Why Two Boards???


Naturally our goal was to discover the most exciting configuration and christen it the official “Hydra board.” After months of play-testing (hundreds of games) it became clear that the 5×5 yielded significantly more excitement than any other configuration. Tension between offense and defense was almost perfectly balanced (considering the unpredictability random-introduction chess creates). In short, the “madness” design was the clear winner.

Then Why 6×5?

The 6×5 configuration was the nearest contender, however, after dozens of games we realized the board overly favored offensive maneuvers at the expense of the kings. It’s like this: If your king is being stalked by an assassin, he has a reasonable chance of surviving – if your king is surrounded by a firing squad, he won’t last long. Games were shorter and more nerve wracking, and could best be described as “treacherous.” (Or “nasty, brutish and short.”)

But we also couldn’t deny that some of the most pulse-pounding games we had experienced had taken place on the 6×5 board — in particular the most thrilling game I ever played. Nearing the end of a round that was so intense we literally had no clue who would swing the death blow first (only that it would happen at any second) I found my queen sitting beside my opponent’s knight on his back row when he moved that knight to place my king in checkmate. As he began (loudly) gloating over his narrow victory I reminded him that the game wasn’t over until a king was dead and that he still had 3 cards to play and an open octagon on his back row to fill. Silence immediately returned, for if his top card proved to be his king, it would be standing helpless, right beside my queen. And it was my move. He took a long time to flip his top card, and I began to truly feel the victory would be mine.

It was.

After that game we knew we couldn’t bury the 6×5 board. Everyone must have the option of playing either configuration and deciding for themselves.

A quintessentially American move.

Now, it’s up to you to decide which board is best.



(Two boards not enough? Check out Zen Hydra chess)