Square Off

No holograms, no 3D, no AR, no bullshit. Square Off is a chess board where the pieces move themselves, and you can play online or against AI.

Square Off is really something special. There’s no avoiding a smile the first time you see a knight slide out from the back row without banging into any pawns along the way, and there’s a certain smug satisfaction from the AI as it slowly slides your pieces off the board after capturing them.

GIF: Square Off

The board houses a 2200 mAh battery that’s rated to around 50 games, rechargeable via AC adapter. There are two versions of Square Off, the standard $329 “Kingdom” set and the $399 “Grand Kingdom” set. The latter, which I’m playing with as I write this, has:

  • Additional capture space where the opponent’s captured pieces are placed automatically at their designated position
  • Auto Rest of board after current game is over.
  • Comes with Special Edition Premium Rosewood chess set
  • Board size is bigger due to additional capture space but play area is same as Kingdom Set

The Square Off app, which has to remain connected to the board throughout play, is very bare bones at this point, and we’ll update accordingly as upcoming features roll out, including:

  • Chess.com integration
  • Game analyzer
  • Training mode
  • Pro game live “streaming” and match recording
  • Chat

While the whole package feels very premium and well-made, at these price points, it’s a bit crazy that there’s no included permanent storage case for the pieces.

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Square Off is planning to start taking orders after April 15, once their crowdfunded preorders have all been delivered. Ultimately they also plan to make the board modular for the playing of other games by switching out the surface.

Nailing the app is critical for Square Off, and I’ll let you know how they do as updates roll out. In the mean time I’ll be playing a lot more chess. Needless to say, it makes one hell of a gift.