Friday, August 22, 2008

Making New Check… Mates, OR, Adventures in Unbridled Internet Shilling

En Passant, bitches. One of the more curious elements of operating a blog is that every now and then, a commercial entity will approach Rickey and ask him to promote their new product. We’re not sure why this is, but evidently the scores of moonbats who regularly read RwR are considered the target demographic for a wide variety of half-baked advertising campaigns. Being paragons of strong moral fiber, we normally turn down these scurrilous offers (Rickey’s looking out for you, see?) but one recent product seemed to have a bit of potential, so just this once, we’ve decided to toss ethics out the window and do a bit of unabashed shilling on behalf of a decidedly for-profit organization. What product could cause Rickey to cast his blogging integrity to the wind? Why, it’s something called New Wave Chess, a novel way of playing chess. To recap, a few weeks ago someone from Paradoxy Products approached Rickey and offered him a chess set which would normally retail for $11.99 (plus $2.76 USPS First Class) for free, which is Rickey’s favorite price of all. And given the fact that Rickey hadn’t spent much time thinking about chess ever since Screech challenged the Russian from the Valley in that episode of “Saved by the Bell,” Rickey said yes, he’d most definitely take a free chess set and write a review on it.

And now that we’ve made our little pact with the devil, we quickly realize how much of a mistake this was. Huge mistake. We’re talking “Kasparov forgetting to protect his rook against Fritz in 2003” huge. (Yeah, that huge). Why couldn’t Sony offer Rickey a free Playstation 3 to test and review? We would’ve been cool with that… Look, we understand that there’s an entire cottage industry devoted to creating portable board games, but this New Wave Chess set takes things a bit too far by whittling the components down to a corrugated cardboard board and flat die cast plastic pieces. Even for the most seasoned chess playing jet setter, this is a bit too austere. Besides, when’s the last time you were travelling by rail through the Ural Mountains and an old Russian man named Mishka with breath reeking of vodka leered at you through stained yellow teeth and asked if you had a chess set to play on that weighed less than three ounces? Not recently, we’re guessing. In fact, we’re willing to bet that the chess expertise of most RwR readers is limited to the “Let the Wookie win” strategy.

The way the New Wave Chess set works is that the flat chess pieces slide into little slits on the corrugated board. As per the press kit which accompanied Rickey’s gratis set, “Slitting transforms ordinary corrugated board into a highly economical medium for board games. Flat plastic chess and checkers pieces are held upright to produce a three-dimensional effect." This is wrong. It just feels wrong. We’re talking nails on the chalkboard wrong. Like kissing your sister wrong. The pieces even make an irritating little squeaking noise when Rickey jams them into the narrow slits on the board. Call us old fashioned, but chess sets are meant to consist of flat bottomed pieces resting on the board. There’s absolutely something to be said for the tactile experience of sliding a three dimensional chess piece along a board to put your opponent in check and confidently saying “that's knight to queen's bishop two, you impotent little punk.” Sorry, but sliding a flat piece of plastic into a narrow cardboard slit just doesn’t measure up to this. And while we appreciate the environmentally friendly use of a recycled cardboard board, we have to wonder how well it would hold up to the tears streaming down from the faces of Rickey’s vanquished opponents. People may laud the portability and convenience of a lightweight chess set like this but these are the same sorts of people who confuse the Bugayev Attack with Wolfert’s Gambit. Read: morons.
Oh yes, and lest we forget, the set comes complete with checkers pieces. Lovely. Is it just Rickey or is checkers the least mentally demanding game ever invented? In our book, the gaming prowess required for checkers falls somewhere in between War and Connect Four. In short, checkers is probably what Bobby Fisher is being forced to play in Hell right now (with no double jumping allowed). Is Rickey just bitter because Ms. Henderson trounced him at checkers? Perhaps, but it’s still an absolute joke of a board game—not exactly rocket surgery if you ask us. Chess is a far superior game and yet much more of an acquired taste, typically requiring a good amount of childhood power outages and scathing sibling rivalry in order for one to develop an interest in it.

Chess is an elegant game of tradition and this is why Rickey absolutely cannot recommend a chess set that completely negates the familiar look and tactile feel of this storied pastime. It may not be nearly as portable, but we’re sticking with our ivory set primarily because we find it exceedingly difficult to imagine Max von Sydow using the New Wave Chess set to play Death in “The Seventh Seal.” Back to the drawing board Paradoxy Products, because Rickey is eagerly awaiting his corrugated cardboard travel version of “Go.” Our apologies if you were expecting more of a laudatory review, but crap is crap, even when it’s gratis. Thanks for the freebie though, it should prove helpful for Rickey to light his brand new BBQ grill with. Yeah, that's right--Weber sends Rickey good schwag all the time...
Vote for Rickey’s post at Humor-Blogs. Humor-blogs: it’s like Battle Chess to your Tri-Dimensional chess!

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13 comments:

Alex L said...

Its been such a long time since I played chess... probably because I get my arse beat at it so profoundly the last time.

Mike said...

Rickey tells the man, "I won't play your game, be-yotch."

Or something like that.

Meanwhile, Rickey has put the world on notice not to offer him free products in the future.

Mike said...

Oh, and that should read, "The Man."

Bob said...

Clearly Rickey has a stronger readership and the data to back it up, because I don't know of any free schwag showing up at Around the Keg's corporate headquarters.

That is, unless there are piles of free beer arriving at Smitty's doorstep and the bitch is holding out on us.

Mikey P said...

and I was just about to mail the extra Playstation 3 I had over... oh well, Toasty Joe will enjoy giving Madden 08 a hearty review...

Deb said...

Chess? CHESS? Aaargggh... I HATE CHESS! Chess is a game played either by really, really smart and good players, or by people who just THINK they are really really smart and good players, but in fact, are just wannabes.

Since I'm neither smart, nor a good player, nor a wannabe, and am not particularly interested in participating in anything non-literal that requires thinking 10,564,789 moves ahead... well, you figure it out *snicker.*

Smitty said...

I just can't see why the chess board you got is really anything special. They say it's a new way to play chess, but Rickey, correct me if I'm wrong, you're still playing chess by the same rules chess is played, just on a cheap board with cheap pieces. DoI have that right?

At least it was free.

Jeff said...

Brilliant! In one tidy post you have effectively shut down all future potential crap-vertisers for ever more. Now, if we can convince the rest of the bloggers to resist the Schick Quattro promotion!

Chris C said...

You are lucky, I get the stupid pinhole glasses people hitting me up.

Ms. Henderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rickey Henderson said...

Smitty: you are correct sir, the board, no matter how flimsy, has no impact on how the game is played.

...which is why Rickey prefers to play his chess games using real live hobos in his back yard on a massive chessboard drawn with spray paint. They're quite scrappy.

Joel B. said...

"En Passant, bitches" is the greatest opening line to a blog post ever.


And seriously dude: You need to check your email spam folder. I get 50 offers for a "free PS3" every day.

Rickey Henderson said...

Oh, Rickey's been disclosing his social security number for months now in hopes of snagging a free ipod. No luck as of yet....