Staunton Chess Pieces – options for play and display
I’ll be looking at some of the specific designs of staunton chess pieces. Because there are so many, i’ve separated them in to a couple different groupings. This post is on chess designs that are great display pieces but are very hardy and playable. These are the best options for chess men that are left out on display but are frequently used.
What makes these Chessmen durable than others?
As I discussed in a previous blog, our hand carved wood chess sets are made from the same woods – in fact many come from the same manufacturer. There are several reasons why the designs i’m reviewing today are a little more durable which i’ll review below, but there is one reason everyone loves: As they are often a little simpler than some other designs, these are also the most affordable in style. Let’s look at several of the chess pieces:
The King: You will notice on many of the designs shown that the king has a wider cross than most other designs. A small or thin king cross is one of the weakest points in traditional chessmen so it is much less fragile when a wide cross is used.
The Queen: Notice that the crown of the queen in most of these chessmen does not have lots of tiny little spikes – it looks fantastic but those points are another weak point in a chess set.
The Bishop: You’ll notice the bishop on these chess sets usually has a simple slit with a wide ball on top. There are some designs that have extremely wide slits, or very tiny balls on top. Again, that is where the weak point would be.
The Knight: Besides the cross on a king or the queen’s crown, the knight has the most possibility for damage. The reasoning is simple – there are tons of variations in the knights, and some of them get very elaborate. For a very durable knight, you will notice that despite still having style, they’ll be stockier and the ears are either quite wide or pressed against the head. Tiny ears above a chess piece is a notorious spot for damage!
The Rook: While generally pretty well protected, some designs have very deep and wide crenelations on the top of their rooks. A deep crenelation is not necessarily bad, but a thin piece with a wide gap with a deep crenelation is another easy break point for your pieces. The most durable sets have thick pieces with a smaller gap.
French Staunton Chess Pieces
The French design is a classic option that is perhaps the most popular of affordable, durable chessmen. You will notice this design is also the primary design seen in plastic tournament chess pieces. Note the wide cross and spike-less crown on the bishop, and the very small crenelations on the rook. The knight still has a fair bit of detailing making it a great in-between with regards to form and function. It’s a very durable set and can actually be stored in a plastic bag without any extra protection. The pieces hold up that well.
German Staunton Chess Pieces
The German design is perhaps the most traditionally classic. You will see this design used in many high tournaments and find similar pieces in a variety of chess sets. The pieces are in general identical to the ones you see in the french set with the exception of the knight. Here the knight has a classically rounded back and is a little meatier than the ‘delicate’ form of the French design.
Tournament Premier Staunton Chess Pieces
Our Tournament Premier design is also referred to as the “Polgar” design. It is a newer design that has only really appeared over the past several years. You’ll notice that while it looks largely the same as the French and the German, the knight takes a middle road between the two. It still has clean, smooth lines like the German set, but it is more rounded in a near S shape giving an element of added detail.
Tournament Champion Staunton Chess Pieces
The Tournament Champion design has always been a crossover set. It’s a step up in both detail and price from the ones above, and you can see there is a lot of added detail when it comes to the secondary pieces such as the rook or queen. This makes it perhaps the least durable of the durable chess pieces, but it’s still very solid. You will notice that the knight, although much more detailed than the others, still keeps the ears to the side of the head as not to allow them to become a fragile point.
Durable Chess Piece Conclusions
Of course, this does not mean that other, more fanciful chess pieces are not durable – wooden pieces in general are quite durable. They are head and shoulders above marble, glass, and resin pieces. Do not necessarily be afraid to have a fancier set, but just be aware of the weak points and the risks. If it’s a set that you will be playing every day – consider these durable options. If it’s a set you’ll play only occasionally, i’m sure it’s fine to go with a ‘fancier’ design. Just be careful!
You can see all of chess pieces I’ve discussed, our any of our other staunton chess pieces designs on our website, organized by wood type:
See our Staunton Chess Sets with Ebonized Boxwood.
See our Staunton Chess Sets with Honey Rosewood.
See our Staunton Chess Sets with Rosewood.
See our Staunton Chess Sets with Crimson Rosewood.
See our Staunton Chess Sets with Ebonywood.