Lupus Auribus Milities (Wolf Eared Knights); 32 Wooden chessmen, light brown vs. deep brown, Soviet (post-Stalin Era), 1960-1970.
King height; 11.6cm, weight 32g, base diameter 4.3cm; Queen 10cm, 28g; bd 4.3cm; Bishop 8.5cm, Knight 8.3cm, Rook 7.5cm, Pawn 6.5cm. W: soft grey felt pads, B: same
This is THE ideal ‘vintage’ set for the Blitz players amongst you! It is well weighed, the bases are large and wide, wider than many Soviet chess set designs from this period. If I play Blitz with friends – this is my absolute go-to. The felt pads I selected are intentionally thin (1mm nap), so you can really hear the THUD! when you capture an opponent’s Queen! Now I AM getting all geared up to play Blitz!!
I have an almost identical set in my personal collection that came with a board with the date 1966 inside (a good year for English football!), which was from Lemberg, as I was taught, but more properly, Lviv in western Ukraine, 50 or so miles from the Polish border overlooking the Carinthian Mountains. In fact, it has very close ties with Poland and Austria as the history books will tell you.
The set itself is so typically Soviet; the rooks resemble mini cannons, tapering up gently towards the turret which itself mimics the shape of the barrel. The knights – always the star of the show for me – are a delight, and ooze of Soviet designs from this period. The nickname ‘wolf-eared knights’ came about as just their ears alone measure in at 1.5cm! Just a beautifully balanced set all round.
The lighter side has smatterings of gold leaf here and there, which is so subtle you wouldn’t notice unless it catches the light. The dark side has been given an ebony stain, sanded back many times and finished with a dark oak finish then refinished with oils and wax. The king’s finial replicates the original, but I have made them slighter taller – the Russians skimped on their lumber. The queen’s finial mirrors the heads of the pawns.
All pieces are UV resistant and good for blitz/casual play as well as display. The Kings carry the hand-painted ‘power’ signature of the artist in iridescent silver.
Ref code: LAM20