Ortum Rus (Soviet Sunburst); 32 vintage chess pieces without board, Moldova S.S.R., red vs. black, wood, weighted, partially restored, c.1950-1955.
Height: King 9.5cm or 3 3/4 inches, weight 15g, base width 3.7cm; Queen 8.2cm, wt. 15g; Bishop 7.2cm 12g, Knight 6.2cm 15g, Rook 5cm 18g, Pawns 4.5cm 6g.
W: Lush Prussian Blue felt pads; B: same.
This popular Soviet design was once said to be “a favourite” of the legendary ‘Magician from Riga’ – Mikhail Tal – which is perhaps why the set is sometimes confusingly called a ‘Latvian’ set. I make use of the term ‘popular’ because in 2021 a similar version of this Cold War classic was used in the hit mini-series, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, although this particular pattern is from a few decades earlier than the 1980s version used in the nail-biting finale of episode seven.
The patina of the pieces has been kept intact. There were several ugly chips on five pawn collars (3 red, 2 black) and some problem areas around the bases/crowns that have been repaired and perfectly matched to the original patina – in both colouring and sheen. New finials have also been added to the set, which have been aged to keep the feel of the set intact. All in all, one of the prettiest Moldovian examples I’ve come across over the years and I can’t imagine it will be up in our galleries for too long.
Besides the repairs to the pawn collars, one of the white knights has a damaged muzzle. I was unaware of this when I purchased the set as it isn’t an obvious repair. I decided to leave it be, as it seems like a clean break and the original muzzle has been fixed back in place by a caring hand. Please examine the last photo.
The set is ideal for display as well as casual play and both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent pearl ‘Power’ signature of the artist on their bases. Ortum Rus also comes with our unique ‘Certificate of Artistry’ which will be posted on separately once we tally up how many listings passed through our galleries in 2023 … “All good things …” to use the apt cliche.
Ref Code: OR23