First International MetaCheckers Tournament

 

Second_Heat_Dalton_vs_Kevin_NEW
Dalton Versak (left) vs. Kevin McCaffery in Heat 2 of the MetaCheckers tournament.

Dalton Versak strongly disagreed with the MetaCheckers slogan on the kiosk.

“This is NOT easier than chess,” he said as he struggled with a decision in Heat 2 of the MetaCheckers tournament at the World Boardgaming Championships in Seven Springs, Pa. on July 28.

And yet, Dalton of Philadelphia survived to become the first international champion in MetaCheckers.

In MetaCheckers, checkers move like chess pieces based on a roll of special dice. One die has chess symbols. The other has standard pips to indicate numbers. Roll a king, pawn or knight, and the player can choose any checker to move as a king, pawn or knight. Roll a queen, rook or bishop, and the numbers die dictates how far a piece must move as a queen, rook or bishop. Players use these moves to try to capture the opponent’s king checker.

This sounds simple enough, but as the game develops, players are forced to make some tough choices. Sometimes the best available checker to eliminate an attacking piece is also guarding the king from another direction. So, they have to make a decision. Which attack is more likely to kill the king? Which defense will save it?

On the other hand, since any checker can move according to the roll of the dice, this means even the king checker can move as a knight … or a rook … or even a queen. So, the kings can participate in their own defense, attacks and escape. A player could be down to only the king checker against multiple pieces of the opponent and still win.

This is what happened during Heat 4 for Mark Love, who finished second in the tournament. About his game against Terry Masten of Delaware he says:

“My opponent eliminated ALL of my pieces except for my king. For a moment, I thought how silly it would be for me to prolong the game by trying to run and hide, since he had 5 Easy Pieces. After he took my last other piece, I got a bishop move and moved my king from my right center area of the board to the other side of the board, directly toward his king, with his other pieces all around me. Oddly, none of his pieces could take me out in that position. He got a king roll, and moved a non-king piece to try to get a better shot at me. I got a knight roll, which was exactly what I needed for the win. We were both shocked.”

Mark went on to win second place, losing when Dalton rolled a Rook 5 to capture Mark’s king in the final. At the end, Mark had 4 pieces left, and Dalton had 6.

MetaCheckers was invented in Horseheads, N.Y., by Ed and Jack Bond, who founded DreamGames. This is their first year bringing the game to conventions for sales, demos and tournaments. The players at the World Boardgaming Championships tested the game to its limits.

At other conventions and demos in the Northeast, games typically finished within 10 to 15 minutes. At the WBC, determined players pushed games to 20 minutes or more. And although it had been thought that draws were not possible in MetaCheckers, Dalton and Francois de Bellefeuille of Montreal proved that wrong. In a semi-final game, Dalton and Francois eliminated all pieces except their kings.

Francois_vs_Dalton_Draw
Dalton Versak and Francois de Bellefeuille battle it out King Vs. King in a semi-final game which was eventually declared a draw.

While this would make a draw automatic in chess, in MetaCheckers a victory is still possible. However, after 20 moves without a result, the players and GM agreed to declare a draw. Francois then lost to Mark Love and Dalton eliminated Brian Mountford [With a Bishop 5 roll; Brian with only his king at the end] to set up the final. However, the next day other players reported a non-tournament game that came down to just kings but eventually had a winner. That game took 30 minutes to finish. So, even with only kings, victory is possible so long as both players are earnestly trying to capture the opponent’s king. This may require a minor adjustment in the rules or the use of a time limit in future tournaments.

We had a great time and were very happy to see so many turn out to play a new game in its debut season. DreamGames plans to bring MetaCheckers back for future tournaments and hopes WBC members will vote to support it. MetaCheckers can be played with 4 opening layouts and 5 game variations. By next year, we should have 2 or 3 additional games to unveil.

Here’s some of our favorite pics from the tournament:

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Complete results

 

 

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Start of MetaCheckers blog

MetaCheckers (@MetaCheckers) | Twitter

Hi,

So, I’m starting a blog — right here — about MetaCheckers, the game I’ve invented with my son, Jack.

Really, the whole family has been involved since the beginning. As I’ve said in other posts on the website, it all began with a dream.

That was four years ago.

 

It’s been a long journey, but worthwhile. Getting the patent … finding a name and landing the trademark … getting the product made … networking … building social media … and now finally going to game conventions, stores and making sales. Many lessons learned.

What keeps me going is the positive response and feedback I get whenever I demonstrate the game. It’s been played by hundreds of kids at an elementary school, by dozens of Boy Scouts at meetings and camping trips, college students, friends, neighbors and family.

Last week, we took the game to Running GAGG in Geneseo and had a good response. It’s not a game for everyone or even every gamer. But everyone who sat down to play enjoyed it and told me it was solid.

So, I’m very encouraged.

I’m scheduling a slate of convention appearances in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the upcoming year. I’ll post about each of these in this blog.

Thanks for following!

Ed Bond