Final Project: Self-playing Chess Board

Joel Gustafson and Robert Tran


A few years ago I took Dan Novy's class on magic where we had to make some kind of magical artifact. I made an NFC-tagged deck of playing cards, but had wanted to try something more ambitious, like a magical chess board à la Harry Potter.

Like most things, this has already been commercialized: a Kickstarter campaign for "Square Off - the World’s Smartest Chess Board" raised £170,499 last fall and got press coverage in the usual slate of Engadget/Mashable/The Verge.

BUT it needs to pair with a smartphone over Bluetooth and has a battery and a charging port and an on/off switch, and the whole point of magic is that should just work.


The chess board needs to be able to 1) sense which pieces are where and 2) move pieces around. KISS / minimal interface / "just works" / etc.