The World Chess Hall of Fame features a variety of chess sets throughout the year. These will highlight different chess sets in our own collection as well as chess sets owned by “friends” and chess lovers who have special stories to accompany their sets.
Do you live in the Saint Louis metropolitan area and have a chess set with a great story? Submit it for inclusion in our Featured Chess Set project! This program highlights chess sets with interesting backgrounds borrowed from chess lovers and fans of the Hall of Fame. Featured chess sets are displayed for a period of one month at the World Chess Hall of Fame.
If you would like to participate in the program, send a photo and the story of the set to Emily Allred, Assistant Curator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January’s Featured Chess Set has been loaned to the World Chess Hall of Fame by Callie Pitt. She purchased it as a gift for her father, an occasional chess player, in 1999. She says, “I had no idea at the time how much chess would be a part of my life now.” Her son is enthusiastic about chess and currently takes classes and participates in tournaments at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Purchased at an open air market in Mali, this set is a treasured memento of Callie’s study abroad program in West Africa. She bought the set at the beginning of her trip. Consequently, Callie carried the heavy board and the fragile pieces wrapped in cloth in her backpack until her return to the United States at the end of the summer. Her father enjoyed the gorgeous hand-carved set’s decorative qualities, displaying it in his home.
Bernice and Floyd Sarisohn donated February’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 be 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.
In this set, the kings bear scepters topped by the “hand of justice,” or a hand shown in a gesture of blessing, and the queens hold a scepter adorned with the fleur-de-lis, both symbols of the French monarchy. The pawns delicately hold roses, symbols of courtly love. Though made in the twentieth century, the set has stylistic features that date to eighteenth-century France—the substitution of fous (fools) for the bishop. The set was created in Limoges, France, a city known for its manufacture of hard-paste porcelain.
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 be 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.
This humorous chess set presents caricatures of well-known twentieth-century Russian leaders including Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin, and alludes to the establishment of the Russian Federation after the Soviet Union’s fall. Each of the figures, which are shaped like Russian nesting dolls, carries a symbol of his identity. Mikhail Gorbachev, as the queen, holds the coat of arms of the Soviet Union, while Boris Yeltsin, the first president of the Russian Federation, bears a double-headed eagle, which he established as the new symbol of the nation.
This month’s featured chess set was donated to the World Chess Hall of Fame by Dr. George and Vivian Dean. The Deans have been collecting chess sets together for over fifty years. Numbering over 1000, the collection contains sets from many of the countries they have visited in their travels. The World Chess Hall of Fame showed many of the exquisite pieces from their collection in the exhibition Chess Masterpieces: Highlights from the Dr. George and Vivian Dean Collection, which was on view from September 9, 2011–February 12, 2012.
Showing beautiful decoration and delicate weapons, this chess set depicts Chinese forces (in red) battling British forces led by King George III and Queen Charlotte. Manufactured in China for export to Great Britain, the creation of the set highlights the trade connections that developed between the nations in the early nineteenth century. The kings and queens stand atop elaborate puzzle balls, which feature concentric spheres carved in lacy openwork patterns.
Stay tuned for future featured chess sets!