Eques Satanus (Deviled Knights); 32 weighted Philippine chessmen without board, distributed by the German chess company APF von Rolland during the 1970s; light brown vs. dark brown, circa 1965-75.
Height: King 10.5cm, wt 32g, base diameter 3.7cm, Queen 9cm 30g, Bishop 8cm 20g, Knight 7.5cm 25g, Rook 5.7cm 20g, Pawn 5.2cm 17g.
W: antiqued red felt pads, B: same
The wood does much of the talking with this brawny, blitzy Philippino club set. The light side is turned from what I believe to be narra wood, a member of the rosewood family. The dark pieces are derived from some type of fruitwood or possibly ebonized weighted narra, but I may be corrected on this matter. Most often with vintage Philippine sets, the dark side is almost always made of kamagong or ‘iron’ wood (closely related to ebony) and well known for its density and uniquely coloured grain – since the early 80s a protected species in the Philippines. Likewise, this dense wood is a chore to carve or bore into, as is evident with the dramatic angular cuts on the upper torso of the knights. The carver’s faint, inspired chisel marks are reminiscent of the deft brushstrokes of painters during the Impressionist era – decisive, spontaneous and artistic all at once. These ‘devilish’ knights can be interpreted two different ways I feel; either you see them with large protruding eyes (in certain lights) or alternatively, you see a pair of well-worn horns. I’ll leave that for you to decide – but either way, they bleed character!
For me, however, it’s the bishops that absolutely steal the show – hands! down! If you prefer bishops over knights and are fond of playing through the old gambit games of yesteryear, then these guys are an absolute joy to sac! The set originally came with wafer-thin green paper pads which I’ve replaced with thicker antiqued red felt pads, but not too thick (1mm), as I love the thud the pieces make when playing fast games, red felt being the traditional colour of most Philippine chess sets. There are a few minute knicks here and there, but none that test the eye. I’ve simply remedied a few loose weights here and there and enhanced the vintage flavour of this set bringing out the true beauty of what lay beneath the coddling and unattractive Philippine lacquers of the late ’60s.
Now you see the set in its true artistic beauty.
All pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual and blitz play. The kings carry the hand-painted iridescent silver ‘power’ signature of the artist on their felt bases.
Ref code: ES20
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