Saturday, December 04, 2021 16:00

Tools of the Trade, Part 3 (Bags)

These series of posts are geared at providing players (or parents) new to the game with some of the things a new player should consider having.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series we discussed chess sets and boards. Once you have both of them, if you intend to take them with you, you need something to carry them around in. (Unless you intend to never take your set and board anywhere…)

Your final answer will, of course, depend on what you have selected for your equipment. I’ll begin by assuming you bought a regulation-size set and vinyl board. (If you have a wood board, the USCF ‘bags’ link below does have padded board carry cases, also.)

There are a couple of very good commercial solutions. The “Deluxe Chess Bag” and “Ultimate Chess Bag” from USCF fill these needs quite adequately. They are available by clicking on their names. There are also other fine – and more deluxe – choices available at the USCF’s Tournament Bags page.

Ideal choices will provide for the following items: Piece set, board, scorsheet, clock, and pens/pencils. Additional storage may be desirable, for books and magazines, cell phones (turn them off in the playing room!), drink bottle, MP3 player and phones, etc.

Back when I was setting out my initial set, I decided to go, “old school.” My ‘bag’ is actually a case:

My Chess "Bag"

It’s fun, because I have been asked by many scholastic players what “instrument” I’m carrying in the case. :) It’s had it’s share of problems (witness the electrical tape on the inside case lid – patching up a fracture in the case lid. Gorilla Glue is wonderful stuff, though. And it is ‘stuffed’ when I try to fit my scorepad inside it.) But it’s worth it. There have been many chess cases made over the years like this one… but this one is mine! ;)

Sadly, I can’t seem to find it available anywhere online. Which means I have to take *good* care of it, now.

There’s one other avenue a new player can explore in bags… You may have noticed in the picture above my “pencil case.”
My "pencil case"  :)
Yes, it is two prescription bottles “welded together” with Gorilla Glue. It actually does work very well, and better than any other ‘inexpensive’ pencil case I’ve ever seen – and fits very nicely into my equipment case. Anyway, I do believe in “homebrewing” gear and making one’s own solutions. Plus, there are still a couple of ‘essentials’ left to purchase – a clock and scorepad, at minimum.

If you’re on a *really* tight budget, consider that one can store a vinyl board in a lightweight ‘shipping tube,’ you can get a bag for your pieces for only $5.95 at USCF Sales (or make your own!). Some clocks come with their own storage bags (my Chronos did when I bought it,) or again you can find one cheaply. Add a pencil box and a cloth “shopping bag,” and you’re ready to go! It may not be very ‘stylish’ at all, but are you trying to impress with your equipment bag or just carry your equipment?

If it were a choice between purchasing a bag for what you already have, or purchasing a clock and ‘homebrewing’ a bag, I’d go with the latter, personally. That said, the ‘deluxe tournament bag’ at $14.95 is pretty hard to beat in terms of price to value.

But if you can find the bag that works for you, fits your style, and one you can proudly say, “This one is mine!” then you’ve done well.

Enjoy your chess!

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