Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Chess Demo Board: a lesson in perseverence

This week we begin a new semester of Co-op classes and since we've already viewed all 10 Disney Imagineering DVDs (and there aren't enough new kids who didn't take the class), I'm moving on to a new subject--beginning chess.  We have the whole series of books and videos from Championship Chess .  You really should visit their website to learn about the benefits chess can bring kids: focusing, weighing options, thinking ahead, etc. Anyway, the one piece I didn't have was a big demonstration chess board to show the kids moves and set up puzzles.  Most of them use pockets into which you place plastic cards with pictures of the pieces. 

First Attempt: Buy One     Talk about your sticker shock--they run from $40-$60.  I even tried eBay.  Since I'm offering this class for free I needed to come up with a more frugal option.

Second Attempt: Use what I have     Years ago while garage-sale-ing, I bought a vinyl, roll-up chess board from a young enthusiast.  I thought perhaps I could hold the board up on my magnetic white board.  I went so far as to make circular chips with symbols of the chess pieces on them and attached magnets to the back.  The problem was the vinyl was too thick for the magnets to adhere.  I could have looked into more powerful magnets, but there again cost became an issue.  Still, I had the pieces.  I was making progress.

Third Attempt: Make my own board     I had printed and made my own pieces after all.  I did find some printable boards online but it involved printing on multiple pages and taping them together and it still wasn't big enough to use in front of a class.  I saved the info for any students who might need to make their own for class.

Fourth Attempt:  Copying what I had   The vinyl board was the right size, just too thick so what if I copied it onto thinner material.  I took my roll-up board to Office Max first but they couldn't handle the size.  They referred me to a local print shop that had a much bigger scanner.  It worked!  With a little coaxing the think vinyl went through their roller/scanner.  Now comes the embarrassing part--I didn't have any cash with me and they wouldn't accept debit or credit cards for such a small order.  God bless those good folks, they let me keep the copy and hoped I'd pay them the next time I came to town.

So I had my  20" square chess board, but I was already a little disappointed in it.  The original board had been green and the scanner had a little trouble picking it up.  Some squares were really faded out.  One the other hand the scanner had no trouble picking up the lines and creases from the vinyl being folded and stored so it looked like chicken scratches all over.

Fifth Attempt:  Improving the Copy    I'm a bit of a crafter and I had rolls of sticky vinyl left over from making cups with all my relatives' names on them from Thanksgiving (I was trying to be slightly more elegant than the standard tape and sharpie marker technique).  So I got out my quilting ruler and fabric cutting wheel (think pizza cutter, only sharper) and cut 32 squares of vinyl to mach my chess board.  They were a cinch to place over the grid on my copy.   I noticed when placing the vinyl, that I could still pull it up and adjust it so I worried how permanent the arrangement would be.  Then it hit me like a bolt of lightening--laminating the board would not only keep the vinyl in place, but we could use dry erase markers to show potential moves, etc. in class!  I went back to the local print shop so I could pay them for the copy and give them the laminating business to boot.

So here's my finished project.  Instead of $40 to $60,  I shelled out $2.50 to the print shop, (the cost of the vinyl may have been another dollar).  There's still some tweaking to do: I found that if the chess board lifts up from the surface of the white board, the magnets fall off so I'm taping the chess board down.  We'll just have to use the refrigerator surface for our All About Spelling lessons this semester.  True, it's not the invention of the light bulb, but it does show what can be accomplished by persevering,  learning from each attempt, and improving upon what you learned.


Conversaving said...

Very Cool idea! My son is a chess player. I need to learn.

Marcy Crabtree said...

this is very cool. we need to learn chess. wish you were local!

Stefanie said...

That is so clever!!!

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