Chess Camera

Chess Camera was located in the Coffee Room of our department in 2004 both for recreational purpose and for stimulating people to think about the research problems involved. Team Chess was played so that anybody could freely join in either of two the teams (white or black) and make the move for the team when desired. There were no rules who could make the move. Typically people focused the game while drinking coffee but because of being able to see the board via internet (or intranet), one could check the progress of the game, and if a move (more coffee) was needed. This was fun and enhanced discussions between people across the typical group and social boundaries.

Two variants were played: (1) team playing with normal rules, (2) team playing wo/ turns allowing each team to make two moves anytime; once before the noon, and another move afternoon before midnight. If the team failed to make the move in time, the opposite team could exploit it by winning tempo, or even material.

Coffee room

Besides increasing social interactions between people, the chess camera also inspired people to think about the related research problems in machine vision and artificial intelligence within concrete and entertaining within web-supported game playing.

The ultimate goal was to build an intelligent system being able to recognize the board from the image (3-d image registration), recognice the pieces (3-d object matching), record the chess position at the moment, recognize when a move was made, detect the move, and keep tracking of the game going on. Additional features would be to analyse the position on board, analyse the quality of the moves using chess-playing engine. The analysis and suggestions by computer could be showed after the move made on the web-page. Someone even proposed to involve hand-recognition to identify the people who made the move based on the image, since biometric person authentication is one of the research problems studied in our department.

All of the above are typical computer science problems and would be a good test bench for students studying these topics. At least the people in our department got hooked at this and were interested to develop the ideas further. Unfortunately, the camera is no longer in its original position because of strong objection of one faculty member, who claimed it hurt his privacy (the camera potentially could record people drinking coffee). My opinion is that this was more about malice and pesonal anger than issue of somebody's privcay. A survey to find out whether people really were against the chess camera itself, but despite of the results was completely in favour of having the Chess Camera, department head ordered the camera to be removed in order to please this disagreeing person.

Original location
internet link
intranet link
Coffee room Internet variant Intranet variant

No serious research was managed to completed before this, but couple of student projects were made before the un-installation of the system. Now there are hardly any chess playing going on in the coffee room, nor similar inspiring things on-going, but if your work environment is more tolerant, I suggest you to try it out since the idea is good. We are now focusing on more boring and less innovative research problems instead, and having the fun stuff and similar innovative activities outside from the coffee room. Here is a link for those interested another chess variant called football chess.

Oh yes, the idea for installing the Chess Camera is not mine so the credits are due to someone else - Thanks to this person and all others who participated this experimental system! (no names mentioned here in order to prevent any bad feelings to be targetted to anybody else besides me)