As we sit down to play chess, probably very few of us, if any at all, reflect on the fact that chess was not always the "packaged game" that it is today. Chess has already undergone many changes over the centuries! Literature often ascribes the game’s origin to a man named Sissa, a Brahman Indian in the court of Rajah Balhait. Sissa called the game chaturanga meaning “army composed of four members”. When Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 b.c., the Indian Army featured the same four components that had already appeared in the game of chaturanga, namely: chariots, foot soldiers, horses, and elephants. These early incarnations of the game (with two-player and four-player variations, each with or without dice) bore little resemblance to the 64-square board of recent times.
It was in the Middle Ages, believed during the 15th century, that the rules of chess started to resemble the present configuration. Eventually the castling rule was added to help protect the king from the pieces that were given more power (the queen and bishop); the en passant rule entered the game as an option to evoke a special form of a pawn capture. The game of chess has not evolved since, but even those who are aware of the aforementioned bit of chess history are probably unaware that in the 1920s, World Champion José Raoul Capablanca was seriously considering altering the game. His proposed changes were aimed at making the contests more lively, cutting the average game length in half. This would also drastically decrease the frequency of draws occurring among the Master class.
Capablanca was no doubt thinking about incorporating change for the sake of future generations. He foresaw that draws among the chess elite would become very commonplace, with victory more often going to the younger players with "more energy" to endure long contests. As games continued to become widely disseminated over the passing decades, we have since seen "master play" trickle down to the other classes. The result is that knowledge is more apt to play a role in deciding a winner, rather than ingenuity.
Capablanca felt that chess was suffering from its own popularity. Many games were published and annotated at great length. Those who were already master-caliber players became even more informed regarding the latest issues in opening theory, middle-game strategies, and endgame tactics. The result was that the drawing frequency among the chess elite was sharply on the rise.
Capablanca experimented with many different variants of chess, and some of them were wild and obtuse. From April 22 to 24, 1929, Geza Maroczy played Capablanca a two-game match on a board 16 columns wide by 12 rows in height. This game featured two complete sets of pieces sitting side-by-side horizontally. There were, therefore, two kings per each side, both of which had to be checkmated! On this strange taller board, pawns could leap up to four squares on their first move. Capablanca won the first game in 94 moves, and drew the second game in 82 moves. It should be noted that this larger board made the game last longer since it was much harder to win. Players generally prefer a quick game (in terms of number of moves) that has a low occurrence of draws. So, the result of these long games did nothing to convince anyone that this 192-square board should be taken as a serious contender to replace the 64-square setup. So what setup did Capablanca prefer? We have the answer from Edward Lasker's book, The Adventure of Chess (Dover 1959, pp. 38-39). Capa chose an 80-square board where he added two new piece types, called the chancellor and archbishop:
"An exact reproduction of one of the most historically important Chess sets ever produced, the Chess set used in the legendary 1972 World Chess Championship, featuring Robert J. (Bobby) Fischer (USA) and Boris Spassky (RUS)."
The House of Staunton is proud to offer the The Gothic Edition - Reykjavik II Chess Set - 3.75 inch King. A full tournament-sized Chess set, it features a 3.75" King with a 1.6" diameter base. The Chess pieces are hand carved by our master artisans and crafted out of the highest grade woods. The Chess pieces are heavily weighted with luxurious billiard cloth base pads and a beautiful finish. The design of the Reykjavik II Chess set is an exact reproduction of the Chess set used by the legendary American Grandmaster Bobby Fischer when he won the 1972 World Chess Championship against the reigning World Champion Grandmaster Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Chess set has been designed to withstand years of use (and abuse), as it lacks many of the ornate details commonly found on Chess Sets that can be susceptible to damage in the heat of battle. For example, the Chess set features reinforced Pawn collars and oversized Rook ramparts for unmatched durability. The Reykjavik II Series Chess set is ideal for those that are interested in both the historical importance of the game of Chess, as well as those looking for an attractive Chess set that is both economical and durable.
As with all of our Chess sets, the Reykjavik II Series Chessmen exemplifies a perfect combination of distinct beauty and functionality. It has been designed to withstand the rigors of practical play while maintaining an elegance which has become the hallmark of a House of Staunton chess set. The design, quality and craftsmanship of this set is UNMATCHED by any set of Chessmen in its price range. Nothing even comes close!
The Chessmen are new and each set consists of 42 Chessmen, including four Queens, a standard that was introduced by The House of Staunton in 1993..
The Gothic Edition Wooden Tournament Chessboard with 2.25" Squares features Mahogany (dark) and Maple (light) squares with a Mahogany frame and rank/file labels. To accommodate Gothic Chess, the Chessboard is non-standard sized with 10 squares x 8 squares. This European-crafted Chessboard is 0.5" thick, has a satin finish.
The Slide Top Chess Box is the most economical way to protect your chessmen. It comes with a removable green pillow lining that allows it to hold chess sets of various sizes, from a 3.0” king height to a 4.4” king height. It also features a slide top lid, green velour lining and two divided storage compartments. Includes removable Green "Pillows" for each of the divided compartments that will allow it to safely store small Chess sets. The House of Staunton Logo has been silk screened on the lid in gold. This item can also be personalized for gift giving.