The Stanley Random Chess Files

The Blue Years of Stanley Random Chess

It is well known that SRC had red squares for seventeen years, refered to as the "Red Years" 1807-1814. In this fascinating guest article, R. Maximus Toeffr (surfnsuds) recounts the lesser known Blue Years of SR Chess.

There was a short period of time in the early 1980's when SRC was played with 64 Blue Squares, known as the "Blue Years." The pieces of both sides were the same shade of blue. This was intended as a cost-saving measure, as a response to the perceived threat to American industry by the Japanese.

The US manufacturers strived to cut costs by reducing the number of colors of paint they had to stock to make white and black squares and white and black pieces. By cutting over to a single color, they surmised, they could double their volume of that color paint and thus improve their bulk purchasing leverage. To this end they were successful.

A bright engineer suggested that in order to make the cut-over foolproof, they should also change from Black or White to some other color; and he proposed Blue, since this was his boss's favorite color. Vast quantities of Black and White paint were thus discarded, and the paint tanks refilled with a particular shade of Blue sanctioned by the ISRC and various International standards bodies.

On June 3, 1981, all retail locations swept their shelves of traditional Black and White SRC sets, and replaced them with the new all-Blue sets. In order to prevent confusion, all the old sets were immediately destroyed.

On June 4, the first offical game was attempted using the new set. Britain's Sir Hadley Connough-Flatus (B) sat across from Lichtenstein's Viktor Pikkel (B) in the Grand Ballroom of the Commodore Hotel. He pushed a pawn to E4. And Pikkel pushed it back.

Connough-Flatus then pushed another blue pawn to D4, and Pikkel pushed it back.

Connough-Flatus then attempted to pull Pikkel's pawn to E5, but Pikkel pulled it back. It became clear at this point that when both players have the same color of pieces, all the pieces belong to both players. And thus any move may be immediately rectracted by the other player.

The game was aborted and the opponents, quite baffled, but in an entirely freidnly fashion, shook hands and adjourned to the hotel bar for caviar and pizza.

In spite of the obvious applications this approach presented towards the advancement of world peace, the Blue Sets were pulled from the retail outlets and production on traditional black and white sets was resumed in time for the holidays.

The "Blue Years" had in fact lasted less than a day.

Apparently the difficulties with the Blue SRC sets became apparent even before the first game commenced.

Which side of the board should the two men take? After some serious consultation with the officals, they decided to march around the table with the tune "Blue Moon" playing. At a random moment, the music was abruptly stopped and the contestants sat in the closest chair.

This worked well. But as Pikkel stared a his pieces, he realized that not only was the Queen on her color, but so was his King. Likewise, both Bishops were Blue Bishops. This seemed clearly in violation of the most basic rules of SRC chess; however, a quick phone call to the ISRC Rules committee established that in Section 487a of Frobish's Appendix to the 1687 Codicil of the Transcript of Martin Beeber's Speech to the Gathered SRC Brethren of Prague, the queen and king may both share the same color ONLY when both bishops also share that same color.

Duly clarified on this point, all that remained was to determine which player was to go first.

Connough-Flatus palmed a pawn from each side and Pikkel drew a blue one. Of course, that also left Connough-Flatus with a blue one. Pikkel flew into a rage, insisting that Connough-Flatus had cheated. So Connough-Flatus requested that Pikkel try his hand, and of course the same result was obtained.

Thinking that perhaps three was the charm, a volunteer was selected from the audience (which consisted mostly of members of representatives from the paint industry.) The result of course, was still inconclusive.

The officials then turned again to the 1687 Codicil. Towards the back of the volume, two pages which had never been separated were pried apart and found to offer a solution. A blue pawn was placed on its side in the middle of the board and spun. When it stopped spinning, it was pointing at the British champ and he made the first move.

The rest of the story I have already related to you.

R. Maximus Toeffr is a world renowned authority on Stanley Random Chess. He is is currently working on a dissertation on the influence of SR Chess on windsurf design as evident in contemporary bluegrass music.

Posted Tuesday - 2006-04-04 - 12:07:25 EST
by Staff Reporter Verdra H. Ciretop in Toronto
All Rights Unreserved - Loof Lirpa Publishing
Text may be freely copied & redistributed

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