We Three Kings

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We Three Kings

Sir R----- my fine friend! Will you take a glass of perry with me to cool yourself from this summer heat?

Good man!

Might I also presume that you are in the mood for a wager?

Stout fellow!

I suggest a game that ever puts me in mind of that time in my youth when I squired for the warrior king Balthazar during his pilgrimage with kings Melchior and Caspar to the little town of Bethlehem. The journey was, for the greater part, uneventful, but a few leagues before our destination we were set upon by their mortal rivals, kings Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater. I was tasked with carrying their precious offerings of gold, perfume and, for reasons best known to themselves, embalming fluid, whilst they did battle. As kings Melchior and Caspar were locked in combat with kings Hor and Basanater, king Balthazar outflanked king Karsudan and I accompanied him into the town where...

But I am keeping us from our sport!

The game takes place on this three by three chequerboard upon which I shall place three white kings on the first rank for myself and three black kings on the third for you. I shall then advance one of my kings to the second rank and you may choose either to advance one of yours into an empty square or take it with one that is in a neighbouring file.

Why yes! Very much like pawns in a game of chess!

We shall continue taking turns in this fashion, moving kings to the next rank either directly into an empty square or diagonally to take one of the other's. If one of us reaches the other's rank or denies him any means of advance, he shall have the game and a prize. Since I have the first move, your prize shall be two of my coins whilst mine shall be but one of yours.

When I explained these rules to that cursed student whose occasional company I fervently wish I could forever escape, he ignored them utterly and instead lamented upon the injury of an arborist acquaintance of his who fell whilst tending to an oak, or an elm, or a larch or some such, having been overcome by stomach cramps brought about by a dish of devilled shellfish that he had consumed the previous evening.
If he had hoped to elicit some modicum of sympathy from me he was labouring in vain; to my mind anyone who would willingly associate with that damnable cur deserves every misfortune that should befall them!

But we should not let the pains of such lowly folk keep us from our sport! Come, take another draught and think upon your strategy!

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