Expiraviti Griseo (The Grey Ghosts); 32 weighted Soviet Grand Master tournament chess pieces without board. Mixed media (wood/plastic), army green/grey v. light brown, circa 1960-1970s.
Height: King 11.2cm, wt 40g, base width 4.2cm. Queen 10cm 35g. Bishop 8.6cm 25g. Knight 7.2cm 25g. Rook 6.3cm 15g. Pawn 5.7cm 15g.
W: antiqued red felt bases, B: same
As you may have noticed, I have used four identical plastic knights (from the 60s) for this one-off creation, which have been slightly artistically refined or ‘elevated’. They have a more shapely and less angular silhouette than the original design. The teeth have been intricately carved and are therefore more pronounced and the mane has also been given a new, sleek look tucking in at the top of the spine just under the ears – I have always felt that if the artisans of the old Soviet gulags and manufactories could have had their own way with these pieces they would have paid much more attention to details such as these (I also imagine it must have drove those artistically minded souls quite crazy – it certainly would have me!).
This vintage ‘Grandmaster’ set was a very popular Russian tournament set spanning several decades from the 1950s on. The chess pieces are fairly common varying greatly in condition and design. The earlier forms being all wooden until plastic knights (for the black side) were introduced during the late 60s and even later examples (post 1980) having four plastic knights with a more slim-line (some say ‘feeble-looking’) design – varying greatly from the brawny specimens featured here.
Personally, I was never a great fan of the 1960s/70s finial designs. These are my interpretation of the earlier, more rustic design from the 50s, as are the finishes; the ‘battledress’ grey side being based on the green/grey army uniforms of post-Stalin Russia, the light side have a light, faux-wood antiqued finish, loosely based on the light coloured helmets of the Soviet army.
Weight also plays a prominent part in this artistic recreation. In the original set the weights were completely missing, however, I was able to match the weight of each piece identically to another GM set in my collection, thereby retaining the original feel of these classic tournament chess pieces over the board.
The set is finished with a buffed wax topcoat with an extremely subtle white wash (accomplished using a paint technique that reacts when washed over the wax). There are a few nicks or ‘battle-scars’ here and there, nothing ugly, just the normal knocks you’d pick up over the course of several decades of war.
The pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as Blitz/casual play. Both Kings carry the hand-painted iridescent silver ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases.
Set Price: $600.00
ANGIE’S SET OF THE MONTH PRICE:
Ref code: EG20
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