smessi. “take the brain” was aggressively marketed in 1970, with ads which mainly (as i recall) featured kids yelling “TAKE THE BRAIN!!” in a “crazy” way, and the pieces being wackily wiggled at the camera. I wz a sucker for EVERY boardgame and fell for this. It was not a hit in the family — I don’t actually recall EVER playing it (however see point ix)
ii. it is a highly simplifed chess — the board is seven squares across to eight deep; each side has in effect a king (the brain), four queens and seven pawns (which become “queens” if they reach the eight rank)
iii. but unlike chess, the board is not uniform — click on the image to see how each square is marked with the directions a piece is allowed to go
brainiv. this has a massive and unpredictable effect on strategy — and (at least initially) puts actual real capable chessplayers at a disadvantage to chess-allergic opponents who sat down for the first time at the TtB board
v. as we discovered, playing it at the poptimism all-dayer yesterday, it’s really QUITE HARD to remember you can’t move except according to the arrows glaring you dayglo-ishly in the face — pieces look vulnerable which aren’t (and vice versa, since the “pawns” can move backwards if the arrows say they can))
vi. you sit, glowering at the array of pieces, thinking “WHY AM I EVEN APPLYING THOUGHT TO THIS STUPID GAME!?” — it rather dazzlingly undercuts the reverence and awe that a millennium of strategy, brilliance and nerdy grief has condensed into old-skool chess, which i at least sort of enjoyed (i think the element cementing the indifference is that you feel the array of arrows is almost certainly arbitrary)
vii. presumably a lot of time spent would produce gambits appropriate to the board’s somewhat random terrain and learned tomes on endplay — BUT SURELY NO ONE WILL EVER DO THIS!
viii. i assumed the game sold poorly and was not recommissioned — but googling provides more information: it was designed by sit-com writer PERRY GRANT; it was marketed in the US as SMESS; and re-packaged later in the 70s in a less frenetically wacky manner as ALL THE KING’S MEN
ix. i beat pete baran and martin skidmore — i attribute this to PURE LUCK, as, despite owning the game for 37 years it had remained unwackily in its box… i txted my sister to check: “did we ever actually play TAKE THE BRAIN?”; she replied “we did — i won”

UPDATE: ps i should have noted that, as well as “King” = THE BRAIN, queens” are called NUMSKULLS and “pawns” are called NINNIES — SMESS seems to have been described as “Ninny Chess” in some of the er literature