Review of Thinkfun’s “Solitaire Chess”

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Thinkfun’s “Solitaire Chess” has its good points.  It’s a nice little squat plastic box with squat pieces who’s bases rest neatly in slight circular depressions on the playing board.  The pieces feel good and have an original style. The pawns and knights are especially pleasurable to hold and look at.  The pieces all fit nicely into the base – which slides open like a drawer – and has some sturdy rubber feet so it won’t slip on your table.  Overall, I’m impressed with the physical quality and craftsmanship of the unit.

Where the game falls short is in execution; I am hardly an experienced chess player and I didn’t even BEGING to feel challenged until puzzle #47 (of 60!).  The first 20 or so can mostly be done in your head if you have ANY capacity for visualization whatsoever.  That said, when a puzzle does stump you, it sure is satisfying to figure it out. Basically, your goal is to move pieces (starting with any piece) until all pieces except one are cleared from the board.  There’s only 16 squares (4×4) so you won’t be struggling too hard to figure out the solution to each puzzle.

I’m enjoying my time with the game, but it’s nowhere near a good puzzle game for an experienced chess player.  It is nice to have a chess puzzle with actual physical pieces though; this is something no chess puzzle book can simulate.

I paid $19.99 plus tax for my game, and while I can’t recommend it to the chess community at large, it’s definitely a fun little toy – probably more appropriate for younger kids and those who don’t know enough about chess to feel cramped and limited by the 1/4 of the chessboard used (plus it only comes with 10 pieces).  But personally, I wouldn’t pay $20 again for (effectively) 15 puzzles. I’m most likely going to donate it to the waiting room in the hospital I work at, as this would be the perfect type of thing that could keep you busy for a short time and would help take your mind off the up-coming procedure you’re about to have.

Should you buy Thinkfun’s “Solitaire Chess?” Perhaps, but don’t expect to be blown away or engaged for a long time.  Of course, by today’s standards, it’s definitely $20 worth of entertainment  – compared to something like seeing a movie or going out to eat.  But that’s just my opinion.

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