MANAS, THE KYRGYZ & THE GREAT SILK ROAD: A sojourn into the small world of folk-art chess pieces in Central Asia

[The suffix, –stan is from Old Persian, also -istan or -ustan, meaning ‘land of’ or ‘a place where there are many of.’ Kyrgyz is pronounced krrr–Giz with a rolling ‘Scottish’ r and emphasized g. Manas is not pronounced ‘manners’ but m’Naz with a lingering zzz and emphasis on the n. You’re all caught up.] To […]


Amber, otherwise known as ‘Russian Gold’ (Latin electrum, from Ancient Greek elektron speaking of a ‘beaming sun’).  Some time a while back (the weeks and months all roll into one these days) I was very kindly gifted an excellent little-known tome from the well-respected U.S. chess aficionado, Chuck Grau.  The wonderfully illustrated (and for me, […]


…as the old Monty Python skit (from The Holy Grail, 1975) kinda said. But instead of bringing out the ‘dead,’ in this month’s Chessay we’ll be bringing out the ‘lead.’ In this case from a late 1950s ‘Grandmaster’ or ‘GM’ set. A classic design that dominated Soviet chess tournaments (in several variations) well into the […]


Chips and busted bases – chippititus! Sorrowfully, an all-too-common ailment throughout the chess collecting community and the subject of this month’s (somewhat delayed) Chessay. Whether a set is made from wood, bone or carbolite, an unexpected tumble from the playing table or an over-enthusiastic ker-thud! during a game of blitz and <<< BOOM!! >>> Shift […]