Beautiful chess pieces

9/22/2015 – For centuries artisans have used chess pieces to show their craft and to portray people and events from history. Chess pieces reflect the history, culture and thought of the times they were made in. They also show the skills of the artists who created them. When Yamil Duba visited a museum in Paraguay he met Don Quixote, Christoph Columbus, and others.

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Chess pieces in a unique museum

By Yamil Duba, author of Poor Chess

Don Quixote de La Mancha

Marshall Francisco Solano López is ready for the battle. Next to him stands his beloved wife Madame Lynch. Bishop Palacios and Priest Fidel Maiz are not yet protagonists of the infamous blood trials. General Bartolome Mitre and Governor Venancio Flores gaze in complete silence. Both are waiting for orders by the Emperor Pedro II. But the battle that will never start nor end. The days - and nights- of strife will not come back. Why?

Because these stories and characters are no longer alive but are part of a unique private collection of chess sets: the Hrisuk Collection that includes documents, images, swords, bayonets, uniforms, old bells, international treaties and forgotten books related to the Paraguayan history and thus is more than just a chess collection.

Mr Hrisuk is a successful businessman. As you could guess we are in Paraguay, in the center of South America. The name of the city, built at the margin of the Paraná river —one of the more important rivers of the continent— is Encarnación. This fast-growing town of nearly 110.000 people is the second largest city of the country (after the capital Asunción) and was founded by Saint Roque González of Santa Cruz in 1615, a Jesuit priest of Spanish descent.

Below are some pictures taken in that magical corner of the world. There you can find sets representing a variety of characters from Don Quixote of la Mancha to the Mexican Queen Anacaona, all the way through pieces containing the finest whiskey and others built on pure ivory. Before leaving I asked a last question to my guide, Rosana - the owner’s daughter.

What’s the finest piece of this collection? She took me to a hidden corner of the huge salon and pointed out an old and wide black case. Inside of it was the only known copy - the other two are missing - of President Rutherford B. Hayes’ resolution over the boundary debate about the Chaco region after the War of the Triple Alliance. Just that.

Rocinante stands next to the dangerous mill.

Ivory pieces on a board with ivory embeddings

Pieces in traditional Chinese costumes

Ferdinand II of Aragon next to a young Christopher Columbus, who represents a bishop.

Topics: Paraguay, pieces, sets
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genem genem 9/23/2015 12:18
@gmwdim Yet I am curious - If a totally non-Staunton design were engineered with the goal of minimizing the time it takes a tournament chess player to get used to the new pieces - How short could that acclimation period be?
Maybe as short as one game?

A visual or physical analog to the concept of 'onomatopoeia' could be the guiding engineering principle.
Jonmeista Jonmeista 9/22/2015 11:33
Might also be worth taking a look at the antique chess set exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame, which seems to be completely off your radar screen.
gmwdim gmwdim 9/22/2015 10:23
Non-Staunton chess pieces can be very nice to look at, but a big pain for playing chess!
Denix Denix 9/22/2015 09:35