In a world of apps, digital gaming, and virtual reality, there's something oddly comforting about sitting down behind an actual, physical chess board, lining up your soldiers, then charging into battle. Sounds crazy, right? Who actually plays on real-world boards anymore? And if you do, what if you don't have somebody in your immediate vicinity ready to match wits with you every time you're ready to cut loose and play?
Square Off: the World's Smartest Chessboard splits the difference between the modern worlds of chess and the unlimited connectivity and options of playing online or against a virtual opponent, with the grounded, tactile sensation of playing real chess with a real (and gorgeous) chess set.
At first glance, this rosewood hard-crafted board and game set is as stylish and ornate as any board you'd find in the home of a grandmaster. But the Square Off didn't raise nearly $250,000 on Kickstarter and Indiegogo funding because it looks great. It built that buzz because inside that board is a blisteringly smart AI-powered computer that allows you to play against 30 million other chess players online or even the board itself.
And yes, you actually play against those opponents. Chess pieces move on their own through magnetics and robotics, reflecting every decision of the player on the other side of that table. With the Square Off app, that opponent could be anyone, anywhere. You challenge another Square Off player, or you get challenged — and it's game on. You take on your opponent like they were sitting across from you, even if they're half a world away.
Or if you'd rather test your skills against a virtual challenger, the board's AI lets you play against 20 different difficulty levels so you'll always know where your skills stand.
In live streaming mode, Square Off lets you tune into matches worldwide, record matches, and even replay them later to break down all the moves and maybe even learn a new trick or two of your own.
A CES Top Tech and Innovation award honoree, the Square Off: World's Smartest Chessboard Grand Kingdom Set retails for $449, but as part of this deal, you can save $50 and get the complete collection for just $399.99.
Prices subject to change.