Chess Board: play against Raspberry Pi with real pieces

By Russell Barnes. Posted

Play real-life chess against grandmaster Raspberry Pi

Playing chess with your Raspberry Pi is great fun. But playing with on-screen graphics is a little lame. One Raspberry Pi builder has hacked the Raspberry Pi into a real-life chess board to make the best of both worlds.

We've looked at mechanical boards before, especially the fantastic  Wizard Chess project built by Bethanie Fentiman.

That project used magnets and servo arms to move the pieces around. What we have here is a more reasonable build that anybody can put together. The Arduino and Raspberry Pi Computer uses Reed Switches and LED lights.

With this build, have to move the pieces yourself. The LED lights flash to indicate which pieces go where.

It plays a mean game though, at Grandmaster level. The builders are serious players so they are using the best system around. The Raspberry Pi is running the Stockfish chess engine.

Build a wooden chess board with Reed Switch Piece Recognition and LED move indicators


"[Wizard Chess ] looks great." the maker Max Dobres told us. "At the other end of the spectrum, a group of us 60-plus 'Silver Coders' have been building Raspberry Pi systems that play at the level of Grand Masters."

The project "tries to recreate the old fashioned idea of playing real games with wooden pieces" said Max.

Max continues: "Years ago, you could buy dedicated computers, but the advent of ubiquitous hi power technology means that board games are available for free on mobile devices. The board computer is a thing of the past.  Now with the advent of the Raspberry Pi we can build our own piece sensing board out of wood and play Magnus Carlsen in our own living room."