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Internet Chess on a Real Chessboard

The Internet teaches us that we can accept stand-ins for the real world. We have an avatar that looks like us. We have virtual mailboxes to read messages out of make-believe envelopes. If you want to play chess, you can play with anyone in the world, but on a virtual board. Or, you can use [karayaman’s] software to play virtual games on real boards.

The Python program uses a webcam. You point it at an empty board and calibrate. After that, the program will track your moves on the real board in the online world. You can see a video of a test game below.

As you might imagine, the program uses OpenCV. If you have ever wanted to learn OpenCV, this is a nice practical use that is reasonably manageable. You do need a clear view of the chessboard, preferably from above. We wondered how hard it would be to offer a mode that would let you shoot a mirror suspended above the board.

Even if you don’t want to program, there’s something very reassuring about being able to study your position on a real board without having to manually synchronize the board.

If you’d rather build some hardware, try this chessboard. Or ditch the Internet and build a robot.

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