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Fun-in-a-Box Chess

And then he ran out.
And, then, fast as a fox,
the Cat in the Hat
came back in with a box.
A big red wood box.
It was shut with a hook.
'Now look at this trick,'
said the cat.
'Take a look!'

Then he got up on top
with a tip of his hat.
'I call this game FUN-IN-A-BOX,'
said the cat.
'In this box are two things
I will show to you now.
You will like these two things,'
said the cat with a bow.*

Fun-in-a-box Chess is orthodox chess with Things added, namely, Thing One and Thing Two. Each player has a pair of Things, which start the game in a red wooden box behind the King and Queen. We assume the hook, with which the box had been latched, has been un-hooked at the start of the game, so the Things are free to move and cause Havoc immediately. Or perhaps they'll wait and watch the game a little first...
            +===+===+
            | t | t |
+---+---+---+===+===+---+---+---+
| r | n | b | q | k | b | n | r |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| p | p | p | p | p | p | p | p |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| P | P | P | P | P | P | P | P |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| R | N | B | Q | K | B | N | R |
+---+---+---+===+===+---+---+---+
            | T | T |
            +===+===+

          Initial Array

'You will like these two Things...'

Then those Things ran about
with big bumps, jumps and kicks
and with hops and big thumps
and all kinds of bad tricks...*

Thing One and Thing Two start the game in their 'box', which is just behind the King and Queen. These squares are for the owning player's Things only, and are there for the purpose of giving the Things someplace to move out from. These two squares cannot be moved into, even by the owning player's Things. Thing One and Thing Two are identical, but for those who would like to know, Thing One starts out behind the Queen, and Thing Two starts out behind the King.

Things move like no other piece. Literally. They move like a piece that can leap anywhere except as a 1-2, 0-N or N-N leaper. Now, that's movement only, not capturing. Things capture by standing on either side of an enemy piece. If, after a Thing moves, there is an enemy piece directly next to it, with the other Thing directly on the other side of that enemy piece, then the enemy piece is captured.

Example 1: Places where a Thing can move:

+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X | X | X |   | X | X | X |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   | X | X |   | X | X |   | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   |   |   |   | X | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   |   |   |   | X | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   | T |   |   |   |   |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   |   |   |   | X | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
| X |   |   |   |   |   | X | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
|   | X | X |   | X | X |   | X |
+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+

The Thing at d4 could move to any empty space marked with an "X".

Example 2: Capturing

+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   | 4
+---+---+---+---+
|   |   | b |   | 3
+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   | T | 2
+---+---+---+---+
| T |   |   |   | 1
+---+---+---+---+
  e   f   g   h

White's Thing on e1 could move to f4, capturing the black Bishop at g3.

Example 3: Capturing

+---+---+---+---+
|   |   |   |   | 4
+---+---+---+---+
|   |   | b |   | 3
+---+---+---+---+
|   |   | T |   | 2
+---+---+---+---+
| T |   |   |   | 1
+---+---+---+---+
  e   f   g   h

White's Thing on e1 could move to g4, capturing the black Bishop at g3.

Pawns may not promote to Things (ie. a player may only have either two or zero Things).

'What a shame! What a shame!'

Then he shut up the Things in the box with the hook.
And the cat went away with a sad kind of look.*

If either Thing One or Thing Two is captured, then both Things are put back inside their box, and the hook latched closed (ie. they're removed from the game). But don't worry, there are little holes in the box, so they can still watch the game. The player whose Things were captured should say 'what a shame!' and look sad.

If you like the Things too much, and want to let them continue playing, you can use this variation: when your Things are put back in their box, and the hook is latched closed, they have to stay in the box until you put the enemy king in check. At that point the hook is un-hooked, and your Things can move back out onto the board on your next turn!

Play It!

Peter Aronson has implemented this game in Zillions. You can play this game if you have Zillions-of-Games. Just download:

fun-in-a-box.zip

* quoted from The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss


Written by David Howe
The idea for the Things' capturing method is from Ultima.
WWW Page Created: 19 April 2001.