It has been a long time since I wrote a chess set review, but this one is just too good to pass up! A few weeks ago as I was scrounging the internet for stock chess photos to use on this site, I came across the image of an amazing chess set cut from pine wood. When I clicked the image to bring up a larger version, the internet gods redirected me to Etsy where this this one of a kind chess set was for sale! After some haggling with the wife and the unfortunate realization that it was destined to become another maybe for Christmas long shot, I shelled out $150 and ordered it.
As longtime readers and friends know, I am a big fan of wooden chess boards. Sometimes its nice to have a novelty set made of metal or other material, but I believe that playing chess on a wooden board with wood pieces really goes back to the historical elegance of the game. I was excited when the package arrived with this new chess set and could not wait to get it inside to open up and run through its first game. It came well packaged with the pieces secured in a plastic container separate from the rest of the board. At first, I was shocked at the size of the individual pieces; they looked much larger than I had envisioned them. The image that inspired me to purchase the set was shot at such an angle that it made the set look much smaller than it actually is. When I finally set it up and got my first chance to really soak in the aura of this incredibly unique set, I realized that the pieces are perfect for establishing the set’s delicate balance.
If there was ever a chess set out there that embodied the spirit and aesthetic feel of Campfire Chess, it is this set! Each chess piece is burned into a wooden coin that is cut from sanded and whitewashed pine. As you can tell from the photos, each of the chess piece images on the coins is carefully burned into the wood to create a one-of-a-kind set. For me, a big plus to this set is the fact that the pieces do not move around very much when I had to pick the board up and move it to a new location. Wood on wood (without fuzzy pads) is a perfect combination for creating a board that is somewhat mobile in the event that whoever is playing the game needs to relocate the board. The chess board itself is quite sturdy and does not have that cheap plywood feeling that comes from many other wooden boards. The colors and contrast are beautifully matched across the entire set, almost as if the set was cut and molded all from the same tree.
This chess set is available for purchase on Etsy from Ty’s Wood Shop, which is run by Tyler Krzeszewski of Saint Charles, Illinois. I reached out to Tyler shortly after my purchase to ask him some questions about how the set was made and whether he makes them regularly or if this was the only set he has ever made. I asked these questions partially for my own chess interest, but also because his Etsy shop only lists 1 available set. Tyler kindly responded and explained that my chess set is only the 2nd that he has produced! The sets are built on demand because of the enormous amount of time and resources required to make them. He said that it can take 13-15 hours to build a single chess set!
It is easy these days to get out on Amazon.com and to purchase a novelty chess set with swords and wizards or civil war heroes, or whatever. Even some wooden and tournament chess sets lack the sense of attention to detail and care that goes into the final product. The love and care that Tyler put into this chess set shows in every piece. There is a special quality about it that goes beyond its aesthetic beauty. It has a presence of peace and of a return to nature. Chess is often called the Game of Kings but it is also a great equalizer. The poorest of the poor man can play chess the same way a King or a Queen can play in their hillside castle. Tyler Krzeszewski’s beautifully hand-crafted chess set is a beautiful product that is worth every penny of the $150 it will set you back because it is the work of someone dedicated to their craft and is a worthy tribute to the game that knows no boundaries.