Saturday, December 04, 2021 15:55

Tools of the Trade, Interlude 1 (Why not a kit?)

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.

We’ve completed what I would consider “absolute essentials” of the tournament/scholastic/club player. There will be more posts about things a player ‘should’ have. But for this post, I wanted to talk a little about “kits.”

They are available out there. The USCF has a selection of several, including a “design-your-own-kit.” In fact, they have one kit at $44.95 that I would probably have purchased back in the day I was doing my initial shopping.

So, why not a kit, then?

I can think of two reasons. Kits almost always involve compromises of one sort or another. Even in the kit above that I said I’d purchase – I’ve used the Saitek clock that kit has. I like it well enough (and recommended it as a good candidate in the Clocks post.) But I like my Chronos better. It is better *for me*. At least in this day and age buying a kit doesn’t mean having to accept cheap quality.

The other reason is more subjective. I’ve spent about twelve years putting together the kit I currently use. Upgrading, changing, repairing, and personalizing has been a part of my way of life. There is satisfaction in finding the elements that enables me to get the most enjoyment out of my chess.

My first “kit” (beyond an el-cheapo set) was a set of very non-standard ceramic pieces that I personally stained, glazed, and had fired. My parents helped me cut 64 ceramic tiles and mount them to a *thick* sheet of plywood and cover the bottom and borders with felt. (The pieces eventually broke – I still have the Kings – and I had to dispose of the board when I improperly stored it and mice got at it.)

Anyway, enough of, “amnesia lane.” All I can say is – when you put together your own chess kit, you might experience a greater sense of accomplishment than just buying what someone else (including me) has suggested.

Enjoy your chess!

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