November 1, 2017

Featured Chess Set: November 2017

November’s Featured Chess Set, which was once owned by 1986 U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductee Isaac Kashdan, is a new donation to the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). The set has been chosen in connection with the November 10 opening of the WCHOF’s newest exhibition Global Moves: Americans in Chess Olympiads. Kashdan was one of the top five chess players in the world during the 1930s. He represented the United States on five Olympiad teams, winning team gold three times and team silver once. He also earned two individual gold, one silver, and two individual bronzes. Kashdan later was the chess columnist for the Los Angeles Times and organized the Lone Pine International chess tournaments.

William T. Pinney, Pinney Club Size Chess Set, c 1930s-1950s

William T. Pinney

Pinney Club Size Chess Set

c 1930s-1950s

King: 4 11/16 in.

Wood and lacquer

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of Richard Kashdan

The unique knights in this American-made playing set are hallmarks of the distinctive chess sets made by Los Angeles-based manufacturer William T. Pinney. Pinney started creating chess sets following the closure of the Charleston Navy Yard, where he worked as a pattern maker. He developed his own machinery to create the sets, and his wife Katherine painted the black pieces with lacquer. Among the first individuals to mass produce chess sets in the United States, he advertised the unique sets in Chess Review. Some aspects of the designs of the pieces hinted at their movement—eight nicks in the knight’s mane indicate it can move to eight squares, eight nicks in the queen’s crown show that she can move in eight directions.