Over the years in which I’ve played the Royal Game I’ve seen a lot of different chess sets. Players are always bringing their latest acquisition to show off at the chess club. A few of the folks I’ve known have been collectors who seldom play the game but have established some nice museum-quality chess set collections. Others collect books (“coffee table” and otherwise) on the subject of chess sets and are forever tugging at my sleeve: “Hey! Take a look at this one!” And all of this doesn’t even take into account the innumerable mass-market commercial non-Staunton sets you see in the popular toy and department stores, sets based on the latest rage in cartoons, comics, or movies.
I’ve seen a lot of chess sets. So many, in fact, that they seldom even register with me anymore. It takes a lot for me to even notice a set, much less comment on it.
So, when it comes to this chess set, color me “Impressed”. With a capital “I”:
I’m not just blowing smoke here. I think this is a gorgeous chess set, and I’d be thrilled to just play with this set, much less own one.
The Grand Taj pieces are an interesting and beautiful variation on the standard Staunton design. They’re close enough to “regulation Staunton” to be used in tournament play, while remaining unusual and distinctive. The piece design pays tribute to the Indian/Middle Eastern origins of chess while retaining enough Western flavor to be easily recognizable by all tournament and club players.
There’s nothing “tacky” or garish about the Grand Taj set. The pieces are elegant in their simplicity, both in style and coloration. The brown and buff wood pieces mesh perfectly with most wooden chess boards and chess tables.
It’s practical, yet very decorative; you could leave this set on “permanent display” in your home and you’re guaranteed to be complimented on it by chessplayers and non-players alike.
In short, this is a cool chess set. I think it’s just flat-out brilliant, and it definitely turned my head when I first saw it (and, as I said, I’ve seen a lot of sets!). If the gal in my life gave me this set as a holiday gift, would I love her forever for it? “Forever” is a long time, but I guarantee she’d be bribing me into at least a few decades if I unwrapped a package and saw this set inside.
And, not entirely coincidentally, the Grand Taj chess pieces are sale priced from ChessCentral just in time for the holidays. The Grand Taj’s regular price is $199.95, and the regular ChessCentral price is $169.95. But right now you can own or give this set of gorgeous chess pieces as a gift for $149.95 (with free shipping in the U.S., too!)
Just follow this link to learn more about ChessCentral’s Grand Taj chess pieces (including their size and a closeup photo of the Knights). The board isn’t included, but you do get a really lovely cherrywood box (as shown in the photo above) in the (unlikely) event you plan to store them instead of showing them off to your friends and family.
Have fun! — Steve