Craft a Steampunk chess set
Steampunk can be traced back to the mid-80s cyberpunk movement out of Silicone Valley. Steampunk enthusiasts make all sorts cool stuff from computer keyboards that look like typewriters to whole house shining with Victorian brass influences.
This particular Steampunk project is just our style. It's made from nuts and bolts, literally. The whole thing should cost you almost nothing and start-to-finish take you about a half hour. Very cool if you're looking for a last minute gift for a nerdy or arty friend.
Once you get the set built, it's on to the game. Brush up here with some good chessmasters' guides. The tables turned in 1997 when Deep Blue became the first computer to beat the reigning World Champion in a match when it defeated Garry Kasparov. Ever since, instead of teaching the computers to play chess, we're taking lessons from them.
Thanks to Instructables for the inspiration!