Pixel Chess – Minimal dimensions for a visually recognizable chess set

What is Pixel Chess?

– Pixel Chess is my, and my father Namik Zade’s, simple attempt to see how far down can we scale a chess board digitally in order to keep the size of the board minimal in dimensions, while being able to recognize the different pieces. What we have made, is the minimum dimensions for a chess piece that can be recognized, and not confuse the player. It is 3 pixels wide and 3 pixels high chess pieces, placed in a 5 by 5 pixel square. These dimensions give just enough freedom to create the 6 different chess pieces (Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, Queen, King) in a manner to be able to see the difference between them.
– While the chess board can still be scaled down to 24 by 24 (3×8) pixels in dimensions, I could see that 1 pixel of free space is still needed around a chess piece in order to have a visually pleasant and recognizable chess set, that adds extra 16 pixels in both dimensions to the overall design .


As you can see, it’s not that hard to see the difference between the different chess pieces, and while it might be unusual at first, one do learn the different pieces quite fast.



You can download the .PSD file for free – chess shapes and the board are made up with simple shapes, and can be resized to any size needed.

Download Free Marc Dahl Perspective Download for free

Creative Commons License
Pixel Chess by Marc Dahl & Namik Zade is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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  1. Wow, this is exactly what I was looking for! Took me a bit to find it, searching through Google images, but got here! Very good work!

    • Marc Dahl

      Thank you, I’m happy someone found use of it. Just checked your website, will take a look at your games when I get a little more time :)

      • Ah, thanks! Hope you like them!

        The idea of looking for the smallest graphical representation of a chess board was to showcase the complexity of some chess searches (search trees) visually. Similar to the powerful imagery of showing the Earth to Moon distance and sizes in scale, it would not be something that many people have a sense for.

        So… I did an example of this, showing — visually — the first possible positions after depth 1 and depth 2 searches (20 and 400), using your board, and it shows even a pixel art board is not small enough as the numbers are too high!


        Anyways, love your work! I appreciate the design specifically. I can read the board and I cannot see how you could have done it better.

        Your work came up in a thread of ours, developer friends, who were talking about pixel fonts and whatnot in retro games!

        • Marc Dahl

          Ah, I see – sounds really interesting :) Too bad, it’s still too big. Would love to see it in use.

          Thank you for the kind words, really appreciate it. As a chess player, it’s awesome to see there are still so much interest about this amazing game :)

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