This past weekend the weather was gorgeous, and I found myself doing a walkabout in the village. On Thompson Street, the Chess Forum is a Greenwich Village fixture where you can buy chess sets and paraphernalia, books and videos, and most importantly, you can rent a table to play chess. The variety and art of the chess sets intrigued me, so I went in to browse.
As any person who plays chess will tell you, having readily recognizable pieces is important so you don’t get confused while playing. But some of the sets are just gorgeous, amazing, and wonderful.
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For anyone interested in carving, turning, or for that matter any aspect of the craft, building a chess set, especially after seeing these sets, is a great way to explore all sorts of design vocabularies. And we mustn’t forgot that it’s not just the pieces, chessboards lend themselves to marquetry, inlay, low relief carving, and just about any other woodworking technique you can think of.
If you visit the Chess Forum website you can see the dozens of other sets that they carry, although I think some of the rarer ones aren’t online. I really just wanted to show off what a little imaginations and a craft can produce.
Prices for a decorative set run from about $40 for a plastic golf themed set, to the sky, with the high hundreds being pretty much the top price for everything I saw in the store. Quality and design are all over the map.
All of the sets illustrated here are great examples of woodworking craft, and from a project standpoint really give a person the chance to explore a style.
PS. Sorry about the phone photography. I need to discipline myself to always bring a real camera with me when I do walkabout.