Many people today choose to play with nontraditional chess sets that do not feature common chess pieces like bishops and kings, but rather, have more modern characters for the chess pieces. There are commemorative chess sets representing historical events such as the American Civil War.
Themed chess sets
Popular characters for TV shows and movies are also immortalized in chess pieces. Some of the most popular themed chess sets are of Civil War characters, the Lord of the Rings, and of the popular animated TV show South Park.
Many popular themed chess sets feature figures from the Civil War, with one person playing as the Union and the other playing as the Confederates. Civil War themed chess sets are extremely detailed and realistic. The pieces are painted and carved to look as if they are wearing authentic civil war uniforms and carrying weapons of the period. The pieces, themselves, use historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis as the kings for their respective sides and generals like Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee also appearing as bishops or rooks.
Characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books and movies have also been immortalized as chess pieces. These fantasy characters are perfect for adaptation as chess pieces. Characters like Aragon, Gollum, Frodo, and Gandalf cast as kings and bishops, while orc warriors and hobbits represent the pawns.
Not all themed chess sets feature historic figures or movie warriors, some feature cartoon characters and comic figures. One of the most popular themed chess sets features characters from the rude and crude cartoon South Park. It is nearly impossible for fans of the show not to laugh at these lowbrow cartoon characters turned into kings, queens, bishops, and such.
The selection of characters is irreverently appropriate, keeping with the show’s sense of humor. Wise school cafeteria cook Chef is cast as the king, with overweight Carman riding a dog as a knight, and, of course, hapless Kenny as the pawns.
Themed chess sets are great for people who are interested in history or are fans of TV shows and movies. These chess sets allow people to support their favorite movie or TV show while playing an ancient game of strategy.
Wooden chess sets
In 1849, the first Staunton wooden chess pieces were made. The thing that set the Staunton apart from all other chess sets was the design of the pieces. Up until that time there was no standard design for chess pieces, and many pieces were poorly constructed, unrecognizable, and tipped over easily.
Nathaniel Cook and John Jaques are credited with designing the pieces. They came up with designs for the separate pieces that would be distinguishable from each other, sturdy, and well balanced. They called them Staunton chess pieces after the current world chess champion Howard Staunton, who agreed to endorse these particular pieces. Since then, Staunton chess pieces are the standard chess pieces, used almost universally.
Many different types of wood are now used to make chess pieces in the Staunton style. Rosewood and shiham wood are two of the most commonly used woods. Many chess enthusiasts prefer wooden chess sets to sets made of any other material because of the weighted feel and natural look of the pieces.
Rosewood chess pieces are among the most popular. They have a very natural appearance, with streaks and the grain of the wood that gives them a naturally beautiful and strong look. They are usually a brownish-red color but can be stained different shades. Rosewood chess pieces are generally heavier than most other wooden chess sets, giving them a unique feel.
Shisham wood, also known as Indian boxwood, is also commonly used to make chess sets. Shisham chess sets are durable and often have exquisite attention to detail. These wooden chess sets often come in a variety of beautiful, natural-looking shades of brown and can be stained a variety of colors. They are weighted towards the bottom to prevent them from tipping but are not as heavy as rosewood chess pieces.
Wooden chess sets are among the most popular in the world. Well-made wooden chess sets show great craftsmanship and a sort of intangible playability. Many chess fans use wood chess sets simply because they like the feel of wooden pieces.
Marble chess sets
Marble is considered to be one of the great building materials in existence. For many centuries it has been used in the construction of buildings ranging from monuments, to temples, to palaces. Marble is sturdy as well as beautiful and can be carved into nearly any shape. The artist’s imagination provides the only limitation when using marble as a medium for a chess set.
Marble chess sets are also among the most beautiful. They are expertly crafted because the pieces are carved individually and often with extremely fine detail. Marble chess sets can come in a variety of colors but the most common combination is black and white. Black and tan, green and white, and red and white are just three of the unique color combinations also available. The marble itself looks stunning with its rich color, fine grain, and beautiful natural swirls. Marble chess sets often look like miniature monuments.
Many people purchase marble chess sets as decoration. They buy the set in colors that compliment the rest of the room and leave the set displayed on a table or pedestal. This is a good option for people looking for a unique way to show their appreciation for chess while adding character and class to a room.
However, marble chess sets are not just for decoration. The pieces are sturdy and heavy enough that they will not break except under extreme conditions. Marble chess sets are weighted to insure that the pieces are well balanced and will not fall over. The marble chessboards are also heavy enough so they can be used outside.
Marble chess sets are beautiful as well as functional. They look like miniature sculptures and are designed for play as well as for their appearance. A fine marble chess set is perfect for both decoration and regular use.