Tuesday, October 16, 2007


  The noble yet humble game of chess is best played with a nice tournament chess set, which can be found for about $20.
  "Tournament" means the pieces are large and weighted, and the board is the proper size, such as what's used in chess tournaments. Even if you're just learning to play, it's worth it to get a good set. If you're trying to play chess on a board that's too small, and with tiny, hollow plastic pieces, you're not having any fun. You'll accidentally knock pieces over, and the board might not even lie flat.
  The link above will take you to amazon.com, and there are other chess sets to be found online. Wholesale Chess has some with a canvas tote bag, which is what I have. My one reservation about the set is that the vinyl board can stay a little curled up. I'm careful to roll it up with the board showing on the outside so it will curl back into the table. We play happily on it because the pieces are heavy enough to hold down the board. We take our set to the library twice a week to play against other kids.
  If you think you can't play, check out a book. There are ways to learn the game gradually, for example, playing only with pawns to start, or playing one queen against all pawns (hint: the queen's gonna win). I like Chess for Kids by Michael Basman. It's a Dorling Kindersley book, with a lot of pictures and isn't intimidating to newcomers.
  For ages 4 and older, 2 players. Cost: About $20.

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