Monster Chess pits Lego bots in game of awesome

Behold a huge chess board with pieces made entirely out of Lego Mindstorm parts--more than 100,000 of them. It's called Monster Chess, and it's awesome.

Monster Chess
Monster Chess: Click to enlarge.

I hate playing chess. I don't hate the game; in fact it's pure strategy, something I love. But despite years of practice, I still almost never win. And now, it would seem, I have further cause to be pessimistic about my chances of a victory, as even robots made out of Legos are here to beat me.

Observe the video below. That's a huge, 156-square-foot chess board and pieces made entirely out of Lego Mindstorm parts--more than 100,000 of them. It's called Monster Chess, and it's awesome.

The battery-operated, Bluetooth-controlled pieces use downward-facing sensors to read grids built into the individual squares on the board. They then communicate with the controlling computer to keep track of their location in relation to other pieces. The computer tells each piece which direction to go, and how far, on its turn.

And the knights are animated. Watch the video and tell me that's not cool.

It took a year for four people on Team Hassenplug, led by Steve Hassenplug, to put Monster Chess together at a cost of around $30,000. It can be played as human vs. computer, computer vs. computer, or human vs. human via the controlling computer. It uses international standardized rules from an enhanced version of the ChessBot software package. And no, sadly, you can't buy one.

Also sadly, the pieces are a bit pokey, so watching a full match isn't the most thrilling thing in the world, but still, this proves something I've held true for a while: Legos are for grown-ups as much as they are for kids.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.


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