Here’s a first look at the Raphael Design chess pieces that are radically un-Staunton yet irresistible to the child inside of us.
While they may not appeal to the chess purist, I love the simplicity of a mere block of wood that has beauty and significance on the chessboard.
Indeed, these chessmen ARE unconventional. And I enjoy that. They are not stereotypical or variations of previous craft.
I find it refreshing to revisit the conventional in radical new ways and give myself permission to imagine like a young child again.
In fact, these chessmen are particularly youthful and represent a bridge to the next generation.
As my own young ones play with these chessmen I see their delight in the simple shapes as they slide the blocks across the board.
Their minds in a moment translate the pictorial elements inlaid within the block to their familiarity of each piece’s chess play movement.
It’s my first chess piece design and one that has been thoroughly satisfying to make even if I and my children were the only one in the world to play them.
This design is only possible thanks to a fifth generation craftsman who pours his love for woodworking into each finished piece.
And he also is reaching the next generation. After school, one of his sons is mentored in woodworking alongside his father and helps in some phases of the production of this chess set.
I believe this intergenerational connection is something we need restored, to spend more time together and let our children see our values lived out. To me, this set represents exactly that effort.
About the design
Here are a few thoughts about this design, although at this stage I will mostly let the photos speak for themselves.
Similarly to the STACK chessboard, I was in no hurry to produce this set of chess pieces. I wanted time for the design to feel just right and time to listen to others.
Now, with the fitted box I am pleased to engrave the Chess House mark on it and make an initial handful available to my customers.
On the second and seventh ranks, the pawns, proportionally smaller in volume and height, are depicted with a square.
On the first and either ranks are a modestly tapered array of minor and major pieces.
The Rooks have four parapet-like arcs to represent the four directions of the Rook’s movement in chess play, that of vertical and horizontal along the files and ranks.
The Knight’s L-shaped movement is depicted as such.
The Bishop rules the diagonals on the chessboard and therefore, the square is rotated 45 degrees.
The Queen is most powerful and can move in any direction, thus the circle.
The King, finally, is represented with the cross.
If you are a brave a non-conformist, this may be the set for your home.
You’ll feel young again, no doubt.