A new board game developed by a Monroe County man made some
noise this holiday season.

What happens when the age-old game of chess combines with
football? It’s called Quarterback King, which was developed
recently by Cort Hubbard, of Columbia.

Quarterback King is a board game that combines the sport of
football with the strategic moves of chess to create a challenging
game. Like football, the game features offense versus defense and
eleven pieces per side. Like chess, pieces are captured and removed
from the playing board. Each position is assigned a chess-like
directional move.

A player wins the game by outscoring the opponent with
touchdowns, field goals or safeties, while playing four 15-minute
quarters. Scoring occurs by the offense when the quarterback
advances for a touchdown or field goal. The defense can score
points by capturing the quarterback in its own endzone.

The playing pieces are set up in traditional football
formations, split running back-fullback formation for the offense
and a 4-3 formation for the defense, as explained in the rules. The
players take turns moving their individual pieces on the game
board. Coaches continue to alternate moves throughout the game,
whether they are managing the offense or defense.

“The idea for the game came in December 2002,” said Hubbard. “I
was at home on a Saturday evening, looking for something to do and
got my chess set out. I thought to myself, what would it look like
to play chess with football formations? I started setting up the
white pieces as the offense and the black as the defense.

“Almost immediately I wondered what the game would look like
played on a checkered board that resembled a football field. A
couple of days later, I created a cardboard checkered football
field, twenty squares long and ten squares wide. About a week
later, I asked a friend to create a more professional look with
computer graphics. It did not take long to write the first copy of
the game rules. But then, the first roadblock developed, designing
the pieces.”

Hubbard wanted three-dimensional pieces, a little like chess and
like football players to give the game some authenticity.

“I wanted sturdy pieces, so I researched plastic molds — very
expensive,” added Hubbard. “My brother-in-law made some pieces out
of wood to use for a prototype. While serviceable for the
prototype, the idea was not practical for a larger production run.
So after about a year, I put the idea away, figuring the game may
never happen.”

In 2008, Hubbard got back to work trying to get his dream going,
and hopefully, in stores.

“My wife Becca encouraged me to move forward and see if we could
make the game a reality,” said Hubbard. “A friend of ours and his
business partner gave us some good advice: plan to spend twice as
much as you think it will cost. They also put us in contact with a
graphic design company, Gobberdiel Strategic Communications,
located in St. Louis.

“We met with Gobberdiel, and they helped us with game design,
rules layout and a prototype. I did game testing with my nephews
Luke and Daniel Bicklein, ironing out kinks in the rules and making
sure the game had equity on both offense and defense. The next
phase was convincing some friends and family members to invest some
capital to get the game pieces designed and the game itself
manufactured.”

The game has a 2010 copyright and has been on the market since
August.

“The experience of getting Quarterback King on the market has
been a long and tedious process, with more details than we
expected,” added Hubbard.

“My wife Becca has been an exceptional teammate, providing
encouragement when there would be roadblocks. At the same time,
meeting the people who have helped us get the product published has
been an invaluable experience. There have been highs, like seeing
the prototype completed, the pieces designed, or the first
manufactured game, to name a few. There have also been struggles,
namely manufacturing issues and marketing concerns.”

According to Hubbard, the early reaction to the game has been
positive.

“The initial response of people who have seen or played the game
seems to usually be one of two words: interesting or cool,” said
Hubbard.

Hubbard is currently planning a Quarterback King tournament for
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 28 and 29, in St. Louis, the weekend
before the Super Bowl. There will be four different levels or
divisions based on age. There will be trophies awarded to the
winners.

The game can be purchased online at QuarterbackKing.com and
costs $29.95, plus shipping.

“I like the way the game plays,” concluded Hubbard. “I believe
the game blends football and chess in a unique manner. It is
exciting when the quarterback begins to break through the defense,
heading for a touchdown.

It is also exciting to have the quarterback under pressure by
the defense with no place to escape. Adding to the challenge, the
defensive coach does not have to announce ‘check’ when there is an
impending capture of the quarterback, so imagine the surprise when
the offensive head coach sees the quarterback get sacked.”

While this is Hubbard’s first game to hit the market, creating
games is nothing new for him.

“Looking back on my childhood, I was always creating and playing
games with my brothers, whether it was with baseball or football
cards,” said Hubbard. “We would take football cards, spread them
out on the floor, create teams and line them up against each other,
using a bottle cap as the football. On hike, we would push all the
cards together. Designing Quarterback King is the result of God’s
gift of an imaginative mind for creating games and a passion I have
always had for sports.”