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The Ultimate Combination of Strategy and Chance

Abstract Games Magazine's
Review of Chebache:

by Kerry Handscomb -- Issue 3, Autumn 2000


Invented by Scott Pardee

     It is difficult to avoid comparing Chebache with Backgammon. Although the inventor has integrated elements of Checkers, Backgammon and Chess into this game, it is primarily a race game in which the players use the throws of two dice to move their men around a track from start to finish. I found the appearance of Chebache to be immediately appealing: the board is a bold abstract design, consisting of an enlarged 4 X 4 checkerboard with symbols indicating the special function of some of the squares.

     Unlike Backgammon, the two players use different tracks, which intersect each other only on every second space. Where the tracks intersect the players can attack and send back opposing pieces with a mechanism similar to hitting blots in Backgammon. In order to attack pieces located on the other spaces where the two tracks do not intersect it is necessary to form a "Chebache," in which the space attacked is partially surrounded by enemy pieces.

     Four spaces on each player's track are "tivit" spaces, including a prohibition on stacking more that four pieces on a space, and provision for a "jump" phase after the normal dice moves. Chebache is definitely more elaborate than Backgammon, and complexity for its own sake is to be avoided, but I believe the inventor has made some valid choices--each non-essential rule adds significantly to the strategic interest of the game. It is quite possible, for example, to play without the kings (and this is in fact recommended in the rules as an option for beginners), but the greater attacking power and flexibility conferred by the kings is nicely balanced by their vulnerability to chebache attacks.

     One of the great things about Backgammon is that a player can compensate for poor rolls of the dice by shifting his strategic stance. A player who falls behind in the race early on, for example, can go into a back game. In this sense, Backgammon transcends the dice. In Chebache this is true, too, as a Chebache-style back game is a definite strategic option. Rather than relying on your opponent to hit your blots, however, you also have the option of sending you men backwards through the tivit space system in order to block opposing men approaching the finish.

     Chebache may reward aggressive play more than Backgammon because it is not necessary to use a die roll to reenter a man that has been hit and because the track is only 18 spaces long rather than 24. One rule with interesting ramifications is that once you have begun to enter men into the finish square (or "bear off" in Backgammon terms) you have to vacate the start space or forfeit your dice roll if unable to do so. Your opponent achieves a big strategic advantage in this situation if he can block you from leaving the start square.

     It is possible that Chebache is a strategically richer game than Backgammon. Some practice is necessary to get used to the rules and the board, but the effort is well worth the reward. This is an attractive and interesting game.

     Kerry Handscomb

     Pardee Games, PO Box 69, Ithaca NY 14851, USA

     http://www.chebache.com. Cost $29.95

Originally published in Abstract Games Magazine, Issue 3, Autumn 2000. Review text reproduced in full with permission from Kerry Handscomb and Abstract Games Magazine, with grateful thanks from Pardee Games.

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Chebache is protected by U.S. Patent #'s 5,791,650; 6,062,562; D384,376.

Updated Tue Nov 21 00:00:09 2001;  Q's & comments: info@chebache.com