Review: Square Off’s Grand Kingdom Chess Set
Have you ever wanted to play wizard chess? It seems so exciting to be able to speak to your chess pieces and have them move around the board on their own. Being Muggles, we don’t have magic to enchant a chessboard, but we do have the next best thing: science and technology. Square Off has designed a chessboard that can move on its own with the help of AI.
Square Off’s Grand Kingdom Set is a dream come true for all chess lovers — especially for those of us who are not very social. I absolutely adore playing chess, but I don’t have very many people I can call on to play a quick game. With the AI component, all I need is myself, the board, and my phone to play a wicked game of chess.
This chessboard works through the Square Off app. The app itself is free and very easy to navigate. Like almost everything, there are extra features you can pay for, but no payment is needed to play the regular chess games.
To play a standard game of chess, you first have to connect the board to Bluetooth on your phone — this is easily done on the home page of the Square Off app. Then, you can choose to play vs. the AI programming by hitting the “play with Square Off” button. From there, you can decide on the logistics of the game: You can play as white or black, set a timer clock per move or per game, select the difficulty level (or select AI auto strength), and even select from a series of beginning, middle, or end positions. Once you have adjusted the settings how you like, the game begins!
One thing that I was most excited about is the AI portion. There is an option to play games based on skill level (ranging from one to 20), or you can select the “auto” level which allows the AI to “auto-adjust its strength to match your level.”
Playing against AI is fairly simple: All you have to do is press down on the piece you are about to move, move the piece, and press down again. This tells the machine what piece you moved and where you moved it to. I’m also really impressed with how it deals with incorrect moves. When a piece is placed in the wrong spot, the machine politely beeps at you and won’t take its turn until you’ve made a legal move.
At the end of each game, there is a button on the app that says “reset chess pieces.” This is definitely the most satisfying feature. Since you’ve been telling the machine where all your pieces are, all you need to do is sit back and watch as all the pieces are moved back to the starting position. There is also a section in the app that allows you to analyze the game, which is incredibly helpful if you are interested in studying various moves and learning how to be a better player. You can replay the game move by move, and the app will tell you if your or the AI’s move was “best,” “good,” a “blunder,” or a “mistake.”
Overall, I am incredibly impressed with this product. The board itself is so very satisfying. The coloring is gorgeous and the pieces feel comfortable in my hand. The design is meant to mimic that of a fully wooden chess set. The app is super easy to use, and there are so many other features to help me learn how to become the best chess player I can be. I have yet to use all of the features, but this is already an amazing design, and I cannot wait to play more games!