Data Art – Chess Data

I first went straight to google and facebook to check out the data there. I noticed a lot of interesting data points there, but wanted to keep looking for a while. I looked at my phone, and realized there’s bound to be some app in there that collects some data that I might find interesting. I then saw that my chess app from was still on it. I stopped playing about a month ago, but when I logged into my account, I saw that all game data was available.

I was interesting in building something physical, so I limited my download to my last fifty games.


This is what the data looked like (showing data for a single game here).

[Event "Live Chess"]
 [Site ""]
 [Date "2017.08.07"]
 [Round "-"]
 [White "mithru27"]
 [Black "locoguitar"]
 [Result "1-0"]
 [WhiteElo "847"]
 [BlackElo "877"]
 [TimeControl "600"]
 [EndTime "16:18:53 PDT"]
 [Termination "mithru27 won by resignation"]

1. e4 {[%clk 0:10:00]} 1... e5 {[%clk 0:10:00]} 2. Nf3 {[%clk 0:09:58]} 2... Nf6
 {[%clk 0:09:59]} 3. Nxe5 {[%clk 0:09:55]} 3... Nxe4 {[%clk 0:09:58]} 4. f3
 {[%clk 0:09:53]} 4... Nf2 {[%clk 0:09:57]} 5. Kxf2 {[%clk 0:09:51]} 5... Bc5+
 {[%clk 0:09:55]} 6. Ke1 {[%clk 0:09:46]} 6... Qf6 {[%clk 0:09:53]} 7. Ng4 {[%clk
 0:09:38]} 7... Qd4 {[%clk 0:09:38]} 8. c3 {[%clk 0:09:29]} 8... Qf2+ {[%clk
 0:09:36]} 9. Nxf2 {[%clk 0:09:28]} 9... Bxf2+ {[%clk 0:09:35]} 10. Kxf2 {[%clk
 0:09:26]} 1-0

I wrote a processing sketch to isolate and clean up the data.

I then started thinking about how I would visualize it. I wanted to visualize my wins and losses playing as both black and white. I knew I had a problem with playing black early on, and I wanted to see how I rectified that. So I decided to make chess pieces and use them to visualize my data. Despite it being a small sample, I wrote another processing sketch that gave me the data how I wanted it. This would allow me to scale the data and still be able to process it.

At the end, I learned that in the last 50 games, I won 26 and lost 24. When I played white, I won 15 times and lost 10. As black, I won 11 times and lost 14.

I wanted to make my medium modular and quickly modifiable, so I made 4×4 checker boards with slots, and chess pieces that would fit into those slots. The pieces would either stand straight or be flat down signifying that I lost.


Here are images of a few tests:


I have made an active choice to use recycled materials as much as possible. I found some fedex boxes and decided to use them as my black and white pieces. I found other normal corrugated cardboard for the base.

IMG_20170923_235621 IMG_20170923_235629

IMG_20170923_235808 IMG_20170923_235838

I initially wanted to try an make a literal self-portrait with my black and white pieces on a checkerboard.

I got an old photo and minimized it to a 16×16 grid.


I was hoping this resolution could be replicated, but it did not turn out too well.

Images of process:

IMG_20170924_002226 IMG_20170924_001405



So I went on to try other ways of visualizing the data.

I first tried making a bar chart with the pieces on the checkerboard.




I also tried arranging the pieces linearly according to my own game history.


IMG_20170924_235732 IMG_20170924_235520 IMG_20170924_235525 IMG_20170924_235655 IMG_20170924_235710 IMG_20170924_235519




Share on Google+Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Facebook



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *