Legionem Michaelis (Misha’s Army), 32 lightly-weighted chessmen without board, wood, orange v. brown, Classic Soviet/Latvian (post Stalin era) Chess Set, circa 1950 – 1965. Height: King 10cm, weight 15g, base width 3.5cm, Queen 8.5cm, Bishop 7.5cm Knight 6.3cm, Rook 5.1cm, Pawn 4.5cm. W: green felt bases B: same
The prolific Portuguese collector, Arlindo Vieira, in his blog Xadrez Memoria (Memories of Chess) refers to this classic Latvian design as “Tal’s favourite” and if I were forced to choose just one Soviet set to bring with me to the other side, this would certainly be the one. Vieira, of course, refers to the late World Champion, Mikhail Tal, or “Misha” as he was fondly called, the famous ‘Magician of Riga’ – and one can see why he favoured this particular set, as just to glance at them sparks a sudden urge to play chess!
The iconic ‘elbow-shaped’ knights have a stark simplicity about them and are very comfortable in hand – even more so with this set, which has been lightly weighted lending them added substance on the field.* The simple tear-drop mitre of the bishop can only be inspired by Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral and its “towering domes shaped like the flames of a bonfire rising into the sky.” (A. Ivanov, The Tsars p.100) A vivid analogy I bore in mind when layering the fiery orange and red hues over the lighter side of this set, and if it catches your eye, I hope it brings some fire to your game too!
Set specs; various wood stains/shellac/oils/ink/danish oil sealer The pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display, as well as casual/blitz play. Both kings carry the hand-painted signature of the artist on their felt bases.
Ref code LM12
*For more information on these knights see my November ‘blogski’ Gulag Knights on the ALL ABOUT CHESS page.