UPDATE 9 Dec 21:
One of you wrote:
“But Father! But Father! You showed interior of the finished board and some pieces, but you didn’t show a photo of it set up! Inquiring minds…”
Okay, that’s fair. Scroll to the bottom of the post for more pics.
Originally Published on: Dec 8, 2021
I’m working on my bucket list. One of this list’s items is a return to playing chess halfway decently.
As I compose, the e4-e5 Round 10 of the World Championship is winding to a draw. Magnus, who lives up to his name, is up 6.5.-3.5 over Nepo, who got rid of his dopey “man bun” wayyyyy too late. In the press conference yesterday, a reporter asked Nepomniachtchi, if, like a dishonored samurai, he had cut off his top-knot in shame for his pawn blunder in Round 8. Given the even more spectacular b7 bishop blunder… a phrase which somehow goes together easily these days – he might have to shave his head.
If only more bishops could be dealt with this way, after the USCCBs astounding 27… c6.
I have a history with chess. I learned very young, and played a lot, without a man or boy bun, and won a lot.
Here is an relic of childhood, recently recovered after years of storage.
Not for tournaments, of course.
In short, my maternal grandparents made this, my grandmother all the ceramics (the white are pearlescent with infinite cracks), my grandfather the cabinetry (it has a drawer beneath with individual slots).
And here’s another interesting item, a 1950’s era Soviet tournament board and monstrous bakelite clock. It works.
I use board in tournament back in old day of Cold War? I not say.
The shelf, by the way, was a gift from a reader via my wishlist! Thank you, BA.
The same clock appears in an episode of Queen’s Gambit.
Now to the point of this post…
Along with other chessy things that emerged from storage was an old clam-shell wooden board, pretty dinged up. I figured I could spruce it up a little.
The hinges are pulled.
Let the sanding begin.
Sanding having been completed, I applied tiny vinyl numbers and letters.
But wait! There was a problem. The humidity, being high, started to curl up some of the squares.
Happily, in my kitchen I have various syringes for treating meats and one of them was great with wood glue.
After which, I clamped and set lots of weight. This took a couple weeks to solve in stages.
Then the shellacking began. There were some nicks and holes and dings but I only filled in the bigger ones, without much attempt at matching color.
Coats. And then polyurethane (the kind that can go on shellac).
Then another stage. I figured I would line the thing with green felt, because that rough wood was sorta kinda awful and felt would dampen the sound of something moving inside.
Sooo, I gave it to my mother who did the honors with the felt.
I put new latches on the outside and new hinges. I had to widen the slots. And should have put the hinges in before the felt stage.
Meanwhile, I got a couple of lightweight nesting wooden trays for pieces. Alas, these are only single-weighted and without extra reginae. I could load them, I guess. Back in the day, if we promoted a we would use an upside-down turris (if there was one available, which there usually is at pedes promotion stage).
So, on this last day of the Year of Joseph, a little woodworking project is complete.
It was banged up and never fancy. Now it is somewhat enhanced and it has a personal, and maternal, touch.
It does occur to my that as I now have chessy “heirlooms” with grandpaternal and maternal touches, and now maternal, they really aren’t heirlooms at all, are they, since I have no one to leave them to. C’est la vie. For now, they are pleasant visual features.
Did you know that Latin for castling is adrochatio?
UPDATE 9 Dec 21:
Continuing the update from the top, I decided to set up the newly spruced old board with my lovely Lewis chessmen, sent by one of you long-time readers from my wishlist. They are spiffing. Thank you, MH!
In play and practice I prefer Staunton, but these are so nice I thought it a shame for to leave them languishing in a box. One of the reasons why is that these 12th c. chessmen have “warders” rather than “rooks”, crazy looking berserker guys with swords who, in their frenzy, are biting the tops of their shields.
I’ll keep them out for a while and enjoy their company.