After I first read about the original sets of Ivory chess pieces found in the vicinity of Uig on the Isle of Lewis sometime around 1831, I’ve lusted after a full-sized set of my own.
With the worldwide ban on collecting Ivory thanks to the CITES convention, the only sets available are made from resin like mine pictured above, or maybe cattle bone. Although I’ve yet to hear of any in the latter medium…
The main difference between this set and others is that the pawns look like grave markers and the queen is decidedly masculine. The pieces are massive in comparison to traditional chess sets. Take the King for instance. He measures in at 2 inches wide by 1and a 1/4 inches deep by 3 and a 1/2 inches tall. As a consequence I’ve had to order a much bigger chess board – 19″ made from Mahogany and Sycamore to accommodate them. It’s scheduled to arrive later today (Friday 22nd December 2017).
To be any good at chess you need to have a tactical mind, something I’ve never had. Which is probably why I’m so hopeless at the game. Years ago I taught my mother all of the moves. Never once did I win against her. She was ruthless. She never went easy on me. Had she lived I suspect she would have reduced the Chess Grand Master Garry Kasperov to tears. Having said all that, it doesn’t really matter, I still love the game and my new replica Isle of Lewis chess set.
Writing this brought back a childhood memory. I forget how old I was at the time (probably eight or nine), but I do remember stealing a brand new stick of white chalk from the teacher’s desk. Thankfully I got it back home in one piece. For several nights using a modelling knife I slowly transformed it into a Viking warrior, complete with his axe and shield. I was so proud of it, even if it didn’t last long. From memory his head fell off…
Merry Christmas from this old scribbler, and a happy New Year to you all.