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Appeared in the comments on this post, which features a heavily stylized shell-casing set for sale by Etsy seller OldeWorldCC. Unless I miss my guesses, the queens are .50 BMG rounds, the kings .50 BMG casings, the rooks 40mm grenade casings, the bishops 7.62mm rounds, the knights taped 7.62mm casings, and the pawns 5.56mm casings. And it looks like the bases are water-bottle caps. [via Boing Boing]

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Hardware Chess Sets

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


36 Responses to Marine's Field-Improvised Chess Set From Afghanistan

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  1. The board’s set up wrong. Kings are supposed to be on opposite color squares on both side. If the queens are the full round, the white king and queen are reversed.

    • Oz maydius on said:

      Nope, Queens are always on their own color,which means that kings and queens are facing each other. Plus when playing the darker color of the board is supposed to be on the right of both people. 

      • John Postmus on said:

        The board definitely is setup wrong :(  Queens on both sides are on the dark color, the white bottle cap queen and king should be swapped.

    • Oz maydius on said:

      Nope, Queens are always on their own color,which means that kings and queens are facing each other. Plus when playing the darker color of the board is supposed to be on the right of both people. 

    • Oz maydius on said:

      Nope, Queens are always on their own color,which means that kings and queens are facing each other. Plus when playing the darker color of the board is supposed to be on the right of both people. 

    • Oz maydius on said:

      Nope, Queens are always on their own color,which means that kings and queens are facing each other. Plus when playing the darker color of the board is supposed to be on the right of both people. 

    • Oz maydius on said:

      Nope, Queens are always on their own color,which means that kings and queens are facing each other. Plus when playing the darker color of the board is supposed to be on the right of both people. 

    • Highly doubt the Marines care…

    • Highly doubt the Marines care…

  2. More details: looks like the one queen is a armor piercing, the other appears to be a tracer, armor piercing. The box they are one looks to be a MRE box and the chess board looks like it might be the same type MRE box, cut open and marked with a felt tip pen.

  3. Wouldn’t using rounds be slightly dangerous?

    • Not really. Only the Kings, Bishops, and maybe the Knights are still active. The rest are spent. The active ones will only detonate under a certain set of conditions: if the primer on the bottom is struck by a hard, pointy surface (unlikely because the primer is covered by the drink caps), or if the rounds are exposed to extreme heat, like fire (also unlikely, plus if the baracks are on fire a couple exploding shells are the least of your problems).

    • that and those guys are in a fucking war zone.

    • james_isaac09 on said:

      The hell is wrong with all these people that think that firearms and ammunition are just going to get up and kill someone. I’m not saying that a live round has never killed someone without a gun, but I have five .308 shells sitting on my dresser, 30 .223 in the magazine of my AR, 17 9mm in my M&P, and 10 .22 in my mosquito, and I feel perfectly safe.

      More people die in traffic wrecks than gun shots, and no one is like “Wouldn’t using gasoline be slightly dangerous?”

    •  cant you see that all but 2 are empty casings and the ones with bullets probably have been emptied of powder so they cant go off

    • Does it really matter? They’re in a war-zone already. They found a way to keep their minds active, and off the impending missions/duties assigned them. Give them props on their awesome idea, not fretting about whether or not using live rounds would be dangerous.

  4. Does anyone see the irony?
    That chess was devised as a civil form of conflict, and now these guys are playing it with bits of ammunition.

    The circle is complete.

  5. What a bunch of gun-toting morons; this could only be expected. Its bad enough they fucked up the simple rule of “Queen takes her color”, at least they didn’t progress further into failuredom by having black on the right. 

  6. What a bunch of gun-toting morons; this could only be expected. Its bad enough they fucked up the simple rule of “Queen takes her color”, at least they didn’t progress further into failuredom by having black on the right. 

  7. I hadn’t thought of it like that! It would be so extremely, horribly life-changing if they played with the black on the right! That would just be so fucking catastrophic wouldn’t it? What about the fact that they’re in a war? If they’re fighting to protect idiot chess nerds like you, I think that they should just forget about the war and maybe learn how to set up a chess board correctly, so that the world will be a better place!

  8. I hadn’t thought of it like that! It would be so extremely, horribly life-changing if they played with the black on the right! That would just be so fucking catastrophic wouldn’t it? What about the fact that they’re in a war? If they’re fighting to protect idiot chess nerds like you, I think that they should just forget about the war and maybe learn how to set up a chess board correctly, so that the world will be a better place!

    • Believe me, I share your impatience with nitpicking comments.  Many, many times I have had my enthusiasm for a post deflated by someone who feels compelled to gloat about some trivial error that diverts the conversation from the point of the post, and of this blog in general, which is to celebrate human creativity.  So I feel where you’re coming from.

      That said, we like to stop short of name-calling around here.  Argue all you want, but please watch phrases like “idiot chess nerd.”  Thanks. 

  9. it looks so out of fashion and horribly handmade, out of scrap.  even i could make something better.

  10. Kings are the Full round. White on right, queen on own color. Board is correct. -Chase Kosberg

  11. Anonymous on said:

    Well, I like the picture and think it’s was rather creative.  Thank you for posting.
    Happy Veterans day everybody, and hope these guys can soon have a board made out of whatever they want to play with.

  12. The ONLY thing wrong is the White Queen and White King MUST trade squares. The rest of the board/piece placement is correct.

  13. Pingback: Šachový set Afganistan | Šach-Mat.sk

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