Ludibrium Milites (Laughing Knights); 32 weighted wooden chessmen without board, amber vs. deep brown, Soviet, c.1940
Height; King 10.4cm, wt 20g, base diameter 3.4cm; Queen 8.8cm 18g, Bishop 7.2cm 12g, Knight 7.3cm 14g, Rook 5.3cm 17g, Pawn 4.4cm 10g.
W: antiqued blue felt pads B: same
It would be easy to focus solely on the “Happy Knights” of this set (as they are called in the Soviet section of the informative website, chess-museum.com) and they are no doubt the stars of the show. But the bishop’s also shine too, with their slender collars and typical onion-shaped domes, topped here with a delicate ‘nipple’ finial rather than the more common ball pattern.
The pawns also carry the large, bell-bottomed bases of an era when lead was in high demand for more serious warfare. These bottom-heavy sets are even more enjoyable to play with once actual weight is actually added! – making them feel very natural in the hand, as opposed to too light and airy. The finial of the Queen is also unusual as it Isn’t carved separately, but raises up from the crown supported by an elegant stem.
The amber finish for the light side has been kept traditional using multiple layers of tinted shellac, oils and waxes to give a rich, antiqued patina to the pieces that like a fine vintage wine will only improve with age. The dark side has been stripped of its ugly layers of black lead paint revealing the wonderful wood grain beneath, which has also been aged and antiqued with many layers of stains and oils. The antiquing process on both sides began with a ‘rose’ coloured wash which makes the pieces glow in certain lights – especially in the evenings if you’re able to enjoy a game outside.
This is the third of five sets we will be listing in 2020 under the banner of THE LAUGHING KNIGHTS SERIES, all dating from roughly the same era, circa 1930-1960. These five sets will be the subject of a future Chessay on the ALL ABOUT CHESS page at our main site thechessschach.com towards the end of the year.
All pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual play. Both kings carry the hand-painted ‘iridescent silver’ signature of the artist on their bases.
Ref code: LM20