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Renewing the Finish of your JLP Hardwood Games

The finish of any JLP hardwood product can be renewed and revitalized quite easily. In fact, any minor scratches will often disappear as a result. We recommend the Heirloom Essentials Spotless Cleanser and Fine Furniture Polish by Woodwright products. This cleaner and polish is a water base formula that performs well, does not deteriorate finished wood, and contains no silicone ammonia or wax. The “Spotless” Cleanser easily removes oils and other residues. After this, polish to a rich luster with the Fine Furniture Polish. It comes in a small, affordable quantity and is quite readily available. Avoid silicone or wax. Silicone is a good oil but seems to degrade quicker. Wax is susceptible to watermarks, rings, and is visibly damaged with direct heat. Wax and silicone prevent easy repair.  Removing Scratches and Restoring Finishes JLP board games are finished with a multi-coat catalyzed conversion varnish. For medium scratches that do not penetrate the finish into the wood itself, you can prepare the surface with a lacquer thinner or acetone, then apply a water based poly-urethane. Note in particular though that when the water based poly-urethane is applied, it should be wiped on and then off relatively quickly. Don't allow it to stay in place for any length of time. For deeper scratches reaching wood itself and where a completely renewed finish is desired, sanding down the entire surface is necessary with appropriate woodworking tools before reapplying the conversion varnish. If you’re not sure which step of restoration, each one can be applied in order without damaging the board.  For example, start with Renewing the Finish. If that is not sufficient, try the Medium Scratch method with water-based polyurethane. If that still is not sufficient, you can remove the finish of a surface, sand it down, and reapply the appropriate varnish. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to the Chess House support team. The JLP Hardwood Games are an exclusive product line of Chess House.

Finding an attractive chess set for the home

Are you looking for a chess set that will be appreciated for many years? One that's aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting? With so many choices on the Internet it can be a little overwhelming to know which one is ideal for you. Here are Chess House, we have discovered what people appreciate most about an ideal chess set. Style, material, and build quality are crucial. Just as important however is availability of replacements pieces should one be lost. That's one of the reasons it's a good idea to buy your sets from Chess House where you're reassured you can easily receive a replacement part in the future. A chess set for your home Playing chess with others at home may be a highlight of your week. Often, kids enthusiastically participate. It can be a needed break from electronics and positive time to connect with each other other. Here's the ideal wood chess set for your home that fits most budgets and needs for play. The Championship Chess Set is a wonderful wood chess set for casual chess play at all levels and ages. 19" front to back, it's a comfortable size to reach over and play. Durable hand-carved, full-size (3 3/4" tall) wooden chessmen are produced by skilled craftsmen in India and felted for a smooth playing experience on the European made wooden chess board. The alpha-numerics are a nice added touch, extra helpful for beginning players or those who appreciate the ease of identifying squares during replay of recorded games using chess notation. Although the mahogany board is shown, there are a variety of board materials for you to choose from.   For an absolutely stunning set at home, upgrade the board to a U.S. handcrafted JLP style board. This Heirloom Chess Set is extraordinary. The tournament pieces slide effortlessly on the ultra-smooth wooden surface. An Heirloom Chess Set is one that will be treasured by your loved ones.   Attractive chess set for solo play Often someone enjoys chess yet doesn't not have a suitable playing partner. Electronic chess computers fill this need well! A chess computer provides a chess opponent at any time. With advances in software, the latest chess computers are quite interesting and fun to play. The Millennium Exclusive Chess Computer is PERFECT for all chess enthusiasts to enjoy the game at home. While you play and move the pieces naturally, they are automatically recognized and the responses are shown directly on the board for you to play.  It's one of the best ways to relax and enjoy the game of chess. Just sit down and play. It can be play at any level to give a challenging or easy game or to progress with growing skills! And it has many ways to configure and play the game. It's equipped with two of the most famous chess engines ever: The King and Chess Genius. If you want to look further, here's guidance to help you find the ideal Electronic Chess Computer.

32 Interesting Chess Facts to Impress Your Friends

Do you enjoy chess? If so, you'll love these 32 interesting chess facts! These facts will impress your friends and make you seem like a chess expert. Did you know that... - chess is the most popular board game in the world? - chess was invented in India? - there are over 700 million chess players in the world? Learn more about this fascinating game with these amazing facts! #1 Initially, the Queen could only move one square at a time, diagonally. Later, she could move two squares at a time, diagonally. It wasn't until Reconquista Spain, with its powerful queen Isabella, that the Queen became the strongest piece on the board. #2 The number of possibilities of a Knight's tour is over 122 million. #3 A computer called DeepThought became the first computer to beat an international grandmaster in November 1988, Long Beach, California. #4 The word "Checkmate" in Chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the King is dead". #5 The longest chess game theoretically possible is 5,949 moves. #6 If you put one grain of wheat on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on, how many grains of wheat do you need to put on the 64th square? The answer is 9,223,372,036,8 54,775,808(approximately 9.22x10^18) grains of wheat. #7 The new pawn move, where pawns were allowed to advance two squares on their first move instead of one, was first introduced in Spain in 1280. #8 The longest chess game ever was I.Nikolic - Arsovic, Belgrade 1989, which ended in 269 moves. The game was a draw. #9 According to America's Foundation for Chess, there are 169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,000 (approximately 1.70x10^29) ways to play the first 10 moves of a game of chess. #10 There are 400 different possible positions after one move each, 72,084 different possible positions after two moves each, and over 9 million different possible positions after three moves each... 318 billion different possible positions after four moves each. #11 Chess clocks were first used in 1883, and the first world chess championship was held in 1886 #12 The first printed chess book was completed three years after Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas - in 1495. #13 Chess was invented around 550 AD in Northwestern India. Its early form was called chaturaṅga, literally "four divisions of the military" - infantry, cavalry, elephantry, and chariotry. These forms are represented by pieces that would become the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook. #14 600 AD is the first clear reference to chess, in a Persian manuscript that describes chess coming to Persia (Iran) from India. #15 From the starting position, there are eight different ways to Mate in two moves and 355 different ways to Mate in three moves. #16 Dr. Emanuel Lasker from Germany retained the World Chess Champion title for more time than any other player ever: 26 years and 337 days. #17 In 1985, the Soviet player Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion ever at the age of 22 years and 210 days. Magnus Carlsen nearly beat this record at 22 years 11 months 24 days November 23, 2013. #18 The first Chessboard with alternating light and dark squares appears in Europe in 1090. #19 Albert Einstein was a good friend of World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker. In an interview with the New York Times in 1936 Albert said, "I do not play any games. There is no time for it. When I get through work I don't want anything which requires the working of the mind." He did take up Chess in his later life. #20 Rookies, or players in their first year, are named after the Rook in Chess. Rooks generally are the last pieces to be moved into action and the same goes for Rookies. #21 Blindfold chess is an impressive skill that many stronger chess players develop. It requires a keen ability to visualize the board clearly. National Master Elliott Neff played 12 games blindfolded simultaneously, winning 11 of them. #22 There are well over 1,000 different openings, including variations within larger openings/defenses that one can learn. #23 Chess sets normally have 32 pieces. But it has become popular to include 2 extra queens making it 34. The two spare queens can be used in pawn promotion. #24 Notable American mathematician Claude Shannon calculated the number of sensible chess games to be around 1040 games. For comparison, the number of atoms in the observable universe is roughly estimated to be 1080. That may be the reason it's the most timeless game #25 Though affected by several factors including time allotted, it has been calculated that the average number of moves in a tournament game with professional players is roughly 40. #26 The term "zugzwang," describes a situation in chess where a player would prefer not to move at all when it's his turn because moving any piece would worsen his current position. A player who is forced to make a move in this situation is said to be "in zugzwang". #27 While playing a game of chess in France, Benjamin Franklin reportedly took his opponent's King after she inadvertently put it in check. When she said, "Ah, we don't take kings so" Franklin replied, "We do in America." #28 In 1770, a man invented a machine that could play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. This mysterious player was nicknamed The Turk (as was the machine itself). It wasn't until 1857 that it was revealed to be a hoax (a chess master was hiding in the machine). #29 The word “gambit” is specifically a chess term, now generalized to mean a "sacrifice for advantage". #30 In 1999, chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov played The World in a game of chess that lasted over four months. Over 50,000 people from more than 75 countries participated in the game with moves being decided by majority vote. Garry ended up winning on turn 62 when 51% of The World decided to resign. #31 Before 1600, a game of chess could be won by capturing all of the opponent’s pieces, leaving a bare king; a style of play known as "annihilation". In Medieval times, players considered it nobler to win by checkmate, so annihilation became a half-win for a while until it was abandoned. #32 The longest recorded tournament chess match lasted 20 hours and 15 minutes and resulted in a draw.

Playing the King Competition Chess Computer for the First Time

After a busy week, I arrived in the family room with a hot drink in hand, to explore the new King Competition chess computer. The boys next to me, watching USA vs Canada men's hockey, now and then gave their thoughts on the progress of the unboxing, appearance, and progress of games on this latest in the line of Millennium chess computers. It was perfect timing for a Friday evening to enjoy solo chess, yet still around my family - meanwhile the girls were sleeping. From the moment I picked it up at work, I noted the sleek, modern packing of the King Competition and hoped the computer design itself would similarly impress.   Being familiar with the many chess computers of the last 25 years, I have ample experience for first impressions and critique.   I lifted the cover and the thin protective foam layer, revealing the electronic chessboard that felt like it belongs in the 2020s. I set the chessboard on the soft gray ottoman in our living room of white and gray accents - where I ended up playing three games in a row at a leisurely 15 minutes apiece plus seconds per move. The King Competition (February 2022) follows right after the smaller eONE (January 2022). I'll save further comparisons for later. I was excited to hold and set up the chess pieces for the first time. Inside a protective box was a drawstring Millennium bag with the pieces. These feel heavier than I expected! I emptied the 34 pieces (extra Queens) onto the chessboard and began setting them up. Modernizing a Staunton design is a BOLD move. In my view, Millennium did this well. The pieces feel outstanding in the hand and have a significant base weight that makes them more stable than I expected. They have a thin, quality felt that provides just enough friction to keep them from slipping on the board while still making moves freely across square surfaces. But what I like most is the new piece style aesthetics that feel youthful and energetic. At this point, I was very pleased with the overall size of this electronic chess set as well as the square design - even with the buttons and display in the front.   After setting up the pieces, I plugged in the wall AC power and the Competition lighted up the squares and the display. The power and data ports are less visible in this design, being recessed under the right-hand middle side. I should mention that the "floating" design makes it look thinner than it is. Evan's first observation was, "that's a thin chessboard!". With the board powered up and the pieces ready, I played E4. The computer responded right away with a move shown by the lights and the display. The move input is made with a light press on the squares. Although I prefer the luxury of auto-sensory move inputs, I found that the weighted pieces and the light square press needed were pleasant through the entire 84 move game first game! I selected one of the easier levels, but it still played a good game. I was getting into the game with some tense moments that I still remember. In fact, the computer and I both queened pawns at the same time, but I had the half move advantage and was able to win this first game. Playing against the Competition immersed me in an exhilarating chess experience for a while. I tried out the two main menu options, Expert and Comfort settings. This changes the menu between all settings and common settings. In addition to many levels and styles of play settings, there are many other options available to you. You can save the game, get hints, change the level, take back, analyze it, verify the piece's positions against what's shown on the display, set up your position, change to 2-player mode, connect to ChessLink (optional available separately), and more. I changed the display contrast and brightness, lowered the LED brightness, and the sound level. After winning this first game against the Competition - without any hints or takebacks, I looked over at hockey - the USA leading Canada?? The boys are learning more about this sport as well. "Why do they call it icing?" "Why is there no goalie in the net right now?" With the success of King Competition Game One, it was time to plug in the ChessLink I brought along and play online against someone on LiChess. I plugged the power cable into ChessLink instead and then inserted the 4-pin cable between the ChessLink and the Competition. With ChessLink switched on, the chessboard came alive with power through this cable. I then checked that Bluetooth was active on my phone, opened my ChessLink app, clicked the connect board "link" icon and it recognized the ChessLink right away. The preview showed the starting position. Next, I clicked Play on LiChess. (I had reset my app, so I needed to get a new token from LiChess profile API access tokens to re-establish the connection - this is usually a one-time action by the way).     I then chose to play a rated game with a 15/10 time control. That way I have 15 minutes to play the game, with 10 seconds extra per move. Since I need to input the other players' moves on the chessboard as well as my own, I want 5-10 extra seconds for this action. Playing chess online with a chess computer is a relatively new phenomenon in the 2020s with various chess computers now ready for Internet play. Next to playing chess in person, I find the human element of Internet play to be very exciting. While I can't see him or her, I know that I am playing the board with someone who has a thoughtful response to every move and is similarly engaged by the possibilities of the changing battle! Here is the first game that I played as Black. White put on quite the attack on my Kingside which dissipated with defensive strategy and then put my pieces in such a strong position that Black resigned on move 38.   Right after this, I played another game as White. In this one, I barely survived a Queenside attack. He missed a tactic that could have resulted in a win, and then I again managed to defend and win material and move that to the endgame for another resignation.   After three games of chess won and the USA defeating Canada in that hockey game, it was quite an evening. (Canada, you win most often - this one is ours!) Joanna came and watched the chess game for a little while. It reminded her of the Centaur chess computer which we've had in our home as well. I pointed out that this one has a lot more options and could also play online with the Link device. The King Competition feels like a great fit for our home when we want to play chess alone, with someone, or online. Not only are the possibilities extensive, but the aesthetics also are neutral and balanced, the pieces look and feel great, and the size is just right. I played the board on a surface as well as on my lap and it was very stable. The board is 17" square which I find to be perfect for home unless a full-size board like the luxury Tournament 55 is in your budget. The pieces are just less than 3" tall. Now it's Saturday morning and my 7-year-old daughter saw the game for the first time. She asked to set up the pieces and play. She's very new to chess, but she set up all the pieces like this. Then she started a game and had a great time playing the computer on an Easy level. I am surprised by how well she is doing with this chess computer so far. A nerf war just started between the boys and one of the bases is near the ottoman. She is immersed in her own battle on the chessboard and seems un-phased by the bullets flying overhead. The chessboard is taking hits now and then but surprisingly the pieces are staying steady. I noticed during her game now that she sometimes presses the destination square first and then starting square last. It works just the same.   Captured pieces are being placed on the outer rim of the board which works nicely with this square design with a decent-size perimeter. They have a good home when out of play. By the way, I chose an easy level for her with ELO of about 1150. With a few suggestions, the game looks quite equal so far. The computer just gave up a pawn and she took advantage of that on her own. The pressure sensor move input is natural to her. It might even be better at her age since the auto sensors could pick up some of her playing around with pieces between actual moves. After all, she has two knights still in front of her King, and the King likes to play with the knights sometimes when they are waiting for others to move. Joanna is watching her play again and says, I really like these pieces. They are smooth and sleek. It's clear to me this computer belongs in our home. And I'll be playing it again soon! I think the King Competition is for anyone who wants a modern chess-playing device with great configurations for solo play. It's not limited there, however, since Online Play is ready simply by adding the ChessLink module. Also, if you want to roam free from the wall outlet, add the ChessVolt powerpack for many hours of play on battery power.   King Competition Compared to Other Millennium Chess Computers Where does the King Competition fit in the family of chess computers by Millennium? As I mentioned, it follows on the eONE which arrived in January 2022. The main differences are that the eONE is smaller and has no onboard chess-playing engine. It's intended for app and online play only. The eONE has auto-sensing move input though. This means you simply move the pieces and they are detected by the board. Also, the eONE has Bluetooth built-in already. Thus, the ChessLink is not needed. King COMPETITION is essentially a modernized version of the King PERFORMANCE which has been a fan favorite for a couple of years already. If you're familiar with the Performance, you already know what to expect features-wise. If you're looking for a more familiar look in wood with wooden pieces, then the Performance might be a better choice for you! Furthermore, I consider the King COMPETITION to be in the mid-range of computers, above the entry-level, powerful classic range of "Genius" models, but just below the Luxury line of Exclusives. If you can afford $400-500, the King Competition is the ideal computer for you.   Where to Buy your King Competition Computer Chess House gives you the peace of mind you need to receive yours quickly and easily with 90 days guarantee to change your mind, and then a full warranty and personal help beyond that. If you happen to lose a piece in the future, Chess House is known for getting another one to you with no hassle. Get your King Competition today! We're honored to deliver you the best in chess so you can enjoy it in your home or wherever you play.

Bringing hope

Beyond the wealth and corruption, beyond media attention, needy individuals by the masses fight for survival and hang on to a seed of hope. Among derelict, forgotten, even hellish prisons entrapping often innocent spouses, to the streets teaming with masses, is found an example of selfless love.On a tight budget, part of the year, Ruth's family raises just enough funds at home in the U.S. to then serve for months at a time in places of need. They become "one with these people" and immerse themselves in language and culture. Music, dance, and creative forms of entertainment bring laughs and joy to onlookers.Some time ago, Ruth reach out with the idea that chess sets would be a wonderful gift to leave with the people they meet.The message of hope and life is welcomed in the most unlikely places. Ruth shares,"At the center for at risk youth, the kids were so excited to get the chess boards. Most of them knew how to play and said they were going to set up a tournament. As we were talking, a boy came up and was sad as he told me he didn't know how to play. An older boy put his arm around him and said, "don't worry, I'll teach you", his face just lit up. It was really special. Some of the kids live here, some visit, and in one section it’s like a detention center for kids who have committed crimes. We had a really effective time teaching here and used chess as a platform about the battle of life and making choices that will help them "win". I wish you could have been there.In another place, they told us how the gift of this chess board has given them something to look forward to each day and helped them so much.They are serving long sentences in a prison in Southern Brazil. So many guys we talk to tell us the hardest thing they deal with is keeping their minds sane. The conditions are so horrible and unless they have money, they don't get a lawyer to fight for their case, so the hope of getting out is very little. These two guys wrote that getting a game of chess really helped them focus their time and minds.My dad and I went up to a top layer of a prison way in the back. We talked to a large group of serious gang leaders and really "bad" tough guys (all the prisons here are divided by gangs and a lot of guys can't mix together so we have to go to them separately). We gave them two chess boards for their whole group and their response just blew me away. You just kind of think these tough guys might look down on a game or something, but they acted like we gave them a 1000 bucks! They were really touched and grateful and my dad took a second to explain to them how to set up a round robin type tournament and they wrote it all down and set up a bracket with their names and who would play who. It was really cool and just makes me happy thinking that they will start to put time into something so good. When we share so much with them about the love of Jesus, Gods profound forgiveness for them, how to change their mind, forget their past, engage their will and start to read the scriptures, then giving them the chess boards gives them a practical reminder of all we said so the words come back to them after we leave.In another place we noticed right away that something was wrong. All the guys were unbelievably thin, way more than any other prisons we had been too. They began to come up to us and ask us if we possibly had any food we could give them! It was just tragic. They explained they only got one meal a day and sometimes not even that. We could not figure everything out, but realized that there was some serious corruption going on between the gang leader, prison guards, and a huge (very evil) church. Anyway, long story short, it was getting late and was almost the hour when no one can go in our out, but we were able to leave, find a grocery store close by, and buy a lot of food to give them. We made it back and gave it directly to the guys so it could not get stolen. It’s tough because we can't really afford extra stuff like this, but in this case we just had to and we know the Lord always provides. We are going back to that same prison on Thursday, and I am going to try to see if I can get some food and fruit from the fruit market donated, as well as what we are going to bring.We had a beautiful time inside a women's prison the other day. It was pouring rain so we had to cram into a small space but we were able to really touch some precious women who were hurting. I am so grateful to the chess company that  donated some beautiful quality chess boards to us that we can give to those we meet.  It has been such a blessing and those that receive them are extremely grateful. It allows people in difficult situations to get lost in the game and focus their minds on something besides their pain.  We can learn so much from the game of chess. If we just take what life gives us and meet it move for move, we can be defeated. But a strategy  for victory requires that we go beyond ourselves and find the unexpected move. We have a flyer that we give out to prison guards, police and military with a chess piece on the front. We use the idea of chess to explain how, often we are put in positions that require us to make difficult decisions. But if we do not repay "evil for evil", but evil for good, we move ourselves into a place of victory and can break a cycle of hate.We also gave some chess boards out at a really cool event for poor children. I love giving them to like 10 and 11 year olds. It’s amazing here how many kids know how to play but don't have their own board. This one little girl named Isobel, I think she was 9, was so excited to take it home so she could play with her grandfather who taught her how to play on a piece of paper with coins as pieces!"Here's a photo of Ruth's family. They carry on with their service and we are happy to gift chess sets knowing the lives they are touching. Here are the small, lightweight chess sets that Ruth is giving away. If you know if a cause where these chess sets could make a significant life impact, don't hesitate to contact us.

Students with varied chess skill levels in the same class

Have you ever found it challenging to lead a chess class because it included both beginners and advanced players? Elliott Neff of Chess4Life easily breaks down this question that has recently surfaced more often. Within a few minutes, Elliott will help you understand a breakthrough concept that's proven in classes at Chess4Life.    How to Reach Varied Chess Skills in the Same Class How do you lead a chess class including beginners through advanced players? First, divide the class into categories as follows: Don't know how the pieces move Know piece movement but need the basics More experienced Ideally you need one or more assistants, even if they have little to no chess experience. With 2 groups, have the advanced group start with a practice game. Have them write down moves with chess notation. Start beginner students with a very short lesson on one of the piece movement rules. Then practice with a fun activity to build the skill. Next, advanced players now have a lesson while beginners play practice games with all the pieces they known how to move. What if you have 3 groups and just 1 assistant? Identify an activity that can work with all skill levels! For example, With pawns setup on the board, advanced players help beginners learn rules. The students become teachers! During practice time, beginners play together while advanced students play each other. Have an activity with a goal. The advanced players win the game by playing a pawn across the board first! Beginners simply work together to help each other get pawns across the board Notice ONE activity with multiple levels of challenge. Remember, strive in class to engage every student!

How much space is needed for a fine chessboard?

One of the beautiful things about chess is that the chessboard takes so little space to play. At the same time, you can express your personal style through the art form of the chessboard you own. How much space is needed for a chessboard? At times the answer may seem obvious — but not always! Let's start with the dimensions of a chess board. World Chess Federation recommends chess board squares be 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6.5 centimeters), making an entire chess board 16 to 20 inches. For example, the chessboard below will fit comfortably for play in a variety of table surfaces in most homes. It also has a helpful design for storage when not in use. This Player’s Chessboard, at 21” square is a medium size chessboard most often paired with tournament size Staunton type piece as shown.     Chessboard Play The chessboard’s wooden perimeter provides visual balance. Your table ideally should have at least a few inches on either side for pieces that are not in play ...or even a timer. Plus, if you are sitting at the table, it can be helpful to have 2-3 inches in front of either player. Too much, however, and it’s quite a reach. For this 21” Square chessboard, a table surface at least 26” D x 30” W would be comfortable. The space in front of each player is less important than the width available next to the chessboard.   Chessboard Storage If need to set your beautiful chessboard aside for storage, rather than an awkward size, you simply close it like a book. As you can see, when you own a chessboard, it’s wise to plan ahead for not only where you will play, but how you will store or display it. You could even put your chessboard on display with a few pieces on guard.   About this Chessboard The Player’s folding chessboard is handcrafted in the USA with solid-block maple and walnut construction visible from both surfaces. Precision joined 2” squares, groove cuts, beveled edge, and engraved emblems make this one of the finest chessboards you could find for your home. This collection of fine, hardwood chessboards is enjoyed by Grandmaster Wesley So while he improves his game and World Champion Magnus Carlsen who has played them in some U.S. events. The folding board design uniquely featured in this article helps with storage. You can shop for the 21" Board in both classic and folding.   Where are photos of the hinge? More photos are coming when the first order of boards arrives. The actual board shown in video and photos has an invisible barrel hinge type design, the exact same design as the product you order now. The only difference is that this sample board shown has a wood block construction that would be visible with photos of the hinge area. That will be cleaned up on the actual production model for a very finished look along with the hinges.   Where can I buy one? This 21" Folding Player's Chessboard is exclusive to Chess House and is sometimes available. It’s made in limited quantity and is in stock occasionally.    

Margaret claims the first win

Everyone in my family has many memories around chess from elementary school events to national championships.But the one who claims the first win is my mother, Margaret. She tells the story of how in 1961, when she was in 7th grade in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, she won her classroom tournament in "upset" fashion. Margaret can be seen in this classroom photo 3rd from right. The winner of the girls section and the winner of the boys section were to play for the class title. In playing for the title, Margaret's final opponent suffered embarrassment when she defeated him with the same strategy he had been using to win the boy's section! She had been "tipped off" to his strategy by another one of the boys who lost to him(!)The "prize" in those days was a felt "patch" King you could sew onto your jacket. It's a fun story, nicely woven into our family history. Although there were no more opportunities to play in those days - she's still the first winner in our family!The story behind the story though is that our mother has supported our journey through chess and life behind the scenes through these years. Like all mothers who help nurture the best in their children, she is amazing, never asking for the credit she deserves.Just one unassuming example of her influence is seen in the photo below. Until now, only I and a handful of others know that the bright white drawstring chess bags included with many of today's Chess House products has its own story, thanks to my mother. I patterned this bag after the original white fabric bags she patiently sewed to keep our first chess sets prepared for play. It can be small things that make a meaningful difference. -Raphael Neff

You are making a difference

Today, 97-year-old Bill DeGraaff stepped through my office door, accompanied by his daughter Hilda. His love for chess dates back to his early years in Holland. Let me share with you how this man made a life-changing difference. His visits are rare and unannounced these days. Like today. I drop everything and welcome him. Though he walks on his own and his mind is quite clear, Bill is now fragile. Each visit it's evident that he misses his wife more than anything. Although it takes significant coordination and effort he has come unexpectedly again today to say hello and see what's new - as he did in the early days of Chess House. I welcome him again into the office and invite Bill and Hilda to take a seat. With patience, I share the unique STACK board1 and the Millennium Exclusive2. Bill marvels at how chess computers have changed through the years (he has owned many) and plays a few moves on the Exclusive. He insists that his chess playing days are behind him. But I know that chess will always give him some joy and put a smile back on his face. With a little encouragement he makes some moves and almost allows himself to continue playing this game. Bill asks me to help him remember what opening is in play. I tell him that he started with the French defense. "Oh yes! That's the one your brother Elliott reminded me that I taught him" says Bill. (Admittedly it's a favorite of mine as well.) After a few more moves Bill became emotional. Playing chess now reminds him of past wonderful memories. He has outlived most in his family. He's even bid chess farewell. But it still owns a bit of his heart. Every time Bill enters the office, sometimes years between - sometimes just months, I recognize how he was present in a key part of our youth. To Bill, he was just enjoying chess and sharing it with young players who were interested. One generation ago that was us youngsters, my brothers and I. Today, however when he was wrestling a bit with his memories, I reminded Bill, "You ARE making a difference"   Bill played a significant role in our young lives encouraging chess and helping us better our game and strive to take down rivals with relentless dedication. Shown below is Bill with Ted Neff (middle) and Elliott Neff (right) I reminded him that Chess House exists today because he was very influential in teaching the game and sharpening our skills back in those days. As further evidence of this impact, I handed Bill a copy of my brother Elliott's book A Pawn's Journey3. Bill's early influence on Elliott Neff helped shape Elliott's path to reaching over 10,000 kids and founding Chess4Life4 with the mission to teach life skills through chess. To emphasize this impact, consider this. For several years Boeing is sponsoring Chess4Life's early learning initiative5 due to chart-topping results preparing kids for kindergarten. And that's just the surface. I'm writing this non-choreographed story just hours after these photos were taken. It's my "living tribute" to Bill.   Before Bill left today, we talked about Elliott's recent book, A Pawn's Journey. I think it's a fitting chapter in our long friendship. This book portrays the essence of making a difference with chess. The story draws you into the main character April's high school encounters surrounding chess. It's a highly-relatable narrative based on collective real-life experience of many of Elliott's students. Before he left, I gave Bill this cap. We all laughed and agreed it made him look quite young again. We both know that each time he stops in could be his last. But he says that's okay. God knows and all's well with his soul as a fellow man of faith. "Please stop in again Bill!" "I will try!" he said. -Raphael Neff   What I've learned from Bill Relationships matter most. Generosity pays back over time. Thankfulness is the best attitude. Long marriages are possible and worth it. Chess is one of those great ways to bring people together.. And you are making a difference today whether you realize it or not. My personal passion with Chess House is not only designing unique products and the most exceptional shopping experience, it's helping you enjoy or make a difference with chess - wherever you are in life. References in this article The STACK chess board Millennium Exclusive chess computer A Pawn's Journey by Elliott Neff Chess4Life teaching life skills through chess Early Learning Chess Initiative

DGT Centaur adapts to your chess ability

The Centaur's natural chess playing experience adapts to your level while auto-sensing moves played. The squares highlight moves to make your play intuitive and free of distraction. Simply turn on the Centaur and begin playing. The intelligent adaptive program adjusts to your playing ability at any level so you will always have a suitable playing partner to challenge you, strengthen your game, and keep you sharp - without any need to use a computer screen, tablet or phone. Many chess computers are designed to play at the highest strength. As a result they are either impossible to beat or at lower levels they play less natural and human - not so fun. Centaur was made to give everyone a good game. Whether you are a beginner or a strong player, whether you are a home player or a club player, Centaur will adjust to you as soon as you make your first move. Its smart algorithm will automatically adjust to your level and always gives you a challenging game that is both educative and great fun! It has a hint system and the option to set up any position. Use the Centaur to play, to learn, to train, to analyze and to improve your skill level. Above all, use it to have fun! Adapts to your strength Sensor board e-Paper display with position, move list, and more On-square illumination of moves Rechargeable internal battery Weighted chess pieces It has a rechargeable battery, e-Paper display, intuitive settings in many languages and weighted plastic chess pieces. Although Centaur is not design for connectivity with devices or online chess portals rumor has it that there are already open source innovations being explored on the Centaur. The engine is built on Stockfish and will be capable of very strong play. What that is exactly we don't know. The pieces that come with Centaur are the only ones that will be compatible. Other DGT pieces are slightly larger and have different electronics. How to buy your the DGT Centaur Chess Computer You can order the Centaur chess computer now at Chess House knowing your purchase is backed up by unparalleled guarantees and service. Click Add to Cart below and then Checkout Sold out

Keeping students engaged and interested in chess class

With chess in the classroom, a number of questions frequently surface among Chess House followers. In fact there are a few perplexing challenges that teachers and coaches face even with an enthusiastic group of kids who want to learn chess! Having a grasp of how to deal with these unique challenges in the classroom can make all the difference to your sanity and success. That's why I reached out to Elliott Neff for some answers. He's overly qualified to address these topics and on-the-spot graciously offered to help Chess House subscribers and followers with these insights.   Summary Points > You don't need to be a strong chess player to be an effective teacher.> Tip #1 - Introduce just ONE concept at a time, then have students practice it before moving on.> Have students play a FUN activity or game that builds the ONE concept.> Tip #2 - Before moving on to a new concept, start every lesson by using a fun activity that reviews the prior lesson's ONE key concept.> By introducing just ONE concept and then students having fun playing engaging activities, you will avoid overwhelming any students, and indeed build the excitement and interest in coming back to learn more! You can download the free resource, 6 Key Chess Club Guide. If you have questions about this topic or any other Chess in Education questions that perplex you, please discuss below this article. We at Chess House, along with Elliott, are here to help your program have the tools and ideas to succeed! Elliott Neff is a National Master in Chess, author of A Pawn’s Journey, and Founder/CEO of Chess4Life, helping kids develop life skills through the game of chess. He inspires audiences through sharing the life strategies we can learn from the game of chess. His incorporation of chess into these presentations frequently involves playing multiple opponents at once, sometimes while blindfolded! Elliott holds the Professional Chess Coaching Certification Level V, the highest awarded certification by the United States Chess Federation. Elliott’s work is endorsed by > Grandmaster Varuzhan Akobian> Mary Miller, co-creator of The Dream Manager program> Robert Katende, Founder and Director of SOM Chess Academy in Uganda, coach to Phiona Mutesi of the Queen of Katwe.> and many others

Sanfilippo Chess Series - Set XXVI Dragon Slayers

The set shown here twenty sixth in the Sanfilippo Chess Series. Each set is an original work of art hand built from terra cotta clay, sculpted, carved and then glazed to a high fire for a permanent finish and durability. Dave Sanfilippo has crafted chess sets for a while now. He has plans to continue until he feels inspired to make his final set - which he says, will be his biggest to date, a very prominent, strong design. He currently shows/sells his work in two galleries in Pennsylvania and his sets are auctioned at Material Culture, Philadelphia, PA. Some of Dave's other sets can be found at Battle for Evergreen Mountain - The Wolf Sanctuary of PARaiders of the Aegean Sea - Langman GalleryInto the Peaked Highlands: Land of the Dragons - Celtic Myth & MoonlightThe Quest for Melissa’s Honey - Honey Acres Museum You can also find Dave's 21st set "Skirmish in the Bohemian Forest"  in the ShachMuseum in Strobeck, Germany which is a pretty big honor! The first thirteen sets were hand built from terra cotta clay, low fired and painted. Set I           The Greek City States Set II          Attack of the Siege Towers Set III         Battle for the Fertile Valley Set IV         Battle in the Black Forest Set V         The Fight for the Mountain Springs Set VI         The Defense of Shea's Woods Set VII        The Assault on Orpheus's Orchard Set VIII      The Fallen Armies Set IX         The March on the Nastos River Set X          Conquest for the Wheat Fields Set XI        Control for the Bridges of Perenthus Set XII       Invasion of the Vikings : Conquest for the Emerald Isle Set XIII      Pursuit for the Lapis Stone Sets fourteen and beyond are hand built from terra cotta clay and glazed to a high fire for a permanent finish and durability for play. Set XIV       Rebellion at the Copper Mine Set XV       The Compromise for Safe Passage Set XVI      Ambush for the Alps Set XVII     Division in the Sate Set XVIII     The Intrusion into Paulus's Bay Set XIX       Theodoro's Coup Set XX        Uprising at the  Iron Furnace Set XXI      Skirmish in the Bohemian Forst   (This set is in the Schachmuseum in Strobeck, Germany) Set XXII      Encounter with the Secret Temple Builders - The Masons Set XXIII    The Trespass into Herleva's Wolf Den Set XXIV     The Battle for Evergreen Mountain  (This set is in the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania) Set XXV     The Quest for Melissa's Honey  (This set is in the Honey Acres Museum in Ashippun, Wisconsin) Set XXVI     Dragon Slayers Set XXVII   Raiders of the Aegean Sea Set XXVIII   Into the Peaked Highlands - Land of the Dragons Set XXIX     Revolt at the Coal Mine  (This set is in the No.9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford, Pennsylvania) Set XXX     Journey into the Valley of Sandstone Set XXXI    Standoff at the Coal Mine Set XXXII   Confrontation in the Pyrenees Set XXXIII   The Encroachment into Alianna's Pepper Field Set XXXIV   Pearl Hunters of the Adriatic Sea Set XXXV    The Crossing into Adrasteia's Plum Fields - found in Long Trout Winery in Auburn, PA XXXVI Mutiny at the Limestone Furnace - found in the World Chess Hall of Fame in St.Louis, Missouri XXXVII    Pirates of the Ionian Sea The Final Set - "The Peaceful Tribes" - found in State Game Lands #106 PA For this set the pieces are as follows Dragon Side Pawns - Warrior DragonsRooks - Dragon’s NestKnights - Dragon HorseBishops - Senior DragonQueen - Dragon QueenKing - Dragon King Dragon Slayer SidePawns - Infantry with Dragon SpearsRooks - Fire TowerKnights - HorseBishops - High Priest with Magic SphereQueen - The Dragon Slayer with the Mighty SwordKing - Chieftain   The Process Each piece is hand built and sculpted from terra cotta clay. When the clay becomes leathery/hardens the pieces are carved. The pieces take several weeks to dry as they are not hollow. The pieces are then low fired, with a cone rating of 4-6 for over fifteen hours. After the low fire, the pieces are under glazed, glazed, and fired high for over twelve hours with a cone rating of 5-6. A Cone rating means that you can fire that clay at any temperature up to that cone. The closer you get to the maximum rated cone, the stronger and denser your clay will be. You cannot fire a clay higher than its maximum rated Cone, or it will melt. Low-fire clay can only be fired up to Cone 04, or sometimes a little higher. Unlike mid and high fire, it never shrinks much or gets strong and dense even when fired to its maximum temperature. The main advantage to using a low-fire clay when low firing is that your glazes may craze less than if you used a Cone 10 or Cone 6 clay. As always, you must fire your glaze to the Cone that is specified for that glaze, regardless what clay you use. Just make sure you use a clay rated at least as high as the glaze. During the firings some fracturing, or cracks may develop. These cracks are filled with silver, copper or brass and each piece is unique. The pieces have a permanent lasting finish and are durable for play.

Weekend to Remember

Saturday, before Memorial Day, 2018: Waking up early Saturday morning, Matthew, as usual was up at 6:30 and ready to go. "Dad, can we take the truck?" This morning, I was planning to spend a half hour of quiet time before anyone else awoke. But as anyone with four kids knows, plans must be flexible. I have been looking for more opportunities to share chess with my kids. For my wife and I, finding a suitable, consistent time has been challenging with all the changes in our life. But this morning, I decided, "no excuses!". I would just seize the opportunity to exercise his mind AND body by grabbing a chess set and heading to the park, and just be in-the-moment with my son. I've learned that one-on-one time with my kids is worth every second. Later in life, I believe I will reflect on these years and think, "Yes, I took time for my family -- sometimes seemingly at the expense of my career". I am thankful for the wise words often heard, "Don't miss these years!" When I told him that we'd head to town, play some chess at the park, run some obstacles on the playground, grab a quick breakfast and then head to the church to help make some adjustments to the irrigation sprinklers - he was DE-LIGHTED. Kid's love to DO things and get out... if we let them - and allow ourselves time to connect with them often enough. Soon we were at work and I offered for him to pick out a chess set for the morning. He picked an orange flex board and a neon green bag with one of my favorites, the "Inspiration" pieces. While he wasn't watching I packed in an extra surprise. Little rewards come in handy! Then it was off to the park!  He spotted this picnic table and set up the board. "This is the most amazing day, Dad!!" Then it occurred to me, this means more to him then I realize. He was enjoying every minute and I happened to grab my camera from work. I had merely been flexible enough to make him a priority with this spur of the moment change to the trip this morning. I had countless things on my mind - but I decided to put it all aside this morning. After all, it's Memorial Day Weekend. His chess game is very elementary right now. In fact, he's moving mostly pawns still. But I can see each time that he's picking up new ideas - today too! He blocked my Queen from taking his Queen, with his Bishop. Many kids can play a strong game at six years old and many are just starting. I haven't pushed him hard to learn, but now is the time to get more serious because he's really interested. Matthew loves to play outdoors, spends minimal time on digital devices, and other than his occasional orneriness is a happy child who loves to make people laugh. Half way through the game, his attention started to wane briefly and I said, "Matthew, win this game and I have a surprise for you!" He was completely engaged again. "Matthew, Do you know what Memorial Day is about?" To my surprise he replied, "Yes, I learned at school, it's remembering people who sacrificed for our freedom and helped us be able to enjoy times like this." We played a few more moves and then I asked him what he had learned in this chess game so far. He repeated some things including the Bishop block. I then told Matthew, "We've stretched our minds for a bit, it's time to get some exercise at this park!" But first, remember the surprise? "Oh yes!" I told him to look in the middle compartment of the neon green chess set carrying case.   He zipped it open, and pulled out some stickers that he had never seen before. Here's the one he chose.   We then put away the chess set and proceeded to the exercise portion of our park adventure.   Matthew enjoyed every moment. Soon it was time for breakfast and finally, the irrigation project.   Today I was reminded of a valuable lesson. Rather than wondering why "I don't have time for [blank]", just start earlier and make it happen! I don't have a weekly schedule for chess right now, but that's no excuse not to seize the moment when it is there. This Memorial Day Saturday has been hugely memorable for both Matthew and I. He observed during our game that the park was a peaceful place, in contrast to many other places in the world. I reminded him that we can appreciate what we have, we can give to people in need through organizations that are doing good work for them, and we can pray for needs we know about. With thanks for the many people who have sacrificed to make this possible, I want my sons to grow up grateful.   Back to chess. I love that chess exercises young minds, a catalyst for creativity and thinking in new ways. It supports academic efforts and the list goes on. Most of all, I love the real face-time it provides. Chess is a natural time to chat, learn together, and talk about life - like we experienced today. For me, Chess House is a mission to bring chess to every home. Every home and family that has a chess set has another relationship strengthened. And that's what we need today. The dilemma facing our kids is turning into a torrential storm of media. And we're just seeing the beginning of this. The things youth encounter now beg them to be equipped with life skills and strong family relationships early in life. Please be there for your loved ones. Make memories while you can and prepare them to succeed. Chess can play a role - and we can help you. The Inspiration Chess Set that Matthew chose is a great place to start! You can pick from many colors and make it your own. Get a chess set in your home and let us cheer you on.   Where are you in your journey? Feel free to comment on this blog post below.

4-year-old develops grit

Here’s an incredible story of a 4-year-old developing grit and the “Can Do” Attitude through his older brother’s example. Four year old Joel has been giving up (resigning) his chess games anytime he loses his most powerful piece, the queen, appearing to think “there’s no way I can win without my queen”. At the 2018 state elementary chess championships, once again, Joel resigned a game when his queen got trapped.   At the same time, just a short distance away, Coach Elliott observed a game being played by Joel’s 6-year-old brother Caleb. Elliott shares, “Caleb’s game was fairly equal when I first walked by. Later on I saw he was behind a queen. After the game was finished, I asked Caleb, How did you do? Win, Draw, or Learn? I was quite surprised when he said he had won the game! I replied, “You won? I thought you were behind a queen during the game!” Caleb simply replied, “Yes, I missed a pin so I had to lose my queen - the Bishop was pinning my queen but I still won!” I realized at that moment that little brother Joel was listening, so I intentionally questioned Caleb further. "So what did you do? You didn’t just give up when you lost your queen?" Caleb replied, “I kept looking for ways. I used my rooks and I really just tried to find a way. Eventually I managed to pin his queen to his king with my rook - I built a battery with my rooks so I could do this - after winning his queen I ended up checkmating his king with my Rook. I gave a big high five to Caleb as he finished his story, congratulating him on not giving up and persevering to eventually come back and win the game. Then I turned to Joel who had been listening intently, “Did you notice that Joel? Isn’t that great that when Caleb was down a queen, he kept looking for chances to win. He didn’t give up! So what do you think? Next time you are down a queen are you going to give up?” Joel looked as thoughtful as a 4-year-old can and smiled as he answered, “I won’t give up - I’ll keep trying.” Elliott continued, “Well after the next game I got a chance to talk to Joel. He had a small smile as he quietly came up and told me this story. ‘Daddy, there was this place in the game that I lost my queen, but I still won the game!’ That’s great Joel! How did it happen? Joel said, ‘We didn’t remember whose turn it was. So I let him play even though I would lose my Queen.’ As his Dad, I was so very pleased to hear this - that my son was willing to do what was better for the other player even though it was not good for him! He was being kind to another young person! Remember this is the kindergarten section and Joel showed exceptional sportsmanship by letting the other player move even though he knew he was going to lose his queen because of that move.   What happened next was remarkable. Joel didn’t give up this time, in spite of losing his queen. He found a way to win. He found a way!” What a moment for a parent, coach, or mentor - especially this youngster! Elliott says, “It’s about getting over a mental block. Through the experience of another student (his older brother) who wouldn’t give up, and succeeded, Joel gained the confidence to not give up himself when he was in a similar situation. That change in belief from ‘I can’t’, to ‘maybe it’s possible’, allowed him to break though that mental barrier and grow this valuable life skill, what I call the “Can Do” Attitude." Caleb and Joel’s perseverance and sportsmanship exemplify the concepts, culture, and results of Chess4Life programs run by caring educators who are transforming kids’ lives with chess in schools throughout America. Elliott with Joel who won 3.5 out of 5 games. Their sister won 3 of her games and took home a trophy! Chess4Life helps educators bring life-changing tools into classrooms without any barriers of prior chess knowledge. Kids learn life skills while having fun. If you're an educator or teacher who wants to make a difference, licensing the Chess4life curriculum and tools will help your school succeed with chess!