Chess sets for the Jet Set

by ChessBase
10/17/2010 – Got 140 thousand dollars and not sure what to spend it on? Maybe you have a few thousand lying around, and are just trying to meet your monthly chess quota. If you have been frustrated by our reviews and recommendations of relatively inexpensive items, let us make it up to you with a profile on chess sets designed exclusively for the rich and famous.

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Who has never found themseleves with some money to spend and were then stumped on what their best investment might be? For example, suppose you had 140 thousand dollars lying around, gathering dust. You had already bought all the books and encyclopedias that you would never read, and the next obvious move was to spend that useless pile of cash on chess. You could purchase a chess set that would cause everlasting envy among your friends, but where to start? If this scenario has evoked a feeling of deep empathy in you, accompanied by a sympathetical nod, then fret no more as we have a few suggestions to help for a wide range of budgets, whether it be a full 140 grand, or a few piddly thousand dollars.

If you are one of those unfortunate souls actually wondering how to spend 140 thousand dollars on a chess set and astonish your friends (beyond the ostentatious price tag that is), meet

The Lord Linley Chess Set and Chess Table

Lord David Linley (Queen Elizabeth's nephew) and artist Graham Knuths are designing the highly collectible chess sets of tomorrow. The Lord Linley Chess Set is a magnificent blend of exquisite design and craftsmanship and is one of the world's true chess collectibles.

Lord David Linley (Queen Elizabeth's nephew) and artist Graham Knuths posing
behind their masterpiece.

There's nothing unusual about artist Graham Knuttel manufacturing a chess set and table in collaboration with Queen Elizabeth's nephew, London furniture designer Viscount David Linley.

This chess set belongs to a limited edition of twelve. Notice the large carved pieces are cast in 52 kilos (114 pounds) of solid silver. All the pieces are hallmarked - and the tallest pieces are 16 inches tall while the smaller ones are eight inches.

A sample piece with its mold.

Knuttel’s chess pieces are not based on any design from ancient chess games. “They are formal and pageantry in style and loosely based on the figures in my animal paintings, and a bit like the characters in my work,” he says. Knuttel is famous for his dramatic, sharp-edged, jigsaw like shapes.

Final work on one of the black knights.

The chess idea had been in gestation for some time. "I started making them six years ago, and then stopped and put the pieces in my basement for a year or two before I resurrected them again. It took me a lifetime to think up the idea, and two years to make the 12 sets."

The final set of pieces on the board.

And it appears they were worth the wait. Retailing at $150,000 each, "they are good value for the price", he says. "You'd pay that for a good car. And they'll never fall to bits like a car or lose their value." In a limited edition of 12, the large carved pieces are cast in 52 kilos of solid silver. There are now just two of his sets left for sale and he says "there will be no bother in getting rid of them."

There is particularly good news for the frugal: although normally priced at $150 thousand, they are currently on sale for $139,995.00. Please note these items qualify for free shipping, so hurry while stocks last.

Price: $139,995.00 (plus free shipping)

Of course, while striking, and a perfect discussion piece to decorate the chateau's antechamber, the competitor will know that they are impractical to take to weekend tournaments. As such, please consider the

Silver Jubilee Chess

The Queen's Silver Jubilee chess set by Zontik Games is restored to its formidable 1977 glory, back when it won the coveted Design Council Award. Pieces are made of solid Sterling silver-gilt, 5 micron gold plated. The hand-inlaid Dauphin leather chessboard is trimmed in matching sterling silver-gilt.

Fit for the hands of royalty, the Silver Jubilee chessmen was designed with the serious player in mind, and as such not only are the pieces balanced to US Chess Federation playing weight, but it comes with two extra Queens.

Pieces are made of solid Sterling silver-gilt, 5 micron gold plated. The hand-inlaid Dauphin leather chessboard is trimmed in matching sterling silver-gilt.Enhanced by precious metals and personal options, pieces are available in sterling silver and sterling silver-gilt.

Price: $53,735.00 (for sterling silver pieces), and $62,450.00 (for the silver-gilt set)

Chess Set 4000-FM

With a glassy finish, the elegant board combines with custom-color pear-tree or bone inlays and invites awe. The unique flat planar pieces are crafted from butter-soft calfskin and vegetable-dyed in your choice of colors. Functional and flamboyant, the pieces fit into insets on the board, allowing each move to be sturdy and definitive. Board available in black-stain varnished, waxed pear-tree, or deep ebony. This very avantguard chess set is also by Zontik Games.

Note that while fascinating to look at, and very modern, this set may not be ideal for bullet games.

Price: $9,790.00

The House of Staunton is famous for their offerings of highly refined, yet classic wooden sets of pieces and boards. However, they don't only offer wooden sets, they also have a set made of ivory. Introducing the

Wooly Mammoth Ivory Luxury chess set

"Crafted from 40,000-year old Wooly Mammoth Ivory, they capture the exquisite design and proportions of the original Staunton pattern Chess set, registered by Nathaniel Cook and produced by Jaques of London in 1849"

For more than 2,000 years, Mammoth Ivory has been traded and it remains a highly prized commodity across the world. While that demand for the Mammoth Ivory has always been higher than its supply, it skyrocketed in 1963 when the CITES agreement was enacted. This agreement banned all sales of new Elephant or Walrus Ivory, in an effort to protect the animals from extinction. As a result, Mammoth Ivory became the only type of animal-based ivory that is exempt from the international trade restrictions because it is considered to be a fossil.

The Chess pieces are hand carved by master artisans and crafted out of the finest materials. Because of the natural weight of Mammoth Ivory, the pieces have an excellent feel that does not require any artificial weighting. All 34 chess pieces are crafted from Mammoth Ivory. The black army is crafted from Mammoth Ivory that has been stained black to provide the perfect amount of contrast. The chess pieces are presented au natural, with nothing on the underside of the pieces. This is done intentionally to allow chess players the opportunity to appreciate the magnificent grain of the Mammoth Ivory. Included with the purchase of this Chess set is a set of English Leather base pads that can be affixed to the underside of the both armies if so desired.

Price: $9,995.00

This set is done in painstaking handiwork for the green supporter wishing to express their love and concern for nature whilst adding an elegant visual touch to their home.

Endangered Parrots of the World Chess Set

Many of the colorful species of parrots on our planet are endangered or threatened with extinction. The enchanting Chess Set has been created from FSC certified North American woods, Walnut and Maple; with 24k Gold and Sterling Silver plated Pewter playing pieces and Recycled Glass ball feet. It is finished with a beautifully rendered Gold plated orchid border, the Laelia Xanthina Orchid, an endangered orchid, which blooms in November and December.

This set is also available with vibrant Enamel chess pieces, each parrot of which is is hand painted, highlighting their magnificent plumage. The set with enamel finish with 24K gold and sterling silver can be had for $4,790.00

Price: $4,790.00 (for enamel finish with 24K gold and sterling silver)

The gentleman wishing to add a classic wood set with a tribute to a few of the great cities will enjoy the

Steve Vigar Designs Chess Set

Chicago skyline pieces displayed on custom drawered board.

Steve Vigar's handmade chess sets are a conversation piece unlike any other. Handcrafted from exotic woods, each playing piece is unique. The back row pieces each recreate an important part of the famous skylines of San Francisco, New York, or Chicago, while individual pawns represent the varied residential architectural styles. The board is made of solid zebra wood and whangee.

A set of white pieces illustrating New York.

Price: $3100 (including custom drawered board)

Finally, for those who not only want a beautiful set, but also one that carries a well-known brand name synonymous of chic, there is

Ralph Lauren's Hammond Chess Set

A sleek and modern rendition of a classic favorite, Ralph Lauren's Hammond chess set is crafted from rich leather and blackened nickel -- an ideal gift for the game aficionado. The blackened nickel board and chessmen are modeled after a minimalist modern design, and the black leather base conveniently stores all game contents.

There is a plaque under lid is etched with the signature "Ralph Lauren" and a unique number to distinguish this rare collector's item.

Price: $1995.00

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