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- For other uses, see Kobayashi.
The Kobayashi Maru scenario is a test given to command track line officer Starfleet cadets. This test is generally not given to science officers. It is a test of character to see what a potential captain would do in a no-win scenario.
In the original scenario, the cadet patrols the Klingon Neutral Zone in a simulated starship, based on a dramatized experience of the USS Horizon. The ship receives a distress call from a neutronic fuel carrier, the ECS Kobayashi Maru (commanded by Kojiro Vance), from inside the Neutral Zone. If the cadet attempts to aid the Maru, three Klingon cruisers attack. The computer ensures that it is impossible for the cadet to save both the Maru passengers and their own ship. (TOS movie: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; TOS novel: The Kobayashi Maru; TOS short story: "Just Another Little Training Cruise"; WizKids module: Attack Wing)
Cadets are forbidden to ever tell others how they win, if they win. In fact, the entire Kobayashi Maru program is meant to be unknown to those who have never taken it, so that they cannot pre-plan tactics. Leonard McCoy and Spock were two officers who had never taken the test. (TOS novel: The Kobayashi Maru)
Basis for the testEdit
The Kobayashi Maru scenario is based on an actual event in Starfleet history, in which a freighter called the Kobayashi Maru was lost along the Klingon border in the 22nd century. (ENT novel: Kobayashi Maru)
James T. Kirk became the first cadet to beat the scenario in 2254 by re-programming the computer. (TOS movie: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) On his first attempt "commanding" the USS Potemkin, he lasted five minutes, but "died" after four minutes and 37.03 seconds. The results were the same in his second attempt, but his reaction time in both was well above average. After these defeats, Kirk took to studying statements by Korrd meant for both winners and losers (in battle). (TOS novel: The Kobayashi Maru)
Before his third attempt, Kirk reprogrammed the scenario (with the aid of a fellow Starfleet cadet), eliminating the parts of the program that made it impossible to win, thus creating a level playing field where success was not guaranteed, but at least possible. He then told the simulation's Klingon, Kozor, that he was "Captain Kirk." When they heard this, the attacking fleet instantly assisted Kirk in locating Kobayashi Maru. Kirk then tricked the Klingon ships into warping away, giving him time to evacuate the Maru. The whole thing took eighteen minutes and twenty-seven seconds. Admirals Jublik and Zheng gave Kirk a commendation for original thinking, as well as ninety-nine demerits, just short of the expulsion-limit. (TOS novel: The Kobayashi Maru, TOS comic: "Star-Crossed", TOS - Unlimited comic: "Action of the Tiger"; TOS short story: "A Test of Character")
Another cadet who has beaten the simulation is Peter Kirk. He did this by challenging the other captain to a ritual duel to the death, such that all existing hostilities must be halted for the duration. Peter told his crew to rescue the Kobayashi Maru's crew and warp away while he was in combat. (TOS novel: Sarek)
Mackenzie Calhoun, upon taking the test, destroyed the freighter, backing up his decision by suggesting that more than likely the crew was dead, and it was just a trap. He also reasoned that the crew would prefer this to capture and torture from their adversaries. (NF novel: Stone and Anvil)
In the Kelvin timeline, by 2258 Commander Spock was in charge of programming the scenario for cadets. In that year James T. Kirk of that reality took the test. Like in the original reality, he took the test twice and failed before taking the test a third time. On his third attempt, Kirk won the simulation by reprogramming the simulator and making it possible to destroy the attacking ships with one torpedo each. Disturbed by this, Spock investigated and brought his findings to academy leadership, which called a hearing into Kirk's actions. (TOS movie: Star Trek)