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I finished testing my silicone chessboard, and here is my report.
I bought the board from Amazon, and it is the one listed as "WE Games Silicone Tournament Chess Mat", sold by Family Board Games and fulfilled by Amazon. It cost $15.
The board is very flexible and thin (approximate 1-mm thick). It has the heft and flexibility of a heavy fabric, but it does not wrinkle or crease.
It does lie perfectly flat when unrolled. When it was shipped, it was rolled up and folded in half length-wise, but despite the fold it still laid perfectly flat. I think it would have to suffer extreme abuse for it to lose this characteristic.
I tested the surface for resistance to common stains. I tested wine, coffee, fountain-pen ink, tomato sauce, mustard, and ballpoint. All cleaned up perfectly using a paper towel dampened with water. I did, however, clean the surface immediately; I didn't let the stains set. The ballpoint did require a little extra rubbing, but that was it.
The surface does attract lint and dust, but not in a major way. (To me, the propensity of a silicone board to attract dust has been somewhat overstated. I expected the worst and it did not happen.) To clean the surface I just used the electronic wipe that I use for my computer screen and keyboard. It worked great. If you take this board to a tournament, you might carry some of these wipes with you.
The ink or dye with which the board is printed seems fairly stable. When I rubbed the green squares with pressure using a damp paper towel, a very very little bit of the dye did transfer to the towel. This did not happen with the electronic wipe or with light cleaning using a towel. Light cleaning is really all you need to remove dust.
Pieces essentially will not slide on this board. I tried many different kinds of pieces, and none would slide. Not even those with heavy felt bottoms. So if you are an inveterate piece slider this kind of board will not work for you. You can lift pieces easily though. They do NOT tend to stick.
In general, I thought this was a great board. To me it is better in every way to the standard vinyl board (except for "piece sliding" as mentioned above.) I thought it was well worth the extra cost. The fact that it can be rolled up tightly and folded is a huge feature to me.
I do like the look and feel of my mousepad board better. But the mousepad board is bulkier and not as convenient for travelling. Also it is subject to staining and the accumulation of dirt.
Good report and thank you.
Thank you, qixel!
Thanks for the great info!!
You should post that review at Amazon where you bought it. Thanks, good job.
Just lay the vinyl board on the hood of your car on a hot, sunny day. You don't need to lay anything on the edges or corners, as Bronco70 suggested (See #10 and #17). After a while, it will be as flat as it was when it was new. It does no harm to the board and works perfectly.
The best way to store a vinyl chess board is to roll it up with the squares on the outside and put it in a mailing tube. I tried wrapping them around a PCV pipe. The mailing tube is much better--more convenient and better protection. If the tube is a little too long, just cut it down to the right length with a saw.
I've been storing rollup boards forever inside of a PVC pipe, squares on the outside as Sooner mentioned, with a permanent cap on one end. The pipe is also handy as an unconcealed weapon although I've never had the opportunity (thank goodness) to use it that way. PVC pipes are much more durable than any cardboard mailing tube, even the thick cardboard tubes will eventually get "dog-eared" or start to fray at the edges.
I keep the mailing tube inside my chess bag. I've never had any problem of any kind with them. The extra strength of the PVC pipe is much more than is needed when you store the mailing tube in the chess bag.
@sooner laying something on corners was to keep wind from flipping it.
@nimzo PVC like you say works great especially when stored in a cramped desk or tool box at work
My analysis chess set (12" board and matching size pieces) came in the mail today, and... the vinyl board was packaged folded up, creased pretty badly. Many of the pieces along the middle of the board won't actually stay standing (they're light plastic, though). I'll try the iron thing, and hopefully that'll fix it.
Yes, but be careful.
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