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YMMV / Chess

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The Game

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In Shogi (a Japanese chess variant), the "king" has also been viewed as representing the children of that player's color — the future, if you will. Referenced in Naruto.
    • Poor, maligned Black: just minding his business on the other side of the border until one day White stages a surprise attack and leaves him with no choice but to defend his homeland with violence. When will White be taken to account for his crimes against chess pieces? There is no justice in this board.
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    • A blocked bishop is traditionally seen as useless since it's hemmed in by pawns and can barely move, let alone attack anything. But a different point of view is that it can be a useful way to shore up a critical pawn structure.
    • The Queen is the most powerful chess piece, unlike most historical queens. Even those who did have absolute rule were still typically subject to the influence of men, at least politically. And of course, outside of rare exceptions which might be more myth than fact, queens did not fight in battle as that was not their place. In Chess' origin country in The East, the Queen was actually a Vizier, an obviously male adviser who historically could act as a power behind a throne, especially if the king is young or weak. However, in the equally patriarchal Europe, this piece became a queen but it may represent political influence as Queens acted as ambassadors and diplomats. The queen's power in chess may reflect either political influence or the actions of a Queen's agents, spies, and personal guards. In the end, she is still acting on the orders of her king. More cynical schools of thought may see the queen's power in seduction and sex.
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    • The King's limited mobility in chess is often interpreted as being a weaker piece. Some assume that it refers to the fact that many historical kings were older, physically weaker men who were well past their battle years. A more modern interpretation suggests that this is symbolic of the fact that a king's power was not in what he could personally do, but in the influence and control that he had over others. A physically powerful man may be able to fight several enemies at once and win, but this does not necessarily translate into leadership, political, or strategic skills. A king pre-occupied with the governing of his kingdom, daily aspects of the Standard Royal Court, and the task of people pleasing is usually obligated to leave the fighting to the professionals. note . History has shown that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of power one has and the amount of freedom to act independently.
  • Character Tiers: Called relative value. The key word is relative; each piece is worth, on average, a certain number of points but they can all vary according to the situation (open vs. closed game, midgame vs. endgame, etc.). These points are a marker of who's ahead in material and don't count at all for gameplay purposes. This isn't the only important indicator of who's winning (having a good position or control of the board can balance it out) and the player with weaker or fewer pieces sometimes wins; all the material advantage in the world won't save you from a Surprise Checkmate.
    • Top Tier: The queen is by far the most overpowered piece, and is one of the major pieces. Worth 9 points.
    • High Tier: The rooks are, along with the queen, considered the major pieces. Worth 5 points each, it's generally bad to lose one of them in exchange for, say, a bishop. Two rooks are slightly better than a queen.
    • Mid Tier: The bishops and knights are both considered the minor pieces and are worth about 3 points each. A bishop is worth slightly more than a knight and two bishops together are better than two knights or a mixture of both. However, the knight is better in closed games while the bishop needs a lot of room to be effective. Three of these equal a queen, or a rook plus a pawn.
    • Low Tier: Pawns, who are mostly your first line of defense and are used to open up positions for the more powerful pieces to attack. However, they become much more important in the endgame when the board opens up and they are able to promote. Isolated pawns are very weak; connected pawns are, however, much stronger because an opponent won't want to sacrifice a more valuable piece to break them up. A single pawn can decide a game in some situations. Worth one point each.
    • Bottom Tier: A blocked bishop (one that is hemmed in by its own pawns) is useless except for defending the pawns. Even worse is a backward or doubled pawn (has a friendly pawn in front of it and can't advance).
  • Designated Hero/Designated Villain: The players. The colors for the pieces do not constitute as heroic or villainous traits, so there's no "Hero vs Villain" dynamic unless the players hold a sufficient dislike for one another, and even then, it falls onto perspective instead of narrative. Some custom or themed boards will give the pieces features and make one side "good" and another "evil" (such as Mario chess) but again this depends all on the players.
  • Ending Fatigue: Some novice games can drag on for quite a while, especially when it's just chasing the king around the board. Professional players would have resigned long ago at this stage. This is the reason why the fifty-move rule was invented (which is still pretty long for an average game). Even some professional games can last well over a hundred moves if one player is unwilling to offer a draw in a drawing position, in the hopes his opponent will make a mistake.
  • Face of the Band: Just about anytime chess is referred to, or symbolized, you'll see the Knight.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Having evolved in India, the Middle East and Southern Europe, modern chess has been dominated by Russians. To put this in perspective; the 2010 World Championship (India's Viswanathan Anand vs. Bulgaria's Veselin Topalov) was the first championship since 1921 to have no Russian-born participant.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Anish Giri drawing.Explanation 
    • Bongcloud Attack / 2. Ke2Explanation 
    • Outstanding Move!
  • Nightmare Fuel: If you look at pieces like humans, some of the moves and mates can be absolutely horrifying. For an example, "Smothered Mate". Brrr.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Explaining castling to a new player can get pretty daunting. Even in intermediate play a lot of confusion can still occur as to what is or isn't a legal castling scenario.
    • En passant can cause a lot of trouble in novice games due to the obscure nature of the rule.
  • That One Rule: The "en passant" move of the pawn is the most frequently overlooked or forgotten rule in the game. And for a newbie, thinking that you can move your piece to safety, only to discover that it's not actually safe, can be extremely frustrating.
  • Unwinnable by Insanity: Underpromotion allows for this. If a player underpromotes to a knight or a bishop in a king and pawn vs. king endgame, the game is immediately unwinnable (ends in a draw), because there are no possible moves to checkmate the king.
  • Viewer Species Confusion:
    • The piece that moves in an L-shape and jumps sure looks like a horse in most chess sets, but English-speaking players insist that its a "Knight". However most other languages are more straightforward and call this piece by their words for "horse".
    • A similar case could be said with the "Rook". It looks like a castle, not a bird! (It comes form the Persian word for castle) Some players do call it a "Castle", also note the term castling and the fact most other languages call it a "tower" of something similar.
    • The Bishop in Spanish-speaking countries is called an "Alfil", which is a remnant of the original arabic version of the game where the piece was an elephant (al-fil).note  Good luck finding many people who know this rather obscure tidbit, specially since the piece looks nothing like an elephant.

The Musical

  • Adaptation Displacement: It's not hard to find people who know and love "One Night in Bangkok", but have no idea that it came from this musical.
    • The same could also be said (though to a lesser extent) of "I Know Him So Well".
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Anatoly Sergievsky—troubled Anti-Hero pulled apart by the demands of everyone in his life who eventually decides to stand up for himself? Or a spoiled Jerkass whose great success and beautiful family aren't enough, so he abandons the latter, and eventually admits his first obligation is to himself?
    • "The Game of Chess" — is it really about the backstory of the game itself, or is it about the Manipulative Bastard who invented the game purely to get his mother on his side to betray his brother.
    • Thanks to the sheer number of versions of the show, pretty much every single main character has several alternate interpretations available:
  • Awesome Music: "Endgame"—particularly the last minute of it— as well as "Anthem", and "Pity the Child".
    • "Mountain Duet".
    • "Nobody's Side" is worth a mention too.
    • I hear "One Night in Bangkok" has its fans.
    • The sheer complexity of "Quartet (A Model of Decorum and Tranquility)" is also worth mentioning.
    • The entire "Opening Ceremony".
  • Badass Decay: The versions that have "Pity the Child" in the first act result in Freddie becoming Walter's puppet without anything to save his character from being anything more than a Jerkass pawn with delusions of grandeur.
  • Broken Base: Few things in the history of the show have been more divisive than Idina Menzel's portrayal of Florence in the 2008 concert.
  • Designated Hero: Deconstructed. Freddie is a Decoy Protagonist in some advertising, with Florence as the actual protagonist. Florence is still an adulterer who's arguably committing treason.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Freddie seems to get this a lot from the fanfic writers, but not so much from the rest of the fandom.
    • See the entry for Alternative Character Interpretation above. The latter interpretation leaves Anatoly as an even bigger a-hole than Freddie, so naturally the fangirls are gonna set about making him even more sympathetic.
    • "Opening Ceremony / The Arbiter"
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The 2006 World Championship match, anyone? Danailov would fit perfectly into this show.
  • Tear Jerker: Many folk who, for their own reasons, have had to leave the country they were born and raised in, have reported bursting into tears when they hear "Anthem."
    • "Someone Else's Story" is Florence's Moment Of Clarity: Freddie doesn't and probably never loved her, and she realizes it objectively, just as she admits she's lying to herself about it even now. Set as a gentle, uplifting song, it's about a woman who forces herself to see the world as it really is, and that she's approaching the Despair Event Horizon, and can't change it.
    • "I Know Him So Well" has at least one of Anatoly's lover or wife realize they're aware of his infidelity, but can't bring themselves to hate him (or, in some versions, each other).
    • "Nobody's Side" is Florence's Heroic BSoD. It's also her Leit Motif. Let that sink in.
    • Depending on the version, "Pity the Child" can be one of these, especially if you are/were a child of a broken home yourself.
  • The Woobie: Mischa in the Swedish production. Maybe his grandma as well.
    • Depending on the production (and the actor), "Pity the Child" can almost turn Freddie into one.
    • Svetlana and Florence can be this, especially in "I Know Him So Well."
    • Molokov, of all people, in the Swedish version. He gets a song unique to this version in which he wistfully tells Anatoly that he knows what he does is evil, but it's necessary for the advancement of their nation.


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