CLOSE

14 Crazy Chess Boards and Variations

The game of chess has been around in its current form for hundreds of years. It takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master, but it's not much of a spectator sport. Still, chess is so fascinating that considerable imagination has gone into making it more accessible and exciting for players, students, and spectators.

Wu Chess is a social networking site that marries hip-hop culture with chess. Founded by Chesspark and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, members can learn from masters, play each other online, form chess clans, and discuss common interests. Chess Boxing combines the cerebral with the physical. Participants play 4 minute rounds of chess alternating with 3 minute rounds of boxing. It shows that boxers can be smart and chess players aren't weinies. Roller Coaster Chess isn't about winning the game; it's about managing to play at all (and get the photograph) on a roller coaster!

4323-way_chess_0.jpg

To make playing the game more challenging without involving bodily risk, try 3-way Chess. You'll need three people to play, and there are places on the board that give you a choice of moves, but the rules are basically the same as regular chess. Other chess variants include 3d chess (which honestly has no limit) and Moebius chess (see a picture here). Or you can speed things up by playing blitz chess in a hurry.

The easiest way to make chess more interesting is to get a different chess set to play normal chess with. Continue reading for some of the oddest sets available.

432lighted-chess-21.jpg

Light can make a chess set beautiful. Illuminated Onyx chess tables are table tops made from translucent stone. They appear as a regular table when unlit. The chessboard square only appear when the light is on! Available in several shades of natural translucent onyx.

432lu00.jpg

Daan Van Tulder designed this lighted chess set made of PMMA acrylic glass. LEDS in the board provide light, and the pieces are distinguished by transparent vs. frosted.

432alicechess1.jpg

The Alice Chess Set by Yasmin Sethi was inspired by the story of Alice Through the Looking Glass. The pieces all have the same mirror finish, but when they touch the chess board, the cover becomes transparent and the type of piece can be seen.

The Chessboard is made out of LightPoints a material manufactured by Schott, which is glass that has LED's embedded in it; the pieces are coated with Mirona, a Material that turns transparent when light shines through it. When the piece is placed on the board it completes the circuit and lights up the LED under it turning it transparent, like magic.

408megachess.jpg

MegaChess has traditional chess sets in a variety of materials and sizes (all large). The pieces range from 11 inches up to 12 foot inflatables. They also offer topiary frames so you can grow your potted shrubs into chess pieces!

432ediblechessb.jpeg.jpg

Here's a chess set that looks good enough to eat -and you can! Designer Biggles made cookie cutters in the shapes of various chess pieces. When you take your opponent's pieces, they could be gone forever.

432drinkingchess.jpg

Drinking chess works along the same lines. Combining chess and a drinking game, you could either take a drink for a successful capture, or force your opponent to take a drink when losing a man. Which method you use would depend on whether you are wagering money on the outcome. You see these for sale all over near Christmas.

402civilwarchess.jpg

Alternately designed chess pieces range from the whimsical to the truly tasteless. A subclass of chess sets are designed to resemble real people. Civil War sets often feature Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis as kings, with famous generals in other roles and foot soldiers in blue and gray as pawns.

432OJSETfront.jpg

As another example of chess pieces designed to resemble real people, this set was created by Norma Jean Almodovar to illustrate the strategy in the OJ Simpson trial. Even the pawns are each modeled after a real participant! The trouble in playing with such a set is that you'd have to know who each piece represents and whether they were on the prosecution or the defense team.

432hermann-mejia-iraqi-chess-set.jpg

The Iraqi Quagmire chess set is another modeled after real people, although not a playable set due to the shape of the board. Hermann Mejía designed it for Mad Magazine.

434magnifying.jpg

You can make a chess set out of just about anything, as long as you can identify the role of the pieces. Here's a set made of different sizes of magnifying loupes, designed by Chris Dimino. I found another hand made from nuts and bolts.

Chess set variations can be taken to ridiculous extremes. Crack Pipe Chess combines the idea of making chess pieces out of anything plus the idea of drinking chess taken to another level. It's from SkyMaul, a parody of the SkyMall catalog we all know and love. There is no limit to chess variations, but they all still take a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Cell Free Technology
arrow
technology
This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
arrow
science
Play a Game to Help Scientists Defeat a Cancer-Causing Toxin
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images
Habibou Kouyate, Stringer, Getty Images

If you're used to fighting virtual zombies or flying spaceships on your computer, a new series of games available on Foldit may sound a little unconventional. The object of the Aflatoxin Challenge is to rearrange protein structures and create new enzymes. But its impact on the real world could make it the most important game you've ever played: The scientists behind it hope it will lead to a new way to fight one of the most ruthless causes of liver cancer.

As Fast Company reports, the citizen science project is a collaboration between Mars, Inc. and U.C. Davis, the University of Washington, the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The team's online puzzles, which debuted on Foldit earlier this month, invite the public to create a new enzyme capable of finding and destroying carcinogens known as aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins form when certain fungi grow on crops like corn, nuts, and grains. Developing countries often don't have the resources to detect it in food, leaving around 4.5 billion people vulnerable to it. When people do eat food with high aflatoxin levels unknowingly, they can contract liver cancer. Roughly a quarter of all liver cancer cases around the world can be traced back to aflatoxin exposure.

The toxin's connection to agriculture is why the food giant Mars is so interested in fighting it. By working on a way to stop aflatoxins on a molecular level, the company could prevent its spread more efficiently than they would with less direct methods like planting drought-resistant crops or removing mold by hand.

The easiest way for scientists to eradicate an aflatoxin before it causes real harm is by making an enzyme that does the work for them. With the Aflatoxin Challenge, the hope is that by manipulating protein structures, online players will come up with an enzyme that attacks aflatoxins at a susceptible portion of their molecular structure called a lactone ring. Destroying the lactone ring makes aflatoxin much less toxic and essentially safe to eat.

The University of Washington launched Foldit in 2008. Since then, the online puzzle platform has been used to study a wide range of diseases including AIDS and Chikungunya. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the Foldit's new aflatoxin project for the next several weeks or so, after which scientists will synthesize genes based on the most impressive results to be used in future studies.

[h/t Fast Company]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios