First chess board

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  • First chess board

    Ok oldtimers, what was the type of chessboard used when you first played?

    There were the horrible folding red and black board that came with a chess & checkers set. But I recall folding cardboard boards were the most common to travel to tournaments with. I don't know when vinyl started, my first (1972) was brown and cream (no a to h, 1 to 8). I remember that Fischer supported green squares - when were they first made? Did any organizer before the 2000s Canadian Opens provide paper boards?

  • #2
    Hi Erik;
    My first chess set was plastic in a folding wooden chess board. Bigger than a traveling set but smaller than regular size pieces I still have that set. The white king is broken and I replaced with a wooden but still have original white king. My dad gave it to me for Christmas when I was 10 years old. I'm now in my 64th year..
    My first folding chess board was cardboard brown and yellow squares. My first folding vinyl board I bought in 1973 it was brown and cream squares. My first vinyl roll up board I bought at Ontario High School Championships in 1974. Brown and Cream squares.
    I have seen pictures of Nimzovitch and Capablanca playing on roll up boards.
    Last edited by John Brown; Saturday, 23rd February, 2019, 11:51 AM.


    • #3
      The Quebec Open had green and white paper boards for their 700+ player event in 1972, and most major Quebec events have provided them ever since. In the late 60s in Montreal, Dudley Ledain would provide about a dozen green and white boards cut from linoleum...otherwise bring your own. There was a large box full of plastic and wooden pieces of various sizes, and early arrivers could create a decent looking set.


      • #4
        Searching online I found that Goichberg initially provided paper boards (probably green) in the late 1960s, but discontinued after too many taken by players.

        The USCF sold the Solara chess clock with rounded edges, but I don't recall ever seeing one. We had the small BHB and the big Koopman sold by Sarosy.


        • #5
          In a 1959 Chess Life I found mention of a new green and white-squared rollup board made of linen. (I couldn't tell from the black and white photos.)


          • #6
            In the 70s, an Austrian who was in charge of Eaton's (Montreal) clock/watch repairs department, used to get Jerger clocks deeply discounted. I sold a bunch of them for him.


            • #7
              Man that hurt my head digging back thru the memories. At first I didnt think I could remember but then it flashed back. Like John I had a brown and yellow folding cardboard board with hollow plastic pieces "borrowed" from my brother until I got my first solid plastic with felt glued on the bottom Staunton pieces. For a long time I used a paper board from the 1974 Canadian Open in Montreal (folded up). My first clock was a BHB but I didnt like it as it wasnt much good for speed chess. Next was a White Monroe (and many players commented that they were virtually indestructible - Lawence Day had one for the longest time) maybe so but mine only lasted two years but it broke I think after being dropped from a great height


              • #8
                At the 1993 Canadian Open in London we gave away vinyl boards with the creative design upside down knight tango in place of ss in chess.


                • #9
                  First chess board

                  February 24, 2019

                  I can remember buying my first chess set when I was thirteen years old. It consisted of felted wooden pieces in a wooden box with a slide top. About $3.

                  The chess board was on heavy cardboard and closed in half on a centre fold.

                  A friend and I took everything over to Montebello Park and set them up on a bench. Because the seat was concave, the board had to be turned so the centre-fold was not in the concavity.

                  We set up the pieces and started to play. After about half an hour, a young policeman came over and told us that White’s right bottom square had to be light, not dark, and so the board was set up wrongly!


                  I have found an ad in an old Chess Review , which describes the board this way:

                  No. 222 1 7/8” squares $2.00 These standard weight folding boards are of excellent quality, about 1/8” thick. Outside covering and playing surface are black, dice-grain cloth. Impressed dividing lines between buff and black squares. Embossed covers. (1960)


                  • #10
                    The first board I played on was a plastic frame that held a cheap cardboard chess board. If you removed the board from the frame, there was a little pocket where the pieces could be stored. That board took a terrible beating and the cardboard started to bend and fray at the edges. Some pieces were lost and I cannot remember what happened to the set.

                    My first set of my own was memorable. The shiny wooden board was a tournament-sized oddity, with squares of different shades of brown. My dad picked it up at a hobby shop in North Vancouver - the owner pulled it out of a dark corner where it had been probably resting since the time of Botvinnik. It was quite difficult to determine which were the dark squares and which were the light squares. I would take advantage of this and, generally, defeated all of the house guests who wanted a game. Heh.

                    I still have that board and set though I no longer use them. It's just not fair.

                    I received the set on my 11th birthday, along with a book by Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey). Four days earlier, Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon. It will be 50 years this July that I've had that set and I will, undoubtedly, take it to my grave.
                    Dogs will bark, but the caravan of chess moves on.


                    • #11
                      My first chess set that I played on, when I was about 4 or 5 was a black and red board, about 6 inches by 6 inches, but it did come with wooden pieces. Then when I was 9 and had won the Seneca Hill Public School Chess Championship, I got a much bigger set from Simpson's for Christmas. It was about 9 inches by 9 inches with plastic pieces, but I was in heaven.


                      • #12
                        Especially Nigel's post, with the phrase "take it to my grave", really brought me back! My first set was a wooden box (from The Bay?) that when closed, held the pieces within. The actual board material was metallic, and the pieces had magnets. This was sometime in the last 60s, and it was indestructible! I remember later in life buying something similar as a gift for nephews and nieces, and those pieces would slowly slide off the board. Mine would always stay on solidly, I could even play upside down while lying in bed. Around 30 years in, some of the glue that was holding the sides of the wooden box together began to erode, and I remember painstakingly getting the perfect almost invisible furniture nails to make it solid again. Anyway, I understand what Nigel meant. I think if you told me that I could keep ONE PHYSICAL possession on a desert island, I can't think of what else it would be. That first chess board is so special. Thank you Erik for starting this thread.
                        Last edited by Aris Marghetis; Monday, 25th February, 2019, 10:29 AM.


                        • #13
                          Hi Aris: Thanks for the furniture nails box of some 54 years is now a little wobbly, though still tournament functional. It needs a bit of a tune-up.

                          Bob A