GM Daniel King will have a bunny on the chess board if he has his way.
FIDE, the world governing body of chess, announced a new version of the game today.
The new version would make chess more popular for TV audiences if the pace of the game was speeded up.
The popular Netflix show, “The Queen’s Gambit” may have something to do with it, officials say.
The originator of this new game was Grandmaster Daniel King of England, who was of the opinion that chess was too slow of a game to ever become popular on TV.
His FIDE page, with his titles, can be found here.
He even has a Wikipedia entry.
The new version would leave the 8 x 8 board and pieces intact. The only change is for each player to secretly select a file, write it down, fold it the paper so no one else can see it, and then place the paper next to the clock so it is in full view, but not the content, to everyone.
At any time during the game which a player who wishes to move a pawn on that file, and that pawn is blocked by a single Piece or Pawn (POP), can jump over that POP and land on the square just behind the POP.
At this stage, according to GM King, this pawn becomes a bunny, ready to keep jumping until it becomes a new queen.
If the player who makes such a move is challenged by an opponent, he can unfold and show his paper that had previously been kept next to the clock.
Questions were raised by some members of the press. Mr. King answered them all with pride and confidence. Here are a select few.
Q: What if two pawns of the same color are on the same file?
A: If a pawn is directly behind another, then that one can jump over the other pawn. The pawn that is now behind, can now leap over the other one on the player’s next turn. If left alone, these two pawns can leap-frog over each other and two queens can come at a quicker pace.
Q: This proposal sounds like typical British humor; even more like a Monty Python skit.
A: Is that a question? The term “bunny” comes from the fact that bunnies and rabbits do jump. The knight already leaps so we couldn’t really use the word “horse”. Frogs also leap, but I think you might have more problems with that word. This announcement also comes close to Easter. So, “bunny” is it.
Q: What benefits does this version offer over the classical, non-bunny, chess?
A: One the biggest problem we have selling chess to the television audience is when the position is locked with pawns, each of them facing another pawn of the opposite color. Have one of those pawns with the ability to jump over will open the position in which at least one of the players may need to scramble. That will be good for ratings.
Another advantage is that since the file that supports “bunnies”, is unknown to everyone except the player, it creates a mystery. And of course, a player may choose to never use this bunny feature, in which case the mystery may never be answered. That also would be good for TV ratings.
We are still working on a symbol for the bunny jump that would be easy to write, understand, and use. We could use an Easter egg, but I really think “bh”, for “bunny hop” would suffice.
With that, GM King had to answer a phone call from England. He promised that this variation was expected to make it’s first appearance at a FIDE event sometime this Spring.