Check Matey





GC Notes:

GC to update day-of-game.


Players arrive to see a reset chess board with a staff-member opponent ready to play. The chess board is 6x6 (rather than the standard 8x8) and both knights and two pawns from each side are missing. The players are given a list of "Excerpts from Blackbeard's diary", a diagram of the only game Blackbeard ever lost, and explicit instructions that they can either:

  1. Move one of their pieces (capturing if possible)

  2. Then read an excerpt from off the list of excerpts


  1. Reset the board to its initial configuration

Then the staff member makes a response. And the game continues in the same fashion.


The excerpts are all homophones for letters (see data section for mappings). And each letter maps to a unique chess piece. When the team reads off a specific excerpt, the staff member makes a deterministic response, moving that piece if possible, or explaining why he can't if the piece can't be moved:

If the piece is dead (i.e. it has been captured)"He's in davy jones locker"
If the piece is off the board (for instance, the knights)"He isn't in this game"
If the piece has no legal moves"He's stuck"

If the piece CAN BE moved, then the staff member moves it, capturing a piece if possible. If the staff member is playing the black side, and the piece which matches the excerpt is white, the staff moves it anyway. Said a different way: the staff member can move any piece on the board.

Continuing in this fashion, players can identify which excerpts (which recall are letters) equal which pieces. Eventually, players will identify the letters for each piece on the diagram of the finished game. Reading left to right spells AHOYKING.

Expected Solve Path:

1. Players realize that the answer to each excerpt from ‘Blackbeard’s Diary’ is a homophone for a letter.
a. For instance, one such excerpt is ‘A small low coral island’. Which is a ‘Cay’. This is
pronounced identically to ‘K’, so the mapping is

K-> A low coral island

2. Players will begin to move pieces, and read excerpts
1. The excerpt read by the player deterministically generates a response from the grandmaster
2. Using Logic, and gaining information by reading different excerpts, players will eventually discover which excerpt corresponds to which chess piece.

a. For instance, after a team moves, if they say ‘A small low coral island’, the chess grandmaster will attempt to move the White Bishop which is on a black square.

K -> A low coral island -> White Bishop (Black Square)

Therefore, K -> White Bishop (Black Square)

3. Teams continue in this fashion, and when they have the necessary mappings, are able to use the finished chessboard handout to generate the answer, which is AHOYKING


  • Zero playtest teams got stuck on the excerpts, but if it happens, hint that there are 26 unique clues, which matches another set of 26 they should be familiar with.

  • If they don't understand "davy jones locker", confirm they know what this idiom means in pirate parlance. When they do, ask if there are any dead pieces?

  • If they don't understand "He's stuck", ask "Can you move a rook in the opening turn of a game?" When they say no, ask why. They will probably say "Because the piece is stuck"...

  • If they are completely lost on how the response mechanism of the opponent works:

    • Do they want a small hint?

      • Ask them if they have tried reading the same excerpt for multiple turns in a row? Does the staff member have the same response?
    • Do they want a large hint?

      • Ask them if they have tried resetting the game after EVERY excerpt and then reading the next excerpt. Does the opponent ever move the same piece twice?
  • If they are under the impression they are trying to get a specific end configuration, feel free to tell them the game blackbeard lost was 8x8, so they shouldn't expect to make it, but point out the same pieces are used in both games.


Diagram for game Blackbeard lost.


Excerpt --> Letter --> Chess Piece mapping

Interjection: (#1) WhizGBlack King
(#2) is for victoryVBlack Pawn 2
Enables SightIWhite King
Most common English letterEWhite Pawn 3
(#5)(#12)(#5), a distress callSWhite Pawn 6
Masculine 'the', in Mexico CityLWhite Pawn 1
Apiarist's producing unitBOUT OF GAME (WP 7)
A small low coral islandKWhite Bishop (Black Spot)
(#9) Marks the spotXWhite Bishop (White Spot)
A line of people waiting to walk the plankQBlack Pawn 4
A female sheepUBlack Rook
To be in someone's debtOWhite Pawn 2
One of the 5Ws of journalism, asking causalityYBlack Pawn 3
Anno Domini, abbreviated, - (#23)DWhite Rook
Noah Webster Replaced (#5)'s with (#15)'sZOUT OF GAME (WP8)
A drink with jam and breadTBlack Pawn 5
James Bond's bossMWhite Pawn 5
Chemical symbol for the lightest elementHBlack Pawn 1
Florida blue (#19)JOUT OF GAME (BP 8)
An ocean partially enclosed by landCBlack Queen
Product of the bladder, in vernacularPOUT OF GAME (BP 7)
Does not appear in: Use these five dozen liquor jugs to pack my box.WBlack Bishop (White Spot)
Preconsonantal article for a nonspecific itemABlack Bishop (Black Spot)
Conjugation of 'To be', 3rd person pluralRWhite Pawn 4
The key to unlock Beethoven's Sonata for ThérèseFBlack Pawn 6
(A...Z)-(#1…#25)NWhite Queen