Best Chessmen Ever

Subozan Staunton Antique Combo

A touch of nostalgia. Good old days.

I collect old sets at flea markets and refurbish the boxes. Replace the chessmen with better ones. Add some magnets.

Perfect gift for appreciative friends.

In fact, I gifted one to myself. Needed one for the road. It’s cold out there.


ZmartFun Chess Clocks Updated

The interesting ZmartFun line of digital chess clocks was updated with new design and some tweaks to internal software. The name is new too, the business cards read “Chess Clock ZMF-II” as of today. Whatever. For some reason the reset button seems to be square now. Mkay. Can roll with dat.

Added are some new features like byo-yomi timing modes and multi time-control tournament modes (up to three time periods). Simplicity was the name of the game with the older model, I hope it stays so with the new one. There are more details in the all-new manual, must check.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 23.37.08

All-new slanted design is very welcome and the clocks are available in some interesting color combos. Definitely not a dull piece of chess equipment. High quality sturdy stainless touch buttons, if the previous model is any indication. Made in effing U.S. of A.

Prices are slashed, at € 54,95 these clocks seem like a bargain. They got the timing just right as at the moment the competition is asleep at the wheel and demand is high. Ordered one (red on red) pronto, will shoot and report as soon as it gets to Ljubljana.


P.S. Here’s a short review of the now defunct older model with some nitpicking:

Looks like they listened.

Friction Test

Blitz players usually want their chessmen fast and sliding smooth. On the other hand, some detest the superfast action and prefer more solid grip on the chessboard.

The materials used are all-important. Here are the differences in friction:

Indian noname cloth on a noname sheesham tournament pawn. At the low price end one gets what one pays for. Should outperform leather, amazingly, it does not. Cheap and mushy:


Slovenian blue leather on a BCE Stage 2 Western collared pawn. Elegant deliberate slower action:


Croatian HQ billiard cloth on a Dubrovnik 1950 pawn. We are talking old style 1950 coffehouse billiards here. Rough but surprisingly fast. Generously cushioned feel:


Belgian Simonis 860 billiard cloth on a BCE Stage 1 Eastern pawn. Designed for maximum speed. Difficult to cut with machine, frays easily. This felting is optional on BCE sets, requires custom gluing and manual scissor cutting. Results in somewhat uneven cut:


The Simonis is best by far if speed is what one wants. Slides perfectly across any chessboard including plastic. Custom job only. This is as good as it gets.


First Stainless Batch

Announcing limited availability of Stage 1 Eastern/Western Stainless BCE sets, this is the first batch with optional stainless steel bases. This are the exact replicas of the exclusive set made in black for Garry Kasparov by the Presidential order of Slovenia.

Get them while available. For prices check the Options page. For three minutes of pure awesomeness check the video below.

Specs: Weighted, FIDE size 2, king height 96 mm, base diameter 41 mm, weight 62 g. The pawns are 22 g each. Pretty much standard stuff.


The pics above are of the Eastern variety. The Westerns are very cool also, trust me now, believe me later.

-Izmet App Clock

Here’s an update to my recent chess clocks setup tests, a review of today’s iOS app update featuring nice and useful digital chess clock:

Best chess clock travel solution by far. Very convenient. Don’t even look at specialized chess clock apps, it’s all feces on the market. It’s not even funny.


P. S. A few suggestions to the developer folks:
  • A randomizer for Fischer random games would be nice.
  • Optional customization of the sounds. Kids want explosions at the end.
  • Never let the users customize the colors! This is a road to hell Uglyville.
  • Optional move counter discretely tucked away in some corner. Trust the design guy, he done good so far.
  • WTF is a clock doing in “Settings”? Sure, it’s not easy to shuffle the layout around to accomodate a new button, but somebody gotta do it. Settings? Really?

Chess Clocks Setup Tests

Setting a modern chess clock is not trivial. Some solve the problem better than the others. Here’s an overview of ten popular examples.


Simple, from another era.

Chronos FX:

This is what you want from a day to day clock. Rugged, easy to reset, fat display. This brand is best on the market.

ZmartFun Chess Clock:

A plastic substitute with bright LED display that fades out in sunlight. An indoor clock only.
Update (feb 2013):
The model shown was discontinued on the day of shooting this video.


Tournament standard. Not much use for anything else.

Chronos Digital Game Clock:

Everything but the kitchen sink. Badass clock.

Garde Digital Electronic:

New with a touch of old. Elegant.

Chronos GX:

FX’s younger sibling. Two pane display, nobody knows why. App Clock:

Very convenient for travel. Elegantly done. Beats all other specialized chess clock apps in the App Store. Lots of ugly design there.

Garde electronic:

A mysterious clock nobody knows. A very, very rare Ruhla clock from 2001.

ZmartFun ZMF-II:

An update, new model. Lower price even.

DGT 3000:

An update to DGT XL. Bigger display, eboard compatibility and US Delay mode.

My personal all time favorite is the discontinued Chronos FX. For travel the convenience of the bare bones app is best by far.


ZmartFun Chess Clock Review

It is an attractive chess clock, digital and all. Nice big blue numbers, green or red if you want them. Stainless steel touch buttons, rugged build. Plastic. A bit square. It’s just a box. Big ass battery combo inside. Makes the clock very heavy. You don’t want to lug this baby around. This is an indoor clock on account of poor legibility under direct sunlight. Those nice bordello LEDs don’t shine outside.

The LEDs seem to flicker in the video on account the camera being faster than the eye. This is not the case OTB. The glow is kinda soothing, actually.

Simple controls, no bells and whistles. One tournament mode. Increment, delay, -- both there. Silent operation. Maybe too silent. This clock is up to something.


Update (feb 2013):
The model shown was discontinued. The new model has a slanted display. Review pending, the clock is on the way as we speak.

The Tamper Resistant Serial

Every BCE set is serially numbered. The serial is on the certificate and stamped on the bottom of the white king. Then we glue the leather on to hide it just to mess with your mind. Is it there or is it not?

So we shoot a historic video of the procedure for each and every customer. Neat, right? Here’s an example, the white king from set S1EN0037 (Stage 1 Eastern Natural 37) for the international personality Mr. Jure Godler.

(We plan to improve on lighting in the future. This is no Hollywood production. We are getting there.)


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Pawn)

Comparing a few more pawns up close. Some good, some bad, some for goats only.


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