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- For other uses, see Kobayashi Maru.
The Kobayashi Maru scenario was a test given to Command-track line officer Starfleet cadets, but not science officers. It was a test of character to see what a potential captain would do in a no-win situation.
- While Spock was known to not have taken the scenario (as noted in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), it seems probable that there were other examinations he must have undergone in order to have been more than an temporary first officer and, eventually, commanding officer.
In the original scenario, the cadet would patrol the Klingon Neutral Zone in a simulated starship; this often being a ship either that the trainee was likely to be assigned to, or was currently assigned to. If no ship was preferred, the default assigning would then fall to the USS Horizon. In the scenario, the ship receives a distress call from a neutronic fuel carrier, the Kobayashi Maru (commanded by Kojiro Vance), from inside the Neutral Zone. If the cadet attempts to aid the Maru, two or three Klingon cruisers attack (depending on the class of ship being used in the scenario). The computer then ensures that it is impossible for the cadet to save both the Maru passengers and their own ship. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; TOS novel The Kobayashi Maru; Enterprise Logs anthology: "Just Another Little Training Cruise")
Over time the scenario had gone through several changes to keep it relevant. At some point following the Khitomer Accords between the Federation and Klingons, the main adversary in the simulation was changed to Romulan warships. (Star Trek: Zealous)
The Kobayashi Maru program was meant to be unknown to those who had never taken it. Cadets were ordered not to discuss the scenario or any results with those who had not taken the test. This allowed for the scenario to be a surprise, forcing the testee to respond on the spot without the advantage of foreknowledge, prearranged plans, or tactics. (The Kobayashi Maru)
The scenario is based on an incident from the Earth-Romulan War, when Captain Jonathan Archer, in command of the Enterprise (NX-01), had to make a difficult choice when the ship received a distress call from an Earth Cargo Service freighter. (ENT novel: Kobayashi Maru)
James T. Kirk was the first cadet ever to beat the scenario. Kirk reprogrammed the scenario, 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. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, TOS novel: The Kobayashi Maru)
- It is a matter of speculation as to whether Kirk cheated the same way in the Primeverse as he did in the alternate continuity of Star Trek.
In response to many years of continuous leaked information on how Kirk beat the simulator, Starfleet decided to upgrade the aging simulator to a newer, better version in 2265. Commander Julienne Cochrane, at the time actively in command of the destroyer USS Tamerlane, was among the few randomly selected active-duty Starfleet personnel assigned to test the new simulator. Prior to the test, she found a technician among those still making final adjustments to the new simulator. She asked the technician to tell her of the weaknesses of the new simulator. Only after a direct order was issued by Cochrane did the technician comply. He reluctantly told her that the simulator was still unhooked from the Starfleet computer core mainframe, and thus possessed limited memory. Cochrane then devised a plan whereby she overloaded the temporary computer with instructions, making the Klingon cruisers become “one too many” instructions and simply de-rez from the program.
Because Julie exploited both her rank and a not-yet available function of the new simulator to beat the scenario, the Type II simulator was not considered compromised and continued to remain in service for many years. (Tamerlane: “By Her Reason Swayed”, "Omake 1")
Three Academy instructors were required to be present during the exam. When Gretchen Jaeger took the scenario c. 2277, two of the three were former Enterprise officers: Spock and Dawson Walking Bear. (Orion Press: The Dianasian Gift)
In 2362, the command track cadets of Nebula Squadron each took the test separately. None of the cadets were allowed to share their experiences with each other. Timothy Sinclair took the results of his test hard, and after her simulation, Ro Laren angrily canceled a date with Ben Bartholomew. (Star Trek: Pendragon: "Children of the Burning Heart")
In 2379, Ebak Sison passed the Kobayashi Maru scenario by observing how captain Kirk and Julienne Cochrane passed the test. He reprogrammed the simulation to make the Romulan warbirds turn around and warp away as soon as his ship fired a barrage of 11 torpedoes as warning shots at them, barely missing them. The stunt succeeded and earned him an award for extra work, since the Academy logged him with looking up information on both Kirk and Julienne Cochrane. (Star Trek: Zealous)
Lieutenant Commander Dustin Zofchak passed the test by using the Picard maneuver. He accelerated to warp 9.9 and dropped out of warp just above the disabled vessel. With the enemy ships focusing on the ship's illusion, he activated the tractor beam and warped out of the system. (Star Trek: Odyssey: "Forever's Edge")
By 2381, there were two simulators for the scenario: one had been in existence, albeit with upgrades, since Kirk's time at the Academy; the other was a holodeck. (Beverly Crusher Investigates: The Death on the Kobayashi Maru)
25th century Edit
In 2407 Brevet Lieutenant Commander Kanril Eleya took the test after becoming acting captain of the USS Kagoshima. A combination of errors by the test proctors (among them failing to account for her speaking tlhIngan Hol) and her own rapid changes of tactics forced the computer to cheat openly to deny her a complete victory. She nevertheless succeeded in rescuing half the crew and passengers of the Maru and saving her own non-combat crew. The "defeat" infuriated her and she was told to report to the front lines and "take your anger out on the Klingons." ("The Universe Doesn't Cheat")