Featured Chess Sets 2022

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.

January

January’s Featured Chess Set is a loan from Vietnam War Veteran Louis Semon, who created the set. During his time in the Air Force in 1968, Semon was stationed in Hurlbelt Field, Florida, waiting for deployment. Of making the set, he says, “While waiting [for deployment] I always wanted to make my own chess set. Fortunately there was a hobby shop on base. I bought the supplies and molds and the tools and equipment and the kilns were available to the service members. Fifty-three years later, I still use the chess set and it’s been on display on my coffee table ever since.”

This hand-crafted ceramic Gothic-style chess set features pieces made from plaster of Paris and glazed green and white. The chessboard is made from green and white linoleum tile that complements the colors of the pieces. Louis Semon created the set using molds designed by Duncan Ceramic Products, Inc. (now iLoveToCreate). Founded by Erma Duncan, an artist with a passion for ceramics, the company was incorporated in 1955. At the time this set was designed, the company sold ceramic products for hobbyists, including molds, and established a national training program for ceramics teachers. Perhaps due to the rising popularity of chess in the United States during the era, the company copyrighted at least six designs for chess sets between 1965 and 1973. Hobbyists could customize the sets with paint or colorful glazes.