The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

The Rook
This piece may be the main reason more people don't get into chess. They look at this piece, which appears to be a castle to even the most casual observer, and are told that it's called a Rook. Then, just when they're getting used to the whole Rook thing, they're told that under certain circumstances the piece can "castle." This is when they decide that chess was invented by hateful maniacs and give up. If all English-speaking countries got together and agreed to call the thing a castle, chess would probably be more popular in the US than corn dogs and rap music combined. C-

The Queen
As far as powerful female figures in popular games go, the Queen can pretty much kick Lara Croft's ass. Sure, Lara has big guns and tight shorts, but can she move both as a Rook and a bishop? It takes more than pistols to keep a pawn from reaching the eighth rank. A

The Bishop
Why is a bishop on the battlefield? (Leaving aside the fact that "Bishop on the Battlefield" is my favorite Randy Newman album.) I'm sure many chess fans will write in and explain that the Bishop used to be called the Howitzer or something, but that's not the point. The point is that it's difficult enough to accept moving towers and Uber-queens ("Moving Towers and Uber-Queens" being my favorite Cat Stevens album) without dealing with the presence of clergy in battle. They may as well replace the Knight with the "Reference Librarian." C-

The Knight
The Knight can jump other pieces. This is very welcome to those of us who, having played checkers much earlier than chess, feel that all pieces should be able to jump each other. Plus they move in this tricky "L" shape, which is kind of neat. And they have horse heads. It's hard to find guys with horse heads who jump a lot and move erratically outside of the chess board or Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. B

The Pawn
I wonder if pawns just realize that they're just pawns in someone's game. And are they okay with that? Having accepted that they're pawns, can they at least be glad that they get to attack once in a while, unlike, say, the little pegs in Cribbage? They look like such simple little guys, but they're subject to some of the most screwed rules in the game. I'm sure that many people who managed to get past the whole Rook/castle thing just threw up their hands when confronted with the "en passant" rule. If you don't know, you don't want to know. C+

The King
"The King is a drunk," it was once explained to me. Seeing as this was after the death of Elvis, I assume they were talking about chess. It makes sense: the King is just an addlepate figurehead, flanked by a more competent woman and surrounded by underlings who sacrifice themselves to preserve his worthless reign. Those with a penchant for political simile can choose Reagan or Clinton as pleases them. D

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