The Versatile Chess Board

The Versatile Chess Board.
For future updates on the Versatile Grid Boards head over to 
Given the amazing (and surprising) response to many of my game design projects I decided to house them on their own website. I'll still be posting design notes and ideas here, but check out for the latest in my analog game designs.


I'm a big fan of abstract strategy games (think chess, go, or some of my favorites like arimaa and the gipf series). As part of my minimalist board game collection I decided to design two grid- based boards that can play many of my favorite abstract games. One of the boards has an even 8 by 8 grid (like a standard chess board), and the other is an odd 9 by 9 grid. Both boards have markings for smaller board sizes within the lager one.

You can get a bandana or playmat print of the boards from me at Printer Studio:
This gives me a few bucks and I have tested the quality of the print and material. The boards are each 18 by 18 inches. The 8 by 8 grid has 1.75 inch squares and the 9 by 9 grid has 1.5 inch squares. The cloth print is on a polyester that is really soft, sturdy, and doesn't wrinkle. It's not the thickest material though so you'll probably want to play on a flat surface. Although, when confronted with an uneven surface I just layer it with some of the other cloth boards I have and that seems to do the trick

You can also download the boards for personal use below. I ask that you don't post the original images elsewhere and instead post a link directing people back to my site.

 To download, and get the latest updates on the Versatile Grid Boards head over to


Design Notes and Games:
My goal was to design the boards to be as versatile as possible.
For the 8 by 8 grid one of the trickiest parts was figuring out how big to make the squares. I wanted it to be compatible with an arimaa set I'm designing (image below, more on this is another post), the duke, an "executive" sized chess set, and the plethora of Looney pyramid games. This meant that I needed to make the squares 1.75 inches to accommodate the duke pieces at 1.5" and a looney pyramid on its side at ~ 1.75".
I also wanted the board size markers to be as unobtrusive as possible while still being obvious within the context of a specific game. For example, I don't want someone playing the duke on the 6 by 6 grid to mistakenly think they have a move that is really outside the play area. On the other hand, I didn't want the markings for the 6 by 6 grid to distract from a game played on the larger board. This lead to some of the more obvious aspects of the design, such as making the colored squares continuous throughout the grid, however the outer set of squares lack a complete outline. The 6 by 6 grid also has a thicker outline around it. A subtler hint of the different grid sizes is that the grid lines taper off till the edge of the 6 by 6 grid (and the 5 by 5 grid on the odd grid board). There are also lines indicating the half way split points on the board to aid in playing games like martian chess. I think that by providing enough small clues, the board shape should hopefully be obvious when playing each specific game as the player would be primed to notice the marks specific to the game at play. I think I managed to pull a lot of that off. Even still, my plan is to make edits to the boards based on peoples feedback and interest.

Even Grid Board:

Custom Arimaa Set:

The Duke:

Other Games Playable on the even grid board:
Martian Chess, Rambots

Matthew Ross - April 16th 2018

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