Since I wrote my first blog post on Chessgi (Also known as Crazyhouse Chess, Mad Mate, and Neo-Chess), I have been doing some thinking about the best way to play the game without having to be bothered with cumbersome Western-style Chessmen. As you recall, in Chessgi, when you capture a piece, that piece becomes yours and may be parachuted back onto the board in your service on a later move. The challenge of using a Western-style Chess set is the changing of colors of the pieces as they are captured and recaptured. You need at least two sets of Chessmen, and the constant swapping out of pieces can be a tedious and easily botched process.
I think I have hit upon a quick and simple way of improvising an easily-used Chessgi set. It is much less labor-intensive than making the set I featured in my previous blog post. Caveat: As I describe how a serviceable Chessgi set can readily be made, I am going to mention brand-name products and the stores which stock them. I am not promoting any particular brand of product or any particular merchant. I’m just talking about the materials I used. Similar materials can be gotten from other dealers.
Step 1: Go to Hobby Lobby and buy 40-50 Wooden Nickels (You’ll want some spare pieces for promotion purposes) and a bottle of matte Mod Podge, some artist’s paint brushes, and some rubber gloves.
Step 2: Go to OfficeMax or Office Depot and buy a packet of Avery 1” diameter round labels (Template 6450).
Step 3: Go to http://www.enpassant.dk/chess/fonteng.htm and download a Chess font. There are several freeware fonts on this site, and you can choose the style you like best.
Assuming you have a computer and a printer, you now have everything you need.
Step 4: Print out your Chess fonts, one to a label onto two sheets of labels. There are only 63 labels on a sheet of 6450 Avery labels, and you’re going to need at least 64 printed labels. You should print at least two full sets of white pieces and two full sets of black pieces. While you’re at it, print some extra queens and minor pieces for promotions. If you’re going to follow the rule that a promoted piece loses its promotion on capture, you should make the promoted pieces distinctive, possibly by putting a + before the figurine or printing the figurine in a distinctive color. Red would be a good color. That is the color of promoted pieces in Japanese Chess (Shogi)
Step 5: Stick all the labels bearing white figurines on the Wooden Nickels. When you have completed this task, turn the Wooden Nickels over, and stick the labels with the black figurines on the other side. Make sure you have the same rank depicted on both sides of the same Wooden Nickel.
Step 6: Mod podge all the black figurines. One coat should do it if you spread it on thick, but I like to put on at least two coats. The Mod podge keeps the labels from either getting dirty or peeling off. Let the black side dry thoroughly.
Step 7: After the black side has thoroughly dried, flip the Wooden Nickles over and Mod podge the white figurines. Let the white side dry thoroughly.
Step 8: Set up your Chessboard, putting White on one side and Black on the other. The board should look like this:
Step 9: Play the game. When a piece is captured, the capturing side takes the piece, flips it over to show the capturing side’s color, and sets it on the side of the board in view of the opponent. On a subsequent move the piece may be re-entered.
This idea is not original to me. Chessgi used to be marketed in the Abacus Wood Box Series under the proprietary name Neo-Chess, and the pieces were cylinders of differing heights with black figurines on one end and white figurines on the other. You can sometimes pick up an old Neo-Chess set on ebay.