Novelty Chess Sets

On a drunken evening a few years ago a friend and I thought we’d play a game with his recently acquired Napoleonic chess set.

It seemed a great idea at the time, but as he got the pieces out of the lavishly decorated box and started to set them up I knew we were going to be in for a rough ride.
The only thing I know about Napoleon is that he liked a game of chess and he was a little chubby dude.
(That sounds like someone I know)

All the ‘bits’ were made from some kind of heavy metal and elegantly finished, its just that… trying to play chess is hard enough with the standard Staunton sets let alone trying to decipher if it’s a bishop or a pawn you’re moving.

My friend, (who incidentally is a none chess player), neglected to buy a board as he already had one, a tatty old cardboard effort which was three times too small for the fancy pieces he bought! The last time he'd used the board was nearly 20 years ago at junior’s school and “it seemed much bigger then”.

“Mmm…No Shit!”

My explanation of perspective and of things being relative fell upon deaf inebriated ears. The miniscule board left the knight’s feet resting on the pawns shoulders, the rooks were halfway off the board, and the bishop’s were indecently exposing themselves to the King and Queen.
After we had played a dozen moves or so, the board looked like a chess scrap yard!

The game was abandoned after twenty moves or so, as both of us had no idea what was happening on or off the board, and have you ever tried to explain the finer points of the en passant rule to a drunkard?

A drunkard who barely knows how to play the game to start with!
Man, if you thought the ‘offside’ rule was hard to explain, its nothing compared to this.

Here is the great man in action, just managing to beat a lass!

Napoleon I - Madame de Remusat [C41]

Malmaison Castle, 1804

1.Nc3 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.e4 f5 4.h3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Nc6 6.Nfg5 d5 7.Qh5+ g6 8.Qf3 Nh6?


[8...Bf5] was much, better 9.Nf6+ Ke7 10.Nxd5+ Kd6 11.Ne4+ Kxd5 12.Bc4+ Kxc4 13.Qb3+ Kd4 14.Qd3#


I’ve seen a few of Napoleon’s games on various databases and as far as I can see, he was a better military strategist than a chess player, although it was a chivalrous time, and he may have taken it easy on the lady, giving her the opportunity of a piece, on move 8, which she refused, opting for the loss instead!