From Chess 2 with its new armies to Bennett Foddy’s Speed Chess [official site] with 16 players and simultaneous turns, a lot of ideas are floating around to make chess new and weird and exciting and silly. Add to the list Chesser [official site], a free arcadey take on the turn-based tactical classic.
What’s different here? Well, Chesser goes down a smaller grid: 6×6. Units can move in more directions and each side has a smaller lineup: four pawns, a king, and a queen. Oh, also squares can drop off the board and trigger traps to explode enemies.
Creator Chris Wade says Chesser is “inspired by all the bad parts of Chess. Chess is slow. Chess is tedious. Chess doesn’t have particles. Fuck that. Chesser is like Chess but more.”
Units can move in any direction, for starters. Also the board contains two special squares which, when triggered by a unit moving onto them, will destroy every other unit in that line. And squares will drop off the board as you play, changing the battlefield. And, yes, there are particles.
It’s quite silly, but when did chess get so serious? Eyewitness accounts of early chess matches note players making sounds as they moved their pieces, whinnying like horses and performing mocking impressions of bishops and monarchs. When this stopped is unclear, but we know the why: one decapitation-happy regent took issue with a particularly unkind impression and put the willies up everyone else. To this day, professional chess players will look aghast if one turns one’s nose up and haughtily mews “We are not amused” when moving a Queen.
Chesser is free to download for Windows and Mac from Itch.