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JOAT and I have been brainstorming up some themes for chess sets. Of course the subject of wars came up (they do make good themes) and he mentioned the Civil War and the War of 1812. Those are two Wars where I've made sets and just wanted to post a couple pics of them. Both boards are about 36" square (they're huge), Abe Lincoln is about 9" tall, foot soldier pawns about 4" tall, the board is removable to feature different battles, this one features a period map of Gettysburg. The War of 1812 set if one of my favorites. It features replicas of the hulls of the Constitution and the Guerririe (sp) the boats are over 30" long, and with the captain it stands about 11" tall. The boats have the two flags, and just like in battle, when you're ready to surrender (or to concede a chess game) you remove your flag from your stern. The boats are significant as their battle was the first official Victory at Sea for the United States...the Constitution is still in service today!!! No dremmels, duplicators, or replicators, pieces are hand carved with old fashioned bench chisels.

Solid Walnut and Maple throughout.

And thanks to the many helpful tips and suggestions I've received from the forum, they help a lot!

Jim
 

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I guess that WOW! pretty well covers it. Ubercool.
 

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Beautiful sets, magnificent even but as a player, I don't want anything but a Staunton style plastic pieces and a vinyl board with the alpha-numeric notations in the margins.
I need to be able to carry it easily to the coffee house or club and if a piece drops and it's broken or I spill beer on it. It's no problem.

And for me, having a chess set to 'simply' look at doesn't make any more sense than having a pre-war Bugatti or 1960 Triumph Bonniville and never taking it on the road. Maybe that's a lousy metaphore. It's like having a fine set of chisels and never cutting wood with them.
 

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Those are absolutely superb! Even a non-chess player like me would be happy to display something like those.
 

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Really nice work. You've clearly passed through woodworking and are into artwork. Great idea and well executed.
 

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Beautiful sets, magnificent even but as a player, I don't want anything but a Staunton style plastic pieces and a vinyl board with the alpha-numeric notations in the margins.
I need to be able to carry it easily to the coffee house or club and if a piece drops and it's broken or I spill beer on it. It's no problem.

And for me, having a chess set to 'simply' look at doesn't make any more sense than having a pre-war Bugatti or 1960 Triumph Bonniville and never taking it on the road. Maybe that's a lousy metaphore. It's like having a fine set of chisels and never cutting wood with them.
Plastic? Why steenkin' plastic, when you can get wood Staunton style pieces? Or even make your own. Wood pieces don't break that easily either. A vinyl board would be OK, but if I were going to carry, I'd prefer a box to hold the pieces, and a board on top - do it with style. You could even carry a nice board and your pieces in a briefcase; I'd prefer a wood briefcase if I did that.
 

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Jim, you are so over my pay grade I'm in awe...
 

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Jim,

these sets are awesome - and as others said already, beyond mere wood working, and well showing beatiful art. Really impressive !!!

Martin
 

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Discussion Starter #10
They are definitely not USCF (United States Chess Federation) certified, so they won't be showing up in any tournaments, but they are perfectly and easily playable. I do make a reproduction set of the original 1849 Staunton designs, that has been popular. Here's a couple pics, I make them for 1.75", 2.0", 2.25", and 2.5" squared boards, and these are within USCF specs.

Hand-turned/hand carved from Walnut and Pear, heavily weighted and leather or felt pads on the bottom. The knights are 1-piece unlike even Jacques or HOS have ever done, if fact, Jacques and HOS use subcontractors to make their knights, they are two pieces the base, and the knight head.

In tournaments today, plastic and vinyl are the standard, but many players use wood pieces in tourneys as well. Came within a whisker of having a set used in the championship match of the Phoenix Open last year.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The last two sets pictured are from a one-off set I did for a big collector of Staunton sets.
 

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Thanks for sharing this Jim - it is inspiring to see such workmanship, and also the war concept. And as for the conventional sets, I believe nothing beats wooden, hand made!
 

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Thanks Wildwood, I agree. Almost all of the offerings anymore get spit out of a programmed lathe by the thousands. India has kind of taken over chess piece production of late, mastering that technology, but even totally machined sets look great sometimes and the price is impossible to compete with, or pass up.
 

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I don't know what to say other than WOW! Amazing, Spectacular, Awesome I love playing chess and as for plastic or wood that's not even debatable I own both. I don't know where the plastic pieces are. You have a great talent, not to be rude but I'm jealous.
 

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I should have put this one up as well. It's the Scottish Wars for Independence Chess Set. It (roughly) represents the time of William Wallace (Gibson's "Braveheart" days). Edward I, King of England squaring off against King John of Scotland. Many times, the same castle was won and/or lost several times over the course of the '30' years of fighting, the set comes with four flags and who ever wins gets to fly their colors until they are defeated. This is another massive set measuring about 30" square, and it's over 17" from the bottom of the castle wall to the top of King John's flag. Have to make another one of these next month. The castle walls are made from hard Maple and the corners and 'keeps' are basswood. A friend of mine in England took a ton of pics of several castles and castle keeps for me...the castle pictured here is kind of a morph of several of them.

That's it for the War sets, for now anyway...

Thanks again for the generous comments!

Jim
 

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Sir, without any doubt your are true craftsman. I appreciate your work. I play chess and can see that these pieces though not traditional are most near rare. I would not play with a set like this, but would love to have set on my mantle. Do you build any of these sets to be sold? if so I would like to know cost and time to have it done. They are fantastic to say the least. What a job.
 

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I don't care what the standard is in tournaments, I'd want to be playing with one of those sets - if I was that good a player, which I'm not. :lol: I like that table a lot too. Nice. I'm old fashioned in many ways, to me a chess set is wood, and Staunton style. That and Isle of Lewis, and carved walrus ivory, but not likely to ever get one of those, at least not in this reincarnation.
 

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I should have put this one up as well. It's the Scottish Wars for Independence Chess Set. It (roughly) represents the time of William Wallace (Gibson's "Braveheart" days). Edward I, King of England squaring off against King John of Scotland. Many times, the same castle was won and/or lost several times over the course of the '30' years of fighting, the set comes with four flags and who ever wins gets to fly their colors until they are defeated. This is another massive set measuring about 30" square, and it's over 17" from the bottom of the castle wall to the top of King John's flag. Have to make another one of these next month. The castle walls are made from hard Maple and the corners and 'keeps' are basswood. A friend of mine in England took a ton of pics of several castles and castle keeps for me...the castle pictured here is kind of a morph of several of them.

That's it for the War sets, for now anyway...

Thanks again for the generous comments!

Jim
Wow!! It would blow my mind playing with a set like that. It is hard enough to concentrate let alone trying to figure out/remember the pieces while playing. You are the master of the masters making chess sets. I gather from your comments you play frequently also. Is that where you gained your interest in making the sets?

Have you tried making Shogi?

THANKS so much for sharing.
Steve
 
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