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My First Thoughts of the Chessnut Air
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My First Thoughts of the Chessnut Air

Sawbonez
| 4

Many of you probably remember a few years ago when a Kickstarter campaign was launched promising self-moving pieces and even ended up sponsoring a chess tournament.  They collected hundreds of thousands of dollars before finally being exposed as a fraudulent campaign.  

Needless to say, after this debacle, many in the online chess community were pretty leery of supporting new chess Kickstarter projects.  

Apparently, though, I was not one of those people!  About two years ago I just happened to come across a Kickstarter project that sounded realistic and admirable.  The whole point of the project was to make an affordable chess computer with Bluetooth connectivity that will allow you to, ultimately, play via online sites like Chess.com.  

The goals seemed reasonable and the financial investment on my end was just slightly over $100.  So I jumped in.

I followed the project during development and then last week, it showed up at my door!

Meet: The Chessnut Air by Chessnutech.

I don't have any connection to Chessnutech, financial or otherwise.  I'm just a chess fan that felt like supporting a cool project. 

And please note that this isn't a full review, as there are plenty of those online.  You can also find unboxing videos on YouTube as well.  This is just to share my first thoughts on this project since I'm one of the fortunate backers to receive one.  And, most importantly, to get the word out in the chess community that this cool product even exists!

So it arrived about 75% charged so it was ready-to-go out of the box.  I downloaded the app for my Android phone and it connected effortlessly with the board.  

I'm kind of a chessboard snob, so I like really nice pieces.  You can look back on some of my prior posts where I surgically transplanted the felt and chips from my Millennium Exclusive chessboard pieces to some nice, quality pieces from The House of Staunton.  Read this post here: https://www.chess.com/blog/Sawbonez/finishing-my-upgrade-to-the-millennium-chessgenius-exclusive

Being the snob that I am, you might think I would be disappointed in the Chessnut plastic pieces.  But, thankfully, I am not.  While they may be plastic (I get it; portable board), their detail is exquisite and they have a nice weight to them.  And the slide nicely across the board.  Check out the detail:

So I approve of the pieces!  I won't be attempting any felt & chip transplants anytime soon.

The board is genuine wood, so it feels absolutely fantastic.  It sits comfortably on a table and I don't worry that a slight tap is going to knock everything about.  It's solid and looks and feels great.

As for the app... I was able to use the feature to play the computer without any problem.  However, it appears they are still working on getting it to interface with Chess.com so I wasn't able to test that feature just yet.  But I will keep trying, as this is what I look forward to most.  If/when I get it to work, I will put an update in a comment below.

I especially appreciate that they put the annotations on the board, so I didn't have to do it manually as I have on my two Millenium boards.

. . . 

So my final thoughts...

These guys are definitely on the right track.  They have managed to make a board that is very well made.  For a first-generation device, they did a great job!  I'm glad I supported them.  I look forward to following their progress as they fine-tune the app and (hopefully) get it working with my favorite chess site... Chess.com, of course. 

So it isn't available for purchase just yet, as they are still sending out the boards for the backers.  But it likely won't be too long until it is available.  So keep your eyes open and seek out some of the other, more detailed reviews and unboxing videos out there.  Because if you want a powerful but affordable electronic board, this might just be what you have been waiting for.

. . .

Some basic specifications:

  • Price: To be determined
  • Dimensions: 33cm x 33cm x 1.8cm (13" x 13" x 0.7")
  • King height: 6.8cm (2.67")
  • Square size: 3.5cm x 3.5cm (1.37" x 1.37")
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours
  • Sensor system: Magnetic (no press)
  • Connection: USB-C
  • Bluetooth: BLE 4.2