as they do in traditional chess and the object of the game is to capture the other side's king (or president, general secretary, chief ayatolla h, or whatever). Second, instead of moving only one piece, the players should be allowed to move as many pieces as they want, one move per turn. This would definitely speed up the pace of the game. This modification could lead to a problem: A player might "forget" whether he or she has moved a piece during a turn. It is up to the opponent to monitor whether the other player has moved his or her pieces only once. This too would reflect real life. As we all know, nations often violate the rules of war to their own advantage. They will only stop if their opponents make them stop. There is also the danger that one player would falsely accuse the other of breaking the rules of the game. But this happens in modern war, too. Third, each player will have the right to declare once during the game that one of the opponent's pawns (or soldiers) is actually a spy working for the first player. That player can then move the turncoat pawn against the opponent for the rest of game. This modification will force each side to anticipate and plan for the disloyalty of any of his or her pawns. It is an important change because it would realistically reflect the preoccupation of modern governments about spies within their ranks. A final modification could be introduced for advanced players. The game board could be enlarged and configured with eight sides for eight players. To get anywhere, players would have to enter coalitions with one another. Coalitions could change during the course of the game. This, too, would resemble modern war. If chess is modernized in this way, I admit that it will be far more difficult and confusing than the type of conflict traditional chess was designed to imitate.