August 11, 2006

Invention of the week: the correspondence chess correspondence chessboard.

I got the idea for this from Zach, when he mentioned that he'd like to play correspondence chess but -- lacking a proper chessboard -- would need to sketch out the moves on a piece of paper to keep track of them. Chess by mail is an embattled enough pursuit in the age of email that I couldn't help but feel it needed something to redeem its slowness and expense, something that it could provide that email could not. Something, in fact, to make it more glamorous to have a piece of paper for a chessboard. That something is the postal-service-compliant mailable chess set!

It's an 8-inch square grid and pieces made of heavy paper, with each piece stuck down by repositionable tape so moves don't get lost in the mail. Hand-drawn, of course, with all homey appeal that that implies. But just hang on a second -- when you fold the board down the middle, it becomes a machinable 4x8 document weighing in at slightly less than one ounce. That's right; you can put it in a standard legal envelope and mail it with a regular first-class stamp.

I've made two so far: one to send to Zach in New York and one to send to one of my classmates in Pittsburgh. The second is unquestionably neater, as a result of being drawn with Sharpies instead of India ink and old-fashioned pens. What it may lack in style and soul it makes up for in functionality, having each piece trimmed to fit within its square and the crease running reasonably between sides instead of across them.

If I wanted to make things really interesting, I'd wait for both games to get going and then trade boards, sending each person's game to the other to continue. Having never played with either of them before, I don't know who'd stand to benefit from that arrangement. Probably not me, seeing as -- as the observant and chess-playing among you may have noticed -- I can't even handle the stress and complication of setting up a board without misplacing pieces. It doesn't bode well for my performance in these games.

Posted by dianna at August 11, 2006 12:01 AM

I like my chess set better, because I like the contrast. I also like the octagonal pieces on mine, because I feel the noble octagon is underappreciated in our work-a-day world. Outside of stop signs.

I also appreciate the wizard-style pointy hats that represent the bishops. Correspondence chess is more interesting with wizards.

Your next project should be a Correspondence Sex Chess set. This would make correspondence chess even more interesting than wizards.

Posted by: Zach S. at August 11, 2006 09:10 AM

Co-- se-- what? How the hell did we get from wizard-hat-shaped bishop pieces (and by the way, that's merely supposed to be the vaguely pointy, inexplicably slashed top of the standard bishop piece, but it looks better drawn as a triangle than as a roundy hat shape) to correspondence sex chess? I'm not fucking making a correspondence sex chess set, anyway; you're the one who lives near the Museum of Sex and you can go take notes on their chess set and make one yourself.

I don't know why I'm so opposed to this suggestion, really. Maybe it's just the sheer randomness of it, and the fact that you didn't even attempt a segue into it. We do not go bringing up sex willy-nilly here, Mr. Sharpe. Don't you know anything about Snoqualmie?

Posted by: Dianna at August 11, 2006 07:20 PM

I believe my segue was "things that make chess sets interesting." Unusual pieces make chess sets interesing, and sex tends to make things in general interesting. Given the existence of non-correspondence sex chess sets, it seems only natural that correspondence sex chess sets are the next evolution in correspondence chess.

Posted by: Zach S. at August 11, 2006 07:55 PM