Wee Warriors (Minima Militiae); 32 medium-sized weighted chessmen without board, Soviet, wood, lightly weighted, natural wood v. black, antiqued, c.1960
Height: King 6.5cm, weight 10g, base width 2.8cm; Queen 6cm, wt 10g, Bishop 5.6cm 5g, Knight 5cm 7g, Rook 4cm 10g, Pawns 3.7cm 3g
W: black felt pads, B: same
These pieces definitely have a rustic, earthy feel about them and ‘wee’ is perhaps a little misleading as they are perfectly sized for running through old games of past Soviet masters – the Latvian Magician, Mikhail Tal is said to have favoured a set very similar to these during his reign as World Champion in the 60s.
More recently a slightly different set, but of the same iconic Soviet pattern, was used in the hit mini-series, THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, although, admittedly, this set is a few decades older than the 1980s version used in the nail-biting final of the last episode.
The set was a little too light for my taste, so weight has been added to make them more enjoyable to play with OTB. The finish was achieved (and preserved) using several different opaque varnishes, mainly matte, satin and a smidge of high gloss and shellac here and there. The pieces are in good vintage condition. I’ve restored and made solid anything that was unattractive to the eye. The unique ‘bonnet’ finials of the Queens are original but I have replaced the finials of the Kings with a sturdier Soviet design that in my mind adds more ‘visual’ weight to the set. One of the white pawns has collar damage, but I’m partial to the odd battle-scar here and there, and it adds, rather than detracts to the playing experience I feel.
If you like well-weathered, battle-hardy warriors here they are! A great gift for someone new to the game and perhaps a foundation stone for a collection of their own?
Both kings carry the hand-painted iridescent bronze ‘power’ signature of the artist on their bases and are UV protected and therefore ideal for display as well as casual over-the-board play.
Minima Militiae is also accompanied by our unique ‘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.
Ref code: MM21