Chess set wherein the pieces kibbitz to each other and to you

Democratic Chess is a project by Michael Marcovici to create a kibbitzing chess-set based on the sentient chesspeople in Through the Looking Glass. As you move the pieces, they chatter with you and among themselves about the wisdom of your moves.

Democratic Chess is Chess game where each figure is made of an IP-WLan-network camera each capable of looking arround, listening and talking to the other figures as well as the 2 real person players. With this technology there are many different ways how to play the Game, the next move can be decided in a democratic way among the Figures or they are allowed to discuss with the players and each other the next moves, but at the End the 2 player make the moves. I am currently working on this project , the technology is working already, I plan to finish it within a couple of weeks.
DEMOCRATIC CHESS (via Futurismic)


  1. Oh man, that looks great! I hope it works. I wonder if my pieces would scorn me and laugh at me or even refuse to obey my amateurish chess moves.

    How do they react to a move that leads them to certain and unnecessary death?

  2. Democratic chess would lose against Dictator chess every time wouldn’t it? Chess ability doesn’t scale.

    I believe that group chess, where moves are decided democratically, has been tried. I think it’s fairly certain that the group player is bound to be less strong than it’s strongest member. The game isn’t likely to be very good either.

  3. @Noen: Democratic chess has indeed been tried, but you’re wrong if you think it did badly.

    In 1999, Garry Kasparov signed up to play a game against the entire world. Each move was decided by vote over the internet and about 70,000 people participated (it also had a few chess experts who gave their opinion of what every move should be). The game is generally called Kasparov vs. The World.

    In thee end, Kasparov won (because, you know, he’s Garry fuckin’ Kasparov) but The World played extraordinarily well, it could easily be considered grand-master class. It was actually quite a stunning example of the power of crowdsourcing and emergence, nobody expected that such a great player would emerge from a throng of amateur chess-players. Democratic chess is powerful, my friend.

  4. Wow, that sounds great! I love the idea of the team expressing shocking disapproval of my moves, or two pawns looking at each other and shaking their heads.

    The team’s intelligence is also very interesting, but only if each piece is truly it’s own agent — capable of seeing its limit scope of the game, and communicating with its neighbors. This way we get an emergent understanding of the game, but also one that’s not as complete as that of a person seeing the entire board. Also, different parts of the board will have different understandings, and the neighbors of the poor bishop sent in as a sacrifice will have no idea of the greater good.

    Also, thanks Oskar for the interesting link above.

  5. I’m surprised that nobody has yet noted that “Democratic Chess” involves, all too appropriately, a mass of surveillance cameras…

  6. The power of democratic chess using people is not duplicated if you use AI chess pieces with the same AI, since they’d all suggest the same moves.

    I’d like to see a game where each piece was biased towards its own survival, and the survival of same-side pieces of the same type.

    e.g. a pawn will try to save itself, or if that’s impossible, to save another pawn over a knight. Oh those disloyal pawns!

    Or maybe pieces can only ‘see’ a certain number of squares around them. Higher point pieces can see more of the board to make their suggestions.

  7. It might be even more fun if each piece had its own personality. For example, the pawns might be predisposed to simple survival, the knights biased towards always being in the heat of the battle, the bishops primed for self-sacrifice, etc.

  8. I’m a little slow today, so I’m confused… what is it with this project? Each of the set pieces has AI and some sort of robot vision and makes suggestion, or are they just webcams broadcasting and receiving audio, so a number of people on the Internet can participate on the game?

  9. Wizard chess! No, sorry, must remind self that Hogwarts isn’t real, but Wizard Chess was my first impression. Airship is right, they should have personalities and survival instincts.

  10. Those web cameras need little hats. Distinguishing pieces is always a pain in the ass with modernist minimalist sets.

  11. Want!

    (Man, a chess set that combined the ideas of 7,8 & 9 would be super! Somehow, bitter experience leads me to imagine a scenario where I could easily be suckered by an ad in the back pages of a comic book which promises all those delightful things, but delivers, well… something… not quite as good.)

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