June 2011 Archives


Our Personal Rating: 4.75/5 stars

Finally, a way to learn chess without stress! The secret? An innovative deck of action cards. Each depicts a chess piece and how it moves. Once you become comfortable with the moves and powers of each chess piece, you can flip the two-sided board over and play standard chess. Includes rules for two variations of playing using the action cards, and all the necessary rules for standard chess.

With this revolutionary chess teacher, you’ll be playing the world’s greatest game in no time at all! Unlike any other chess teacher, No Stress Chess teaches you how to play using illustrated cards and an illustrated two-sided game board. Includes two-sided chess board, 17 charcoal pieces, 17 ivory pieces, 56 action cards, black plastic card tray and instructions. For two players.

No Stress Chess (Toy)

List Price: $17.99 USD
New From: $14.40 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Amazon Review 1:

I love my 4 year-old daughter more than I can say but, in all honesty, she’s no chess prodigy.

Daddy has all these different chess sets around the house, so that’s where the interest began (an interest I was more than happy to encourage). We made a game of learning the names of the various pieces and how to set up the board. I thought our next step would involve learning how the pieces move and maybe even playing ‘games’ with some of the pieces’ movements (bishops and rooks versus bishop and rooks, etc.), it was then that we discovered “No Stress Chess.”

What the folks at Winning Moves Games have provided is something you’d imagine some clever teacher would have thought of centuries ago, namely; drawing from a shuffled deck of cards to determine which chess piece is to be moved.

Players draw from a face-down pile of 56 cards which each show a picture, the name, and movement of a particular chess piece; if they are able to move that piece, that is what they must do. The card is then placed face-up on their discard pile (each player has their own separate discard pile). In addition to ‘chess piece movement’ cards, there are also ‘move same type of piece again’ cards; this card allows the player to move the same type of piece last moved by themselves or their opponent. Believe it or not, that’s just about all there is to it!

Needless to say (if you already know how to play chess), the game that results from this type of play is a whole different experience, for the most part based on the luck of the draw. There is no such thing as being in “check,” and a “checkmate” is achieved by actually taking your opponent’s king! Accordingly, there is “no stress” in placing an unprotected queen next to your opponent’s king unless, of course, your opponent proceeds to draw a “king” card.

Once this basic form of the game is mastered (referred to as “Level One”), players may progress to the next level. In “Level Two” each player is dealt 3 cards at a time and may choose which of those cards they wish to play for their move. In “Level Three” each player is dealt 5 cards. Finally, the instructions suggest an “Advanced Game” where the rules of pawn promotion, castling, checking, and en passant are employed.

In addition to the playing cards a two-sided board is included. The squares on one side of the board show how to set up the game, with the name and picture of each piece on their appropriate square. The included plastic chess pieces are “heavy-duty” and virtually indestructible (with the noteworthy exception of the cross on top of the king). Lastly, in addition to the rules and variations of “No Stress Chess,” a very adequate explanation of “Standard Chess Rules” and basic strategy are provided.

Okay, back to the title of my review…much to my amazement, I have a 4 year-old who moves her knight around the board like a seasoned grand master. What more can I say?

Amazon Review 2:
My son received this for his 6th birthday, and didn’t want to stop playing it the next day, even to go to his party! He had been learning some basics of Chess but was not able to really play. This game uses cards that tell you which piece to move, so even children (and adults) who have never played the game can jump right in. The moves for each piece are on the card. You have to move the piece shown if you can, but you decide which/how. It really changes the game since being in check does not apply — even if you can threaten your opponent’s piece, you can’t necessarily get it on your next turn. There are also a few cards that let you move your choice of either of the last two cards shown, which is helpful if you just got in a position to strike! One side of the board shows where the pieces go and the other is a standard chess board so when your child is comfortable, he can play the ‘regular’ way. We love both ways! My son actually began playing ‘real’ Chess after only a few weeks. I think this is the best possible way to teach Chess quickly and accurately, and as an experienced player, I really enjoy the game with the cards too — it is faster and more of a game of chance, but still fun! Definitely pick it up.

Amazon Review 3:
The game has a regular chess game board on one side; the other side has the chess game board with pictures of the pieces on it so you can see how to set it up. Then it has a deck of cards that you pull from to make your move. Each card shows a picture of a chess piece and how it moves. This setup allows you to start playing a modified version of chess right away, without worrying about messing up. It does take a lot of the strategy out and rely more on luck, but it’s still fun, even for grown-ups. After you’ve played a few times, you realize you remember the piece names and how each piece moves. Then you can play regular chess without the cards.

As a grown-up, I always thought it would be cool to play chess, but I was intimidated and didn’t have a lot of time to spend on it. Now I’m playing and enjoying regular chess after very little time/effort and so are my 6 and 10 year old children.

Amazon Review 4:
Took it out of the box today shortly before dinner, the worst time of the day to introduce something new to children. My six-year-old and my almost-5-year-old dove right in and played three rounds of Level 1 against each other. Within ten minutes, both kids had learned how to move every single chess piece. Yes, I was there, explaining things when they made mistakes and pointing out opportunities to take pieces, but after two games they informed me I was no longer needed (not true, actually, but it will be true by tomorrow).

The board has two sides – I didn’t realize this for the first few games, and played on the “real chess” side. The other side includes drawings to show you where to set up your pieces. With the pictures, my kids have no trouble setting up.

Games took less than 10 minutes. We haven’t tried the more advanced levels, which give players a little more control over which piece they move (at the basic level, you draw a card and move the piece it tells you to move).

Both kids wanted to play again after dinner and by bedtime, my daughter told me that she really did not want to stop playing!

My track record teaching things I love to my children is not great. I do love chess, and I must say, this was truly No Stress. I’m about to buy an extra set to donate to my 5-year-old’s classroom so she can play it during indoor recess.

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Our Personal Rating: 4.85/5 stars

It’s a battle for the mushroom kingdom. Mario and bowser are battling it out once again. This time in the classic strategy game of chess. Chess, super mario. Pick your team and take control of 32 hand-painted playing pieces. This one of a kind game is as much fun to play as it is to display.

The classic game of chess takes a wacky turn with those video game characters, Super Mario Brothers. Features 32 highly-detailed authentic chess pieces and a themed chess board. Everything comes packed in a collector’s tin.

Super Mario Chess Collector’s Edition Tin (Toy)

List Price: $49.99 USD
New From: $26.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $23.38 USD In Stock

Amazon Review 1:

My kids are Nintendo fans. And I’m a fan of uncommon chess sets. This product combines both interests. The pieces are bright and sturdy. Immediately there were several chess challenges flying back and forth. While I agree with some reviewers that it’s odd to have male queens and the 2 females serve as bishops, it would be just as odd to have Daisy be the queen for the “bad” side.
This set has appeal for kids and adults. A definite buy if you’re a chess-loving Nintendo fan!

Amazon Review 2:
My son bought this set because he loves both chess and Mario. He has been very happy with his purchase! I think the pieces are cute and well-made. You can tell that the paint may rub off with excessive handling over time; however, it seems to be holding up pretty well. He plays with it for uses other than chess, too (pretend play, make believe, etc.), and the characters are well suited for that. The piece assignments would not necessarily make sense (e.g., Bowser Jr. as queen), but all pieces are labeled with their designation. After a few games you remember them anyway. So far, my son is very pleased with the purchase and has no regrets!

Amazon Review 3:
This is an excellent chess. The figures are very good. You can found all the characters of Super Mario Bros. The details in the figures are incredible, the quality is very good. Even if you don’t play chess, you will get a complete set of the Super Mario Bross’ characters for collectors.

Amazon Review 4:
My soon-to-be 5 year old son had set his heart on a Super Mario Galaxy birthday cake. After much shopping, I found this chess set and hoped I could use the pieces to decorate the cake. When it arrived I was very pleased with the quality of the packaging (it actually comes in a sturdy tin with a lid) and the pieces themselves. The pieces are of a very durable plastic, the colors are vivid, and the detailing is great. While my kids are too young to actually play chess, this set is now their favorite toy. They make up stories for the characters to act. I had no idea the cake decorations would wind up being his favorite present!

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Our Personal Rating: 4.91/5 stars

Chess 4 allows four players. Same rules, same playing pieces, just played by up to four people. Chess Four is the world’s most accepted non-traditional chess set. Chess is no longer a battle.

John N. Hansen: Chess 4 (Toy)

List Price: $24.99 USD
New From: $18.79 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Amazon Review 1:

I tried this game with 3 other people and it is totally awesome!! As soon as you checkmate someone, you get to control all of their pieces! As you can infer, it gets very good with only 2 people left, each controlling 2 chess sets. Overall, this game is the bomb. The best part is being able to play 2-4 people at once.

Amazon Review 2:
I’ve only played once so far because it takes a little over two hours to play if you’ve got good opponents. Normal chess is like “how can I manuever around this person while avoiding their attacks” while this is like “I’m in the center of chaos”. If you aren’t watching everything, every second, you’re done for. One person I was playing with had another person’s queen surrounded with 2 of his own knights and a knight he had captured, and player 2 went to move his queen towards a king, paying acute attention to whether he would put himself in a spot where any of those three knights could kill him. He took his fingers off his queen finally, after determining he was safe, and I killed him with a pawn. This game is intense, I love it.

Amazon Review 3:
The 4 Way chess game is an awesome “social” experience. My friends couldn’t believe how much fun it was to play. At first we got the rules wrong – which I admit was even more fun than when we played the “right” way. It may intimidate some players, but novices love the idea of having your pieces fly all over the board causing chaos. This game turns bad players into bad and dangerous players!

Amazon Review 4:
I played this game alot back in college, 15 years ago. We had single player and team tournaments, which were fantastic. I must admit that I often won but I probably had more standard chess experience then others. I developed a ridiculous opening to beat any player next to me within three to six moves. With slight modifications, I could even hide it from others who expected it. The very soul of competitive chess tournaments. Yes, some games do take time but in college dorms where most of your free time might be spent confined together, time is rarely a factor. Great for families too including those extended holiday get-togethers.

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Our Personal Rating: 4.63/5 stars

This chess set is a wonderfully detailed collectible carved of solid hornbeam wood. Each chess piece is individually handcrafted. Folding Birch wood chess board stows away your chess pieces inside when your not playing. Made from renewable plantation wood.

Ambassador European Chess Board Game (Toy)

List Price: $89.99 USD
New From: $58.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Amazon Review 1:

The board was definitely a good purchase. The detail on each piece and the detail on the board is 5 star. The board is thin, but aside from that its a great set.

Amazon Review 2:
This was a gamble purchase. Frankly the price was hard to believe in the context of the few reviews that had been submitted. That said the pictures of the product seemed to back up the reviews so I took the gamble.

This is a hand carved wooden chess set which comes in its own box which doubles as a fold out chess board. The details on the pieces and board are exquisite, if you’re looking for the hand-made look. By this I mean there are subtle differences in the carvings and markings of the “identical” pieces. To me this adds charm to the set. The chess pieces themselves are fairly large but unweighted. If you’re looking for a championship weight chess set this is not it. However, if you have young ones who like to throw things this lack of weight is a distinct advantage. The case/board is laminated in dark and light wood to provide the board with a border of dark wood which is both carved and branded to provide decoration. The craftsmanship is excellent. The board top is light and would probably be damaged if it was hit with something heavy. It would not survive the attentions of a 3 year old armed with a mallet/Tonka toy/or any of the other items 3 years old tend to hit things with. That said if you can keep it away from rumbunctious children and are looking for an out of the ordinary, decorative chess set that screams “artisan made” and is highly playable this fits the bill nicely. We were so impressed by this set we purchased a second as a present for a family of chess players.

Amazon Review 3:
This is a beautifully crafted set. I now see how the others are saying that the pieces should be weighted. That was an easy fix with a trip to the hardware store and craft store. I attached a small circular weight and thick felt material on the bottom and they slide smooth and feel more sturdy. My sons and I play a few games a day with this set and are really enjoying it. As for the dividers in the board; that could be better as well, but I will wait to replace that.

Amazon Review 4:
The Ambaasador Chess Set and Board is an attractive hand crafted product combining high quality and ecological materials.The wood used is high quality plantation grown.

The board is wonderfully detailed with detail surrounding the algebraic notations and the pieces include distinctive kings and queens.

The pictures above do a good job of depicting the actual product.

The hinged board is of good size and quality with storage inside for the pieces although the surfaces are seemingly thin and therefore somewhat fragile. It seem’s you could easily punch a hole in or the crack the board if you were’nt careful and inadvetently applied too much force to the surface.

Therefore I suggest this set for display or adults in an non-tournament environment.

The pieces are of a very good size and quality and are hand crafted although not weighted.

I purchased this set as a collectible for purposes of display and the occasional gameplay with my chess aficiondo friends.

I actually use a tournament grade set with triple weighted pieces purchased from USCF for actual gameplay.

At the time of my purchase, shipping was free.

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Our Personal Rating: 4.33/5 stars

Deluxe Wood Chess Set with 16″ x 16″ beautiful high quality folding, felted and padded, inlaid wood chess board with 1 3/4″ squares and 3″ King. Chessmen are hand-carved in the classic Staunton style.
15″ X 15″ folding inlaid wood chess board with 1 3/4″ squares and 3″ King.

Amazon Review 1:

my children love this game! My nine year old talks her four year old brother into playing for longer than he’s usually interested in. And my four old says, oh yeah, I’m going to kick your b–t! Only complaint is that the king and queen need better crowns. I told my daughter “that’s a cross on the king.” She looked back and forth at the queen and king and said, “what’s a cross?” And we know what a cross is.

Amazon Review 2:
For those really enamored with the game of chess, it is nice to be able to take it with you to the beach or lake, vacation, or on a trip without losing the pieces or having to hear them make noise inside the box.

This set is wood with a rich finish of dark brown and a light beige. The pieces are wooden and are of the same hue as the squares on the board. They are kept in place by a stretchy band that keeps the pieces firmly in place during transit against a felt wall. A small metal clasp ensures the box doesn’t open at inopportune moments.

I bought this for my great nephew, Samuel Adam, who, I discovered this past Christmas has taken a liking to chess. I happened to get him a gift that introduces the player to the game, and explains each piece, as well as some gifts that turned out to be below his age level. This is the first step in assuaging my guilt and the first step in what I will assume will be a number of sets he will own in his life. This is not paper and it is not alabaster or ivory. It’s just right.

Besides, he’s just a great kid, and I want to get it for him.

Amazon Review 3:
I really enjoyed this chess set but a little downside is the storage band is a little loose so it doesn’t do 100% of its job, but anyways other than that I can store the pieces with the plastic bags it came with. I highly recommend buying this.

Amazon Review 4:
This is a very well thought-through chess set for a beginner, especially a kid. The board is comfortably big while not too large, so it is possible for a kid to “see” it without moving the eyes from side to side, and it is very important for developing strategic assessment skills in the game. The figures are clearly distinct and have classic shapes, so the differentiation is never an issue. I would certainly recommend this set for a family where a child is learning to play chess. Adult players may want a slightly larger set, but this one is perfectly built for 7-12 year olds.

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