I like to buy in bulk, and I like to order things online. As you might expect, I have cardboard boxes serving as shelving, and as… boxes. Even then, I have cardboard laying around, just waiting to be consumed in the spark of inspiration. Let me show you the ashes.

Making your own chess game board

Go to any grocery store, and you will probably be able to nab a nice shallow box like this one. Specifically, the dollar store, where you may also find those large glass gem thingies. It turns out you only need one bag, but it was only a dollar, so I played it safe.

Making your own chess game board

It is important to glue the middle gem with the flat side facing up, so it can lead all the other sheeple glass gems in its hipster glory. But seriously, that one has to be upside down. The rest you can glue however you like, but try to make it symmetrical if at all possible.

Making your own chess game board

Like that. Now just hang it on a wall and give it a pretentious name, like “Maruchange the World of Glass.” Actually, don’t. That’s a terrible idea. Instead, carve a hole on opposite sides just behind the center-edge glass gem. A hole the size of a quarter should be good.

Making your own chess game board

Note that incredibly valuable coin sitting on the hipster shepherd. Pretentious wall art has become the great arena of taking turns flicking a penny. The game is penny hockey, and the goals are carved into the very board. Pretty simple, pretty cheap, pretty fun.

But that’s not enough for you, is it? I hear your time-shifted voices, dear demanding, hounding, unreasoning readers. You echo in my ears and move my hand, preemptively answering your cry for more cardboard shenanigans.

Making your own chess game board

Ironically, that yardstick does nothing to give you a sense of scale, since you cannot see either end, nor the unit markings. Rest assured, that pencil has got your back, telling you that what you are seeing is a large square of cardboard. What that yard stick did do is provide the width and the straightness of the columns on the cardboard.

Making your own chess game board

The jig is up, the game is afoo- no, it’s chess. Admittedly, with a 14X14 board. That’s almost wide enough for two whole chess sets on either side, minus the second king and queen and attendant pawns. If you do decide to go that way, I would recommend being able to move two separate pieces a turn, or it will take forever. Also, as you fill in 98 squares with black marker, go from the top down so that you don’t mark up your palm-side so much.

Making your own chess game board

Of course, it would be a shame to waste all that space in the middle with unending plains. Enter the step hill thingy. Cardboard doesn’t want to do all those right angles, so you have to get persuasive with tape. For rules, consider that a piece cannot stop on a vertical space. Thus hills become impassable walls for pawns, and hideous speed bumps for bishops.

Making your own chess game board

You can also go with blank spots, where nothing can move over. For another element, flip it over and it becomes a ramp passable only to rooks and queens. Not pictured is a piece that bends space, or possibly a wormhole from one space to another. Try mixing in some battleship, where a sheet in the middle blocks you from seeing how your opponent is setting up their board. Play a few turns, then remove the sheet and play as normal.

Chess is celebrated as an unsolved, closed game. While that is true, it doesn’t have to be, if you dismantle the thinking box and rebuild the game in your own image.

hobbies and crafts Brandon Quist

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Brandon Quist About Brandon Quist
Brandon is originally from Olmsted Falls, Ohio. He has studied both at Baldwin Wallace college and Brigham Young University, and is currently pursuing Chemical Engineering, among other things. He considers himself a jack of all trades, and a master of none. In his spare time, Brandon enjoys knitting, guitar, reading, origami, writing, and photography.

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