Trap Chess Keeps Players On Their Toes

Chess is a game that originated so long ago, we don’t have concrete information as to its origins. Rules have changed throughout history, and many continue to study and experiment with the game. [Yann Guidon] has a neighbour, [Bob], who is just one such enthusiast, and together, they built a working Trap Chess game.

What is trap chess, you may ask? It’s a variant of chess where pieces randomly fall into traps at the change of turns. This is easy to simulate in a digital game, but that wasn’t enough for [Bob]. Enlisting [Yann] for his electrical skills, the duo built a board with ten trapdoors built in. Whenever the timer is hit, there’s a chance a trapdoor can open, removing a piece from the game.

The build relies on a PIC16F818, an 8-bit microcontroller from Microchip. This helps interface between the timer and servos and generally runs the whole show. The board is built into a table, and we’re impressed by the fit and finish of the final product. From a distance, it’s difficult to notice anything is awry, and it would make a great prank when playing with an unsuspecting mark. Just make sure there’s no money on the table first.

We’ve seen other impressive chess hacks before — like this board that can move the pieces for you. Video after the break.

22 thoughts on “Trap Chess Keeps Players On Their Toes

  1. So what happens if you loose a guard and your king can be taken after the end of your turn? Is it allowed to win by freebie like that. or do you just get the bonus turn to make the check harder to escape?

  2. One of the endearing parts of chess is that it’s fully deterministic. No element of chance, thus it’s “possible” to perfectly think ahead.

    This throws a monkey wrench into that, certainly.

    1. Oh, I don’t know — that’s the reason I don’t like chess. I prefer backgammon, where in a single game a master can play nearly perfectly and still lose to a rookie and a lucky throw of the dice. Simulates real life a bit more to my liking.

        1. Super Bowl 32 — 99/100 times Green Bay wins, but (fortunately for this life-long Colorado resident) the game was only played once. And the last time I checked, American football was somewhat popular.

      1. The problem with chess isn’t the game itself. Unless you’re really bad at it, it’s just fine when you’re playing a random other person.

        Adding in things like Elo matchmaking is what starts to ruin it. Knowing that no matter how much you improve you’re almost always going to be facing an average difficulty and a 50/50 chance of winning takes all of the fun out of it. Elo somehow makes a skill based activity feel as unfulfilling as a coin toss.

    1. An integrated flame thrower that will toast the selected figurine (not shure about this word) instead of ingesting it? I like that idea.
      How about make the selected figurine explode?

      1. How about (instead) have a solenoid under every square. One would randomly push up about 5 mm and tip the piece (if any is on that square) over. Said piece would then be removed from the board as it “died of a heart attack” or something. As an option, King pieces could be hollowed out on the bottom to avoid a game ending “stroke”.

  3. Why do I feel like this is the kind of chess board Mr. Burns would have? Also I think an “ejector seat” that shoots the piece off the board would be funnier, although harder to reset after the game.

    1. I was thinking more along the lines of electromagnets under each square. Assuming the pieces all have magnets on the bottom with the same orientation, a strong pulse could launch the piece off the board. Or turning the electromagnet on with the opposite polarity could “lock” the piece onto the board, preventing it from being moved.

      1. Adding a speaker to play a sound effect to warn that a piece is about to be launched could add to the excitement. The sound I’m thinking of is that of something with magnetostriction turning on (large transformer, demagnetizer, etc)

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