Examples of Staunton pieces, in this case made of plastic. Carving quality knights from wood can be expensive. Photo: Ricardo630, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
What does horse sport have in common with the heady world of international competitive chess?
Its certainly not the complexities of strategy, nor the need for safety gear.
It comes down to the cost of the horses or, in the case of chess, the four horse-themed pieces known as knights.
The popularity of chess is surging because of the success of the Netflix series, The Queens Gambit, based on the 1983 novel of the same name written by Walter Tevis.
The story charts the rise of chess prodigy Beth Harmon while she struggles with drug and alcoholism issues, and other personal challenges.
For most of those who eschew the cheap injection-moulded plastic sets, the only way to go is wood.
But quality wooden sets are not cheap, and most of the cost is down to the time, effort and skill required to hand-carve the four knights in each set.
Indeed, even the cheaper wooden sets suitable for tournament play, are still likely set back buyers more than $US120. They will generally have comparatively simple knights.
The knights, with a horses head as their key feature, do not share the symmetry of the other pieces. It is this symmetry that allows them to be turned on a lathe, with only the finer details requiring further attention.
Knights are, not surprisingly, considered the piece with the most scope for creativity when it comes to carving.
In the most expensive sets, the detailing can be spectacular, with a flowing mane, teeth, and even a sense of emotion in the horses expression.
Each carved knight must, of course, be replicated four times for each set.
The Staunton chess-set design of 1849, created by Nathanial Cook, is the basis for most modern-day chess sets, and the look of these pieces will be familiar to even those with only a passing familiarity with the game.
The Official World Chess Set, which will be used in World Chess Championship matches, costs $US310 for the pieces and $US220 for the board.
The chief executive of the company World Chess, Ilya Merenzon, told the New York Times recently that 10 people specialize in carving the knights for the sets. He said it takes about a fortnight to produce 100 sets, with a set of four knights requiring about six hours in all.
The pieces, designed by Daniel Weil, are inspired by the Staunton design.
Weils knight features a base resembling a hoof.
- GM Levon Aronian to Participate in Grand Chess Tour - The Armenian Mirror-Spectator - January 25th, 2021
- Another weekend on-line chess tournament - Sunday Observer - January 25th, 2021
- The Chess Masters of New Orleans - WGNO - January 23rd, 2021
- Explained: Why UEFA is rattled over the latest European Super League plan - The Athletic - January 23rd, 2021
- Giving Tuesday | US Chess.org - uschess.org - January 23rd, 2021
- Quackity hits two massive milestones on two channels in the same day - Dexerto - January 23rd, 2021
- No women at Tata Steel chess this year, but game is growing in popularity - DutchNews.nl - January 20th, 2021
- MCCL to host 2021 All-Girls State Championship on Feb. 20 - The Madison Record - themadisonrecord.com - January 20th, 2021
- Yamagata: Discover snow monsters and a hidden mountain temple - Japan Today - January 20th, 2021
- 5 key concepts in poker and chess | chess24.com - chess24 - chess24 - January 20th, 2021
- Bryce Hall confronts creepy stalker invading their TikTok house - Dexerto - January 20th, 2021
- Twitch Chess GM Behind the PogChamps Event Makes Up With the Botez Sisters - EssentiallySports - January 15th, 2021
- Grand Chess Tour: Carlsen, Nakamura Only As Wildcards - Chess.com - January 15th, 2021
- 11 of the best musical soundtracks to test your speakers - What Hi-Fi? - January 15th, 2021
- Fiji Chess hopes to stage a tournament in the North - FBC News - January 15th, 2021
- The Voice Celebrates: Bar-Mitzvahs of Jake Stoopler and Jonah Kutikov - Jewish Community Voice - January 15th, 2021
- Wojtaszek: I'd like to get into the Top 10 - chess24 - January 15th, 2021
- The benefits of approaching this year like a total newbie - KDRV - January 13th, 2021
- World famous Hastings chess tournament takes place this weekend - Hastings Observer - January 9th, 2021
- Sailor Moon: 10 Fights That Are Better In The Anime | CBR - CBR - Comic Book Resources - January 9th, 2021
- Draft Results for the LCS Lock In Tournament Group Stage - The Game Haus - January 9th, 2021
- FIDE confirm postponement of Women's Grand Prix in Gibraltar - Insidethegames.biz - January 9th, 2021
- Learn The Queen's Gambit and More Chess Plays In This Bundle - IGN Southeast Asia - January 9th, 2021
- Rook No Further! Coral Springs Holds Open Play Chess and Tournament - Coral Springs Talk - Coral Springs Talk - January 6th, 2021
- Radjabov Wins Airthings Masters - Chess.com - January 6th, 2021
- Azeri-Jewish Chess Grandmaster Radjabov in tears after winning tournament - The Jerusalem Post - January 6th, 2021
- Yu Yangyi and Tan Zhongyi are the 2020 Chinese champions - Chessbase News - January 4th, 2021
- For Premium only: Who do you want in the next Champions Chess Tour event? - chess24 - January 4th, 2021
- Snow, Rambo and everything in between: Leon Mendonca is India's 67th GM - ESPN - January 4th, 2021
- Chess: Goas 14-year-old boy becomes Indias 67th GM - Star of Mysore - January 4th, 2021
- Kriti Kharbanda arrives in Lucknow for her next rom-com, '14 Phere', directed by Devanshu Singh - Knocksense - January 4th, 2021
- Quintessential grandmillennial: A show with all the right moves - Irish Examiner - January 4th, 2021
- Final chess tournament for the year on today - Stabroek News - December 31st, 2020
- Monsters of 2020: The Queen's Gambit - Mother Jones - December 31st, 2020
- Chess: Goa's 14-Year-Old Leon Mendonca Becomes India's 67th Grandmaster - Outlook India - December 31st, 2020
- Why Chess is thriving in Kenya despite Covid-19 pandemic - The Standard - December 31st, 2020
- Wilton Bulletin Board: Meditation, cooking, stream cameras - The Wilton Bulletin - December 31st, 2020
- Not particularly fusced: reflections on a first term - Cherwell Online - December 31st, 2020
- Writer's Choice: Trent Murray's Top Five Stories of 2020 - The Esports Observer - December 31st, 2020
- Frontline workers owed 'debt of gratitude,' GG says in year-end message - Yahoo News Canada - December 31st, 2020
- Meet Norfolk's own queen of the chessboard - Eastern Daily Press - December 29th, 2020
- The Queen's Gambit Does a Lot Well. Portraying Being a Woman in Chess Isn't One of Them. - Ms. Magazine - December 27th, 2020
- What the Hell Is Quantum Chess? | IE - Interesting Engineering - December 27th, 2020
- Explore the History of Chess From Ancient India to the Cold War Rivalries - My Modern Met - December 27th, 2020
- 2020 year of power struggle in AICF, players keep the flag flying - DTNext - December 27th, 2020
- Online tournaments have strengthened local players - Stabroek News - December 27th, 2020
- Year in Review 2020, Biggest Sports Stories: After t..issues, India declared joint-winners of Chess Olympiad - Firstpost - December 27th, 2020
- Christmas puzzles: Add-a-king, and take that back! - Chessbase News - December 27th, 2020
- GM Zavokhir of Uzbekistan crowned champion at Liberation Cup - Oherald - December 27th, 2020
- I was 13 and suddenly winning everything - India Today - December 27th, 2020
- What Are You Paying For in a $300 Chess Set? Mostly the Knights - The New York Times - December 26th, 2020
- The 5 biggest moments in streaming from 2020 - Dot Esports - December 26th, 2020
- WCM Magpily eyes another title in Balinas-Pichay Cup - manilastandard.net - December 26th, 2020
- NASCAR Team up with the World Poker Tour while Artificial Intelligence Breaks New Barriers - HighstakesDB - December 26th, 2020
- Live chess tournament broadcasts | chess24.com - December 18th, 2020
- Welcome | US Chess.org - December 18th, 2020
- IM Martin Neubauer on Simon Williams' Budapest Gambit - Chessbase News - December 18th, 2020
- Chess: 'Game of the Year' decides title as Covid-19 hits Russian championship - The Guardian - December 18th, 2020
- The Creative's Gambit - Creative Review - December 18th, 2020
- 4 tips on how to stay focused, from a chess grandmaster - CNBC - December 16th, 2020
- Next Chess Olympiad In 2022; Budapest Wins Bid For 2024 - Chess.com - December 16th, 2020
- Superbet Foundation Becomes Principal Partner of Grand Chess Tour 2021 - European Gaming Industry News - December 16th, 2020
- Superfinals: Nepomniachtchi and Karjakin still tied on top - Chessbase News - December 16th, 2020
- Beccacece and a chess tournament with the Racing kids - Inspired Traveler - December 16th, 2020
- The reign of 1990s star vintage as over-the-board chess resumes in Moscow - Financial Times - December 16th, 2020
- M'sian Parents Are Sending Their Kids For Chess Classes Because Of 'The Queen's Gambit' - SAYS - December 16th, 2020
- Russian Superfinals 9-10: Title race goes down to the last round - chess24 - December 16th, 2020
- 2020 Speed Chess Championship: All The Information - Chess.com - December 13th, 2020
- The Grand Chess Tour Returns In 2021 - Chessbase News - December 11th, 2020
- Autumn Series on Playchess # 8 - Play and win prizes - Chessbase News - December 11th, 2020
- From Our Archives: Here's a look back at this week in 1976 - McDowell News - December 11th, 2020
- International squad beats Spain in training match - Chessbase News - December 11th, 2020
- Chess: Polina Shuvalova shines as over-the-board play resumes in Moscow - The Guardian - December 11th, 2020
- Grandmaster Sam Shankland '14 on The Queen's Gambit and Chess Today | Alumni Stories | Alumni, Friends and Families | Brandeis University - Brandeis... - December 11th, 2020
- Moscow will host the Chess Olympiad 2022, Budapest will host the Chess Olympiad 2024 - Chessbase News - December 11th, 2020
- How The Queens Gambit Is Inspiring Women to Take Up Chess - The New York Times - December 11th, 2020
- Young Chess Stars Meet in a Winner Take All Tournament Checkmate! - The Zebra - December 9th, 2020
- The real-life Beth Harmon trounced men before 'The Queen's Gambit' - Insider - INSIDER - December 9th, 2020
- Think you know the US map by heart? Take our quiz to know for sure - Film Daily - December 9th, 2020
- Pegasystems' Trefler on leadership and strategy - learned from chess - Yahoo Finance - December 8th, 2020