The Fortress (Varnaem); 32 weighted chess pieces without board, caramel v. dark grape, antiqued/distressed w/ fine gold and bronze detailing, Bulgarian, moulded resin, c.1970-1980
Height: King 10cm, weight 35g, base width 4cm; Queen 8cm, wt 30g, Bishop 6.5cm 20g, Knight 6cm 25g, Rook 4.7cm 15g, Pawns 4.5cm 15g.
W: lush navy blue felt pads, B: same
A popular compressed resin version of the official bakelite chess pieces used at the 1962 Varna Olympiad in Bulgaria won by the Russian delegation under the leadership of the reigning WC, Mikhail Botvinnik, and attended by the young American, Bobby Fischer.
These replicas typically carry some very ugly ‘knit-lines’ (common to moulded pieces) which have been diligently removed giving the set a very ‘wooden’ look and feel about them. To further enhance this experience, elaborate wooden finials have been added to the kings, intentionally more in-tune with the classic Staunton patterns after which these pieces were fashioned. The set originally came without king finials, as opposed to the Varna ‘62 king which carried a very plain cross on top of the crown (as did the rare, original pre-WWII wooden set from which the Olympiad design was based).
The attractive, slender knights I have also made more curvaceous by curtailing their manes which now arch inwards at the base and mirror the curve of the knight’s chest. You may also notice that the body of the knight is slightly textured replicating the look and feel of actual horse-hair (!) and the eyes have been given depth using a similar layering technique using minute drops of tinted varnish.
If you are scouring the internet in search of a unique, one-off Varna chess set, here it is before you! For more pictures of the finishing process please refer to my Instagram and Facebook pages – @thechessschach and The Chess Schach respectively.
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent bronze ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are ideal for display as well as casual play. The Fortress is also accompanied by a ‘Certificate of Artistry’ which will be posted out separately once we tally up how many ‘Bronze Signature’ sets passed through our galleries in 2021.
“All good things …” as the saying goes.
Etsy Set Price: $950.00
thechessschach.com Set Price: $850.00
Visit our Gallery for more artistically restored vintage chess sets.