Summer vacation was in full swing and, with the pawns on break from school, King Chomper, Queen Bella, King Shaky, and Queen Allegra decided to take their families down to the Endless Sea for a day at the beach!
The pawns, bishops, and knights all had lots of toys they wanted to take to the beach, so the kings and queens called their rooks over to help. The rooks were big, moving towers that could hold all the swimmies, goggles, and towels they would need. Rushing out the door, the kings and queens packed the rooks in a hurry and rode the magical towers down to the shore.
When they got there, the pawns raced to the cool, clear water and dove in. Bea and Bop zigzagged across the waves on green and white surfboards, and Clip and Clop danced around in the shallows.
“This is the life!” King Shaky said as he eased into a beach chair made of pillows.
“Not a care in the world,” Queen Allegra replied, doodling happily on her sketchpad.
King Chomper and Queen Bella smiled and kicked up their feet as they watched their kids have a blast under the summer sun.
But swimming, splashing, and building sandcastles can make a person hungry, and it wasn’t long before Graham and DJ, two pawns from Team Shaky, ran up and tugged on Queen Allegra’s cape.
“Mom, Mom!” they shouted. “We’re hungry! Can we have a snack pleeeease?”
“Sure,” said Queen Allegra, “there are plenty of snacks in the rooks.”
Graham and DJ scrambled over to the rooks, but when DJ peeked inside, she let out a horrified shriek. “AGHH!” she screamed. “We forgot the food!”
Sure enough, in their hurry to leave the castle, King Shaky and Queen Allegra forgot to pack food. Just then, King Chomper jumped up.
“Fear not!” he cried, walking over to his own rooks. “If there’s one thing I never forget it’s—NOOOO!!! We forgot to bring food, too!”
The pawns’ bellies were grumbling loudly now, and King Shaky began to worry that everyone was about to throw a cranky, hangry tantrum. Luckily, he had an idea.
“Don’t panic!” he said. “We just need to pop back to the castle and get some food from the kitchen. King Chomper, you and I should go so everyone else can keep having fun.”
“Sounds like a plan!” King Chomper said. “Hey, let’s make it interesting and have a little race. First one to the kitchen is the winner!”
King Shaky agreed and the two kings hustled over the sand dunes, across Chesslandia, and back to their castles. But which one reached their kitchen first? Play a game of “King of the Kitchen” to find out!
How to Play “King of the Kitchen”
This chess variant is commonly known as “King of the Hill,” though we’ve modified the name to include our term for the four squares in the center of the board: the Kitchen.
- Take out your chess set, choose colors, and set the pieces up on their home squares.
- Point to the four squares in the center of the board (see diagram below).
- Explain: In the story we just heard, King Chomper and King Shaky are hurrying home to their kitchens so they can bring food back to the beach. These four squares in the center of our board are called the Kitchen, and we’re going to play a special mini-game called “King of the Kitchen.” Your goal in this mini-game is to move your king to any one of the Kitchen squares before I do. But watch out! Your king can still get captured on his way to the Kitchen, so always make sure to move him on safe squares.
- Begin the game and take turns as you would in a standard game.
- The first player to move their king onto one of the Kitchen squares (d4, d5, e4, e5) wins the game.
- Optional: Depending on your child’s skill level, you can play a “sudden death” game (win by moving the king onto any open Kitchen square), or add the more advanced condition that a king’s final move into the Kitchen must not put him in danger of capture.
- When the game is over, shake hands and say, “Good game! Now the pawns can have a snack and keep playing at the beach all day long!”
- Feel free to switch colors and play again as many times as you like!