Photograph: Square Off
I did run into a few issues here and there where the board wouldn’t register some of my movements and required me to redo the move until it registered. This can be frustrating when you’re on the clock, as all the online matches are timed, but it only happened a few times. The board is usually pretty responsive, with beeps to indicate when you make a move that’s not allowed (like when you move a pawn without realizing your king is in check). You can play by just looking at the board, or you can keep the app open during the game to see the virtual board and details about your opponent (and even message them).
I won one game on the Square Off Pro, and it all went downhill from there. But it doesn’t really matter—I’m having a ton of fun. Sure, there’s no player sitting directly across from me, but that hasn’t stopped my partner from overhearing me cuss and frantically yell, “No, no, no, no, no, no!” And I have nothing but admiration when I lose. It’s awesome seeing how other people play the game and the moves they use to outwit me.
I’d like to think that just like physically writing notes in school can help with retention, physically moving chess pieces helps me learn the game a little better, but I can’t say for sure. I just find it a lot more fun than clicking a mouse or tapping a finger on a screen.
The Square Off Pro isn’t just about playing games either. You can recreate matches from current tournaments and see how they played out on the board, or even analyze your own games. Hooray, I can see all the stupid mistakes I made that led to my demise. I’m not salty, I swear.
It’s much more transportable than Square Off’s original chess set, but I wish it came with a more travel-friendly kit. Right now, you roll up the chessboard, put it in a cylindrical cloth case, and then store the pieces in two separate mesh pouches. It’d be nice if I could store everything together in one kit.
Other than that, it’s hard to find much fault with the Square Off Pro. It’s gotten me playing chess a lot more lately, and that’s all I ever wanted.
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