If you like chess, and you like Harry Potter, chances are you remember the epic scene from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, with the life-sized chess pieces. The geek in me contemplated the possibilities of a life-sized chess match with child-like wonder.
Along comes Steve Hassenplug, Lego Roboticist, who had the same train of thought when he watched the movie with his kids. He finally found the one project that would take his work to the next level and distinguish himself as an expert in his field. His project, MonsterChess, incorporates more than 100,000 Lego pieces, combined with a lot of time and effort.
Standard Lego Base Plates where used of each square of the chess board. Each piece was placed on four caster wheels combined with drive wheels so balance can be maintained. The drive wheels are powered by electric motors from a Robotics kit, also manufactured by Lego. The wheels also enable the pieces to go in different directions, for example, they can move forward and backwards. The base is a one-to-two-ft-tall piece that spins in place, meaning the piece can change direction as well. The entire board is connected to a touch screen computer using Bluetooth. Additionally, the custom software can be programmed to move several pieces at once, and “queue” them for the actual move.
The kings and queens, as well as the knights, have moving parts. The Royalty can move their sceptres, for example, and the knights can kick their forelegs. The bishops have candles that flash. Another distinguishing fact is that the Queens have different head dresses. Thanks to Steve’s wife, who suggested that woman, especially queens, would not want to a see a rival dressed in the same outfit. The motors are also charged with rechargeable battery powered electric motor. All the pieces are based on actual chess piece shapes, expect the knight. Instead of just a torso design, they gave the knight a full body. Be very careful who you challenge to a game of the Lego Robotics chess, because the Rook can shoot cannon balls too. You would not want to get in its way. Or be kicked by the knight for that matter…
Unlike the chess board from the Sorcerer’s Stone, the chess pieces don’t come to life. Instead, players can make their moves by using an interface designed specifically for this project. The touch screen computer programs moves and the pieces move into position. The interface also has a standard chess engine installed, meaning you can play against a computer opponent. Each base has a unique color coded square in the center, pieces read these combination and know where they are in relation to the rest of board. Neat, huh?
For the chess enthusiasts among us, some other amazing chess designs include Chess Set- Design Inspired by Structures in Different Countries or the Blade Runner Chess Set!