January's Featured Chess Set is on loan from Kyle Weber, a scholastic coordinator at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Weber, who has nearly a decade of experience in public education, public policy, curriculum, and instruction, has worked with the organization since September 2016. While he was teaching at University Academy in Kansas City, chess became a regular part of the school day both inside the mathematics classroom and as part of a robust 80 student after school chess program. Chess facilitated a need to connect with students on a personal level and address the holistic needs of their development. Weber is a father, husband, and educator.
Players must protect their brains from ninnys and numskulls in Smess, a humorous variant on the game of chess. Perry Grant, a sitcom writer and producer who created scripts for over 35 shows including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times, I Dream of Jeannie, The Odd Couple, and Happy Days, created the game. Smess replaces the familiar chess pieces with four numskulls, which can move any number of squares; seven ninnys, which may only move one square at a time; and one brain, which can move one square at a time. The objective of Smess is to capture your opponent’s brain. Pieces move around the colorful board according to the directions of the arrows on their starting spaces and may capture other pieces by landing on their squares. According to the box, which touts SMESS as a simpler alternative to chess, “the game can be played with skill—but it’s the NINNYs or the NUMSKULLS that capture the BRAIN.”