Featured Chess Sets 2024

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’s featured chess set is on loan to the WCHOF from Ken H. Murer, a friend of the museum. His chess set is a heartwarming gift made for him by members of his family. He states:

My maternal Grandfather Hadley K. Irwin became a master woodshop furniture maker after his retirement. I spent countless summers in his woodshop learning from him. Forty years ago, he decided to surprise me on my 18th birthday and presented me with this masterpiece of a chess board. He used all Missouri woods—sugar maple and black walnut for the squares and mahogany burl for the edges and back. My mother owned a ceramics shop here in Saint Louis and hand crafted and painted all 32 chess pieces. I have been enjoying this set for the last 40 years.


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 the museum’s permanent collection.


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.

Matchbooks have long been used for advertising, often leaning into eye-catching artwork. This chess set, with 32 usable matchbooks as the pieces, follows in this tradition of distinct matchbook designs, the stark black and white design on this set making for a striking image. Imagine using the various pieces as matchbooks, to light a candle or incense, and as chess pieces.


Khaan Chess LLC donated April’s featured set to the World Chess Hall of Fame during the opening ceremony of the American Cup chess tournament in Saint Louis. The company, established in 2015, makes elegant and elaborate chess sets that promote the rich Mongolian culture. This set has been gifted to many prominent figures and institutions, including the National Museum of Mongolia.


Friendship Chess represents the complicated relationship between Ghengis Khan and Gur-Khan Jamukh, whom the makers of this set describe as three times friends and three times at war, and how that influenced Mongolian history. The name, Friendship Chess, also refers to the value of the men’s friendship. The board itself represents Mongolian history and culture, decorated with a traditional pattern along the border and in each square. Even the turtles molded around each corner are based on a turtle figure found in the ruins of the 13th-century Mongolian capital Kharkhorin.