Averbakii Iuvenis (Young Averbakh): 32 weighted, wooden chessmen without board, reinterpreted from a reproduction turned and carved by a fellow artist and Etsy shop owner, the wonderfully talented Andrei of OldSet (Ukraine), who graciously made available one of his unfinished sets of chessmen – a blank canvas, so to speak! This unfinished set has been meticulously stained, antiqued and distressed by yours truly to match the finish of other sets I’ve had the pleasure of working on from the post-Revolution era.
Height: King 9.5cm, wt 28g, base width 3.5cm; Queen 7.5cm wt 25g, Bishop 7cm 21g, Knight 6cm 23g, Rook 5.3cm 25g, Pawn 4.5cm 20g.
W: deep blue felt bases B: same
This is only the third ‘reinterpretation’ of a modern reproduction that I have embarked on since opening The Schach in 2019 – as I’m a fussy old fellow! The first was the Catalan set ‘Toro Bravo’ and the second was another of Andrew’s sets, a pre-Revolution design I called The Tzars. Obviously, I’m a great fan of Andrew’s work, but my only ‘pet peeve’ with his wonderful reproductions (and this is a general ‘irk’ of mine with ANY new set) is that they just look too damned new! I like my sets to LOOK and FEEL old no matter if they were made in 2020 or 1920! And this, I believe, has been achieved here.
There has been much discussion regarding the naming/grouping of these old Soviet sets of late, and no doubt, there will be many more lively conversations in the future. I have refrained from calling this a Botvinnik-Flohr I (BF1) reproduction as there is much debate about this, too. Instead, I tend to trust my artistic eye in these matters and here I see much in common with what I call the ‘Averbakh Family’ of chess set designs, of which this set could be considered one of the forerunners. To keep your finger on the pulse of these numerous name clarifications see Chuck Grau’s Facebook group, Shakhmatnyye Kollektsionery: Soviet & Russian Chess Sets.
If you compare this set with other similar Soviet patterns in our ARCHIVE GALLERY at thechessschach.com you will see in particular the similarities with the later, more lean and elegant pattern of Averbakii Aeternum (Eternal Averbakh) and Averbakh Alumni- ‘The Chess Player’s Averbakh,’ so-named due to its more sturdy (playable) design – favoured by the legendary Anatoly Karpov, no less.
Like the Alumni, this set is extremely playable whether you play fast or less frantically. The large, over-exaggerated signums of the royals are easy to find over the board, as too are the bishops, which like the rest of the pieces resemble the English Staunton pattern made famous in the mid-1850s, a product of another ‘revolution’ of the industrial kind…
My attempts at photography don’t quite do the set justice, and on a sunnier day I aim to reshoot them again – we have been waiting for a ray of sunshine for four days now in Toronto and yesterday I finally gave up and managed on what measly light was available.
Both kings carry the iridescent bronze (!) hand-painted signature of the artist on their bases. The set is UV protected and therefore ideal for display as well as casual play.
Ref code: AI21
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