Welcome to our store for Chess Sets, Chess Boards, Chess Computers, Chess Software and Chess Clocks. We have hundreds of fine chess products from the world's finest chess store - ChessBaron. We ship worldwide. Our chess pieces are of the finest woods such as ebony, redwood (also known as bud rosewood and red sandalwood), rosewood and sheesham. Our boards are solid genuine wood products, not the veneer that most chess stores supply.

July 28, 2006

Which woods are used in chess manufacture?

Filed under: Chess Design — Baron Turner @ 2:43 pm

For good quality chess pieces the woods used are Ebony, Bud Rosewood, Redwood and Rosewood. For lesser quality but still excellent chess pieces, the wood used is Boxwood and Sheesham. For cheap chess pieces the wood is generally not genuine, but is reconstituted wood. Ebony chess pieces, bud rosewood chess pieces, redwood chess pieces are woods used for luxury chess sets available today.

Ebony The ebony tree. The traditional luxury wood preferred in many sets, ebony chess pieces are always in demand. The wood is not black as the pieces suggest, rather has black streaks. A chemical process makes the wood used in chess pieces design solid black. Ebony chess boards give a better idea of the coloring of the wood, the squeares are generally brown with black streaks. The wood is hard and although difficult to work, results in a robust, hard wearing chess piece.

Bud Rosewood Base of the rosewood tree. Although the traditional wood is Ebony, Bud Rosewood has steadily grown in preference for luxury chess sets due to the richer coloring of the pieces with Bud Rosewood. Also called Red Rosewood (but not Redwood), this wood is part of the rosewood tree. The least plentiful part of the tree is the base close to the root. This is Bud Rosewood, and is the part that has the richer coloring potential and is now prized for chess piece production. Bud Rosewood has a minor issue of being less hard wearing, less robust and more brittle than normal rosewood and ebony. Customers often prefer bud rosewood for it’s very rich appearance and accept it’s durability downside. The pieces are very much in demand.

Redwood The Californian redwood tree. The rarest of woods used in wooden chess piece designs. Redwood is similar to bud rosewood other than an extra redness in coloring. This is seen particularly in chess boards, wehere the redness is very obvious and very attractive. See pictures below. Redwood is more durable than bud rosewood and has the coloring sought after in quality chess pieces. The customer just needs to like the reddish color - some do, some dont.

Rosewood Mid part of the rosewood tree. Rosewood is the wood used for the majority of medium quality chess pieces. The grain is oftem highly polished and the wood is very suitable for many uses other than chess pieces (furniture for example). The wood has a good solid density and is generally enhanced by auxiliary weighting. The finished product is robust and hard wearing (though not so much as Ebony). It may be occasionally preferred over it’s rarer sibling - Bud Rosewood, because of it’s harder wearing properties. A good solid wood that mixes the attraction of wood grain, appearance and durability with the slight disadvantage of not such rich coloring as bud rosewood. See the pictures below.

Sheesham Wood The upper part and branches of the sheesham tree. Sheesham is the most misunderstood of woods used in chess piece design, generally due to the fact that it is also known by two other misleading names: Indian Rosewood and Golden Rosewood. The wood is good quality and good for chess piece design. It doesn’t have the same coloring potential as either rosewood or bud rosewood, but it does have good intrinsic density and is easy to work with and robust. The synonyms as above mean that often retailers drop the ‘Indian’ or ‘Golden’ qualifier in the name resulting in just ‘Rosewood’, which is misleading.

Boxwood The boxwood tree. The name belies the quality. The vast majority of lighter sides of chess sets are made from boxwood, whether luxury chess pieces or cheaper, lower-to-medium quality chess sets. The wood has to dry thoroughly (as long as 15 years is required for best drying), so the wood is fairly expensive and valued for chess piece production. Boxwood is often ebonized, or made black, to form a less expensive chess set that has the appearance of ebony. This is a common practice and not at all underhand (as long as they are declared as ‘ebonized’ of course) - indeed some even prefer the aged effect of ebonized, as parts of the wood gets a little lighter. The result is a boxwood chess set for both sides with one of the sides blackened, or ebonized.

Some Examples - click to see the full product…

sheesham example
rosewood example
bud rosewood example
Bud Rosewood
ebony example
redwood example
Redwood (Board Too)

The best woods are Ebony, Bud Rosewood, and Redwood. Next in the preferred order is sheesham and boxwood, although boxwood is used in light side luxury chess manufacture too. Cheaper wooden chess sets are made from reconstituted woods. Many chess products imported from China have this lower quality of wood, the type of chess sets generally available in large stores and low quality web sites. For good, enduring chess sets, look for pieces and boards made from sheesham wood or better.

July 12, 2006

One Page Online Chess Stores - Not such a bad idea

Filed under: Chess Retailing — Baron Turner @ 8:16 pm

Have you noticed these one page chess stores such as the UK Chess Store ChessBaron? Well, not actually one-page. But through RSS feeds all the store’s products are displayed on one page, so where the feed occurs it’s just one page. You then visit the chess store through one of the many hyperlinks available in the feed. Many feed web sites now display stores like this across many industries (i.e. not just chess). Don’t know what I’m talking about? Wanna see some examples besides the one above?

Try the US chess store ChessBaron - their one-pager is displayed in many feeds, and one example is here at the Improve Chess site. The UK ChessBaron is a little bigger because of the larger inventory the UK has. This UK chess store is probably the largest in the UK, probably Europe too - the range is very large. The pages for these chess store feeds take a while to load because thumbnails of their entire product catelog have to load, but the results are microcosm of the stores themselves in places other than the actual web address of the store. Cool huh?

 I’ve noticed that this concept has started to be exploited by companies selling other items too (well, let’s face it, chess aint gonna be first!), and where items can be added to the shopping cart too - something that would be a significant improvement to a simple RSS feed. Currently these one-page displays are just a glimpse of the site/store itself. You can’t buy from the store at the place the feed is shown, nor can you see contact details, where the store is, and what the returns policy (for example) is. You have to go to the original site for that. But the one-page chess store displays (such as the examples above) all the products retrieved from the store’s database, as a microcosm to get an idea of the quality of the goods. I wonder if the phenomenon will last? It’ll last as long as RSS lasts!

July 9, 2006

Chess Design: The Amazing Ultimate Knight

Filed under: Chess Design — Baron Turner @ 5:08 pm

Imagine you are a chess manufacturer. Constrained by the staunton genre, how do you come up with designs that are significantly different yet in the staunton camp? The designer of the Ultimate chess set (also known as the Napolean) came up with it - and many more designs besides - flair, art, maybe a touch of genius.

Well, ya either love it or hate it. I love it. But it’s no can of beans, designed to neither offend nor excite anyone. The bold lines are so striking, and, well, bold. The first time I held the Ultimate in my hand was the time I fell in love with it. Since then I’ve tried again and again to get photographs that reflect it’s majesty without success. It’s 6″ King will put many off, European homes aren’t as big on average as their North American counterparts, and an Ultimate chess set with a 6″ King takes up some significant room. But once holding it, feeling the weight and seeing in real life the rustic carvings making up it’s features, I just fell in love with the chess set. Difficult to really find a reason, difficult to quantify. Like falling in love with a person, you might find metrics of a kind, but there’s a bonding of souls and a feeling in the heart that is hard to express. The Ultimate had this very effect on me. The other pieces of the set are great too, but obviously in this chess set more than most, the knight is the flagship. If you love the knight the rest of the pieces won’t offend you, indeed they compliment the Knight.

Which wood? The Ultimate Chess Set comes in Ebony or Bud Rosewood, both are great woods for this set and both enhance the lines of the chess set perfectly. For me, although normally a Bud Rosewood afficiando, the Ebony really comes out better and really excels. The size of the piece is such that the black wood shows to effect the carving wonderfully. Various angles, shapes and depths result in shades of black I never would have thought of - but the bud is great too.

The Ultimate Knight chess set - well named, well designed with a touch of genius by the manufacturers, Ultimate in name, ultimate in nature.

July 8, 2006

Chess Sets Online Retailing - Dealing with Aggressive Unethical Competition

Filed under: Chess Miscellaneous — Baron Turner @ 7:13 pm

As a chess set online retailer - what does one do when competitors get closer and closer to the throat? When they threaten to make a ‘personal visit’? When they publish some web defamation? And steal photography and other content to use in selling their knock-offs?

A maturing internet has allowed opportunities previously having high entry barriers. Hundreds of thousands of have managed to join the two skills (technical and business) they have to jump into the murky waters of online commerce. The example of chess set retailing is real and current. The victim is a successful niche chess set company who suddenly appeared on the web by utilizing SEO skills, techie ability and a love of chess. After a year of trading, one of the chess competition noticed and started with threats and intimidation. But this has happened across many industries previously dominated by other web sites. What’s the best course of action and reaction?

Flattery. A fellow retailer has flattered us by recognising a loss of income from our attempts at online marketing of chess sets. Hell, we’re good! - what other industries might we impact?

No such thing as bad publicity. Accept any actual reference to our higher prices as publicity - keep sending them over to us.

Losing focus. We seem to be occupying the aggressor somewhat. Well, that’s something too. Whilst he’s focusing his energies on us, he’s distracting himself from his own company.

Poor business. Our chess retailing aggressor clearly has a poorer business model than us if he has to resort to this kind of behaviour. Harassing the competition in some mafia style suggests a bullying manner that would be better channelled elsewhere.

Legal action. ‘Theft’ of intellectual property rights (chess photography, chess product names, chess product descriptions…)- whether yielding any advantage or not - is just that - theft. So real court action may be required to bring the matter to a conclusion.

The new world is here. Online retailing and competition is a fact of life. Competition is good for consumers and good for business improvement. But as in the schoolground and in the High Street/Mall there are aggressive unethical bullies online too. Actions can be taken to offset the aggression, evasive tactics can be used with some success, but the end game may involve taking hooligans to the law to stop the murky activities affecting the peace of our lives and helping us have societies populated with people having admirable qualities we all look up to.

July 7, 2006

Why have weighted Chess Pieces?

Filed under: Chess Design, Chess Sets — Baron Turner @ 6:33 pm

Good chess sets have weighting added to the bottom of the pieces. The base is hollowed out, lead poured in, and the base sealed and capped with a leather or felt disc to hide any imperfections. When I first saw a chess piece without the weighting and with the base apart from the piece, it was a kinda let-down. You realize that there really is not much to it - a hollowed out common base with the important part mounted on top. Of course, as with much else in life, the skill and dexterity is still very much a part of the finished article, even if we see it uncovered momentarily.

The value of a weighted chess piece is obvious in the use of the pieces during chess games. The pieces don’t easily fall over when nudged, don’t shift when the board is knocked, and just feel like something that is quality, thus enhancing the enjoyment of the game. The feel of lifting a triple weighted chess piece somehow makes you think more carefully about the move, move more definitely and move with greater confiidence. If the move is wrong-headed, the piece can then be offensively used as a weapon instead to save face whilst accompanied with the phrase ‘You Bounder! How dare you?’.

Actually humor aside, there is a wonderful weighted chess set we sell which is close to dangerous as I’ve ever seen a set. It’s the Triple Weighted Conventional Staunton Chess Set which  has spikes on the Queens coronet that could do serious damage to someone if misused it. Maybe we should issue a health warning with that one along with the Certificate of Authenticity that  comes with the more expensive weighted chess sets.

Weighted chess sets are wonderful. The general weighting is standard, then double weighted, then triple weighted. No actual standard exists for the gramme measurement, but chess specialists have come to know what is triple and what is double or standard. If you can afford it, put on a little weight!

July 1, 2006

Chess Design: The Lotus Chess Set

Filed under: Chess Design — Baron Turner @ 10:39 pm


Available in Ebony or Rosewood, Lotus chess pieces go back in time some way, and continue to attract customers. As a staunton lover, I don’t quite find myself attracted as much as many appear to be, but the lotus chess set style is certainly here to stay. The bishop is the piece to focus on for design and inspiration. Inspiration? Well, that appears to be the root of the thinking. A zen-like desire to find enlightenment is associated with the genre. Peering into the King from the top is supposed to provide a measure of piece and, dare I say it - harmony.

Sceptical? Then believe - OK, just kid yourself. Imagine the peace from the piece oozing into your soul. Now, c’mon, you ain’t putting your heart into it. Study the King chess piece - got it in mind? Now close your eyes, breathe deeply, and just let the imagination take over. There, you’re doing great, don’t you feel better already…?

 Back to reality, the pieces have a harmonious nature that has always been ‘at one’ with the game of chess. Your chess game has to be harmonious, it has to be ‘at one’ with you. This is unity. If you’re a bad chess player, the result will unite you with reality, you suck - that’s kinda as far as I get most times - but there was the one time I beat Kasparov after this kind of zen…

The Lotus Chess Pieces are a great set - see more photo’s and details, every piece has it’s own beauty, and, well, it’s own effect on your soul.

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