Here’s what happened when two marine scientists played emoji chess on Twitter

Twitter’s new 280 character limit has opened up many possibilities, but one you probably didn’t see coming was online marine biology emoji chess.

The sport has been brought to the attention of many by a game between two people: Dr Andrew Thaler, a marine science and conservation consultant, and Dr David Shiffman, a marine conservation biologist and science writer.

With standard chess pieces such as pawns replaced with sharks and crabs, Dr Thaler added a few rules to make it educational, and a little more challenging.

Naturally, shark and crab facts were frequent – did you notice one side of the board is invertebrates and the other vertebrates?

Remember the first rule of online marine biology emoji chess? “You can’t take a piece without describing how the overtaking animal would defeat its prey.”

So when the krill took down the penguin, this was Dr Thaler’s explanation.

The game continued with an admission from Dr Shiffman that chess wasn’t his greatest strength.

We all learned something very important about the cone snail.

As the game neared its conclusion, Dr Shiffman’s gif game became apparent.

But Dr Thaler was relentless in his pursuit of glory, even defeating a dolphin with a shrimp.

And when checkmate had been achieved, Dr Shiffman had a perfect – and very graphic – gif to represent the defeat of his king (whale).

It’s fair to say the fans loved it.

After the game, Dr Thaler produced a gif of his own that summed up the whole thing.

Better luck next time, vertebrates.


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