Serdicae Arbitrium (Sofia’s Choice); 32 lightly weighted, medium-sized wooden chessmen with their original board, Eastern Bloc (Bulgarian) wood, amber v. deep brown/black, antiqued ‘one-off’ creation, circa 1955-1965
Height: King 7cm wt 13g base diameter 2.5cm (same as the whole set), Queen 6.1cm 13g, Bishop 6cm 9g, Knight 6.2cm 9g, Rook 4.1cm 11g, Pawn 3.9cm 8g
W: antiqued blue felt bases B: same
We are thrilled to introduce one of our own totally unique ‘one-off’ Chess Schach creations – ‘Sofia’s Choice.’ She is so-named because the main body of the set is definitely of Eastern Bloc origin, most probably Bulgaria (where these traditional, simplistic, heavy-bottomed patterns are commonplace), whereas the upper torso of the knights are borrowed/inspired by Soviet designs of the same era.
Originally, Sofia was unfelted and unweighted, one side painted in thick black lead paint, the other side left natural. After playing a few games with the set to get the ‘feel’ of her, I found the pawns and rooks (which are of a similar size) too easy to confuse. Therefore, the turrets of the black side have been left with their original colouring, while the light side has been stained a few shades darker, resolving the issue completely.
The original ‘silhouetted’ Bulgarian knights were butt-ugly (plain and simple) and just had to go – see pics on our main site. Our replacement knights were custom-carved to fit the bases and mounted so as to give them a ‘cobra’ like stance – heavily influenced by other Soviet knights of the same period, and, to my mind at least, bring the set thoroughly to life whilst retaining lingering flavours of the original pieces.
The finials of the kings and bishops have likewise been stained/antiqued a shade darker, as has the flat crown of the queen and the upper torso of the knights. This was inspired by the turrets of the rooks and adds balance and character to the set as a whole – a far cry from the original lack-lustre finish! As mentioned, weight has been added, making this medium-sized analysis set particularly nice to play with – the chunky, sixties bases were literally screaming for weight! The whole set has been dotingly antiqued/distressed, perhaps aging it a tad too much (?!) as it feels and looks like it could be from a much earlier period – a characteristic that bothers me not…
The set is UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual play. Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent silver ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases.
Ref code: SA20
Visit our Gallery for more artistically restored vintage chess sets.