My son began to play chess this year at school. I suspect one of his friends has an older brother in the chess club, so they have followed along to find out about it, and now they play. Around the middle of the year, my son began asking for a chess set. We stopped by at my mother’s house, to find out if she still had my old chess set, but no. I am fairly sure I gave it to my nephew about ten years ago, when he developed an interest in playing chess. However, my mother had a magnetic draughts set, and that provided sufficient amusement at home for a few months.
Just over a week ago, my son really wanted to play chess at home, so he drew a board (very wonky squares, and far too many of them), and began to cut pieces from cardboard. He found it too time-consuming, and gave up when he realised I was about to begin cooking.
Some chess pieces were unearthed at home that weekend. It turned out that the old biscuit tin did not hold one of many collections of old screws and such after all. However, there was no chess board, and the pieces were too large for the hand-drawn grid. We played an interesting game of chess on the floor, imagining the squares (a few rows too many, but I am relaxed about such things when playing with the very young), and I had been impressed to discover my son really did know how the pieces are allowed to move.
My in-laws came to visit, and fussed over the lack of chess board. We had one of those difficult discussions – they wanted to pass on a chess table that had been sitting in their garden for over a decade, they thought a chess board should be bought immediately, etc. I am still trying to get junk out of our house, and saw the manufacture of a chess board as a way of using up a few craft supplies. We certainly don’t have the space for another table in this house, and I am tired of our space being used as their donation/rubbish bin.
Eventually they went home, and I made a board.
I began with the cardboard from the back of some A4 writing pads. Already you can tell there is a bit of a stash of cardboard in the house, as this took 6 pieces of cardboard. I kept the full width of the cardboard, and just added a section so that they would be 42 cm long (8 X 5 cm squares, 1 cm border). I glued two thickness of cardboard together.
The squares drawn on the cardboard made it possible for some people to play chess before the board was complete. While they used the cardboard base, I made the paper top. For that, I cut up some A3 sketchbook pages, to make a square 40 cm. Again, I had to cut extra pieces and glue two overlapping layers together (extra 10 cm required).
Then I cut 32 X 5 cm squares from black paper. It was a little slippery, so the squares are not perfect, and the corners not meet as well as they should on the board. I glued them down without marking the white paper first, something I intended to do, but my assistant was in a hurry. We used that square to play chess before the board was assembled.
I cut a large fabric square while laying the two pieces of cardboard on it, remembering to leave a gap between the pieces of cardboard so that the board could be folded in half for storage. I also allowed a couple of centimetres around the edge so that the fabric could be folded over the board. The paper layers were so thick that I was not concerned about there being any bump where the paper would overlap the fabric.
Then I used a lot of glue stick. First I glued the cardboard and lay it on the freshly ironed fabric. I was impressed by the flat smooth layers when I turned it over to press the fabric onto the cardboard.
After that, I glued around the edge of the fabric, and glued that over. I remembered to glue the little bit of fabric I turned over at the corners; however, I could have turned those over a little further to make a good diagonal join at the corner of the paper when applied. But really, it does not matter.
The final step: folding the board over.
The board is not perfect. But it is perfect for our purpose. And we have had a couple of fun games of chess on it already. When things look bad, the pieces start to talk (no inanimate object is safe from having me ‘talk’ it in this house). That way we keep a little humour in the game. I don’t want tears, but I am such a beginner that I find the game a good challenge when playing with my son.