Through the Featured Chess Set project, the World Chess Hall of Fame showcases a variety of chess sets throughout the year. These include highlights from our own collection as well as chess sets owned by friends and chess lovers who have special stories to accompany their sets. For more information about how to participate in the Featured Chess Set project, please inquire at the front desk or email Assistant Curator Emily Allred.
Joe Larson, known online as the “3D Printing Professor,” created May’s Featured Chess Set, which is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. As a child, Larson had a dollar store chess set with plastic injection molded pieces with felt on their bases. When the felt fell off of the bottom of the pawns, he discovered he could fit the tops and bases of the pieces together. The concept of a chess set with interlocking pieces would eventually influence the creation of Larson’s Robo-Action Chessbot Toy Chess Set (Hero vs. Monster).
In 2012, Joe Larson became fascinated with the field of 3D printing. He entered a series of design contests with printers as the award, and finally won one in a contest sponsored by Makerbot and Tinkercad. Larson says, “I made a sketch on the bus of a Voltron-like robot with the pieces of a chess set forming its body. Then I set to work implementing that design in 3D. It took a week, and many design changes, but finally I had a chess set like no other. I won the contest and my first 3D printer.” The set is comprised of interlocking pieces that form battling robots when assembled.