Chess is obviously a very difficult game to master, and the only way to succeed is to anticipate your opponent’s moves and employ a thoughtful strategy. But the rules are clear and you can take comfort knowing that you and your opponent are always starting on equal ground. Whichever player can outwit the other will be the victor. But what if randomness was also a factor in the game? That’s the case with the Trap Chess board that Yann Guidon and his neighbor built.
The basic premise of Trap Chess is that some of the positions on the board are actually trap doors. Whenever a player moves a piece and resets the timer, it’s possible for one of those trap doors to open and swallow whatever piece is there. If you think of chess as an analogy for war, than the traps would represent the loss of forces from circumstances outside of the commander’s control, such as an unexpected blizzard wiping out a platoon. Trap Chess is easy enough to program in digital chess games, but building a physical Trap Chess board takes a lot of skill. That’s why Guidon and his neighbor teamed up for this project.
Guidon’s neighbor loves to build chess boards as a hobby, and particularly enjoys constructing unusual versions of the game. But he needed help with the electronics and enlisted Guidon. In total, there are ten trap doors scattered around the board. Each of those trap doors can be opened with a servo, and those servos are controlled by a Microchip PIC16F818 microcontroller. That’s connected to a chess timer, so that each time a player ends their turn there is a chance that a random trap door will open. If you’re looking to make your chess matches a little more interesting, this is a great build to replicate.