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Wooden Chess Game


                                                                     (Photo: Chess.com)

Chess, the king of all mind games….

Chess is perhaps the most popular and treasured board game in the world. The history of chess goes back to many years, decades and even centuries. But who really invented the game we all love? What was the origin of this famous mind game many millions of people play? How is it made? Many questions arises and rises our curiosity to know about it even more.

So, the tale begins about 1500 years aback when it originated in India. In India, the game was referred as Chaturanga, and has been mentioned in Persian manuscripts. From India, chess travelled to Persia, and through Muslim influence, it spread throughout the Europe. The game became very popular in the Muslim world, and it was carried throughout Islam, across North Africa and eventually into Europe.

With time the rules changed. Chess spread like a wildfire throughout Europe after the rules had been changed so that queen and bishop had greater mobility,  and was even called “mad queen chess”. This was the start of our modern chess, and the popularity and growth of chess has not stopped since then. It remains a highly popular pastime in these days. In India, this game is very famous and thanks to the grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand.

Now another big question which arises is that: How are they made? A chessboard is made up of 64 square blocks. Thirty-two squares are dark and 32 are light. The task of making a wooden chessboard is quite challenging but once you master yourself, it’s super easy.  The prospect of accurately cutting and gluing together 64 blocks is daunting, so don’t do it. The first thing to do is to select two type of woods, it can also be of same type. Take the boards and put a clean edge on each board. Then, with the newly clean and straightened edge against the fence rip them to about 4” wide and cross-cut them to 28”. Clean up one face on each board. Next clean up one edge on each board. Mark an “X” on the cleaned edge of each board. With the X edge against the fence and the X face on the table of your table saw rip 2 strips from each board 1-1/2” wide. Now you will get some strips about 3/8” thick. Set them aside for use on the border of the board. Now crosscut the 4 boards to 14”. You should now have 8 boards 1.5” wide X 14” long. Now gather up your clamps, set it and glue the edges. Try to keep all the boards held firmly and with even pressure. Let it sit for 3-4 hours. After the interval scrape away all the excess dried glue. Cut perpendicular strips. Lay out the cut strips and flip every other strip to form the chessboard pattern. Now it’s time for the second glue up. Glue up the edges and clamp it like you did before. Once dry, scrape the glue and plane it flat again. Make the border with those 3/8” scrap pieces and sand it up from 150 grit all the way to 320 grit. Then a thorough wipe down with mineral spirits. And then your chessboard will be ready.

Next comes the pieces. The wooden chess pieces are very valuable and expensive in the market because of the exotic woods used. So, we need to handle the process very effectively. So, the first step is to choose a design and then only you will go into the next step of choosing wood. It can be between 1.5-4.5m as long. The blocks are dried before in the sun. It’s only when the blocks turn out to be good the transformation begins. The most challenging part is “fine carving”. You can carve your chess pieces using special tools and your hand. Spinning takes place at 2400 rpm. And then the sanding process starts. It is very important to sand the pieces, in order to get the smooth and even surface. Chess pieces are then treated with a solution to preserve. Then final touches are made and chess pieces are polished to give it a shine.

Hence the transformation of wood into chessboard and chess pieces completes. It is a time-consuming process however it’s also true that it is worth of time.

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