Thursday, March 3, 2011

TIMELY TOPICS - Chess in the Wolf Den

My son is in Cub Scouts. He is in the Wolf Den. And I am the Den Leader this year. So far all the boys have pretty much achieved their Wolf badge for the year (and received them recently at the Blue and Gold dinner/award ceremony). So, they are now working on Electives, Belt Loops and other special achievements for the rest of the year.

Once of the belt loops they can earn is for Chess. For this belt loop they need to be able to identify the chess pieces, show how they move and then play a game of chess. Not too difficult, right? These are 7-8 yr old boys and I figured learning the pieces and moves wouldn't bee too difficult, at least the basics.

I remember being around 7 yrs old when my dad taught me how to play chess. I seem to remember it took me a few years before I could beat him (without him letting me win).

Anyhow, I called one of our Pack leaders and had her bring her 2 sets. With those and my 2 sets I figured that would be enough for if all 6 boys showed up and some ended up playing with their parents, etc.

Once we got there we had a total of 3 boys. I figured the easiest way to get started was to get only one set out and work from there. I first asked them if they had played chess before and they all said they had! Ah, so quizzing them seemed to be the best starting point.

We got out one of the scout leader's nice wooden chess boards - apparently a board passed down in the family. It has nice carved wooden pieces although the King and Queen are difficult to distinguish - they look pretty much the same but the King is taller. Otherwise, a fine board to learn chess on!

First question: Which way does the board go to start setting up? One boy knew which way the board went (correctly) but I asked him HOW he knew that. He said "Because the fold goes across the board". Ah! I hadn't even thought of that! I had always learned/remembered to put the 'white' (light) corner square on the right side (white on the right). I mentioned this as well because not all boards have a fold in them.

Next question: Can you set up the pieces on the board? It was interesting watching them decide which pieces went where. Ultimately, they got everything pretty much correct (although my son initially started putting the pawns on the 3rd row instead of the 2nd row for some reason). The biggest question was if they would get the Queen and King positions correct. Initially they set them up such that the Queens weren't directly across from each other so I talked about how the Queen always goes on her own color and they both start out across from each other.

The next set of questions involved the various pieces: What is this piece called? and How does it move and capture? We proceeded through the different pieces. Not all of the boys understood how the pieces actually moved but eventually 'remembered' / picked up on them for the most part. Of course, actually playing the game I knew would help reinforce the movements.

Monday, February 28, 2011

THE CREATIVE GAMER - Game Bit Storage Obsession (aka Are You OCD Like Me?) - Part 3/3

(This is the final installment in my 3-part posting of my Game Bit Storage Obsession)

Still sticking it out with me?! There are some really interesting boxes and ideas here, so don't leave now!

Acquired from: Michael's craft box section
Not only have I found a variety of interesting plastic boxes at Michael's, I also found some nice cardboard boxes as well.
First, when I was looking to pimp out Twilight Struggle, I ran across some cardboard jewelry boxes. I bought them hoping they would fit in the box and they did! Well, they ALMOST fit. Length-wise they fit fine, but they were a little too tall. The lid itself was actually small enough but not the bottom. So, I set about cutting the box base down.

Then, I needed a way to separate the components so I cut some extra pieces of thin cardboard I had (actually, I think it was the backing from a pad of paper) and glued them into the boxes as dividers.

Here is the final result:
Plain white jewelry boxes used to hold Twilight Struggle counters.

A look inside.
Eventually I will decorate the outside of the boxes with a printout of some sort. I'm thinking a player's aid inside the box lid might also be a neat idea. Yet another project to complete!

Acquired from: Michael's craft section (photo boxes), Goodwill (Trivial Pursuit boxes)
Back in November 2010 I decided I was tired of having to all haul all of the Dominion boxes around. I had read that Dominion cards fit perfectly into Trivial Pursuit trivia card boxes. So, I went to the local Goodwill (GW) and picked up a nice looking copy of Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition + Expansion cards box (which gave me a total of 4 trivia card boxes).

I then took all of the cards out of the card boxes and moved all the cards into the boxes and they fit very nicely! I then started looking at how to possibly arrange the boxes within the Dominon box by itself. They sorta fit in there ok, but obviously they were too tall for the box. I thought about maybe putting some foam rubber in the top of the lid to protect the tops of the cards but it just looked silly hovering above the bottom box section and it was difficult to haul around as it wasn't very stable.

So, I was a bit bummed. I loved that they fit into the TP card boxes and saw that this would save a ton of space, but I just couldn't figure out how to put it all together.

In the mean time I put together a set of files for dividers for all the cards borrowing bits and pieces from different graphics and files on Board Game Geek. Then, I printed them out, laminated and started cutting them out. Believe me there is a LOT of dividers that you need to make.

Then one day I was looking at our book shelves and realized the photo boxes we we stored our 'old' photo prints in were pretty tall. So, I grabbed one, and tried out the TP boxes with Dominion cards and dividers inside - and it fit perfectly! I immediately went to Michael's and bought a beige photo box and a black one.

Here's the one I ended up using:
Photo box from Michael's

All of the cards and components in the photo box.
 Yes, I have the following crammed in to this box: Dominion, Intrigue, Seaside, Alchemy, Prosperity, all the promo cards, all the extra treasure and VP cards (in the back), all the tokens and all the player boards (on the right and in the back)