Villa Laborem (The Villagers); 32 weighted bakelite chessmen without board, pale blue v. ivory, Soviet, c.1960-1970
Height: King 9.5cm, wt 40g, base diameter (of all pieces) 3cm; Queen 8.5cm 30g, Bishop 8.2cm 33g, Knight 6.2cm 30g, Rook 6cm 20g, Pawns 5cm 22g.
W: navy blue felt bases, B: same
A wonderful set of chessmen that represent the working class labourers of Soviet Russia’s ancient village culture system that is fast disappearing these days. Typically, these rural farm workers survived off of social welfare benefits distributed by the ‘collective farm’ and were paid in “trudodni” (labour days), representing a varying portion of the farm’s total production.
I really love the way these classic Ukrainian chess pieces appear to be bristling for a fight. The rooks represent a marker, a woven cornerstone, if you like, topped with a stake that was driven into the ground signifying the boundaries of the villager’s allotted plot of land. The knights are the workhorses, rearing up on their hind legs eager for the day’s action. The bishops are the foremen overseeing a young workforce of pawns or peasantry. The queen is the matronly boss of the household, the brains of the operation, while her husband, the village chief, with a cocked hat, pipe and a flask at his side is clearly enjoying his lofty position – much to queenies annoyance it seems!
There are additional photographs of real-life villagers from the 1930s who worked on these ‘collective farms’ of the old Soviet Union at our H.Q. thechessschach.com. Swing by and take a look – you may even save yourself a few $$$, too!
The pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual /blitz play. Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent silver ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases and come with a Certificate of Authenticity which will be mailed separately in the New Year once we have tallied up how many silver signature sets were listed in 2020.
Ref code: VL20