I'm sitting in front of my PC here at Your Move Chess & Games and watching the snow pile up outside our building, dreaming of warm Long Island summer days. It got me thinking about the fun I had over the summer playing what my nephew referred to as "Huge Chess". One of the coolest descriptions I have heard of our Large Outdoor PVC Chess Set.
This is a large set of plastic chess pieces designed to used outdoors, on your deck, patio or lawn with either the snap together plastic chessboard or with 12" square concrete blocks you can set into your patio. The King stands nearly 25" tall. Wow!
This chess set, which is manufactured in Germany, is one of the largest chess sets I have seen, with the exception of the $18,000 Nomi Klein chess sets. One of the features that makes this set one of the more popular outdoor sets is the fact that the set is constructed of poly-vinyl chloride or PVC. This material is extremely durable, and is not prone to degradation due exposure to UV light. It is the same material that is used to construct plastic lawn furniture. PVC is also easy to mould into complex shapes. This allowed the manufacturer of this chess set to design and mould wonderful classic staunton style chessmen. The knight is of the "french" design and well done. It even has teeth! The chess pieces are simple black and white.
Another notable feature is the fact that the bases unscrew allowing the user to "custom weight" the individual chess piece. You can use either sand or lead buckshot for this purpose. You can actually weight the chess pieces in proportion to their size. The king being the heaviest; the pawn the lightest. A very cool feature indeed. I prefer buckshot for this purpose. It is heavier, tends to settle better and doesn't retain water. It also doesn't get into the threads of the bases like sand, which can make the threading difficult to screw. You can usually purchase bags of buckshot from local gun stores. It is not as inexpensive as sand, but it works better, in my opinion.
The sizes of the chess pieces are in good proportions for a staunton pattern set. The bases are all 9.5" at their broadest.
As you can see these are large chess pieces and should be fun for your family and friends in your yard at barbiques during those warmer months.
Now you ask, "What the heck do I use as chess board for this"? Well ... there are several options for this.
First, a snap together PVC chess floor mat is available from the same manufacturer. Each of the squares measures 13.75", and snap together for easy set-up and storage when not in use. These are made from PVC also, but with a much more pliable type. Each square interlocks with the one adjacent to it. Underneath, the board is supported by hundreds of little "legs" that elevate the surface above the ground and are fully capable of supporting the weight of the average adult walking across the board.
It also allows the chess board to stay firmly put on soft surfaces like a lawn. The soft pliable material allows the mat to conform to the shape of the ground, but of course you should choose as flat and as smooth a surface as possible. We set our sample up on our wood deck. The color scheme matches the black and white of the chess pieces exactly. Like the pieces, this chess board is highly resistant to the elements, resistant to mechanical breakage, and very able to repel the onslaught of UV light, which normally turns most plastics to powder over long term exposure. Also, inch-for-inch, it is relatively inexpensive in comparison to chessboards or other options.
Another, more expensive chess board alternative is to place 12" square, black and white, concrete tiles and build a permanent chessboard right into your patio or lawn. This is an option many of our customers have chosen. You can either have a contractor come in and build it for you, or if you are the handy type, do it yourself. Laying down tiles in your yard, patio style is a complicated task, so I don't think the scope of this review can explain how to do it. But you can find many books on how to layout and build a patio.
This chess set gets high ratings from me in all departments, especially in the fun factor! Hey ... after all, they say bigger is better, and, in this case, I agree!