What should I get someone who likes chess?
July 8, 2014 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get a thank-you gift for someone who likes chess (probably a book but I'd be open to other suggestions). I don't know anything about chess; what should I get him?

I've been taking some classes and one of my classmates has been really helpful, serving basically as a mentor to me. I'd like to get him a thank-you gift of some sort; I know he really likes chess so I thought I'd get something on that theme, although he's also a programmer/data analyst so things in that oeuvre would also be okay. Thanks for your suggestions!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Chess clock if he does not have one.
posted by H. Roark at 10:01 AM on July 8, 2014

Best answer: Books:
The Chess Artist
Endgame (bio of Bobby Fischer)
Mortal Games: The Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov

Read them all in the midst of my chess fever, they are all great.

Non-book stuff:
Chess clock
Portable roll-up board with cheap pieces---I was always losing them and leaving them places, so it's always good to have an extra one

Anything from this Paul Morphy Amazon search. He is not, these days, terribly well known, but Paul Morphy was an American chess player who was more or less the first world chess champion. He played a different kind of game than chess champions do these days, one where bold strokes and beauty were as important as crushing strategy and winning at all costs. His games are delightful to go through, and he went a little mad at the end of his life so the biography is probably entertaining, though I haven't read it.

If he hasn't heard of Morphy (which is also my cat's name) he'll be fascinated to learn about him, and if he has heard of Morphy he'll be impressed and glad to get something new about him.
posted by TheRedArmy at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2014

The 3D printed reproduction of Marcel Duchamp's chess set linked on Kottke yesterday would make an awesome gift. I've been toying with making a set myself...but haven't priced it out yet.
posted by jeffch at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does he play in tournaments? Or mostly online?
posted by thelonius at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2014

Response by poster: At this point he mostly does chess puzzles and reads chess news although I know he has played in tournaments in the past.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:21 AM on July 8, 2014

Make him cupcakes with chess toppers? Make cookies?
posted by DarlingBri at 10:28 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

A subscription to Chess Mentor.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:39 AM on July 8, 2014

I'd like to dissent a little here. As someone who is deeply into his hobbies, people are constantly trying to give me gifts related to my hobbies. The problem is, their knowledge of the hobby is shallow and mine is deep - the chance of them actually getting something appropriate is low.

Instead, think about the things that you are passionate and knowledgeable about, and see if there's something among those that you can share with your friend. He gave you the gift of his expertise, give him the gift of yours.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:56 AM on July 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

A retro gift might be one of the old Radio Shack electronic pocket chess games. It can be set for three levels of play and it would be a novelty.
posted by CollectiveMind at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2014

I like these books:

Accelerated Dragons
Hypermodern Openings for White
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2014

Mortal Games is a terrific book that should appeal to any level of player.

It sounds like he may be either unrated or low rated as a player, in which case he might enjoy the Tactics Time books by Tim Brennan, chess puzzles taken from amateur tournament games.

If he plays much above that level, he's way over my head and I'm in no position to recommend anything—except that chess players sometimes gravitate to other games like Backgammon or Go as well.
posted by Flexagon at 12:15 PM on July 8, 2014

For something really unusual but chess-related, I'd recommend Decomposition I - Ivan Navarro, a vinyl record by an experimental artist who put chess pieces through a meat grinder.
posted by mark7570 at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! From what I know about his taste in books The Chess Artist looks perfect. I really appreciate all the suggestions!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:34 AM on July 9, 2014

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