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So if you caught my last two posts about chess eboards, I recently purchased the Millennium ChessGenius Exclusive ($599). I found it lacking in just a few areas, so I decided to do a few "upgrades" to it.

To recap, I added my own notation using vinyl lettering:

Unimpressed with the stock computer it comes with, I then purchased the Chesslink module ($99) that allowed me to connect my eBoard to other chess engines. I personally chose the HIARCS software ($49, $99; depending on the package you purchase).

You also may recall that I found the provided wooded chess pieces a little... wanting? I stated that I felt like the pieces are what would come with a $30 wooden chess set from your local pharmacy; not what I would expect to come with a $599 chess eBoard.

So after doing some research and watching some YouTube videos, I found that replacing the pieces was pretty simple. It was just a matter of removing the felt on the old piece using a hobby knife, and then transplanting the felt to the new piece:

Once that was done, the eBoard was able to detect the piece without any problems.

I looked at some different chess set options and opted for The Grandmaster Chess Set in Ebonized Boxwood by The House of Staunton ($109) with a 3.25" King.

Here is a side by side comparison of the old pieces (shorter) and the new pieces (taller):

The height and (especially) the weight of the new set is fantastic and was well worth the money.

So here it is, the final board in all of its glory!

So I now beg the question: Does choosing a new, more luxurious chess set and painstakingly transferring all of the sensors over make me a chess snob? My wife votes yes. happy.png

What do you think?

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  • Glenn Julich

Image © Copyright Netflix. Utilized under fair usage copyright laws.


Add my name to the growing list of patzers recommending Netflix's recent limited series, The Queen's Gambit.

The Netflix series is based on the novel of the same name by Walter Tevis published in 1983. It is a powerful story told in only 243 pages and is available in both printed and audiobook format.

(Quick note for fellow audiobook lovers: If you purchase the audiobook online, be careful; there at least 5 other audiobooks of the same title by other authors so be sure you get Tevis' book!)

Chess productions are commonly criticized, perhaps rightfully so, for rehashing a familiar plot over and over: a misfit kid has a talent for chess and the game changes his life.

Okay, I admit... we have that plot again. But isn't that the common plot for most movies? Misfit kid learns to play baseball... misfit kid finds a magic ring from Mordor... misfit kid finds a lightsaber and... I digress.

I'm fine with authors using familiar plot devices, as long as they add enough originality to the work and interesting characters to make their story unique. Thankfully this Netflix series accomplishes just that.

The story takes place during the time of the Cold War, around the time that Bobby Fischer would have been competing. One could argue that the story is a "what if" story; as in, what if Bobby Fischer had been female (Bobbie Fischer?).

Image © Copyright Netflix. Utilized under fair usage copyright laws.

I personally dig period pieces, and Netflix nailed the 50s and 60s here. The scenery is spectacular and some of the cinematography is astounding; with my personal favorite being when she is imagining the chessboard in her head.

(Note: As a patzer, when I try to imagine a chessboard in my head, it is usually missing a few squares and some of the pieces are actually from Monopoly... I know some of you feel my pain.)

I think perhaps the best description of the series comes from the New York Times journalist Alexis Soloski who described this show as "the thinking woman's Rocky." This is a spot-on analogy.

Are chess enthusiasts going to enjoy it? Absolutely. Both Garry Kasparov and Bruce Pandolfini were advisers on the production. They taught the actors how to move the pieces and how to hit their clocks appropriately. They even made sure that all the games they are playing are real games; unlike some movies that use footage out-of-sequence so the board looks completely different when the camera angle changes.

In sum, I was hooked on this series. It is definitely worth a binge-watch.

It is only seven episodes, so this is all where are going to get. Supposedly.

The show's creator, Scott Frank, has confirmed there will be no second season. But there are plenty of other limited series releases that were based on novels that ultimately succumbed to the demand to produce additional works beyond the original work.

So time will tell... but I'm not holding my breath.

If you have had a chance to watch it, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Here's the trailer:

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  • Glenn Julich

So here is the blog post you all have been waiting for! (I say that jokingly)

In my last post, I documented my journey that led me to my current eBoard: The Millenium ChessGenius Exclusive ... Wow, that's a lot to type. I will just call it my Millenium for this post.

So here is what you get for about $599:

You get the eBoard itself, which they claim is a "handcrafted wooden board." I'm not so sure about this. It looks like wood for sure, but it doesn't really feel like wood. Maybe the frame is wood? Not sure, but the board itself has a plastic-ish feel to me. But aesthetically it looks good and it feels good.

You also get wooden chess pieces for the board. Thankfully, these are real wood for sure. The craftmanship leaves a bit to be desired. Take a look:

A close-up picture of the Knight:

So the pieces are what I would expect to come with a $30 wooden board set from Target. Unfortunately, Millenium does not sell the chips individually like some eBoard companies do (Certabo).

So let's talk about the size. The board itself measures 15.75" x 15.75" x .78", with each square measuring 1.625''. The size is acceptable, but I do personally prefer a larger board with at least a 3.75" king. But at about half the price of larger eBoards, I was willing to make the tradeoff.

The board uses bright, red LED lights that are located at the corner of each square. I really think they did a good job with the lighting and the move indicators. The lighting was a must for me.

Unfortunately, there is no option for the board to come with notation. So using vinyl letters a pair of forceps, I meticulously added my own:

The chess computer it comes with is pretty limited in terms of features. Okay... I'll be brutally honest. The chess computer itself is useless to me. You can't connect it to anything so you can't save your games or load PGNs, etc. Personally, I would have preferred to have saved some money and buy JUST the board itself and connect it to other sources, but this wasn't an option (that I could find). So the original chess computer sits unused in a box. So what do I use? I'm glad you asked...

Where the board really shines is when you connect it to something else! To do this, you need to purchase a Millenium Chesslink module ($99):

Once you have Chesslink, it opens up a whole new world for the Millenium. It will allow you to connect to different devices via Bluetooth or serial USB.

First, I connected it to Chess for Android (free). I found the software a little clunky, so I played a few games but wanted to explore and see what else was out there.

I then installed HIARCS on my iPad ($9.99) and that worked INCREDIBLY well! You can dial in the ELO rating you want the engine to play at, and it worked beautifully! HIARCS, unfortunately, is not available for Android platforms.

Since I was enjoying the iPad version of HIARCS so much, I went ahead and purchased HIARCS for the PC ($59 base version; $99 for full version).

So here is something strange about HIARCS: the Mac version supports Bluetooth, but the PC version does not. Instead, the PC version requires a USB serial cable. So I went and dug up a USB serial cable from the bowels of my Giant Box O' Cables and connected the eBoard to my laptop.

So far, HIARCS for the PC is running great with my Millenium. Like the iPad version, you can dial in the ELO you want to computer to have. I also had it load a Fischer vs. Spassky PGN file and the Millenium's LED system walked me through each move. I love this!

Can I connect with online Chess game sites? I'll be honest, I haven't researched this yet. I'm doubtful, though.

So in sum, I am thoroughly enjoying my Millenium while connected to my Windows laptop and being able to use HIARCS to finely tune my computer opponent. Excluding the software, let's total the cost:

Board itself: $599 ... with 10% discount coupon, $540.

Chesslink: $99 ... with 10% discount coupon, $91.

Vinyl letters: $4

TOTAL: $635

To put this in perspective, I went over to the Certabo site which makes the only other board out there that has EVERYTHING I want: the size, the LED lighting, and higher quality pieces. The set over there would run me $1200 before shipping. But that's my dream board. Certabo has smaller boards comparable to the Millenium that are substantially cheaper; around $515 before shipping (if you use your own pieces).

In hindsight, would I buy it again? I don't know. With the Millenium, I feel like I paid extra for a chess computer I don't use. So had I known this, I might have given Certabo a more serious consideration.

But I do plan to enjoy my Millenium and HIARCS for quite a while! (At least until I finally decide to spring for my dream board)

Do you have any experience with any eBoards? If so, please share them in the comments below!

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