Featured Chess Sets 2023

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.


Bernice and Floyd Sarisohn donated March’s featured set to the World Chess Hall of Fame. The Sarisohns share a passion for collecting chess sets, which began when Bernice gave one to Floyd as an engagement gift. In the years since, their devotion led them to become active members of Chess Collectors International, an organization founded in 1984 that brings together lovers of artistic chess sets and chess memorabilia. Their generous loans and donations have allowed the World Chess Hall of Fame to share a variety of wonderful sets with our patrons.

The Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks, two rival NBA teams, face off in this set, which has pieces that resemble Russian nesting dolls. The two teams sparred several times in the playoffs in the 1990s, when this set was likely created. The Bulls were a thorn in the Knicks' side, however, once Michael Jordan, represented as the Bulls' red king, retired for the first time in 1993, the Knicks made it to the NBA Finals in 1994. Although the two teams were adversaries, Jordan and Patrick Ewing, who is represented as the Knicks’ white king, remained friends off of the court.

On both the white and red side, the back of the pawns are painted the historic NBA logo. On the Knicks’ side, the pieces include: Charles Oakley (rook), Derek Harper (knight), Anthony Mason (bishop), John Starks (queen), and Patrick Ewing (king). On the Bulls’ side, the pieces are Toni Kukoč (rook), Steve Kerr (knight), Scottie Pippen (bishop), Dennis Rodman (queen), and Michael Jordan (king).


The estate of Edwin and Ann Munger donated February’s Featured Set to the World Chess Hall of Fame. It is part of a donation of hundreds of sets from around the world. Edwin Munger was a professor of geography who specialized in Africa at the California Institute of Technology. He was also passionate about collecting chess sets from around the world, and he wrote three books about sets from different countries.

The king and queen of Carnival rule in this chess set created by Lia Sanchez Maldonado. Maldonado is an Aruban artist who started working in ceramics in 1976 and runs her own company called Creative Hands, which makes ceramic souvenirs, paintings, and gifts. Each of the pieces in the set takes inspiration from local culture, including: kings holding the keys to Carnival, queens holding bowls of white sand from Aruba’s beaches, bishops decorated with divi divi or watapana trees, and the rooks as homes decorated with the flag of Aruba. Carnival is a pre-Lent celebration held in January and February in Aruba. Locals honor it with parades, music, and parties featuring performers in colorful elaborate costumes like those seen in this set. Maldanado has created other projects celebrating Aruban culture, including an award-winning ceramic doll called DivitA, whose dress is adorned with images related to the country’s history.


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.

Caissa Club Chess Set


King size: 3 ⅝ in.

Board: 21 x 21 in.

Wood, acrylic paint, and lacquer

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Members of the Saint Louis Chess Campus’s staff and the Caïssa Club, a joint gift program that recognizes dedicated individuals, corporations, and foundations who make a combined annual gift of $1,000 or more to the Saint Louis Chess Campus, painted the pieces in this colorful and creative set. They decorated it at the Caïssa Club Recognition Event, which took place on September 15, 2022. The set is now part of the permanent collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame.


King: Andrew Walker

King: Rex Sinquefield

Queen: Joy Bray

Queen: Carol Meyer

Bishop: Kevin Depew

Bishop: Alex Kerford

Knight: Yasser Seirawan

Knight: John Beckstead

Rook: Nate Cohen

Rook: Doug Eckert

Rook: Jenny Beckstead

Pawn: Courtney McNeely

Pawn: Ryan Chester

Pawn: Tony Rich

Pawn: Randy Bauer

Pawn: Rebecca Buffington

Pawn: Maria Kerford

Pawn: Emily Allred

Pawn: Keith Stephens


King: Nicole Tessmer

Queen: Emily Billhartz

Bishop: Christina Anderson

Bishop: Molly McKay

Bishop: Sanjay Jain

Knight: Jill Rawlins

Knight: Joe Reinmann

Rook:  Mark Rawlins

Rook: Shannon Bailey

Pawn: Margaret McDonald

Pawn: David Ott

Pawn: Lauren Baumann

Pawn: Barb Combs

Pawn: Sanjay Jain

Pawn: Jean Nystrom

Pawn: Steve Nystrom

Pawn: Stephanie Tucker

Pawn: David A. Hater

Pawn: David A. Hater