Best Chessmen Ever

DGT Classic Chessmen

DGT Classic chessmen reviewed. A nice simple replica of 1972 Jaques of London WC Reykjavik design. A classic of note in our modern digital times.

Unweighted, 3.75 inch king, ebonized, compatible with all DGT electronic chessboards. Similar feel to DGT sheesham Timeless pieces at a notch (11 €) higher price.


Picochess on DGT 3000

The newest addition to the DGT chess clock lineup makes the old DGT XL it replaces look, well, ... old. Wider display, more characters available for our chessbots and there's that US tourney mode with USCF approved time controls. It's a cool clock.

The web user interface running on the iPad (or any other locally connected machine) is quite intriguing. It runs in any standard browser like Safari, Firefox or Chrome. It shows the opening tree, connects to a remote database of games for reference and can show engine evaluation. But for now, there is no way to play the game via UI. When this is enabled in the future, you will be able to simply give the URL of your machine to a friend and play a remote game on your DGT board, Picochess keeping score and storing PGNs. Skyping each other on top of that for a fine quiet evening match is a nice option ...

Of course I am quite aware that DGT boards already come with software enabling remote play on ICS and other chess servers. But it never works, really.
I believe here's a chance for DGT to develop a new platform for remotely connecting chess players. I believe they would be served well by a small investment into programming resources for this (OpenSource) project. (Sadly, I am no programmer, can only do ideas, design and testing.)
Imagine this scenario:

  1. You give the URL of your machine to a friendly chess coach, he observes you playing a game against the machine from their comfy home using their Chrome browser. Coach comments on the game via chat or Skype. The point is: a.) You are playing against a known trusted person, not "Kacpar0v_1991" or some other 11-year old with an engine in Brazil. b.) Remote player only needs a browser and URL address of your machine. No logins to monthly-fee servers. No usernames. No ads.
  2. You turn off the engine, play a remote game against the intrigued friend. You are using the DGT board, they are using a mouse and the Picochess web user interface from their home. It's fun, convenient and instructional. Picochess is keeping score and recording PGNs.
  3. Next day friend gets a Picochess machine themselves, they have a coach too, you know. (Bingo!, there goes another DGT board sale!)
  4. Your chessbot connects to their chessbot via a simple IP exchange, now you can play a remote game with pieces on both ends. Picochess keeping score and PGN's, of course.
  5. Next day the coach gives their URL to another coach. And a friend. A friendly GM. A twitter follower. A chess club member. There's another Bingo! there. And maybe another.
  6. Next year there are online tournaments, Picochess bots connecting players, keeping score, analyzing, verifying identities, checking for cheating, running automated tournaments.

It could go viral. Bingo, bingo, bingo!


P. S. Please excuse my excited naiveté.

Testing Picochess 0.28

It’s a big rewrite.

Here is a video of our 5-year old playing against the simple POS chess engine (, ELO 500) using Pichochess on Mac Pro and Phoenix Systems Revelation II chessbot board.
Note the extremely robust interface and http broadcasting of the game, analyzed in browser running Stockfish. (Yes, the engine runs in the browser.) The game PGN is automatically emailed upon completion or downloaded via browser. Additional moves can be entered via web interface for analysis. A database of games will be added.

Picochess now runs any UCI chess engine on Raspberry Pi, Odroid, Mac OS X, Windoze, you name it.

We believe this is best chess teaching tool ever. Imagine a remote tutor monitoring a game between two kids (or kid vs. engine) via web interface & Skype.


BCE Stage 1 on a Conchess Monarch

I modified our 3.5” Stage 1 Home edition chessmen to work with old electronic chessbots.

I simply printed rings for 12 mm flat magnets to hold them in place, glued them on the bottom and refelted.

Pycochess Hardware

Building a Pycochess chessbot. Ingredients:

One Raspberry Pi computer.
One PiFace Control & Display interface.
One 8 GB SD card.


Alternative Input in Pycochess 0.21

Next iteration of the awesome chessbot adds some more menus and, most importantly, autonomous operation. No electronic chessboard needed!

If interested in purchasing a ready-made plug & play solution, I advise against as parts are readily available on the web and software is open source. If you insist, email me.


Pycochess 0.20

Beta testing Pycochess, a branch of the open source Stockfish Picochess project, coded in python by FM Shivkumar Shivaji. It runs on on Raspberry Pi with PiFace Control & Display interface sporting two rows of ASCII LCD display and buttons.

There are many more features to show off (like mentioned DGT-less input via buttons), stay tuned.


PicoChess 0.18 for Rikomagic MX 802 II

Here’s the image file for Rikomagic MK 802 II with the latest Stockfish DD engine:

picochess-MK802II-v0.18.img.gz - (734 MB download)

Unzip file and flash your 4 GB micro SD card as per instructions on the web. Plug the card into your rikomagic, connect DGT board & clock. Enjoy the beating.


PicoChess 0.18 for Odroid-XU

Here’s the image file for Odroid-XU with the latest Stockfish DD engine:

PicoChess-018-OdroidXU.img.gz - (1.86 GB download)

Unzip file and flash your 8 GB micro SD card as per instructions on the web. Plug the card into your odroid, connect DGT board & clock and off you go.

More info and instructions to flash your 8 GB micro SD card in the previous blog entry, it’s basically the same thing. To use odroid as a Linux machine, just attach mouse, keyboard and monitor and press Ctrl-C to enter the desktop. Snoop around. There’s Scid installed.


PicoChess 0.18 for Raspberry Pi

I updated macines today to the latest version of PicoChess with the awesome Stockfish DD engine.

Here’s the image file for Raspberry Pi:

PicoChess-018-Raspberry.img.gz - (2.75 GB download)

Unzip file and flash your 8 GB SD card as per instructions on the web. Plug the card into your Pi, connect DGT board & clock and off you go.

The beast is stronger than ever. It’s redefining awesomeness under the hoods everywhere.

I changed the autostart method on boot, the engine now runs in userspace (no longer as root). If you connect a keyboard and a mouse, you’ll find Scid installed also. If you happen to have a Novag Citrine, I believe I installed drivers for that too. (But the Citrine will only work with Scid or ChessDB.) Or was that on the Odroid? Can’t remember ... Simply press control-C to exit Picochess and type


at the prompt to enter the desktop. To restart Pico reboot the machine or run

stockfish dgt /dev/ttyUSB0

in a terminal.

If you attach an USB dongle, you can talk to the machine via wifi. You will need to edit a config file first:

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces

Enter your wifi credentials here. You will want to connect someday via sftp and download your played games stored in the game.pgn file in the home folder. (Someday. At the moment the file stays at zero bytes.)

The previous version (0.17) in action:

0.18 image files for Rikomagic MK802 II and Odroid-XU coming up next. Maybe a binary for the mac. Stay tuned.


P.S. To flash your 8 GB SD card:

On windows, suggest 7zip to unpack the file and Win32 Imager to overwrite.

On a mac, use RPi Card Builder.

Linux users will know how to help themselves. They are tough little suckers.

Running PicoChess

PicoChess 0.17 running on Raspberry PI, DGT USB chessboard & Best Chessmen Ever S1EBDGT0028 pieces.

I gotta figure out how to get the electronics inside the XL clock. Heat is an issue. Maybe try with Rikomagic 802 II instead, it’s smaller.


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