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Practical Sculpture - Chess Pieces in the Village - A Visit to the Chess Forum  

08/27/2013

This past weekend the weather was gorgeous and I found myself doing a walkabout in the village. On Thompson street the Chess Forum is a Greenwich Village fixture where you can buy chess sets and paraphernalia , books and videos, and most important, rent a table to play chess. The variety and art of the chess sets intrigued me so I went in to browse.

As any person who play chess will tell you, having readily recognizable pieces is important so you don't get confused while playing but some of the sets are just gorgeous, amazing, and wonderful. For anyone interested in carving, turning, or for that matter any aspect of the craft, building a chess set, especially after seeing these sets, is a great way to explore all sorts of design vocabularies. And we mustn't forgot that it's not just the pieces, chessboards lend themselves to marquetry, inlay, and low relief carving. I don't have much else to add. If you visit the Chess Forum website you can see the dozens of other sets that they carry, although I think some of the rarer ones aren't on-line. I really just wanted to show off what a little imaginations and a craft can produce.
I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the store so at the end of this entry I have included the Google Street view of the place. And of course with street view you can also take a little village tour at the same time.
PICT
Prices for a decorative set run from about $40 for a plastic golf themed set, to the sky, with the high hundreds being pretty much the top price for everything I saw in the store. Quality and design are all over the map.
All of the sets illustrated here are great examples of woodworking craft, and from a project standpoint really give a person a chance to explore a style.

PS. Sorry about the phone photography. I need to discipline myself to always bring a real camera with me when I do walkabout.


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Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques,Misc.
Comments: 3
08/27/2013Michael Rogen 
Hi Joel,
Well this certainly brings back many memories. Being a player and having walked past the chess store hundreds of times and always stopping to look at the sets dreaming of one day perhaps owning a set. Having lived in Soho and the Village for many years as well as working in the well known Jimmy Day's bar, this is a memory of some of the best years of my young life!
Thanks for the memories.

Michael
08/27/2013Bruce 
Yes. Talk about memories. My first (and only) go at this was forty years back. As an amateur photographer I photographed and then enlarged an existing wooden set. I enlarged the pictures of each piece, cut them out and used them as templates for turning. The pieces and the board were made from Huon pine and African walnut. Absolute labour of love and the set still gets used today.
Bruce.
08/28/2013ScottV 
Ah! I've been to that store, perhaps 25 years ago...

My favorite modern chess set (more so than the one by Man Ray) was designed by Marcel Duchamp. Another great one was by Max Ernst. I've been quietly waited for someone to reproduce those sets. Perhaps I should take a stab at it myself.
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