Computer science, programming, and whatnot.

A Checkmate Poster

September 20, 2020 back to posts

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Some weeks ago I saw on HN(?). The concept is very simple: you generate a poster showing chess positions thoughout a game of your choosing. Colors are also, to some degree, customizable. After considering getting one for a friends birthday, I rather got one for myself, both since their birthday was a little further in the future, I wasn't sure they'd like it, and hey, what if the poster is not any good?

And besides, I wasn't sure which game to get.

At the same time I read Brian Kernighan's "Unix: A History and a Memoir", in which he mentions a chess game in between the programs Blitz 6.5 and Belle, Belle which was co-authored by Ken Thompson. In the book the game was only covered in annotated FEN, so I had to play it out on a board to see how it looks (my mental FEN skills are obviously not up to par).

Some days ago it arrived and I figured I'd post some pictures of it since (a) it's a pretty new service so new potential customers will have a hard time evaluating the product they're buying, and (b) I was very happy with the result, and don't mind posting about services that I enjoy.

The Shipping

I ordered the poster the 3rd of September, and it arrived here the 15th. I got three emails in between: one order confirmation which contained the shipping information (i.e. my address) and a low-res thumbnail of the poster; one update email from Avery on the 8th, saying they'll forward the tracking information as soon as they get it; one containing the link to the tracking info.

I think it's unfortunate that I only got a low-res picture of the poster in the confirmation, since I couldn't send pictures to friends saying "look what I just ordered". Furthermore, it would also have been nice if the colors (and FEN even) was included in the mail, since I now have no way of knowing exactly which colors I chose. This isn't a problem for me right now, but you could imaginge wanting to order either a copy or a new game in the same style as before. Unless you chose either of the presets it seems that you don't really have a way of buying the same again.

Here's the box I got:

The box

Inside the box the poster was wrapped in soft-ish wrapping paper:

Poster wrapped in wrapping paper

The Poster

Here's the poster itself, with a 0.5 liter bottle for scale.

The paper next to a bottle for scale

The paper is semi thick, and feels pretty good. Here's a closeup picture of the poster; it looks a little blurry because (a) my camera isn't great, and (b) it is a little blurry.

A closeup picture of the poster

It's difficult to get an idea of the print quality by looking at a picture of the poster itself, since it's hard to differentiate blur in the print and blur in the photo. I've tried to make this a little easier with a side-by-side comparison with a paper I had at hand.

A paper and the poster for sharpness comparison

Looking at the picture, the difference isn't too big, although I think it's more in real life; I attribute this to the phone camera. Still, this is only really noticable if you are pretty close to the poster. At an arms length away it is not noticably blurry.

Framing The Poster

I wanted to frame the poster to get some constrast between my wall and the poster itself since I chose a white background. The dimensions of the poster is found on the webpage: 18' by 24' 1. Living in a SI country, this is slightly unfortunate since the dimensions aren't as nice in meters.

Furthermore, when framing you will probably end up covering parts of the poster with the mat. Unfortunately, it's not clear exactly how much space you have in between the border of the poster and where the chess boards start. In my case I had pretty little space, and the parts of the poster I didn't want to hide was slightly wider than the mat from the frame I got. I therefore had to cut in it, which is somewhat visible on the pictures.

It would be nice if this was somehow taken into account when the poster is generated, e.g. that you could get exact dimensions for the different parts of the poster so that you would know beforehand exactly how big the frame and mat would have to be. Still, this was fairly easy to get around.

Here's the poster, framed and standing on a chair:

Framed poster on a chair

You can tell that I didn't want to cut too much into the mat, as the borders of the boards are just slightly within the mat. You can also see my terrible paper cutting skills, especially on the right side of the mat.

Here's the poster, framed up on my wall.

The framed poster hanging on a wall The framed poster seen from further away


In total, I'm very happy with the poster I got, and I think the minor hiccups I had (or thought of) are easily fixable if needed, and not really a dealbreaker if left as is.

I hope this either inspired you into getting some new wall decoration, or helped you in deciding whether to buy a poster or not.

Thanks for reading.


  1. well, the website says 18' x 24', which as far as I can tell, not being american, would mean 28 by 24 feet, and not inches. I don't think it's really possible to misunderstand this though, considering there's a big picture of the poster right on the front page, as well as the fact that 24 feet is a lot.

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