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Playing on the Scout invented Chess2Go set - GM Hikaru Nakamura (US chess champ), Magnus Carlsen (world chess champ) GM Fabiano Caruana, Garry Kasparov (former world champ). Also pictured is Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield.

In 2012 three scouters were sitting at a table at Camp Sinquefield, on the last night of Troop 400’s summer camp in Missouri. It was night and over 90 degrees. We were thinking about playing chess, but we only had one chess set, and a lot of scouts. (The three scouters are Jeanne Sinquefield who had been involved in the launch of the Boy Scouts of America Chess Merit Badge in St. Louis in 2011, and was chairman of Troop 400 before retiring, and Scoutmaster and Inventor Steve Goldstein and Life Scout Sam Goldstein of Troop 400 Pacific Palisades, California).

We stated talking about how we hated the portable chess sets. They were too small to see at night in a tent, the tiny pieces always got lost, and the rectangular shape tended to drop in our back packs to always jab us in the back. So the discussion was how we could make a better one. The first idea was to print the board on a neckerchief, and make flat pieces which could be put on a stick. We agreed to keep talking after the Troop went home to California.

The first prototype is pictured below. Jeanne made the chess board neckerchief, Sam designed the pieces on a laser printer, and Steve had the idea for the stick and the bag. (link) Several prototypes later, with changes to design and color of the board (no longer a neckerchief), multiple versions of the shapes and colors of pieces, design of the logo –Chess2Go, building a website, we came up a version for the 2103 BSA Jamboree..

But making a prototype with a 100 sets made on a laser is different from mass production. So we had to find a manufacturer for the mold for making pieces, decide how to print the vinyl boards, arrange for bulk purchase of stick and bag, make the product cost effective, arranging for drop shipping, design the web site (link), and start a marketing and sales plan. Starting out we sold customs sets to chess clubs and tournaments, a boy scout camp, on line through our web site and another online chess site. Today we are starting to sell in stores. Chess2Go chess sets have been played on in the wilderness backpacking at Philmont, at football games with kids, on the ground at a Maker Faire, and at a fancy restaurant by world champion Magnus Carlsen, two former world champions Topolov and Gary Kasperov, and US Champion Hikaru Nakamura. Our paper, low cost version has been provided to several hundred schools.

While a lot of work, our invention has been a lot of fun. But it couldn’t have been done by one person. There were so many things that had to be done- design the prototype (our invention), manufacture it, design websites, arrange for shipping, and market and sell it. And this is a simple product. We realized that we were lucky. We had access to equipment, backgrounds in manufacturing and business, technical expertise in website design, etc. But nothing we did was extraordinary. We kept talking about what was needed to help other scouters become successful inventors. The result is the Sinquefield Invention Lab and trailer, the start of Invention Scouts in mid Missouri, and development of the Invention Scout website. Our long term goals is to help other councils and scouters across the U.S.start Invention Scouts.

Jeanne, Steve and Sam.