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

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

1970

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.”

February

February’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 the estate of Jacqueline Piatigorsky, a 2014 inductee to the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

Mother of Pearl and Ivory Chess Set, 20th Century

Mother of Pearl and Ivory Chess Set

20th Century

King size: 2 11⁄16 in.

Mother of pearl and ivory

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of the Jacqueline Piatigorsky Estate

Created from mother of pearl and ivory, this elegant chess set features playful variations of familiar pieces. The set once belonged to Jacqueline and Gregor Piatigorsky, a couple who shared a passion for music, art, and chess. A skilled chess player, Jacqueline earned second place in the 1965 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. However, she earned greatest acclaim for her philanthropic chess activities as well as her sponsorship of the Piatigorsky Cup—one of the strongest tournaments held on American soil before the Sinquefield Cup, which is held annually in Saint Louis. Gregor was one of the most famous cellists of his era, and during his travels, he collected beautiful artistic chess sets that he displayed at the Piatigorskys’ Los Angeles, California, home.

March

March’s Featured Chess Set is from the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. Since its creation in 1986, the World Chess Hall of Fame (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.

Ocean Liner Chess Set

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines

Ocean Liner Chess Set

Date unknown

King size: 1 1⁄2 in.

Board: 5⁄16 x 11 13⁄16 x 11 13⁄16 in.

Die cast metal pieces and wood board

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Sleek silver ships sail atop stands that resemble waves in this promotional chess set from the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is a Japanese transportation company. The company was formed through the merger of OSK Lines and Mitsui Steamship Co. in 1964. The pieces resemble their different types of cargo liners and each have a small representation of their piece on their base to aid players in differentiating the pieces.

March

April’s Featured Chess Set is from the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. Since its creation in 1986, the World Chess Hall of Fame (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.

Congo Basin Chess Set, 2012

Terra Toys

Congo Basin Chess

2012

King size: 1 1⁄2 in.

Board: 15 x 15 in.

Wood and cardboard

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Photos of lions, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, elephants, and chimpanzees appear on the pieces for this set, which features a unique folding game board that is also a box. The set is named for the Congo Basin, an ecologically diverse region of Africa that includes portions of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. A portion of sales from this set benefited the World Wildlife Fund. Established in 1961, the fund has the mission “to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.”

Check back next month for another featured chess set!