The Champions (Los Campeones); 32 championship/club chess pieces without board in original box, ‘seamless’ carbolite, heavily weighted, caramel vs. deep burgundy, artistically reimagined and antiqued, hand-painted, Argentina, c.1965
Height: King 93mm, weight 50g, base diameter 30mm; Queen 80mm wt. 55g, Bishop 73mm 33g, Knight 65mm 33g, Rook 56mm 37g, Pawns 50mm 18g.
W: Lush burgundy felt pads; B: same
I’ve always loved the beefy design of these handsome Argentinian tournament pieces and finally found a set that I could play with, as the light side had become stained somehow with a blue substance (probably ink) – an unfortunate accident for some chess enthusiast, but very fortunate for me.
The original pieces were cast in carbolite (a hardier form of bakelite) in traditional white vs. black which were hollow and lightly weighted with discs. Over the years these weights had become loose and rattled around inside of the pieces, so these were removed entirely and replaced with lead caulking, filling the entire cavity to give the pieces a very solid feel over the board and eliminating the ‘plasticky’ clacking sound of hollow pieces.
All the seams have been meticulously sanded down (find one and I’ll refund your purchase price!) as I wanted to replicate the appearance of aged wood, much like some of the old playing sets Jaques of London produced in the 1800s – and this was the perfect design for this trompe l’oeil (‘to deceive the eye’) painting technique! This lengthy procedure was achieved with multiple layers of tinted oils, shellac and varnishes, antiquing every step along the way, then sealing everything in several armour-like top coats.
The dark side simply reflects the colour of many bakelite/carbolite sets from the old Soviet Union. Ironically, the ‘light’ pieces of these old sets are this very same colour due to the dark fillers or strengthening agents used, which as you can imagine, caused much confusion over the board.
The set comes with its original box which is in excellent vintage condition. The clasp works fine, but is slightly rusty. Nothing that offends the eye though.
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent copper 2022 ‘Power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are accompanied by one of our unique Certificates of Authenticity. See the Jan. 2022 chessay for more info on this.
Etsy Set Price: $950.00
thechessschach.com Set Price: $850.00