How a kickstarter scam shook up the chess business / DGT about to develop what Regium has announced

The Regium wonderboard will remain a dream. But while the Regium campaign, a scam most likely, is going down the drain, inventors are actually working on a wonderboard elsewhere. DGT wants to develop what Regium has announced. In principle, at least.

The chess business is dominated by quasi-monopolists who are rarely challenged and compelled to develop ideas. That is why we had already noticed in our first Regium report that competition would be fruitful. Now we see that the appearance of a potential competitor alone releases forces, even if the potential competitor does not have a product.

DGT CEO Hans Pees (M.) would love to see a wonderboard as part of his portfolio. When the Regium video went public he urged his developers to make this chess player’s dream come true. Meanwhile Remmelt Otten (l.) and Dirk Jan Te Geuzendam (r.) have accepted a share of the Regium advertising budget without looking at the advertisement too closely (see tweet below). | Photo: Amruta Mokal/ChessBase India

As soon as Regium had shown its wonderboard to the world via video (no one has actually seen it at close range), the DGT developers put their heads together to figure out whether such a thing could actually exist. And whether the Dutch company could develop such a board and sell it at a reasonable price. The initial enthusiasm that Regium sparked was a strong hint that there would be a market for a product like this.


Behind the scenes of DGT development

There were also debates and calculations in various computer chess forums. In our perception, technical experts agree that a chess board like the one advertised by Regium, flat, made of wood and with a wide range of functions, cannot be built. But its main principle isn’t wrong at all: A chess board without mechanics, underlaid with electromagnets, on which the pieces move – that should be feasible.

Screenshot: Regium.

Upon request, DGT partner Benjamin Aldag (Topschach) gave us a look behind the scenes of development. We have seen tests and first designs (unfortunately we are not allowed to show them) and can say with certainty: DGT is working on such a board.

Electromagnets beyond a square of the chessboard would have to look similar to this. They might have to be even higher (and the board with them) in order to be powerful enough to properly push the pieces around. And they would interfere with any electronics around them, a huge problem for developers.

What will become of it and in what time frame, we will see. Even the developers themselves don’t know that. At least they have a clear goal in mind: a board with self-moving pieces that can be used to play rapid, maybe even blitz games online. The mechanical SquareOff board is barely useful for this purpose. It’s too slow.

If there hadn’t been Regium, who knows if someone at DGT would ever have thought of trying to expand the portfolio with such a product.

If there hadn’t been Regium, people wouldn’t have asked for a public Lichess interface and Lichess wouldn’t have provided this quickly. Since today, developers and customers can connect their boards and play rated games on Lichess without being marked as a bot. With SquareOff, for example, this was not possible until this week, now it is. Other inventors will feel called to construct wonderboards themselves and test them with Lichess.

If there hadn’t been Regium, SquareOff would not have suddenly invented an “open box sale”. Until yesterday, SquareOff boards were sold out everywhere. Now you can get them again, at a special price even, slightly used, but with a six months warranty.

The Spanish chess charlatanry

These impulses are not the only positive effects that the Spanish chess charlatanry has triggered. It also led to the funniest chess video in a long time, a parody of the first Regium video. (If you don’t know it, you should have a look at it before clicking on the video linked below.)

The Regium affair has mixed up the chess business and has given observers an insight into it. For example into chess24’s attempt to establish the Banter Blitz Cup as an advertising platform.

Long before Regium appeared it was obvious that the newly formed Chess24 is under pressure to monetize its video channels. That’s why they started to flood youtube with Magnus Carlsen snippets all of a sudden: to increase the number of videos viewed.

Chess24 criticized on its own platform

For the Banter Blitz Cup, potential sponsors don’t seem to stand in line. After one weighty partner was found in Opera, a second one was added that smells like being found through a short communication line rather than being a targeted acquisition: the broker JFD may have come on board via chess24 partner company Tradimo. The third one, Regium, has a similar smell to it.

The world champion playing chess under the Regium logo.

In the computer chess scene it is said that Regium had been looking for an investor during the past year already. They are said to have found someone eventually who also holds shares in chess24. However, this investor pulled out after a while when Regium was unable to present a working prototype.

We failed to verify this narrative (no one denies it, though), but it suggests Regium’s proximity to chess24 that would make it plausible how things continued: chess24 was the first chess business to present the Regium logo (next to Magnus Carlsen even!) and is now the last to reluctantly withdraw from the matter. For this the company experiences heavy criticism on its own platform.

Like chess24, gladly accepted its share of the Regium advertising budget, but made the cut quicker and more transparently when the inconsistencies piled up. And, unlike the competition, has mentioned the research work of Lichess and its users.

The exaggerated commercial-critical attitude of Lichess leader Thibault Duplessis and his followers may be tiring, but in this case it saved people from financial harm. That’s worth mentioning.

Initially a rush for the Regium campaign

There is an overwhelming number of indications that the Regium project was designed to make a killing on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform first of all. This won’t happen given the recent developments, nobody will sink their money in a company that cannot show a prototype in February 2020 and yet promises to deliver a product in November 2020, a product that is too good to be true.

The Regium campaign on Kickstarter was so hot initially, it looked like they would collect a mid-six-figure amount.

The Regium Kickstarter campaign was so hot initially that it looked like Regium would be collecting a mid-six-figure amount within two weeks. This wasn’t stopped neither by nor chess24 communications, but by Lichess users, whose continued warnings in the Kickstarter comments prompted dazzled investors to take a close look at the brand and its campaign before opening their wallets. These warnings led to more and more supporters withdrawing their funds, a process that is still ongoing. Regium will not meet the minimum target of $ 50,000.

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4 Jahre zuvor

I don’t think Lichess opened api for normal users because of regium. The person who requested the feature already had a board to play with. It can also only be used in classical and correspondence.

4 Jahre zuvor

Hi, just mentioning that it seems a sentence is repeated above the final paragraph. Great article!