Featured Chess Sets 2019

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 the institution’s collection as well as chess sets owned by Saint Louis metropolitan area friends and chess lovers who have special stories to accompany their sets.

Do you live in the Saint Louis metropolitan area and have a chess set with a great story? Submit it for inclusion in our Featured Chess Set project! This program highlights chess sets with interesting backgrounds borrowed from chess lovers and fans of the Hall of Fame. Featured chess sets are displayed for a period of one month at the World Chess Hall of Fame.

If you would like to participate in the program, send a photo and the story of the set to Emily Allred, Assistant Curator, at emily.allred@worldchesshof.org.


January's Featured Chess Set is on loan from Kyle Weber, a scholastic coordinator at the Saint Louis Chess Club. Weber, who has nearly a decade of experience in public education, public policy, curriculum, and instruction, has worked with the organization since September 2016. While he was teaching at University Academy in Kansas City, chess became a regular part of the school day both inside the mathematics classroom and as part of a robust 80 student after school chess program. Chess facilitated a need to connect with students on a personal level and address the holistic needs of their development. Weber is a father, husband, and educator.

Smess: The Ninny's Chess Set, 1970

Parker Brothers

Smess: The Ninny's Chess


King size: 2 1⁄8 in.

Board: 17 3⁄4 x 17 3⁄4 in.

Plastic and cardboard

Collection of Kyle Weber

Players must protect their brains from ninnys and numskulls in Smess, a humorous variant on the game of chess. Perry Grant, a sitcom writer and producer who created scripts for over 35 shows including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times, I Dream of Jeannie, The Odd Couple, and Happy Days, created the game. Smess replaces the familiar chess pieces with four numskulls, which can move any number of squares; seven ninnys, which may only move one square at a time; and one brain, which can move one square at a time. The objective of Smess is to capture your opponent’s brain. Pieces move around the colorful board according to the directions of the arrows on their starting spaces and may capture other pieces by landing on their squares. According to the box, which touts SMESS as a simpler alternative to chess, “the game can be played with skill—but it’s the NINNYs or the NUMSKULLS that capture the BRAIN.”

Check back next month for another featured chess set!