This site hopes to show a variety of custom designed and handmade chess sets by sculptor Wilhelm Schmidt, who also is an ardent lover of chess and a serious player and teacher at schools and or private classes.
The main focus is on creating chess sets that are leaning towards modern in both material and design. And the most important factor in a set is what I describe as playability - there should be no ambiguity in identifying the different pieces. The pieces should appear clean in design and uncluttered as a group. Many non-Staunton sets are mere ornaments on coffee tables. They are not meant to be played with, since they lack playability. Playing chess should be a joyful experience.
For the pieces:
As for the pieces, five basic materials are used: bronze, wood, mild steel, stainless steel and plastic tubes and pipes.
For turned wooden pieces various woods are used, e.g. tamboti, kiaat/teak, yellow-wood, Rhodesian Teak and Cork bush.
To make chess more pleasing or attractive to the younger generation (as well as some with-it older players), eight different colours are used in any combination, obviously on the plastic pipe and metal sets. The players may choose any combination of colours they wish to combine.
As far as size is concerned, the metal sets come in five different sizes and the plastic pipe sets grow from small to large garden sets.
For the boards:
The boards are also made using a variety of materials. Solid wooden boards - due to the amount of labor and hardwoods involved - are most pleasing and durable but somewhat more expensive. Various hardwoods are used, e.g. kiaat/teak, imbuia, maple, blonde mahogany, pau marfim and oak.
For more affordable boards, superwood with painted squares are used.
To store the pieces one may use old coffee tins or cardboard boxes. (This is called a sick joke..!) To store the pieces you may choose either solid wooden boxes, vinyl roll-up bags, cloth bags doing double duty as boards as well or board-boxes. A board-box is a box that holds the pieces inside but folds open as a board as well.
Please refer to the photo’s of the different types of boxes used to store the pieces.
None of the chess pieces is ready-made. Each chess piece is made by hand, be it measured, sawed, drilled, ground or punched. No mass production is used. Obviously the unique sets cast in bronze or the wooden sets turned on the lathe employs a very laborious process and are therefore somewhat more expensive.
The relative sizes of the pieces were taken from the average sizes of five international Staunton sets.
The size between Queen and Bishop e.g. is a critical part of the pleasing visual effect
a set should have.
Many different designs were made over the years. Many were discarded or altered in the search of that most important factor promising good chess - playability.
All wooden boards, be it solid wood or plywood or superwood are finished with water and fire resistant polyurethane sealer.
All turned wooden pieces are finished with teak oil.
The steel bolt and nut sets are spray painted with grey metal primer plus any other colour of choice.
Bronze pieces are patinated and also sealed with polyurethane.