Beautiful Chess Pieces

The Chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem

–Marcel Duchamp

Chess is not just a board game; it is an exuberant emotion that sweeps through the souls of its admirers. The board with sixty-four squares is not just a playing arena but the deck from which the chess players embark on their dream voyage, which might sometimes vary from becoming World Champion to Grand Master and hold various other prominent titles.

Chess is a game in which each of the two players has to be allotted either white or black chess pieces. Thereafter in the entire game, the prime objective of one player is nothing but to combat with the other player through the skillful and well-planned moves which are made keeping in mind the strategies needed to trap the opponent’s chess pieces. The thirty two chess pieces (with sixteen each allotted to both the players) are not merely the apparatus used in playing chess, they are rather harbingers of the destiny of the contestants.

It is one hundred per cent true that the way in which a person makes a move through his chess pieces talks volumes about him and when these chess pieces come in highly flamboyant and attractive forms, the game of chess surely becomes more engaging and picturesque to watch. It is noteworthy that while the game of chess has remained almost consistent throughout the centuries since its invention in terms of the rules with which it is played, the outlook of the game has been continuously reinterpreted, i.e. its forms have kept evolving over time and tide.

The perpetual collections in some highly glorified institutions such as the British Museum, home of the 12th century Lewis Chessmen, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art which has Josef Hartwig’s Bauhaus chess set which was made in 1924. The premises such as the ones mentioned, contain modern as well as ancient and rare chess sets in their rich collection. In the contemporary times, a huge number of designers, architects, and luxury brands have put in all their creativity and innovation to launch exquisite chess sets with the new and fresh interpretation of the chess pieces or use of high-end materials.

The shapes and materials which have been used in making the thirty-two chess pieces vary from luxe crystal to sturdy wood and the peoplewho have been the master minds behind this range from architect Daniel Libeskind to Surrealist artist Man Ray. The beautiful chess sets thus developed have been a source of delight for everyone including chess novices and Kasparov level players.

So here is a list of most beautiful chess sets in the world

1. Michael Aram

The credit for highly detailed organic chess pieces goes to artist Michael Aram. He has applied his signature style to his first ever game design, a special edition chess set. Medieval and floral motifs were used by him for designing the pieces of the game. The chess board accompanying them is totally made up of marble. His love for Nature and antiques workmanship served as the inspiration, as he himself later confirmed it. The king has been represented by motif unicorns with petal manes and abstracts of king protea flowers. The chess set comes in a velvet case and the cost of the set, much to everyone’s surprise is $1800.
Michael Aram

2. Hermes Samarcande Chess Set

The Hermes Samarcande Chess Set is found to be equivalently complex as the game of chess itself. The chess pieces of this game set are named for the Uzbek city which is famous for its Registran Plaza. The pieces are however, painstakingly carved and hold the abstract representations of the King, Queen, Knights, Rooks, Bishops and Pawns with their own characteristic features and minute details that are a source of delight to the observers. Both, the pieces and the chess board are found to be made up from Java solid rosewood and Mahogany. This implies that if kept with proper care, the board and the chess pieces are going to last for the life time.
Hermes Samarcande Chess Set

3. Architecture and the City

The conglomeration of the talents of world famous Architect Daniel Libeskind and the luxury crystal producer, Swarovski emerged with a championship size chess set in which the chess pieces reinterpret the skylines of New York and Milan and it is in this manner that the world gets to see some of the Libeskind’s most iconic buildings. The material used in the making of the chess set includes: concrete, marble, silver from Wiener Silver Manufactur and Swarovski crystal. It is remarkable that the two kings take the form of the Freedom Tower in New York and the other chess pieces represent other prominent buildings from Milan. The chess set is widely known as ‘Architecture and the City’ and its overall cost is $18,000.
Architecture and the City

4. Purling London

Purling London is famous for designing luxury chess sets from the contemporary point of view that hold a stark contrast with the traditional hand carved Staunton pieces. The new ones mark the presence of abstraction as well as modern art and light. British based contemporary artists such as Olivia Pilling, Joanna Scislowicz and Richard Morrissey hare specially commissioned for individually hand painting the Art Chess products. The chess sets developed by Purling London are supplied complete along with a certificate that is personally signed by the artist or designer.
Purling London

5. Man Ray

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Brooklyn, artist Man Ray created his first chess set in the year 1920 and continued developing more and more mesmerizing samples until he passed away in the year 1976. It is really unfortunate that very few of these original chess sets are available for purchase today but at the rare occasions when they are auctioned, the command prices range from tens of thousands dollars to hundreds of thousands dollars. It is notable that despite being completely modest in his lifestyle, Man Ray always came up with the art work that was far ahead of its time. He designed the first chess set by using the items he found in his studio. He used the shape of a pyramid to represent the king whereas the knight was inspired by the neck of a violin. Truly, his chess sets are not just an apparatus, but rather a poem in them.

So, it goes without any doubt that the beauty of the game of chess is enhanced when the chess pieces are carved with such lumps of creativity mixed with a little poetry on the designer’s part.

Man Ray