Many Are Cold, but Few Are Frozen

David Lawrence's personal blog

Thinking Way Outside the Box: Katya Chess


Thinking outside the box...or maybe inside?

What do you do when your pre-schooler wants to play chess with you? I knew my girl wouldn't be able to master the complexities of the game, or even remember the basic moves. I tried to convince her to play something else, but she wouldn't hear of it. So I decided to give it a shot. It turns out to have been the right move.

I knew things would get funky when we were setting up the board. Katya immediately decided that the queen should not be in the back, and moved her to the middle of the board. She ignored my protests. So I went along with it. Then things got even wilder.

Next, Katya decided that any of her pieces could move in any direction she wanted. Again, my protests were futile. As we played, centuries of tradition were swept away without a thought. Soon, pieces could fly over others to any position. It became possible to capture multiple opponents in a single turn. Kings and queens could kiss. Eventually, it even became possible to capture your own pieces.

As the game evolved, even the board became unnecessary. Sometimes we play inside the box. Winning or losing gradually became irrelevant.

Soon I found myself enjoying Katya Chess more than regular chess. When you're stressed out, Katya Chess opens the mind. Suddenly, nothing is impossible. You can disregard history, tradition, or society's conventions. It's totally liberating.

So now I let go and just play. How the game turns out doesn't really matter, as long as we have fun. A good lesson overall, I think.

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