A chess set that could teach aliens how to play


[Read the post]


If the diagonal moves ended in points rather than flats…(so that the bishops looked more like stars than gears) the difference between rooks and bishops would be more obvious.


I was going to mention that too, but it looks like all the pieces are skewed so that they always tilt towards the owner of those pieces, so it should actually be straightforward to keep your pieces pointed directly forward. So the rook and the bishop should be intuitively different.


I found the concept and actual design of the pieces to be very interesting, but disagree with the ‘it’s self-explaining!’ tone of commentary. I’m all for clever information design, but not a fan of overselling!

Yes, it might be helpful to remind a novice of rules they’ve already learned, but I see nothing, say, in the shape of the pawns that shows you when the moves are diagonal or not, or tell you anything about the whole bothersome ‘promotion’ business at the end of the board.


I remember having a lot of trouble learning checkers

aaaand that’s where I stopped reading.


Pretty sure it’s a typo or translation error. Makes more sense if the author meant chess. But still…


How do they know to move pawns 1 or 2 spaces on the first move but only 1 space on subsequent moves? Also I don’t see anything explaining castleing.


It’s not a bug, it’s a feature: if you can get your bishop to the back corner, it turns 45 degrees and becomes a rook!


Nice, I came up with something similar a few years back.


That’s important to know once you reach a certain level … and once you’ve reached that level it’s easy to assimilate that extra knowledge (along with the promotion business, castling, and whatnot). But for a n00b learning the game it’s pretty much irrelevant whether they move the prawn one square or two on its first move.

The shapes are a prompt and a crutch, not a complete instruction manual.


I think the most obvious question is completely left out of the article!

Should we really be teaching the aliens the game that lays bare all the military strategies our species has developed through it’s time on the planet?

I mean, maybe without our help they’d arrive, line up and slowly march downward into our guns because it always worked before?

But then we go and teach them chess and the next thing you know they’re going all Cylon on us and blowing us up with our own weapons. Then they’re all like, “Thanks Brah!” as they strip our resources and move on to their next victims.

Oh wait I forgot we’ve been beaming our shit into space since we learned how, nvrmind


Well, that would close the learning cycle. Prepare to be reaped, humankind.


Pretty brilliant!


Only if you get it to the back corner of the opposite color than the field that bishop started from.


It doesn’t matter any more. The aliens already play Go.

This is a well-documented fact.

Emanuel Lasker, chess grandmaster and one of the early Western Go players, already observed this by saying: “If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go”.

And a bit earlier, Oskar Korschelt, probably the first person to bring the rules of Go to Europe, noted that “Go is not just the picture of a battle, as chess is, but that of an entire campaign, a campaign of the modern kind” (“Das Go hingegen ist nicht blos das Bild einer Schlacht, wie das Schach, sondern eines ganzen Feldzuges und zwar eines Feldzuges moderner Art”).

We can conclude that when the aliens arrive to make war, we might win some battles due to our superior abilities at chess-style battle tactics, but we will lose the war (Japan and Korea might resist for a while, but we can’t expect them to save the whole planet).

Luckily, the game of Go, unlike chess, is not about total annihilation.


Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how hard a pawn has to hit a bishop to knock it out of its orbit?


Bishops are not allowed to orbit, as the rules only allows them to move in straight lines. Which makes your question quite irrelevant.

But I’ll provide this instead of an answer: I hope the pawn hits him hard, in order to punish that nasty bishop for breaking the rules.


Well, we aren’t teaching them Go so we’ll be ok.

Update: Damn it. Someone made that point before me!


Does anybody else think of the BBC The Tripods series when looking at this.
It has the feeling of the “City of Gold”.

It also reminds me that if the Masters had conquered Earth, they would create the legend that they created the game, and perhaps even introduce new standard pieces that would add further depth to their fantastic deception.


Soooo, chessperanto?