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Smess. British name of Smess, a Parker Brothers game in which arrows on squares determine the directions pieces may move. (7x8, Cells: 56) (Recognized!)[All Comments] [Add Comment or Rating]
Michael Jacobs wrote on 2002-07-21 UTCGood ★★★★
I used to have a copy of 'Take the Brain', and played it a lot.  It is a
great game, and the 'one-way' system means that moves must be planned very
carefully.  Ultimately, he who controls the central squares usually wins
the game.  The typical '1970s' graphics add to the charm of the game, and
'All the King's Men', whilst more 'dignified', somehow lacks this cute
element of anarchy...

Whilst I had seen 'All the King's Men', the 'Smess' version is news to me.
 I am very pleased to see that this game is still preserved for posterity,
and hope one day to see a commercial edition on sale again so that I
restore it to my collection!

I would have rated this item as excellent - even just for existing - if
the pictures of the pieces had been a bit clearer, and more had been said
about actual game-play.

Anonymous wrote on 2002-09-05 UTCGood ★★★★
I wonder if this is the Michael Jacobs who lived in south africa and directed chess tournaments. if so I'm trying to make contact. Ian Kitai, 95 bayly st w #202, Ajax, Ontario, Canada L1S 7K8

Anonymous wrote on 2002-09-18 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

Richard wrote on 2002-09-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Loved this game when I was younger and have Two versions of the Smess game
one that my Relitive gave me when he got bored with it and one I found at

a Yard Sale a few years back.  Sad to say that no one I hang with knows 
how to play the game or wants to learn.  I was wondering if there is a 
computer version of this game somewhere out there?  This is the Type of 
Computer Chess that would go great with some Computer Graphics.  Thanks
Having this Site did not know anyone else rememberd the game.

Peter Aronson wrote on 2002-09-22 UTC
There are two versions of this game available for the computer game Zillions of Games (see:, one by Fergus Duniho (called 'All the King's Men' or 'Ninnychess'), available from this site, and one by Stephen Tavener (called 'Take the Brain') available from the Zillions site. Zillions is currently selling for about $15 dollars when downloaded from their site.

Anonymous wrote on 2003-02-04 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Does anyone have an spare Smess game that they would be willing to sell? Must have all pieces and instructions. Please contact soon. Today's date is 2-3-03 conntact [email protected] (no caps)

Ben Good wrote on 2003-02-04 UTC
your best bet is ebay. people who read and have a smess set are much less likely to be interested in selling it. i just did an ebay search - currently there's one for sale, it's at $17 with more than 2 days left, which is typical; in the auctions i've watched in the past, smess sets typically sold for $25-$35, sometimes higher. i don't know of anywhere else to get one. 'all the kings men' sets go for much less, i paid less than $10 for mine.

The Gather wrote on 2003-04-13 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Wow!   I had 'Take the Brain' as a kid (OK .. still got it sans box)& no
one I've ever chatted to knew what it was!  Great to find out it's US

Richard wrote on 2003-05-30 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
In 1977, Andimeshk Iran, I came in Second Place to Mark Price from Sacramento CA. We had a school tornament to find the best Smess player. This preceded the Chess tornament to which I also won second place to MP. It was a great game to play and everybody in my school wanted to play it. It was as exiting as chess but alot more fun. For me Smess brings back memories of some of the best days of my life in Iran before the Revolution.

F. Mendonca wrote on 2003-11-11 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
My comment is on both Smess and All the Kings' Men as I've played both of them and LOVE both of them. I regretfully am missing two dark brown ARCHERS from my All the Kings' Men game and would like to know if anybody would like to sell me 2. Thanks! Contact [email protected] Today is Nov. 11, 2003.

BILL wrote on 2004-11-12 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I thought i was the only one in the UNIVERSE who had ever heard of smess... i still have my board in good condition.

Shazza wrote on 2005-03-17 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
Funny what you fall across when your'e at work!!! Wow, same as other comments, none of my friends recall the game 'take the brain', I still have mine although the board shall we say is well used. It certainly was the start of my interest to play 'grown up' chess and I am a great believer in board games as opposed to computer games, bring back take the brain........................

Rob 1962 wrote on 2005-07-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I saw part of this page on an ebay auction for TTB. It inspired me to dust off the old set I was given for Christmas 1970 or '71. I requested it as a present from Santa after seeing a really cool TV ad for it, with the figures shot in close up. So I have not only dusted it off but repaired the board, and given the Brain's heads a new lick of black enamel paint. Amazingly all the guys are there. A couple of Numskulls got broken over the years but glued fine. I have just played with my 13 year old son - great fun and a whole new world for him. I had never heard of Smess or All the Kings Men before. Circa 1975 I played an even weirder spin off game called Daft Draughts with all Ninnies, but called 'Quacks' or something, on a board with swirls and spirals instead of squares, as I recall. Does anyone remember that? And finally I am currently rehearsing the part of Freddie in the musical 'Chess' to complete the loop.

Fergus Duniho wrote on 2005-12-12 UTC
Although the copyright on the Smess board belongs to Reuben Klamer, David
Pritchard attributed the invention of the game to Perry Grant. I just got
confirmation that the inventor of Smess is Perry Grant, not Reuben Klamer.
Unfortunately, that confirmation came in Perry Grant's obituary. He died
just a year ago at age 80. Here is a link:

Peggy wrote on 2006-01-31 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
My battered old Smess board has never been out of use, and is as popular with my children and their friends as it was with me and mine. However, my favorite memory is my master-class chess playing grand-father and uncle sitting in rapt contemplation of a game while the family partied around them one night. My only complaint is that I inevitably lose after having just played my son in chess, as he adjusts more quickly to the arrows than I.

Anonymous wrote on 2007-01-22 UTCExcellent ★★★★★
I loved Smess as a kid and am so bummed about Perry Grant's death. It's great to see photos of the board and peices on the Internet. All I have of the game are memories.

The Mad Macedonian wrote on 2007-10-15 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

When I did a Google Search to see if I could learn more about my 28 year
old copy of All the Kings Men, for a blog post I am planning, I was
stunned at what I found.

This place, and the history, and links it provides.

I have not had anyone to play against in more than 15 years, but I have
held on to this, one of my favorite games ever!

takethebrain wrote on 2013-01-31 UTC

Smess for android available for free on google play here

Jörg Knappen wrote on 2013-08-14 UTC
I learned that there was a german edition of this game published in 1972 by Parker under the title "Schach dem Schlaukopf". The pieces are Dummkopf (Ninny), Schlitzohr (Numskull), and Schlaukopf (Brain).


Ben McLean wrote on 2014-06-03 UTC
Now available for Tabletop Simulator on Steam Workshop!

Kevin Pacey wrote on 2016-09-19 UTCExcellent ★★★★★

In spite of the light-hearted appearance of Smess, the use of pointers on cells to determine directions that a piece can move was an interesting feature introduced to the chess variants world by this game.

After playing over a handful of games, I'd tentatively value a Ninny piece as 1 and a Numskull as 2, with a Brain having the fighting value of a Ninny (though the loss of a Brain means the loss of the game).

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