What Color Is Your Chessboard?

Until today I had never, ever, considered what the board ‘theme’ said about me. To be honest, I have never, ever, until today, considered what constitutes a board ‘theme’. In over fifty years playing the Royal Game never has anyone asked, “What do you think of my board theme?” If asked, I would probably responded, “Say what?” After hearing it repeated I would have probably responded, “Who the fork cares?”

I have played on all kind of boards, including one game for a C-note in a bar upon which we battled on one of those red and black cardboard sets with the little plastic pieces. The most games have been played on a green board, but I have also battled on a field of black; blue; brown; and red. I have never seen a pink board, but I suppose they are in existence what with all the females playing Chess these daze. No self-respecting male would have ever brought out a pink board, even the player known as the effeminate heterosexual, who will, for obvious reason, remain nameless…

I write this because of an article read earlier today at Chess.com, a website at which I surf to each day, spending less and less time there with each passing day. I have come to think of it as a “fluffy” type website. I am like former Senior Master Brian McCarthy, who, when hearing a disparaging remark about his Informant without a cover, replied, “It’s still got the MEAT!” I will give it to Chess.com; they have the “fluff.” I write this because of an article appearing today by lularobs, What Your Board Theme Says About You (https://www.chess.com/article/view/what-your-chess-board-theme-says-about-you).

https://www.chess.com/article/view/what-your-chess-board-theme-says-about-you#IcySea

There is no doubt about the influx of the female players bringing change to the Royal Game. Nothing typifies that change better then the aforementioned article. I simply cannot imagine any male Chess player at the House of Pain ever asking, “What do you think of my board theme?” The ensuing laughter may have brought the old, rickety House of Pain down!

Chess is a war-like game. Chess is a battle, sometimes to the death. One does not have to be big to play Chess, but one must be strong. I don’t know about you but to me pink does not set the tone for a battle to the death.

The article by the pretty young thing I think of as “Lulu” begins with the sentence, “A board theme says a lot about a person… like, it says which color board you like.” I like, like that. It continues, “But more than that, it gives important insight into your personality and play style.” I like think that should be “playing” style, but Chess.com is not known for proof reading. The paragraph culminates with, “We looked at some of the most popular and some of the most divisive board themes on Chess.com. Prepare to feel seen.” This is followed by “Jump to:

Green, Brown, Dark Wood / Walnut, Icy Sea, Tournament
Blue, Bubblegum, Marble, Glass, Lolz, 3D”

I liked the “Tournament Blue.” After clicking onto it I wondered what was the difference between “Blue” and “Tournament Blue”? Why is there no “Tournament Bubblegum,” I wondered…

“Green”

“You totally knew you could change your board color (yup, you can, right here) but you kept it to the classic Chess.com green anyway. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” right? I bet you haven’t changed your coffee order, haircut, or favorite pair of shoes for a while either. No. Your green board says you don’t like to rock the boat.”

“Brown”

“Chess.com really said “what if we yassified Walnut or Dark Wood?” when they created the Brown board. Honestly, it’s kind of an offbeat choice; the feeling of playing on a real board, but without the pesky wood grain that reminds you the offline world exists. It’s the neo-classical choice—no really, please tell me about the new line you’re learning in the Grunfeld.”

What Chess.com needs to do is provide the definition of “yassified,” because I checked with three different dictionaries and could not find the word. I paid particular attention to this one because after checking out the myriad colored boards at a website (https://svg_experimenten.deds.nl/diagrammakermenu/diagram_maker_menu.html) for the blog I decided on a brown board. Does that make me “yassified”? Oh well, I’ve been called worse…much worse. I did, though, like the part about it being a “kind of an offbeat choice.” Regular readers know how much the AW likes the “offbeat.”

“Dark Wood or Walnut”

“As a true admirer of the classics, you probably prefer playing over-the-board chess, but acknowledge that this is as close as it gets. You think it’s impolite to decline a rematch, and you prefer replaying through annotated games books to doing online puzzles. I won’t tell anyone you sleep with Capablanca’s My Chess Career on your bedside table.”

How did she know? The part about Capa’s book, I mean. This would be my choice of board color.

“Icy Sea”

“Icy Sea has all the class of one of those frosted glass chess sets that people display in their homes, but without the constant worry that you’ll drop a rook mid-blitz game and shatter it into a thousand pieces. Yet another case where online is just better… but you use the Icy Sea set, so you’ve known that for a while. Fancying yourself as someone who can play any opening, you’re pretty cold-blooded in blitz, and you’ve banked way too many games of 3+0.”

It may be a “case where online is just better” than what, exactly? How can online Chess possibly be better than OTB Chess? There is absolutely nothing better than watching your opponent squirm after you have placed that Bishop on the ultimate square and given it a twist, just like after inserting the blade and twisting…

“Tournament”

“The dark green of the Tournament board gives the feeling of playing a weekend congress without having to be sat across from someone who kicks you under the table every time you make a good move. This is a nostalgic board theme, not used by anyone who learned to play the game post-Pogchamps. Reminiscent of the plastic roll-up sets at your local chess club, it’s trying to be a serious board, just like you’re trying to be a serious player.”

I was only kicked underneath the table once. It was at the US Open and I said nothing. My opponent, an Expert, was smaller than am I, and I am considered a small man, so that is saying something. After the second time he kicked me I went to talk with Carol Jarecki and she had a talk with him. After losing the game several other players informed me the man was known for under the table kicking and some of them had been kicked by the dude. We played on a green board.

“Blue”

“Sitting somewhere between Green and Icy Sea, the Blue board is refined but plain. You didn’t want the default, but weren’t ready to stray too far from it. It’s like ordering the same latte as always, but with an extra shot of vanilla. No one’s judging you for it, don’t worry.”

Blue has always been my favorite color, but not as a board for playing Chess.

“Bubblegum”

“Using the Bubblegum chessboard makes you the Elle Woods of your Chess.com league division. You know what they say, underrated board color… underrated player? Yeah, people definitely say that. You show up, blitz out 15 moves of theory (or at least, 15 moves of… something), and win on the board in style. What, like it’s hard?”

I thought “Bubblegum” was music? The color sure looks a lot like pink to this writer. If the board color had been “Bubblegum” I would not be writing the words because I would never have played Chess! I will admit having had to go to DuckDuckGo to search for “Elle Woods.” It’s sad, really…seems like just yesterday I was “hip,” and maybe even a “hipster”. Now I have a bad “hip.”

I could tell Lulu was a Bubblegum kinda girl, but it was real nice of her to prove it…

“Marble”

“You picked one of the most dignified board styles on Chess.com. This design was practically made for longer games of 15+10 in classical mainlines. Every move played on this board theme feels kind of weighty, and even the Botez gambit comes with some heft and grandeur here. You definitely have a full bookcase of chess books at home, and you wouldn’t be caught dead playing 1.b3.”

Marble? I did not know a marble board existed. See what one can learn from reading Chess.com… My grandmother was fond of telling the story of how her young daughter won all the marbles from the boys in the neighborhood, and was forced into returning them…so she could do it again! You go, girl! Especially when the girl is your Mother…

“Glass”

“The Glass board may be niche, but it’s pretty sophisticated. You drink your coffee black and all of your phone apps are on dark mode. You’re a 1.e4 player because you think it’s “best by test,” and I’ll bet 10+0 is your favorite time control.”

Lulu got all that from glass? You go, girl!

“Lolz”

“Players with the Lolz board should truly be feared. Anyone who thrives on this amount of glitter is a force to be reckoned with. Lolz board users have no regard for pawns or material in general, favoring activity and chaos. In this way, they are the opposite of Bubblegum board users. The silver sparkles of the Lolz board serve a Y2K aesthetic that reminds you chess is actually supposed to be fun, with a clear message that “I’d rather play 1.g4 every game than ever face a Berlin.”

Once again the internetofallthings had to be consulted in order for this writer to find understanding:

What Does LOLZ Mean?
LOLZ means “Laugh Out Loud (A Lot).” (https://www.cyberdefinitions.com/definitions/LOLZ.html)
Hold on, that’s not a color! Nevertheless, is this a LOLZ article, or what?!

“3D”

“3D board users grew up playing Battle Chess on CD-Rom, and probably have Arcade Animations enabled for their pieces. The top-down view gives the full board game experience, while the board color is left up to the player (and although I’m personally biased towards Bubblegum, all the best board colors also look great in 3D). Plus, the knight pieces that come with this board style have no eyes, so at the very least they can’t see when you blunder.

While the 3D look may not be the most popular choice, you can finally say you’ve found a way to play bullet chess “over the board” without knocking the pieces off the table.”

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