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Chess Sets of the Future

Posted by Arun J on

Chess Sets of the future
In the turn of the 19th century, a rare exhibit found its way to the British Museum; Something whose origin is still shroud in mystery and only a glimpse of it is still widely acknowledged. The Lewis Chess Men is a collection of chess pieces made using Walrus Ivory and carved in the most elegant manner from the 12th century. For a person passionate about Chess, the discovery is an amusement as well as a lesson in History. Chess has evolved over several centuries to what it is today. Compare the Lewis Chessmen with the pieces of Shatranj ( an ancient form of Chess played in the Persian empire) and the fact is quite conspicuous - Chess has been evolving, is evolving and will evolve. 
[above - Lewis Chess Men]
[above - Shatranj pieces]
 
The future of the game: 
Chess Rules: 
Opening novelties are becoming as rare as finding a new metal in the elementary table that we learned in Chemistry as kids. The rarity and the beauty of chess ideas are become difficult to find as years roll by. One reason for this is that most opening ideas have been exhaustively played and Grandmasters are working extra hard to find new ideas with which to surprise their opponents. In another century or two, FIDE will eventually fall back to another starting position as suggested by Fischer and is passionately called the Fischer random or Chess 960 game, where the pieces on the first and last rank are shuffled, resulting in 960 combinations of possible positions. That would the first prediction one could have with regard to the rules of how the game is being (and will be ) played. 
 
Chess Sets:
What will happen to the Chess sets of the future?
Technology enables us to go beyond the traditional Chess Sets and image unimaginable possibilities in the near future. One such technological advancement is 3D Printing. This allows us to print in three-dimension what would otherwise be difficult to manufacture. 
 
One of the best examples of 3D printed Chess sets is the recreation of Da Vinci's Chess set based on a manuscript or the chess set designed by artist Marcel Duchamp, which ran into a lot of legal troubles.
[DuChamp Chess set design 3D printed] 
The second biggest technological advancement is Virtual Reality. How wonderful would it be to explore the virtual realms of a Harry Potter styled Chess game with mesmerizing realistic battle scenes? I wonder how many people would still be willing to sacrifice themselves as Ron did when he played as a Knight. Such VR-enabled games, especially horror and strategic shooting games have already starting to make the headlines. In the next few decades, Virtual reality itself will evolve and so will the games depending on them. But in the end, we may end up so mesmerized by the experiences that the contours of reality may fade away as virtual experiences become more immersive. 
Where hardware meets software: Internet of Things.
I still remember my first game on a DGT board and how after the game when I started analyzing with my opponent, the arbiter interfered abruptly (I was a kid then), scolded a bit and placed the Kings in a weird dancing position on the four central squares. I was puzzled at first, but later I realized that whatever I do on the board gets reflected in the tournament broadcast. Then I also learned that the King dance indicated the game's results for the online viewers. 
When I started researching more about DGT board, I realized so many things that I hadn't known before. Did you know that you can connect a DGT e-board to a computer and play a game on PlayChess.com or similar sites that support such a hardware-software integration via the internet? But then, that wouldn't be "Future of Chess Sets" if I stopped there. What I find more astonishing is the concept of the Internet of things and how it came to be applied in Chess. It goes like this - every object can be given an IP and connected to the internet - your dog, the camera in your house, your car or even that knight on g1. There are several technologies used to perform similar actions - Piece, square and move detection and more advanced technologies are bound to come. 
It would be astonishing If online play became obsolete and every home had one such chess set people can play virtually and the pieces moved on the board automatically. 
Novag and Excalibur were the grand-dads of today's e-board evolution. Square Off (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/square-off-world-s-smartest-chess-board--2) is a contemporary innovation in the same line of e-board evolution. It's a chess set that allows automatic movement of pieces via the internet. 
Square Off Youtube video: 

 
Hologram Chess: 
Wouldn't it be nice if I could flip a button on my phone and what looked like Fischer's ghost shows up out of nowhere and challenges me to a game of Chess? Perhaps you may have been amused by Dejarik, the game R2D2 and his friends play in the Star Was movie and would love to play such a game with your friends. The technology behind Holographic projections is constantly evolving and thanks to many ambitious projects (example: This), we could see such a game very soon!
[Image: Dejarik, a game featured in Star Wars]
 
Chess Variants: 
There are so many Chess Variants out there - games developed out of tweaking and bending Chess rules. But in the next couple of decades, what would be nice to experience is a more evolved multi-dimensional chess set like the one used by Spock in Star Wars or a modern three-player Chess. Considering the evolution of board games and indie games in general, it would be a great cocktail if multi-dimensional Chess marries board game adventures like the classic Age of Empire video game, for example. 
 
Unimaginable possibilities await us in the next couple of decades and centuries from now. How lucky our children and children's children would be to experience the future of Chess, while we bask in our own imaginations. Do you imagine any other type, format or form of Chess for the future? Do share with us in the comment section below!

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