March’s Featured Chess Set is part of the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF). Since its creation in 1986, the WCHOF has endeavored to highlight the history and cultural significance of the game of chess. The WCHOF’s collection is diverse and includes sets once owned by legendary players, mass-produced sets with lively pop culture themes, antique ivory sets, travel sets, as well as chess computers. Through these artifacts, the WCHOF illustrates how chess has evolved through its over 1500-year history. This set is part of a generous donation from Gregory Thompson.
In 1849, Nathaniel Cooke created the Staunton chess set, which is today the familiar standard for tournament play. Since the set was created, many designers have imagined alternatives to the set, including the 20th-century artist Man Ray, who created a chess set based upon geometric shapes. Gregory Thompson’s design is a response to both of these famous sets. Called the Zukunft (future) Chess Set, it blends the simplicity of Man Ray’s set with the Staunton set’s interest in historical iconography. The queen and king are geometric shapes which evoke the coronet and cross atop the queen and king in the Staunton style set, while the knight is topped by triangular shapes reminiscent of a horse’s ears. Thompson manufactured the set with a 3D printer at the University City Public Library.