Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rant: Why Isn't There a Serious Contender to the Staunton Chess Set Design?

Uniformity is a good thing I suppose, but it flies in the face of the old adage "Variety is the spice of life."

It seems to me a bit of a shame that we only have a single choice when it comes to a chess set design for serious play - the Staunton design. Why can't we have one or two other acceptable alternatives to the Staunton design? Of course, by "serious" I mean a design that would be agreeable for play to the majority of chess players - not some ridiculous "Simpson" or "Lord of the Rings" theme set.

So let me present some possible candidates (drawn from actual historical examples) for alternatives to the "officially" sanctioned and endorsed Staunton design.

The St. George Style:

The Northern Upright Style:

The English Barleycorn Style:

The French Regency Style:

And Two Different Calvert Styles (We call them "A" and "B")

And finally, maybe all we need is a "streamlined" Modern Staunton:

What do you think? Could you see yourself playing a serious (tournament?) game with any of these alternatives to the tried-and-true Staunton design? I could.


Will said...

I must admit I like the streamlined Staunton best, followed by the St. George. The others seem perhaps too tall and thin to be practical.

Anonymous said...

My vote is for the Northern Upright Style!

Rook Van Winkle said...


Your comment about many of the sets being "tall and thin" is a good criticism - stability of the chess pieces is important especially if one is playing blitz!

I also think the other chess sets are perhaps a little too ornate for modern tastes. But they could have great potential if they were simplified somewhat in their design and modified so that they would not be overly tall. For example, I could see the English Barleycorn as being a good candidate for a modern update -leave the pedestal design and simplify the body of each piece while shortening the excessive height.

Bird said...

I love the Staunton design. I can't imagine playing with anything else.