The Square Off is a chess board with magnets and motors that can move pieces around by remote command. It’s a new Kickstarter project that’s designed to allow people to play chess on a physical board remotely with each other via a smartphone or against a computer. It can also allow chess fans to watch live or replay famous chess matches on a physical board in front of them.
But let’s be honest here: this was clearly designed to be wizard chess from Harry Potter. But I’m not sold.
Why? Because Square Off carried the concept 90 percent of the way there and then dropped the ball. Unlike in actual wizard chess, with the Square Off, once you’ve successfully taken an opponent’s piece, the magnets just cleverly shuffle it off to the side of the board. Which is still cool, but it’s not the same thing as, say, a queen coming alive and bludgeoning the opposing knight into tiny shards of stone. And yes, I realize that may be too much to ask of today’s technology, and that even building the remote-control chess magic that does exist in the Square Off is quite impressive, but still, it’s a bit disappointing.
Additionally, unlike wizard chess in the HP books, where the pieces are able to argue tactics and think for themselves, the Square Off will require a player to rely solely on their own chess knowledge.
If you’re enticed by the Square Off, it’s available to back on Kickstarter for £179 (or roughly $233), assuming you’re willing to trust InfiVention Technologies, given that this is the company’s first product.
But really, when we’re this close to the perfect game of wizard chess, why settle for anything less?