Learn Chess with a Smart Connected Board – ChessUp Review

When I go to CES, one of my favorite things to do is to browse through “Eureka Park”. It’s a small section of CES where the booths are just one teeny tiny table one after the other. I mean, there are office cubicles that are bigger than these booths. However, it’s where I usually find the most innovative products!

2 years ago I came across a company called ChessUp. When they displayed what their board could do, I was literally blown away. OK, maybe not LITERALLY, but you get the idea.

When the ChessUp board arrived, my teenage son, AND his two friends, completely abandoned the video games they were playing and huddled around the kitchen table to play a game of chess. That is how powerful this board is!

As you touch each chess piece the board will light up with potential moves. If you have some of the assistance features turned on, it will light up red if the move is not a good idea, and green if it is a good move. You can turn these assistance features off, and it will simply light up the potential moves in a blue color.

If you place a piece in an incorrect place, of if the piece should have been removed from the board, it will glow purple under that piece. You can check the app at that point to see where that piece should be.

When you are in check the space under your King will light up and blink red. A move that puts you in check mate will light up the whole board and end the game.

The ChessUp App

In order to play a game with these features, you need to connect the board to the ChessUp app. This is a Bluetooth connection, so your Bluetooth will have to be enabled on your phone.

The dashboard will show you past games, and any games you haven’t finished yet. If you tap into the game it will ask if you want to sync the board to the game so you can continue it. It will make sure all the pieces are in the right spots and allow you to go from there.

In iOS there is a “learn” section that will have various tutorials on pieces and types of moves. This feature is coming soon to Android as well. I love that you can go through these lessons and learn more about how the chess pieces move, and different rules that every day players may not be aware of. The section is fairly limited at the moment, but there are sections for Intermediate and Expert players that I’m sure will get more content in the near future.

When you tap to start a new game you can choose the level of assistance you would like for your pieces (will it glow green/red or just blue for various moves like a mistake or an excellent move). You can even give yourself a hint limit so you don’t play like my son plays and just taps every piece looking for a green one. You can actually plan your move and then tap to confirm if it’s a good move or not.

You can adjust this level on the fly just by tapping on the settings icon on your side of the board. You can also use this to change the player to an AI player if your friend has to go home.

Next, you would choose your opponent. Whether you play against the board’s AI, a live person, or choose an online match through lichess.org (chess.com is coming soon!). If you choose to play against the AI you can choose the difficulty level of that player as well. As you get better, you can keep increasing the difficulty level of your AI opponent.

Once you have chosen all of the settings for the game, tap on “start game” and it will have you place the pieces on the board. If you place a piece incorrectly the light below it will not turn off. This ensures that all of your pieces are correctly placed before the game starts.

One thing I learned during the setup of the board, is that the Queen is always placed on her own color! I had NO idea (obviously, I’m not that good at Chess…. YET).


There is a great carrying case you can purchase to tote the board and pieces around, and the set comes with an additional Queen (to help with pawn upgrades). You can also purchase a checkers set that can be used with the board too.

Additional pieces can also be purchased if you lose any. Since there is so much technology in each piece, it would get a bit expensive, so definitely guard those pieces with your life.

If you want to turn off all of the technology and just play a game of chess, you can absolutely do that as well. Without power, it’s just a standard Chess board.

All in all, this chess board is so much fun to play, and now my son is determined to become a Chess champion. I think with ChessUp’s help, he is sure to get there.