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Hardware Hacking Input Devices The Internet Build Games

Online Chess With Physical Pieces On a Chessboard 63

D4C5CE writes "A chess-playing German tinkerer has contrived (and made a video of) an amazing contraption that plugs real chess pieces into the server using a 20W LED projector and an old webcam to read moves on a projected chessboard."
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Online Chess With Physical Pieces On a Chessboard

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  • This looks like the same concept behind Microsoft's Surface AKA Big-Ass Table.

    • This looks like the same concept behind Microsoft's Surface AKA Big-Ass Table.

      No, the surface needs each item to be individually marked on the bottom: []

      Not the same at all. However, there was another camera technology once mentioned on /. that is really similar, but I cannot find it now. Anyone?

      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        given that chess is only one change at a time, i suspect it could work with a ms surface system without the pieces being marked.

        in the video we see him pressing some kind of button on the side between each move. I guess the camera takes a snapshot at each press, looking for changes and interpreting those as moves (no longer a dot at one position, and a dot on a previously blank position equals a move between the two spots).

        Between that and the known starting positions of a chess board, one can get away with

    • by D4C5CE ( 578304 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @01:28PM (#32860886)
      Actually he says in his project diary [] (in a forum where they usually take TFTs apart to rebuild them into things like these [] or even one's own R2D2 []) that quite contrary to Microsoft's approach, all his web cam looks for are the pieces' shadows on the board cast by ambient light.
      No need to detect more than that, the server knows which chessman comes from a particular square.
  • Radio Chess? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Soulshift ( 1044432 )
    Seems very much like the radio chess sets that saw some popularity in the late '80s.
  • It's kind of amazing when you consider it; all this work has been done by just one guy. He could turn this into a business, there are lots of chess hobbyists around..
    • Indeed, if he could make a board that you just plug into your router, that would certainly be an appealing product. Better still, wifi it's ass. You really don't need a projector, you only need to know that "a" piece has moved from x to y. You don't need to know what piece it is, as that data is already stored on the server. All you need to know is where the piece has moved from and to. As a previous poster said, magnetism would do it with reed switches, or I'm sure some solid state electronics could achie
      • by cgenman ( 325138 )

        I always wondered if you could use a whole lot of mini-actuators to have pieces "grow out" and "grow back" into the board. Perhaps in a 3x3 configuration, with 2 different height levels and a touch sensor on the middle actuator. Each piece could be arranged out of the 3x3 array of voxels, and moved by touching the middle of a piece, then touching the middle of an unused spot on the board. One could use blue and red LED's under the squares to show which piece belongs to whom.

        That would still require 576 a

      • by cgenman ( 325138 )

        Ah, they're still making one! Not networked, of course, and a lot more off-the-shelf. []

  • Lightning chess (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:15PM (#32860530)
    Most of the games played on are 'lightning' games, and usually its the 'fastest' setting of "1 0" which is 1 minute total per player with no time added per move. Some of the players individually have game counts in the hundreds of thousands. Normally these players play 'sets' of games, 10 or more consecutively, against any given opponent.

    Some of the player play a very hucksterish style, with the goal being to simply eat away at their opponents clock with surprise checks, highly dubious sacrifices, and other outright gorilla tactics. Its very fun to watch, and to play.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Main Gauche ( 881147 )

      Most of the games played on are 'lightning' games, and usually its the 'fastest' setting of "1 0"

      Most? I'm logged in right now:

      Lightning games in progress: 24
      Blitz games in progress: 331
      Total in progress: 473

      • Those lightning games are over in less than 2 minutes, and another one started by the players immediately. Yes, most.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Vellmont ( 569020 )

          Heh. Most games are lighting merely because they play a lot of games because of the short length of a game.

          Most PEOPLE are actually NOT playing lightning games, and most games in progress are not lightning games. The percentage of people playing lighting games would tell you a hell of a lot more about the popularity of lighting games than the number of games.

        • Yes, most.

          Ok, if 15% counts as "most" [], then you are right.

          This is what I get for posting in a chess thread.

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            That's what you get for posting to a Slashdot thread.

            This place is so full of retards who are willing to use any twisted logic to "prove" their point that it has driven off most level headed people. The only positive in this all? It keeps these same people from mingling in the streets. Here they're just a pest, in the real world they would be a menace.
      • by rthille ( 8526 )

        Another excursion in thruput vs latency...?

        • I found it more of an excursion into simple division.

          Most typical lightning game: 1 0
          Most typical blitz game: 3 0

          3/1 = 3
          331/24 ~= 14

          Orders of magnitude off. So even the roughest of estimates suggests that lightning games wouldn't be the majority of games. Anyway, there's no need to even use my estimate, since I've now posted freechess's statistics [] elsewhere in this thread.

          Blitz games outnumber lightning games about 5 to 1. (What a coincidence, 14:3 is on the rough order of 5:1.)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Old shit. Then TRS80 interface in 1982. All the old fuckers are dead now so this is new to young stupid punks like you!!

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Take another swig of Geritol pops.

      • Six pack at the ready.


        Someone asked Dudley LeBlanc what Hadacol was good for. He said about three million last year.

  • Good hack (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:38PM (#32860660) Homepage

    Give credit where due, people. This isn't impressive because move-sensing chessboards are somehow new. This is impressive because he made his own projector that displays time and opponent move information on the board. Then he used an old, old webcam and custom software to determine the move that he is taking. He made circuit boards, frames, and other equipment. He probably spent 100 hours and a lot of effort in order to make it slightly easier to play chess online.

    If a DIY setup like this doesn't bring at least a little smile to your face, your hacker spirit is dead.

    • Indeed!

    • Re:Good hack (Score:4, Informative)

      by v1 ( 525388 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @01:12PM (#32860832) Homepage Journal

      it kind of looked like he may have been pressing a button on the side of the board when it was time for the next move. His hand always returned to that position and moved a bit. after each move from either side.

      I also saw that "oops" of pushing the pawn too far, obviously there's an undo function there somewhere or he had not yet released the move.

      I thought the adding of the clocks to the board was a very nice touch. But looks like the room was darkened and no place to put one's legs under the table while playing. two minor drawbacks.

      • I also saw that "oops" of pushing the pawn too far, obviously there's an undo function there somewhere or he had not yet released the move.

        Yes, and there was no visual feedback when he moved the pawn two squares forward, not until he took back and made his corrected move. IE, it didn't seem to require an "undo" but your later suggestion instead.

        It seems he might be taking a snapshot of the board, then figuring out the move from comparing the previous shot with a now empty square, to the new shot with a newly occupied square.

        Ironically, perhaps easier with lower resolution ("old webcam") data. The use of an LCD was brilliant, as it eliminates

        • by Molochi ( 555357 )

          "I also noticed his clock consistently ran two seconds beyond his making of his move."

          I saw that too, but I just attributed it to the time it took to physically move his opponents pieces. He's actually granting a handicap this way.

    • by santax ( 1541065 )
      For this one I happy take a -1 redundant. You are absolutely right! And I find this project very encouraging to get my own iron out and have a go at it.
    • by Jaysu ( 952981 )
      This project is similar to my old senior design project in college. We built a chess game where the computer could detect and physically move the piece to the proper place (video below). It brings a smile to my face, now that I'm not being graded on it anymore :) []!
      • I knew this project, because I was curious about the surface you were using. Unfortunately - no offense - it was sooo loud and slow, that there was no way to use something like this for real chess games. But great video anyway :-)
        • by Jaysu ( 952981 )
          Yeah, we only had one semester to build that, so that is all we could do with that time frame. Hindsight 20/20, we would have picked faster motors. The sound could easily be reduced by enclosing the unit. We left it open for display purposes. As for the surface, we used plexiglass, and gave it a coating to reduce the glare. Good times.
  • I'd get rid of the pixellated lines and propose a blinking square where the piece needs to land.
  • Interestingly, a few weeks ago I read that something very much like this also was some sort of graduation project of a couple of students at a tech school here in Finland... don't have the link handy unfortunately.

  • Reminds me of the Cowboy Bebop episode "Bohemian Rhapsody []."
  • Sort of off topic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigSes ( 1623417 )
    I often wondered why they never gave Deep Blue, or any other chess playing PC, an interner connection. S, if you think youre the tits, you can go online to or some shit, and play. You may have to wait in a queue, so it can dedicate all computational power to the art of chess, but why couldnt this be possible? Pipe dream I guess, or vodka dream.
  • I would have moved either the knight or the bishop to a6, or else sacrificed the bishop at g6. What's the best move at that point?

    Although the DGT boards are really nice the cost is something many people will not be willing to pay. Odd that after all the years it has been out someone else has not released a more economical version.

    • I knew DGT boards and if they could what I wanted, I would have propably bought one. They can capture pieces, but you can't show the move of the opponent on the board. I didn't want to put a distracting monitor besides my board ...
  • I first read "contraption" as "contraception". Seems almost as accurate.

  • Jeebus H. Christ, I thought someone hooked up a chess piece-moving robot arm to one of these web chess sites several years ago.

  • A friend's request to display custom content on a projection clock made me wonder if/why there are really no such displays (as in "1ft digits across the room") that could be computer-interfaced with the likes of lcdproc, or even for pixel graphics.

    Has anyone seen such a thing commercially available without the need for DIY optics?
  • Cowboy Bebop anyone?

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus