Friday, March 7, 2008

Help Finding Pocket Set Replacement

I bought this pocket set off of the USCF web site sometime around 1995:

I still have all the pieces, which for me is some sort of miracle. However the plastic case is cracking and I'm not sure how much longer it will last.

I'm calling out to the community for help in either identifying a supplier for this pocket set, or the nearest equivalent. Here is what I find special about this set:

  • The board is metal, not vinyl.
  • The board does not fold.
  • The board can be held comfortably in one hand.
  • The magnets are very strong. There's no chance at all of the position being lost in transit.
  • A plastic lid snaps on with magnets, protecting the pieces in transit.
  • The set is thin... roughly 5 mm. Almost thin enough to act as a bookmark:

The only negative thing I can think of is that there is limited room to place pieces not in play. If I'm in the middle of a game and want to save it, I have to creatively place the pieces so that they avoid the spots where the lid's magnets touch the board.

My backup set is a metal case set I grabbed at Starbucks. However, the board is hinged, so there's a barrier wall that runs between the 4th and 5th ranks. The files also don't quite match up where the hinge is, and I find the slight offset a bit distracting. Finally, the magnets aren't as strong as I'd like.

This is your mission, dear readers. Can anyone tell me who the maker of my set was, and if it can still be found? Or, does anyone know of a pocket set that would be a worthy replacement?

Fly, my monkeys! Fly!


Anonymous said...

Go buy yourself a cheap, used Palm handheld off Ebay, load it with some free software like OpenChess, and you've got a great portable chess board and analysis partner. Never lose the pieces, snap back to the starting position, etc. Trash that old piece of junk, and get into the 21st century.

Howard Goldowsky

Grandpatzer said...

Howard: Actually, I do have a palm, and until recently had Hiarcs on it (the software got corrupted from a crash, and I haven't figured out how to revalidate it yet). However, the battery life on my Tungsten isn't what I would like it to be, so I want to have an old-school board at my disposal.

Brendan said...

Funny, until I finished your post I was going to recommend that starbucks set, although my set lines up fine along the files(the divider in the middle is a bit annoying sometimes) and the magnets are strong enough that I can shake it vigorously without displacing the position. The only way I could get them to move was to hold it by the end and swing it.

Grandpatzer said...

Brendan: The magnets on the Starbucks are decent...I'd have to go jogging for a bit to mess the position up enough. The main strikes against it are the divider, the ca. 2mm lateral displacement of the files at the hinge, the thickness (after folding, double that of my old set) and the contrast. Maybe I just need to get used to it, but the black ink on copper background of what I consider the White pieces, plus the relatively small size of the pieces compared to the squares, is distracting.

If I never had my old set, I'd probably think the Starbucks set was pretty nifty.

Picky, picky, picky, I know.

Grandpatzer said...

I was just fiddling with my Starbucks set, and another problem with it is apparent: in my darkish room with a bright lamp in the corner, the glare off the metallic pieces (copper and bronze) makes it hard to determine the color of the pieces. Very eyestrain-inducing.

Anonymous said...

Starbucks sell chess sets ?!! Stunned amazement ( mind you they only arrived here last year :)
I would try ebay. What about this ..

Grandpatzer said...

Anon: looks similar to the starbucks set, but with better contrast. Still has the annoying hinge barrier. Thanks for the link though!

Webcam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Perhaps this...

Grandpatzer said...

I saw that passport chess set, which has a certain old-school appeal ("Young kids these days, with their magnets and goings-on. When I was their age, we didn't have magnets, just tabs and slots. And we liked it that way!". I think I'd find the slide-pieces-into-slots aspect annoying (the set is like a miniature demonstration board). I can also imagine having the pieces fall out if I put it in my pocket upside-down, even if it does say "holds pieces firmly in place".

Anonymous said...

I came across a recommendation for this set in a blog post somewhere:

-- Hank

Grandpatzer said...

Hank: the dimensions I found for the Drueke set are 8" square and 1" thick, so that's beyond a "slide it in your jacket pocket or use it as a bookmark" size that I'm after.

Thanks for the response, though! I appreciate everyone's suggestions. It seems that others have been linking to this post, so even if your suggestions don't meet my ideal, they may help others.

Keep 'em coming!

glamaFez said...

I've got a really tiny magnetic chess set that's really handy. See it here.

It's made by Van Keuren.

I can't find these anywhere nowadays. Fortunately I've still got all the pieces.

Grandpatzer said...

Glamafez: That looks very similar to my favorite! Mine has a thin lid to fit over the board; when in use the lid can just be snapped onto the bottom of the board instead of the top. That way, I don't need to carry it in a ziploc bag like yours.

The similarity suggests that the same manufacturer may be involved. I'll have to dig around and see what I can find. Thanks!

Anonymous said...