Friday, 7 August 2009

Smess - Almost Chess

My wife wonders why I have a book called 'The Playboy Book of Board Games". I explained to her that Playboy were the publishers, and in no way indicated the types of games in the book. In fact it is an excellent summary of a number of pre-1980 board games, and if you see a second hand copy I highly recommend it.
One game that fascinated me was "Smess - The Ninny's Chess". While similar to chess, in that has pieces, an 8 by 8 board, and the players take turns, it is significantly different in that the moves aren't defined by the pieces, but by the board. Each square has a number of arrows indicating the directions a piece is allowed to move in. The Brain and the Ninny's could move 1 square, while the NumbSkulls could move as many squares as possible (in a straight line). It was released around 1970, and must have been reasonably popular, as Leonard Barden even did some opening analysis for the game.
So for years I wondered what it would be like in practice, but assumed I was unlikely to find out. But these days you can find just about anything on eBay, and I'm now the new owner of an antique set, with a big "Toltoys" logo across the box! So I may give it workout in the next week or two and see how it compares to the real thing.

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