Staunton Chess Sets

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Staunton chess sets are the chess pieces that must be used, according to the rules of chess, for all official or competition games. The set was designed and sent to market in 1849. However, it was not until 1924 that the World Chess Federation gave them their official stamp of approval and put in writing that they were the pieces to be used for official games.

The fact that for over 60 years before that they were voluntarily used for virtually every competition is a testament to the remarkable power of marketing. The fact that they are such a beautiful set of peices to play with obviously helped too.

Who Designed the Staunton Chess Sets?
There is some dispute over who exactly is responsible for the design of Staunton chess sets. They were made by Jaques of London, but who in the company actually came up the design is something that is disputed. Because the patent is registered in the name of Nathaniel Cook, many people have automatically assumed that he was responsible for the design. However, there is some evidence that it was in fact his brother-in-law, John Jaques, who actually came up with the design.

For many players who designed the original set is not important. What is important to them is that the pieces are aesthetically pleasing and are easy to identify and play with. In the original sets, each piece was weighted with lead to provide additional stability.

The real stroke of genius came when Jaques of London decided to approach, the master chess player, Howard Staunton to help them to market this new design. They managed to persuade him to sign the first 500 sets, which meant they flew off-the-shelf. It is believed that this is the first example of a sportsman endorsing equipment used for the sport that they played.

Modern Staunton Chess Sets
Today, Staunton chess sets look very much as they did when they were originally marketed. However, the materials that the pieces are made out of now vary considerably. Sets made from wood are still very popular. However, it is also possible to buy plastic or stone sets made in the Staunton design.

Chess Direct sell a great range of Staunton chess sets and other designs. Despite the fact they are all high quality sets they are not expensive.

Article By: Adam Nicolson

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