Zero-G Chess Set

Non-Magnetic Travel Chess

A chess set on the wall.

May 2000

horizontal rule


"Big deal," you may think, after looking at the above picture, "it looks like a chess set." The key is that the background of that picture isn't a table, but a wall. See, here's a chain swinging from the Black King:

A chain of paperclips swinging on the king.

"Big deal," you may be thinking now, "everybody's seen magnetic travel chess sets." The key is that this one is non-magnetic. The board is made of Velcro™ compatible fabric left over from another project, and the pieces all have scratchy-side Vlecro on the bottom.

The bottoms of the pieces.

I even made sure to put white Velcro on the white pieces, and black Velcro on the black pieces.

This chess set is preferable to magnetic versions if you carry a portable computer of any kind. I should try to sell these to NASA for the astronauts to use, since having magnetic things in the shuttle are probably just as bad.


The Process

The Board

First, I cut 32 squares of each color out of Velcro compatible fabric. Each square is about 1.5 inches across. I used black and gray because that's what I had avaliable. Then, I glued all the squares to a large piece of fabric, trimmed it to a square all the way around, and folded the edges over to make a border. That's all it took.

The Pieces

First, I went out and bought a plastic chess set at the Toy Czar's. Originally, I planned to stick the velcro righ to the bottom, but the thickness of the plastic on these open-bottom pieces was not enough to hold the velcro. I wound up filling all the pieces with hot glue, then sticking the Velcro to the hot glue. For some of the pieces, I could use ready-made Velcro spots, but for others I had to cut circles myself.

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