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"The Gift of the Wise Kings"

"The Gift of the Wise Kings"

"The Gift of the Wise Kings"

A Holiday Story & Mini-Game

by Nathaniel Basch-Gould and Katie Sieber


The air was chilly, the days were getting shorter, and everyone was super excited because Chesslandia’s Great Secret Gift Exchange was only a few days away. King Chomper and King Shaky were extra enthusiastic; they had gotten each other as secret gifters this year, and they couldn’t wait to knock each other’s socks off with the greatest presents of all time!


Early one morning, King Chomper trundled into town and headed straight for Beatrice the Elephant’s holiday gift shop. There were so many unique treasures inside that he had to stop and make a long Thinking Cup, wondering what would make King Shaky the happiest. Then it hit him: King Shaky had the realm’s finest collection of gems and jewels but it was growing too large for him to count.


“A counting machine!” King Chomper exclaimed. “That’ll make the perfect gift.”


Thankfully, Beatrice’s store had many to choose from: big counting machines, small counting machines, and some in between. King Chomper looked high and low before he finally found the one. Off in a corner, covered in cobwebs, was a marvelous purple counting machine — King Shaky’s favorite color — that was decorated with pillows on all sides.


“Eureka!” King Chomper shouted. He dusted it off and brought it up to the register where Beatrice sat. “I’d like to buy this for my best friend,” he said. “How much?”


“Oh dear,” said Beatrice, “I’m afraid that one’s not for sale. But… I might be willing to trade something for it. I’ve heard that you have a gorgeous, glittering, golden chessboard. Would you care to trade it for this purple counting machine?”


It was true, King Chomper’s most prized possession was a majestic golden chessboard. He loved it very much, but he never played on it because he didn’t have any golden pieces to go with it.


“Okay,” he agreed, “it’s a deal. I’ll be back with the golden chessboard tomorrow.”


The next day, King Chomper arrived at Beatrice’s shop and traded the golden board for the purple counting machine. He took the machine home, wrapped it, and set it aside until the day of the Great Secret Gift Exchange.


Meanwhile, King Shaky paced the halls of his pillow castle, making Thinking Cup after Thinking Cup, trying to figure out what to give his best friend, King Chomper. He decided to see what he could see, so King Shaky pulled on his pillow shoes and strolled into town. He scoured Beatrice’s gift shop, until at last he saw it. Collecting dust in a forgotten corner was a set of…  


“Golden chess pieces!” King Shaky whispered excitedly. “They'll match King Chomper’s golden chessboard perfectly! This is the best present of all time!”


He hurried to the register and asked Beatrice how much the golden pieces cost. “Oh dear,” she replied, “I’m afraid they’re not for sale. However… I’d be willing to trade something for them. Everyone knows about your incredible collection of gems and jewels. Would you care to trade it for the golden chess pieces?”


King Shaky trembled a bit; he loved his precious gems and jewels more than any other possession in his castle. But he loved his friend King Chomper even more.


“Okay,” he agreed, “you’ve got a deal. I’ll be right back!”


King Shaky scurried back to his castle, grabbed the purple, pillowy treasure chest that housed his jewel collection, and returned to Beatrice’s shop where he slid it across the counter. Beatrice handed him the golden chess pieces and King Shaky took them home, wrapped them, and set them aside until the Great Secret Gift Exchange.


When the big day arrived, everyone in Chesslandia met on Main Street to swap gifts. King Chomper and King Shaky found each other in front of Beatrice’s shop window. They both waved — and winked — to her, smiling in anticipation of giving their perfect presents.


“Let’s open them together,” King Shaky said. “One, two, three!”


Wrapping paper flew as the kings tore open their presents. But their smiles faded when they saw what they’d received.


“Thank you for the golden pieces,” King Chomper said sheepishly. “But I’m afraid I can’t use them… I traded my golden board for your purple counting machine!”


“Thank you for the counting machine,” King Shaky replied glumly. “I’m also sorry to say that I won’t be able to use it… I traded my entire jewel collection for the golden chess pieces!”


“It’s okay,” King Chomper chuckled. “Being your friend is the only present I’ll ever need.”


“I couldn’t agree more,” King Shaky said, smiling. “Now c’mon, we’ve still got to celebrate. Let’s go back to your castle for our annual family feast and slumber party!”


The two friends hugged and gathered their families. That night they had a wonderful time sharing stories around a cozy fire and helping themselves to the bountiful banquet Chef Squishyfeet prepared.


Around midnight, after everyone was in bed, King Chomper heard a CLUNK downstairs. He woke King Shaky up and together they crept into the living room to investigate. To their surprise, they saw two unopened presents in front of the fireplace, with a note on the floor next to them. One box said, “To King Chomper,” and the other, “To King Shaky.”


“Who could they be from?” King Shaky wondered.


“I don’t know,” King Chomper replied. “Let’s see what’s inside.”


When the kings opened their gifts, they couldn’t believe their eyes. There sat King Chomper’s golden chessboard and King Shaky’s treasure chest of jewels! Baffled, they opened the note, hoping for an explanation. It said:


“Dear friends — By trading your most prized possessions for the sake of each other’s happiness, you’ve both learned the true spirit of giving. You gave of yourselves this holiday, and for that you’ve been doubly rewarded! May you each enjoy what you have and always remember that friendship and love are greater gifts than anything you can find in a store. Even my store! — Your pal, Beatrice the Elephant.”


King Chomper and King Shaky hugged again and jumped up and down with glee. This was the best holiday ever! The next day, they played game after game on the golden chessboard and counted jewels until they could count no more. But above all, they never forgot the wisdom of Beatrice’s lesson: friendship and love are more important than anything.


~ ~ ~


Holiday Mini-Game: “Three Gifts Chess”


In honor of King Chomper and King Shaky’s holiday gift-giving kerfuffle, let’s play a game of chess that includes a few special gifts for each of us!


Set up for your preferred game of chess—if you and your kids play full games with all pieces, set up for that. If you are still learning, downshift to a simpler game like Pawns vs. Pawns or Queen vs. Pawns. You can find tons of easier variants and mini-games in the Story Time Chess game set and expansion packs.


  • Set up for a regular (or modified for younger players) game of chess.
  • Choose colors and proceed as you normally would, but bear in mind that each player gets three gifts that they can use on any turn:
    1. Takeback: If you make a wrong move, you have one opportunity in the game to take it back and do it over. Players can decide whether the takeback needs to be called before the next move or not, but it can’t be called more than one turn after the initial move.
    2. Determine Opponent’s Move: Once per game, a player can call timeout when it’s their opponent’s turn and tell them exactly which move to make. This is a powerful gift, so choose your moment wisely!
    3. Release a Piece: Each player will also have one opportunity to “release” a captured piece, placing it back on its home square (or nearest square if the home square is occupied). Releasing a piece uses up the player’s whole turn. Once again, choose wisely; this won’t be much of a gift if your newly released piece restarts on a square where it can be captured right away.
  • Play until you have a winner (either checkmate, Capture the King, or a mini-game victory condition).
  • Remember to shake hands and say, “Good game!” no matter who wins, and have a lovely holiday season playing games!