Featured Chess Sets 2021

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.

November

November’s Featured Chess Set is a loan from the collection of Libby Fennewald. Her father, Earl Jeffers Ph.D., created the set as one of six heirloom sets for members of his family. Jeffers has a background as an educator, and he was one of the founding members of the Western North Carolina Wood-turners Club. He has given demonstrations on various aspects of how to use a wood lathe.

This handsome Staunton-style chess set has weighted pieces and a beautiful chessboard complete with a drawer for storing its pieces between games. Earl Jeffers Ph.D., the creator of the chess set, wrote a book documenting how to make the chess set and board at the urging of his family after producing his first heirloom chess set. Titled Designing and Crafting an Heirloom Chess Set (2020), the book includes step-by-step instructions along with photographs, showing how to make a set of one’s own. He has also produced an abridged version of the book titled Creating a Classic Chess Set: Easy Step Procedures for Success (2020). Both are available for purchase in Q Boutique if you would like to learn more about how to make your own keepsake chess set.

October

October’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 the museum’s permanent collection.

Halloween is a time of mystery; one can disguise oneself and become something completely different. These orange and white chess pieces are dressed as pumpkins for Halloween, and they offer a seasonal opportunity to play a game of chess. The stalks of each pumpkin retain the shape of their respective chess piece, ensuring that although these chess pieces are in disguise, no confusion is necessary. Some people may think that chess is a trick, but playing with this chess set is undoubtedly a treat

September

September’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 month’s set is part of the museum’s permanent collection, and was selected in connection with the museum’s 10th anniversary in Saint Louis, which it celebrates on September 9, 2021.

What better way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the World Chess Hall of Fame being in Saint Louis than a festive cake and ice cream-themed chess set? Chess Craft Trade House, which has been producing chess sets for nearly 90 years, created this set. The company, which began as a small cooperative of artists, today makes a wide variety of games, including chess, backgammon, and checkers. Some are decorated in traditional folk motifs, while others like this set, feature more contemporary themes.

August

August’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 the museum’s permanent collection.

On August 10, 2021, Missouri will celebrate its bicentennial, and a number of organizations around the state will celebrate its culture and history. Missouri can boast a number of famous writers, among them Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Langston Hughes, and Tennesee Williams. However, in this chess set, Mark Twain reigns as king among a number of other 19th-century writers. Born Samuel Clemens in 1835, Twain’s childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, would provide him with material for two classic books—The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

King: Mark Twain

Queen: Emily Dickenson

Bishops: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Knights: Edgar Allan Poe

Rooks: Walt Whitman

Pawns: Stack of books

July

July’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 the museum’s permanent collection.

If you could design your own chess set, how would you represent each of the pieces? In this creative set, high school student Jamie T. Cridge transforms the chess pieces into a variety of unusual shapes. As an aspiring engineer, she designed this set  to teach beginners the numerical value of each piece by making each piece a polygon with the number of sides correlating with the value of the piece.  For example, the one-point pawn is a circle, the three-point knight is a triangle, the five-point rook is a pentagon, and since the king is “priceless,” it is represented on the board as a swirl, an open polygon with no sides.  While this set is an excellent resource for beginners learning to play the game, experts will enjoy the set’s unique design as well.

June

June’s Featured Chess Set is on loan to the World Chess Hall of Fame from artist Erin King. King is a multidisciplinary artist working primarily in fiber-based processes. She is driven by the social responsibility of the individual as well as the strength and interconnectedness found in community. She received her Master's of Fine Arts in Studio Art with an Emphasis in Fibers in May 2019. King was Fiber Artist-in-Residence at Craft Alliance in Saint Louis from July through December 2019. In addition to working as a Gallery Attendant at the World Chess Hall of Fame, she works as a Direct Support Professional at Fine Line Studios in Bridgeton, MO. She also teaches fiber art classes and workshops through Craft Alliance and Perennial St. Louis.

This chess set consists of 52 felt chess pieces and a red and white chess board woven from the stripes from a deconstructed retired U.S. Flag. The pieces on the board are arranged in a Horde chess variant, in which 36 pawns attempt to defeat the standard set with its powerful pieces. Inspiration for this piece comes from the months of nationwide and global protests that took place in 2020.

In Freedom of Assembly, the traditional use of black vs. white is subverted. Here, the "white" side, with its 36 pawns, are felted using a variety of skin tones and heights to bring humanity to the pawns. In doing so, the artist emphasizes that this battle is not one of black vs. white, but a case of unbalanced power as well as strength in numbers.

May

May’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 the museum’s permanent collection.

Exploration Blend was created by special supporters and friends of the World Chess Hall of Fame during a workshop led by artist Nette Robinson on August 23, 2018. The set, which is inspired by the theme of warm and cool colors, is accompanied by a board painted by Robinson. Each participant got to customize a chess piece. The event occured in conjunction with the World Chess Hall of Fame’s exhibition Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London (April 12 - September 16, 2018).

April

April’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 the museum’s permanent collection.

The inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Woods act as chess pieces in this nostalgic chess set. A.A. Milne’s legendary characters have sparked children’s imaginations for almost a century. In 1926, Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh, the first of many books telling the story of Pooh’s adventures in the Hundred Acre Woods. In this chess set, Pooh’s next adventure is a game of chess with his friends, including Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Eeyore, and Tigger.

 

March

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 the museum’s permanent collection.

A game of chess with this set takes place at sea. The pawns are weathered sailors, obeying the orders of their captains, the bishops of the chessboard. Buoys are the rooks of this chess set, and dolphins play the role of the knight. The king of the chessboard is the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, and his queen is an enigmatic mermaid. Bernice and Floyd Sarisohn kindly donated this nautical chess set to the World Chess Hall of Fame, adding to our collection of quirky and unique chess sets.

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 a generous donation to the World Chess Hall of Fame from Nina Tsypina.

This imaginative set features thimbles stacked, bent, and cut into the forms of chess pieces. Nina Tsypina and Matvey Solovyev created the set together. The couple immigrated to the United States from Moscow in 1996. While attending the Metropolitan Opera in New York, they saw an image of a chess set in the program, and they were inspired to create sets of their own, though they did not have backgrounds as artists. They often shopped for materials at toy stores. Together they made around 35 chess sets from materials as diverse as bells, dolls, and toothbrushes.

January

January’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 the museum’s permanent collection.

This dynamic chess set uses musicians from different genres of music to represent a three-sided chess game. The white pieces are made up of opera singers, sophisticated guests, and symphony musicians. Black represents cowboy hats, acoustic guitars, and southern twang––in other words, country music. Silver’s pieces are fans of rock ‘n’ roll, crooning their way across the board. Opera enthusiasts, die-hard country fans, and hippie rock ‘n’ rollers compete in this chess set full of musical references.