Agitators, Engineers Are Chessmen (Mar, 1934)

Agitators, Engineers Are Chessmen

MODERN as tomorrow morning’s headlines, a newly simplified form of the game of chess has for its game board the Modern World, and for its pieces Farmers, Mechanics, Engineers and even Agitators struggling against forces symbolized by opposing Armies, Bankers, Radio, Press, Law and Middlemen trying to become Rankers.

The play, which is solely a matter of skill, centers around opposing forces trying to dominate one neutral piece called Government while either the red or white side, as the antagonists are named, is in power.

The game may be played by either two, three, or four persons and is substantially like chess. But gone are the Pawns, the Knights, and the Kings and Queens,

  1. Josh says: October 26, 200910:34 am

    Does it happen to get in to the rules of this variant?

  2. Richard says: October 26, 200910:49 am

    I’d love to get hold of a copy of that… I like chess and that variant looks like fun – even if it would piss off the purists.

    You realise you’ve just set a man on a mission, don’t you? 🙂

  3. Firebrand38 says: October 26, 200911:16 am

    The interesting thing is that as of June 1933, “Nira” was actually an acronym NIRA for National Industrial Recovery Act until May 1935 when the Supreme Court ruled parts of it as being unconstitutional.…

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

  4. Firebrand38 says: October 26, 200911:22 am

    Richard, you might start with this entry in the US Copyright registry…

    N.C.A Enterprise on April 1934 copyrighted a booklet titled “Nira is a game – not a puzzle!”

  5. mike says: October 26, 20096:28 pm

    “one neutral piece called Government”


  6. John Savard says: October 27, 20092:52 pm

    I would suspect that rather than a game of U.S. origin inspired by the National Industrial Recovery Act, that this game likely came from the Soviet Union. There were a number of Chess variants from there during that period, some with propaganda themes, some with military themes, some that mixed Chess with Checkers.

  7. Firebrand38 says: October 27, 20095:21 pm

    John Savard: Can’t speak to the origins but it was copyrighted with the Library of Congress. Any DC bloggers want to look into this at the LOC?

    I used Babelfish to get a Russian to English translation of “nira” and came up with no such word.

  8. John Savard says: October 27, 20098:16 pm

    At least the rules for a game with the same name were copyrighted in that year. It might be a game more likely to be mistaken for a puzzle than a chess variant would be. But you are right that this is a strong indicator of American, rather than Soviet, origins. I’m going to look for my copy of D. B. Pritchard’s Encyclopedia of Chess Variants to see if I can find it there.

  9. Sandra says: December 10, 20095:42 pm

    It’s 10×10.

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