Stalemate
rating: +1+x

Clack.

"Black's Fourth Knight, taken. I believe it puts you in a position of permanent disadvantage."

"Yeah. I'd like to call a reset on D3 through F5, excepting D4."

"That's eight tiles, so… denied, I think. Could I examine §34.3c.1?"

"Oh, sure. In the meantime, I think I'd like to start rebuilding the western flank. These restraints are starting to chafe."

"Of course, of course.

Clack.

"Your move."


Rieussec despised chess.

For someone who had played for so long in his youth, it now reeked of insubordination, of irreverence. It was a game for people whose lives were changing, whose spare time could be measured in days or weeks, rather than years. Or decades. He wasn't so blinded as to call it fast-paced — the great masters of the game (himself included) would still play for months on end — but it was still tainted with unsuitability for the eternal. It was a sour relic from a time where life was expensive and even the long-term was vanishingly quick.

So Rieussec, aged two-hundred and seventeen, staring at the sixty-four chequered squares with barely concealed contempt, stood up. He swept the board (a product of three weeks playing) to the ground, and stormed away, never once looking at his opponent. It was on the local news. "Grand Master", they said, "does away with the game of kings."

On the first of July, 2235, the world's most renowned recreational strategist withdrew several lifetimes of savings, purchased a small workshop in four acres of preserved woodland, sent out schedules for remote deliveries, and fastened the door behind him. Two decades later, he emerged blinking into the light that filtered down through the surrounding tower blocks, carrying in his arms the first fourteen volumes of what would now and forever be known as The New Game.

When the first player landed in hospital two months later, the world was gripped.


"And if I capture R11?"

"You forfeit your advantage at the east, and I'll more easily deploy when the time comes for Evans' Gambit."

"Although you are hampered by Fifth Rook, I believe."

"Yeah, I've taken it into account. Is the second board in play?"

"It is, yes."

"Good, good. Just checking."

"I think I'll explore… well, hah, that would be telling. But I'll wait for my funds to come through, in any case."

"As I'd expect. Thirty-three cycles left 'til undo."

"Yes, I haven't forgotten."

"Your move."


The rules of The New Game were, as one might expect, baffling. In some cases, they seemed arbitrary; in others, self-evident. The board was still square, with twenty-six divisions to a side, but the pieces — of which there were over three-hundred variations — were unrecognisable as anything approaching chess. As each instance of the game went on, new rules would be revealed and come into play, as would new pieces, with the board expanding in various directions with the edition of carefully carved wooden tiles. Penalties were harsh, but defeat — that rare taste of finality — was sweet, and savoured. The game as a whole seemed constructed to mimic the bygone feeling of loss; you would start a game in the knowledge that, one day, perhaps years or decades down the road, it would all be for nothing. Nothing would be left save the scars of your passage through the battlefield. The games of other people would move on without you, and you would be left in the dust, having invested time, effort, and money into something that, ultimately, faltered and failed.

Needless to say it was immensely popular, and Johannes Rieussec quickly became a very rich man indeed.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License