Alta Equitum (Tall Riders); 32 weighted chessmen, Soviet, wood, antiqued, light brown v. cherry black, circa 1950
Height: King 10.5cm, wt 17g, base perimeter 3cm, Queen 8cm 15g, Bishop 7cm 12g, Knight 7.5cm 12g, Rook 5.7cm 12g, Pawn 5cm 8g.
W: antiqued red felt bases, B: same
One of the more sophisticated of the Soviet post-Revolution designs manufactured in various patterns (chiefly with variations to the knight) from the 1930s on. The pattern is characterized by the long elegant stems of the king, queen and rooks which rise up graciously from their large, rotund bases which have been given extra weight making them even more of a joy to toss around the board.
The sleek design of the knights, although original to the set, are my own artistic recreation. I like to indulge myself and think that I speak for the anonymous Soviet Artel workforce who may have looked at these pieces many decades ago in much the same light and had the same thoughts about ‘elevating’ the design just slightly. A feat which I believe I’ve accomplished for them here and I tug my (imaginary) forelock to them all. The knights originally came in two pieces. Now they are one.
The stumps which passed off for finials on the original king and queen have been replaced – or ‘ousted’ if you like! The queen receiving a shapely, slightly flatter version of the bishop’s finials, while the king’s finial stretches up towards the heavens mimicking his lengthy stem, lending him an air of confidence and refinement.
The signifier of the bishops are of the flat variety also found on the iconic Botvinnik-Flohr bishop designs of the 1920s on and matches that of the queen. The large drop collar and difference in height of the bishop, however, makes it easily identifiable in the heat of battle – a flaw of some of the early B-F designs.
The light pieces have been antiqued using oils, shellac and varnishes with a final coat of walnut antiquing oils. The dark side has also been antiqued using various colour combinations of ebony, cherry-black rich purples and deep browns, also finished with a few coats of walnut oil brought to a buffed finish. The whole process was posted on our Instagram pages for those interested @thechessschach
The pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display, as well as casual play. Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent silver (2020) ‘Power’ signature of the artist on their felt bases.
All ‘silver signature’ sets come with a Certificate of Authenticity which will be dispatched in the first few weeks of the new year once we have the full tally of sets listed in our galleries during 2020.
Ref code; AE20
Visit our Gallery for more artistically restored vintage chess sets.