Devil's Downunder - the HICC at Winter Gamefest (DICon)

Hobart Gamers Unite!

Winter Gamefest Report - Ian Little

On the 8th and 9th of August Area 52  put on its 2nd annual Devil's Island Convention.  At the same time the Hobart Games Society Inc. (HoGS) hosted its 5th annual Hobart Winter Gamesfest

The HICC was welcomed at the Gamefest and took the opportunity to remind people of the fun that can be had over the chess board!

Chess Variants Galore!


Both days the HICC had a Chess 960 and a Horde chess demonstration planned, as well as a simul challenge and evening 1-on-1 challenges on Saturday.  In a comical twist, none of these activities really hit it off; though the horde chess board did draw some attention on day 2.  Personally I think it's the shock of seeing so many pawns on the board at once!

Many people looked at the board and formed an instant opinion about who has the advantage, and then those game enough to give it a go found the game quite balanced and not as straight forward as they thought!


The other great winner and time honoured favourite was Transfer chess!  There were many a person, young and old, but mainly old actually, who wanted to play transfer.  As the excitement mounted and moves were bashed out, the loud screams of "anything mates!" and "Queen coming" started to draw a crowed.  Sadly there weren't many in the crowed who were inspired to join in, I think they were mainly just amazed that the chess players were being the rowdiest bunch in the entire playing hall!  I think next year we'll skip the demonstrations, simul displays and coaching, and go for a transfer tournament instead!

Another chess variant which will be on the agenda for next year is Knightmare chess. This looks to be an amazingly fun chess variant that mixes strategic and tactical cards with a "normal game of chess". Rack up you chess board as normal and build 2 Knightmare decks (these can be handicapped according the chess strength of the players), and then you play a move, and play a card.  Sounds simple enough, that is until someone plays a card like...


"One of your opponent's pieces, except a king or queen, becomes "neutral". Place a marker under it. It can be moved or captured by either player, can check either king, and can capture pieces of any colour any time it is moved.  any card which affects either a friendly or enemy piece can affect a neutral.


I have to honest, I was embarrassed that I didn't know this game existed until I was told about it at the Gamefest, I now have it and am looking forward to some fun chess times with it!  It seems the perfect chess variant for the Winter Gamefest as it mixes card play with over the board chess.

Another curious chess variant that I learned about was Alice chess; I think the name comes from Alice in Wonderland.  The name fits well and it's certainly a brain spinning variant.  While chess 960, horde chess, 3-check chess, King of the hill, and transfer are all variants that can be played quickly with as little or as much brain strain as you want to put into them, Alice chess is intense!

The basic principle is exactly the same as normal chess, the aims are the same, there are no alternate win conditions and both players start with the normal set of pieces and no, there are no cards in this variant.  But, the big difference is the game is played over 2 boards, and every time you move a piece, that piece is moved to the other board!

how does that work?  like this...

the game progresses in that fashion until someone delivers checkmate.  Of course there are some very peculiar things to watch out for in this variant, such as...

  • You cannot move a piece to an empty square on the board it's on, if the same square is not vacant on the other board.
  • To checkmate, the enemy king must be in check on one board, but have all the squares covered on the other board.
  • A king can move out of check, by moving into check on the board it's on if the same square on the other board is not under attack.

There are a few other mind bending rules that will become apparent to anyone who tries this, but I wouldn't recommend a clock for this, at least not one that runs on time!

Not all Chess!

Of course it wasn't a Winter Chessfest, though that does sound appealing, it was a Gamesfest, with many types of games being played.  Most were board games, some were card based games, and many of the board games had card components.  David and Charlie Rolph did well in the Splendor tournament both reaching the final table before being out done by the eventual winner.


Lindsey and I took the opportunity on Saturday evening to play the expansion of the board game FireFly, based on the cult TV series of the same name.  That's made it to the Christmas list for this year!

Sunday brought much of the same with Charlie Rolph stepping up his smack talk and entering in the Sushi Go tournament, though by all reports he didn't fair as well as he'd hoped.  Sunday also saw HICC representative David Rolph travel to Latrobe to take part in the Chocolate Winterfest Chocolate Chess Competition, but he was unable to defend his crown going down to Northern chess players Dylan Kuzmic and James Peirce - Congratulations to them!

Thanks to all

Thank you to all who participated in the HICC presence at Winter Gamefest, special mentions go to Charlie Rolph for driving down from Launceston and attending both days (as much for himself as for chess, but we thank you for your help), to David Rolph for his help on Day 1, to Lindsey Little for her help on Day 1, and to Alex Nagy and Kevin Bonham who showed their support by attending on Day 2.

Of course thanks also go the the Hobart Gaming Society for hosting the HICC at their event, and we look forward to more exciting gaming times in the future.