Certabo Electronic Chess Board

Robotvinnik

I am the proud owner of the Italian Certabo electronic chess board.

It is extremely well made and surprisingly very heavy. Shipping to England from Italy only took one day thanks to the courier DHL.

The PC software setup is very easy to install as was the calibration of the pieces once you stick the recognition sensor chips under each piece. Place them on the board and select SetUp then within twenty seconds each piece has been individually recognise and you can start playing. Thirty four sensor chips are supplied with the board which can be used with any of your own chess pieces. Also available are additional chips should you want to use more than one set.

Although when you press New Game it gives you the option to play against four chess engines; LC0, Stockfish, Houdini and Fire only Stockfish is actually present in the engine folder. You have to manually download the other engines yourself then rename them as just their name.exe not with any version numbers associated to the file. Example, the free Houdini engine that you can download is Houdini 1.5 therefore you have to remove the 1.5 when you rename it.

You can however use any chess engine that is a exe file like one of my favourites the Colossus Chess UCI engine. But to get it to work you must rename it as one of the original four engines that appear in the New Game list. Therefore I have Colossus renamed as Fire.exe. Apparently adding new chess engines will become easier sometime in the future with a software update. Also included is LC0 but unfortunately runs on 64 bits which I don't have so could not test the engines opening.

There are a couple of things that I would like to make you aware of though. 

Firstly the engines do not use an opening book. To my opening move of e4, Stockfish uses only three different replies (d5, Nc6, e6) over it's 20 playing levels. Fire again only uses three (e5, d5, e6) and again Houdini only uses the same as Stockfish. But if you download BrainFish and use that as one of your main engines then the reply total increases to five (d5, e6, c5, c6, e5). Pietro from the company has however advised that this issue will be looked into.

Secondly although there is an Android app and eventually a iOS one too, they do not connect directly to the Certabo board. They connect via a Raspberry Pi unlike the PC software version that connects directly with the board.

Am I pleased with the board, yes. I especially like the modern coloured shades of the board and love the neutral coloured led's on each square that you really don't notice until they turn blue when indicating the computers move. Also the board is directly powered by via the USB so no additional power is required. If the company will add an opening book for the engines in a future software update then I think my days of buying endless chess computers is finally over.

https://www.certabo.com

 

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Robotvinnik

New nice features include, support for user UCI engine has been introduced in PC software. Just copy your UCI engine in the engine directory and simply select it from menu. Multiple boards support on single PC has also been added! Now with just one PC you can run independently several Certabo chessboards in parallel. This feature is adding very interesting option for tournaments and teaching as several human vs. human games can be logged at same time with single PC. 
Also great success for Certabo chessboards during the 2° International Chess Tournament of Vignola (MO). Certabo chessboards have broadcasted internet live game between international GMs Kantans, Solomon, Rombaldoni, Stella Efimov and several other IM and FM. 

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mgx9600

Thanks for the in-depth review on the board's good looks and LEDs; but more importantly:

What is the piece detection technology?

How well does the board handle off-centered piece placements?

How well does the board handle incorrect piece movements (e.g. moving pieces incorrectly, double move by white, undo movement, incorrect castling where king/rook placed on wrong squares, etc.)?

Does it detect correct promotion automatically?

Can it recover from undos and piece knock overs?

These are important features that must be done automatically by an e-board to support good natural play.

 

Robotvinnik

mgx9600 wrote:

Thanks for the in-depth review on the board's good looks and LEDs; but more importantly:

What is the piece detection technology?

How well does the board handle off-centered piece placements?

How well does the board handle incorrect piece movements (e.g. moving pieces incorrectly, double move by white, undo movement, incorrect castling where king/rook placed on wrong squares, etc.)?

Does it detect correct promotion automatically?

Can it recover from undos and piece knock overs?

These are important features that must be done automatically by an e-board to support good natural play.

 

1. What is the piece detection technology? 2. How well does the board handle off-centered piece placements? 3. How well does the board handle incorrect piece movements (e.g. moving pieces incorrectly, double move by white, undo movement, incorrect castling where king/rook placed on wrong squares, etc.)? 4. Does it detect correct promotion automatically? 5. Can it recover from undos and piece knock overs? Hi mgx9600 1. Sorry I don't know you will have to contact the manufacturer. 2. Very well, nearly all the square recognises the piece recognision chip. 3. Invalid Move ! shows in the move section, except when a error is made when castling. No error message appears but the game cannot continue. I have highlighted this to the manufacturer and they have thanked me for letting them know and will investigate. 4. When you receive your board there are 34 piece detection discs (chips) that you stick to the bottom of your favourite chess pieces. That leaves two spare discs for you to stick under another pair of Queens for pawn promotion. When you initially set up your chess pieces before starting your first game with the board you also set up the additional two queens after them. After that when you promote just swop the pawn for one of the spare queens. 5. You undo a move by clicking the on-screen Take Back button then just move the pieces back a move. The screen will now instruct you to make your move again. Knocking over a few pieces are really to reset as you just place the pieces as they appear on the on-screen chess board. I hope this has answered your questions.

mgx9600

Thanks for the reply.

Interesting.  I'm very curious about the "screen".

 

Is it some kind of LCD on the chessboard? (I don't see any obvious screen on your chessboard picture...)  Or is it something extra (off the chessboard) like a phone/laptop?

 

You also mentioned "click", so does it mean that the screen is a required component to make the chessboard work? For example, if I want to play against another person and have a recording of the game, can I just use the chessboard + pieces? or do I also need the "screen"?

 

 

mgx9600

I just surfed over to the certabo chess website, and I think I have my answers. Please correct me if I'm wrong:

 

Seems the detection system is piece presence and not piece detection (type/color); e.g. certabo chessboard wouldn't know if you've put down a knight or a king (or whether it is black or white) on a square, just that a piece is on that square.

 

Based on the sticker sizes (I don't see differences in pawn/non-pawn sizes ; only a single size), I believe certabo will have trouble correctly detecting off-center pieces (e.g. place a piece on the line).

 

The screen is a computer that must be used with the certabo chessboard.  So, to play a game, you always need a computer attached to the chessboard.

 

Robotvinnik

It is piece detection that is why you have to set up your pieces before your first game.

As long as the piece is quite central within the square the piece is recognized. No it will not detect the piece  touching the line.

Yes the software I use is running on my Windows 10 tablet which enables me to play against a variety of chess engines. To add more engines all you have to do is to add them into the Certabo Engine directory.

 

Robotvinnik

Maybe the Millennium Chess Genius Exclusive Chess Computer  would be better for you being a dedicated chess computer rather than a electronic chess board which the Certabo board is?

Details here; https://www.chess.co.uk/millennium-chess-genius-exclusive-chess-computer/

Robotvinnik

https://www.certabo.com/product/ida-betulla-50cm-x-50cm-55mm/

msiipola

Same price as DGT-boards.

Cavatine

I just wonder if it would work with a Fischer-Random setup for the first move?

Robotvinnik

RF no

Eyechess
Chessopera wrote:

It is much better than Square-off chess for sure but price is still too high.

Oh, come on.  Money is no object for you.

jjupiter6

I have been seriously considering either the Millennium or the Square Off. You just made the decision more difficult!

Eyechess
Chessopera wrote:

Certabo is great and it is much more efficient than Square-off for sure. However, to sell it to the wider public the price must be moderated a bit.

So, you bought one of each?

zeitnotakrobat

Looks like piece are detected via RFID. You have 34 different RFID Tags for the pieces that is why "calibration" is needed. System has to identify which Tag is attached to which piece.

Do they give any information on number of read cycles?

Or do they offer replacement Tags?

jjupiter6

Eyechess wrote:

Chessopera wrote:

Certabo is great and it is much more efficient than Square-off for sure. However, to sell it to the wider public the price must be moderated a bit.

So, you bought one of each?

Ignore the troll. He'll continue to criticise until someone reacts.

jjupiter6

I just ordered mine. Thanks Robotvinnik for putting me on to this!

Robotvinnik

The CT800 chess engine is a really enjoyable engine that plays around ELO 2100 at its strongest. The nice thing about this engine is that it contains its own built in opening book giving you the response to e4 with either, Nf6, d5, c5, c6, e6, d6, e5, g6. Download from here,  https://www.ct800.net

Eyechess
Chessopera wrote:

Great chess computer! Everyone should get one if they can afford.

You obviously do not know what you are talking about.