by Jonathan Leistiko
Figure out the secret rules that govern how the other players move pieces on their turn.
Before the game begins, agree on what is in game, like “The surface of the table and everything on it.” The players automatically count as “in game”.
Make up a rule and write it down. This rule dictates how you move pieces when it’s your turn.
Some examples of rules:
Once everyone has a rule written down, start the game.
On your turn:
When your rule has been guessed correctly, show everyone what your rule was. No other player may attempt to guess it.
The game ends when all rules but one have been guessed. If your rule remains unguessed, then you lose 1 point. The player with the most points wins.
I Take My Joe Black: Don’t play for points. Just play. The original version of Diner Chess didn’t have points; they’re only there to keep you from making your rules too easy or hard. If you’re all on the same wavelength, it’s more fun to ingore the points and just play.
Ever hang out at a diner with friends and pretend to play Chess with the water glasses and ketchup bottle? Five years ago I spent many late nights hanging out at diners with LARPers. I decided to create a game that we could play almost anywhere with a flat surface and lots of distinct objects. These rules, less the point system, evolved pretty naturally after the third or fourth game. Over the years I’ve played this game with Ben’s oil and acrylic paint set, in many diners with utensils and condiment dispensers, and with an Icehouse set (which worked very nicely indeed).