Chess goes back hundreds of years to ancient India, from where it spread all over the globe. It seems simple enough, with a 64-square board and two sets of the same pieces, but chess proves to be a game that challenges everyone who plays. Even today one of the greatest tests of skill is the World Chess Championship, since it takes smarts, patience, and planning to become a master. Mathematicians have studied the possibilities of moves in chess and calculated that there are about one novemtrigintillion games of chess in the universe. That is one followed by 120 zeroes.
No Stress Chess cuts out the intimidation factor of so much math, making chess easy to learn by breaking it down piece by piece. The set comes with a double-sided board. One shows the regular checkerboard pattern, the other shows where all the pieces go in the beginning setup. The labeled board also shows the two most common opening moves, moving the pawns in front of the king or queen. While the mapped board is handy, the most useful part of the set is the deck of cards printed with each piece’s moves.
No Stress Chess begins at Level One in which players get familiar with the pieces. Players take turns drawing from the deck, pulling a card with a piece and its directions for moves. They then study the board and determine what would be the best move to make with that piece. Players continue until one is able to capture the opposing king.
When players are comfortable with the board, No Stress Chess raises things to Level Two and Level Three. In these variations, players draw hands of three and five cards respectively. Choosing from the cards in their hands, they draw new possibilities of pursuit across the board. By gradually gaining more options, rather than all 16 at once, players will come to understand what moves are available and train themselves to make the optimal choices to move forward in the game.
As players master No Stress Chess, they move into the standard rules of the game itself. Now without cards, players survey the board and move any piece they like: pawns forward one or capturing another piece diagonally, knights moving in “L” shapes, bishops moving diagonally, rooks moving in a straight line, the queen able to move in any direction. More eccentric moves are explained, too, such as “castling” by moving the king and rook, “promotion” when a pawn is turned into another piece upon reaching the far end of the board, and “en passant” to allow a pawn to block another from moving its initial two spaces. Those may seem complicated, but by the time players have moved through the stages of No Stress Chess, they will readily take in the new rules.
No Stress Chess is a teaching chess game for two players aged seven and up. While good for new players learning the moves, the deck of cards also serves as a great leveler of the field for experienced players, who will now have their options limited. Such a change-up might actually prove a favorite style of play for those looking to add a little more spice to their chess games. This balance of luck and skill in a game that has always had strong reasoning components makes No Stress Chess a great addition to every gaming household.