“A New Way To Pay Chess” With Jesse Shaw

Everyone knows how to play Chess, but what they don’t know is there another way to play the game. A hidden game that’s been there the whole time. By merely rearranging the pieces and allowing Pawns to move either North or East of the board creates an entirely new game. It has the same familiar […]

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Everyone knows how to play Chess, but what they don’t know is there another way to play the game. A hidden game that’s been there the whole time. By merely rearranging the pieces and allowing Pawns to move either North or East of the board creates an entirely new game. It has the same familiar objectives and rules with a modern complexity that’s faster and more intense.

As a part of our series about what’s around the corner for the toy, game, and video game industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jesse Shaw.

Jesse Shaw is a skilled furniture craftsman and designer. He studied Environmental Studies in Vermont, and trained at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine learning building techniques from master craftsmen who taught there. While continuing his studies in design he received an MFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design and awarded to represent the school in Italy, training with notable designers in Milan. After receiving his MFA, Jesse became the lead furniture designer for Currey & Company in Atlanta, GA, where he had the opportunity to travel internationally, working with furniture factories worldwide. In 2016, he made guest appearances on the PBS television show, Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac. The Boston-based master craftsman enjoys teaching and recently worked at Museum School of Fine Arts at Tufts University. Always intrigued by geometry and Chess, he developed the game Revolution Chess in 2019.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?

It all starts back to when I was six, my parents signed me up for an after school chess class. I surprised myself and the teacher by beating him. He graciously awarded me a dollar bill, which felt like a million dollars back then. In college, I delved deeper into the game. Friends would come over to play and I would even play games against myself, curious which side would win. It was this exploration into the game that led me to discover the geometry of Chess. Traditionally, Chess pieces represent points, but they’re actually much more than that. The six pieces follow the movement of geometric shapes. From that concept, I developed a new arrangement on the board that formed a triangle. This setup provides ultimate protection for the king. It proved to be a very strong game when friends would come over and prefer to play Revolution Chess instead of Classic Chess. After College, I became a furniture maker and eventually the lead furniture designer for a company in Atlanta. That position allowed me to travel internationally and visit factories around the world. Throughout my travels, I would always play chess. When I moved back to Boston, a friend encouraged me to build Revolution Chess into a game that can be played around the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Last year in November we had the first Revolution Chess tournament in Odessa, Ukraine. My friend Miran, a Chess teacher from Odessa, thought the game was outstanding and started to play it with his students as a way to think creatively outside the box. We held a phenomenal tournament with over 40 youth players from all over the country. I realized there are no language barriers when it comes to this game. Chess is the universal language.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

One person that comes to mind is a longtime friend Han Tran. I taught him to play Chess and then eventually showed him the game of Revolution Chess. He thought the game was brilliant and did some research and discovered there was no other game like it. Those conversations helped move the ball forward into the development stage of things and gave me the confidence to push this forward.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Chess is a game that has changed the world. It’s helped establish commonalities between nations. It has distinguished great minds and helped them rise above the odds to success. It’s been proven to help people improve critical thinking, creativity and overall brain activity. As Revolution Chess grows in popularity it will contribute to the high level of strategic thinking that improves society.

Ok fantastic. Let’s now move to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell us about the technological innovations in gaming that you are working on?

Everyone knows how to play Chess, but what they don’t know is there another way to play the game. A hidden game that’s been there the whole time. By merely rearranging the pieces and allowing Pawns to move either North or East of the board creates an entirely new game. It has the same familiar objectives and rules with a modern complexity that’s faster and more intense.

The most exciting part of Chess is promoting a Pawn to a Queen. In classic Chess this is extremely rare, however in Revolution Chess a Pawn has the possibility to become a Queen early on in the game. This accelerates the game making it action packed and challenging. The triangle formation of the pieces creates the ultimate defense for the King and maximizes the Pawns offence.

How do you think this might disrupt the status quo?

As much as I love Chess, the current status is that it is a slow paced game that has been over analyzed to the point that players rely on historical data to make their moves as opposed to their creativity.Revolution Chess hits the reset button on this. There is no past information to look to for guidance, players must rely on their own creativity to figure out how to defeat their opponent.

Also, Pawns are typically seen as sacrificial pieces. Ever since I saw “Braveheart” I’ve always felt that one warrior given the freedom can accomplish great things on the battlefield. In Revolution Chess the Pawns have the ability to choose their direction of attack becoming more powerful.

You, of course, know that games and toys are not simply entertainment, but they can be used for important purposes. What is the “purpose” or mission behind your company? How do you think you are helping people or society?

The purpose of Revolution Chess is to empower people to play a modernized version of Chess that stays true to the essence of the game.

I’m very interested in the interface between games and education. How do you think more people (parents, teachers etc.) or institutions (work, school etc.) can leverage toys or gamification to enhance education?

Introducing the right games to kids at a young age is very important. The best way to learn is if they are having so much fun that they do not realize it’s educational. Games like Scrabble, Chess, Othello, Tangrams, Legos, Trivia Pursuit were all foundations in my childhood. Nowadays, there are games that are designed specifically to help kids learn real life skills, like coding for example. Montessori toys are designed to activate brain development. My 5 month old son has one that he loves, I can see how intrigued he is while playing with it compared to the other toys.

How would you define a “successful” game or toy? Can you share an example of a game or toy that you hold up as an aspiration?

In my opinion a successful game is something that is challenging, adds enjoyment, and can stand the test of time. Chess has always been a game that is extremely interesting because you can get an idea of how a person thinks without even saying a word to them. I remember in college my neighbor would come over to play chess. He was a great guy, how simply lacked confidence. In our games he would often have the right move to put me in jeopardy, but at the last moment move a random piece instead. He was countering his own thoughts, just like he did in real life. Another game that I love that’s not so deep is Mrs. Pacman, we’ve had an on and off again relationship since highschool. My wife and Mr. Pacman are not too happy about that.

What are the “5 Things You Need to Know To Create a Successful Game” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Know why you’re creating the game
  2. Keep it Simple
  3. Hold on to your great ideas
  4. If you can visualize it keep going until others can see it
  5. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My son was born this year, I think about his future a lot and what his world will look like when he’s my age. There are so many challenges the planet is facing in these chaotic times. If I could inspire a movement it would be to create a sustainable future. Converting petroleum based plastics to plant based, ocean and forest conservation and creating an infrastructure that uses clean renewable energy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails admit it frankly and try another, But above all try something” Franklin D Roosevelt

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @RevolutionChess

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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