Spiculum Rex (The Kingpins); 32 small vintage chess pieces with native board, wood, lightly weighted, white vs. black, Soviet ‘Voronezh’ style, artistically restored, c.1950s (possibly earlier)
Height: King 7cm, weight 8g, base width 26mm; Queen 5cm, wt. 7g, Bishop 4.2cm 5g, Knight 5cm 5g, Rook 3.2cm 5g, Pawns 3.2cm 2g.
W: Gently antiqued Battle Blue felt pads; B: same
The sexy Marylin Monroes of the chess world! – or in other words, the curvaceous Soviet ‘Voronezh’ pattern, and this is a most excellent example of the handy travelling sets used by the armed forces et al during the forties and fifties.
When I started collecting, these smaller sets were my go-to. They are almost always completely original, as is this set. The only artistic improvement I have made is to the king and queen finials. As having played with them for a few months, the original ball finial of the king irked me somewhat, and as I play with many Soviets sets I decided on a technical snip, as the queen usually has the balls! Now, to my eyes at least, the set has balance and you can get lost in a game without confusion between the royals.
The set came to me unweighted and without pads, however, I decided to add just a little weight to the pieces and felt the bases. The felt has been gently antiqued, adding to the overall vintage feel of the set.
The board came to me with the set, but I cannot be sure it is original to the set. The star stamped inside the board suggests it was made in the Soviet gulag system, but the craftsmanship of the pieces, which is of a high standard, doesn’t reflect this.
The board dates the set to the 1950s, but in my opinion they could be dated to the late 30s or 40s. If and when any more information comes to light I’ll update the details here in our Archive Gallery.