This is my first review so I would really appreciate any feedback you have. My aim is to do a series of reviews over the next few weeks, so would like to get your thoughts/opinions so I can make alterations and improvements. Thank you in advance - onto the review…
Basic Details of product:
Link to Company Website - http://shop.chess.co.uk
Cost - £34.99 (approx. $43 USD / €41) plus shipping
Classic Chessmen Antiqued - Large (95mm)
A traditional, well designed set, simple yet clear. Pieces are made from antiqued finish and natural boxwood. Perfect for those looking for a full tournament size chess set on a budget.
King Height: 3.75 Inch / 95mm
Base Diameter: 35mm
King Weight: 46g
Dark Pieces: Antiqued Boxwood
Suggested Board Square size: 50mm
I’m going to start this review by looking at the size of the pieces. For ease, I’ve put all the data in tables below. The first table is in millimetres and the second is in inches. To clarify the labels, Height is the height of the piece, Base is the diameter of the base, Ratio is Base diameter divided by Height multiplied by 100. For anyone who thinks these are incorrect, I have followed the guidance from FIDE stating that there can be a 10% leeway either side for all of the measurements (However, if I have misunderstood these requirements, please let me know so I can update my tables). FIDE Regulations - “Recommended height of the pieces is as follows: King – 9.5 cm, Queen – 8.5 cm, Bishop – 7 cm, Knight – 6 cm, Rook – 5.5 cm and Pawn – 5 cm. The diameter of the piece’s base should measure 40-50% of its height. These dimensions may differ up to 10% from the above recommendation, but the order (e.g. King is higher than Queen etc.) must be kept.”
Size of pieces:
King - Height: 97.5mm (3.84in), Base: 37.5mm (1.48in), Ratio: 38.46%, FIDE compliant
Queen - Height: 85mm (3.35in), Base: 37mm (1.48in), Ratio: 43.53%, FIDE compliant
Bishop - Height: 76mm (2.99in), Base: 33mm (1.48in), Ratio: 43.42%, FIDE compliant
Knight - Height: 70mm (2.76in), Base: 33mm (1.48in), Ratio: 47.14%, FIDE compliant
Rook - Height: 66mm (2.60in), Base: 33mm (1.48in), Ratio: 50%, FIDE compliant
Pawn - Height: 48mm (1.89in), Base: 28mm (1.48in), Ratio: 58.33%, NOT FIDE compliant
Based on the size of this set (and the size of the king), I would recommend a 50mm/2in board. Unfortunately, to get 4 pawns in one square you would have to move up to a 58mm/2.25in board.
So, as we can see, the pieces are not FIDE compliant. However, even the latest world championship set is not FIDE compliant. Personally, I do not see this as a massive issue… but it’s always a bonus to know you have a tournament compliant set.
Onto our next criteria…
Discernability (I know this isn’t a word, but it’s the best way to describe it):
The ability to tell each piece apart is critical to tactical play and winning a chess match. When playing and practicing with these pieces I have had no issue in telling the pieces apart. All pieces are clearly distinguishable.
Quality of carving:
The quality of carving is somewhat lacking…
General quality – When inspecting the pieces, I noticed that the tooling marks are still visible (I can see lines from the lathe and scratches from sand paper). This leads to a very slightly rough texture when handling the pieces. There are dings and dents in some of the pieces which shows quality control is slightly lacking. However, what can I possibly expect from a £34.99 set? It’s not exactly going to Official Staunton standard is it? Additionally, the top of each piece is very slightly pointed, this is due to a slight lack of finishing after being removed from the lathe. It’s hardly noticeable and something you could live with. Occasional flecks of glue can be found round the bases of each piece, this is remnants from the felting process. For those of you that care, the felt is green. On most of the white pieces the polish/wax has been applied nicely. With regards to the black pieces, unfortunately, they are stained boxwood (but once again, you wouldn’t expect anything else at this price point). The finish has not been done evenly and leaves each piece in a slightly different shade. In certain places, the stain is so thin that the boxwood is starting to show through - this is typically on the edges. This look may appeal to those of you who like a distressed look, but it doesn’t appeal to me.
Kings – Both kings are near identical, however, the thickness of the crown at the top varies by 1.5mm.
Queens – The queens are nearly identical too, however, the grooves in the crown are slightly different sizes (1mm variance).
Bishops – The bishops are well made and near perfect replicas of each other
Knights – The knights appear to be in the style of a ‘Classical French Knight’. Unfortunately, the knights are the worst finished pieces. Each one varies in appearance when studied. The variances are thickness, eye location, body shape, height and shape of detail.
Rooks – The top of the rooks were not polished; this leaves a dull and slightly disappointing look.
Pawns – The pawns are uniform in size and appearance. I particularly like that the necks of the pawns are thick, thus reducing the likelihood of damage
Best board that would match the pieces/best pieces for the board:
I would pick a 50mm/2in board for this set (that is the size of square that the pictures were taken on). Colour wise, I think a nice mahogany and maple board would suit particularly well.
To be continued…