My wife and I took this week off to enjoy some relaxation time at home and to celebrate our third anniversary together. It was a wonderful week filled with hot tubs, movies without the kids, and chess! When we started dating, my wife won approximately 50% of the games we played together, but my studies have allowed me to move into an undefeated realm against her in recent games. Our most recent game, played last night, ended with mate in 15 moves. Her losses do not seem to bother her much as she seems to enjoy the time spent between the two of us over the board as much as I do, which is why I was pleased when my anniversary present arrived yesterday. Although it was three days late, it was completely understandable and well worth the wait.

This year, she decided to contribute to my growing collection of chess sets by buying the board pictured above: a hand-carved set made from an olive tree! I had seen a set like this one recently when I was shopping for a new set, but ultimately decided on my padauk and ebony board. Needless to say that I was thrilled when I opened the box, which indicated it came from a company called Elite Crafters in Greece. The chess pieces were the first thing I noticed as they were nestled on top of the styrofoam popcorn (boo!). As I worked through the multiple layers of packing tape and popcorn (boo!), I eventually pulled out the beautiful board and complimentary message wishing me a Happy Anniversary from my wife.

Without a doubt, the board is the most striking feature of this set. It is a composite of multiple pieces of olive tree trunk with the squares apparently burned into a separate piece of wood. The variations of tree growth adds significant individuality to the board. I would doubt that anyone else has the exact same edge configuration as my board, which makes it a nice heirloom piece. The texture of the board is fantastic. It has a grainy feeling and leaves the sensation that it is leaving oil deposits on your hands, but is not. It is a strange feeling, but adds a sense of awe to the beauty of the board.

The pieces are hand-carved as well and do take some time to get used to. Some of the pieces vary in size, such as the Bishops on this board, but the difference is not striking enough to take away from the elegance of the set. In fact, the size differential adds to the set’s rustic feel. As seen in the photos, the details of the pieces is minimal at best. Although I enjoy the minimalist appearance, I do think that some additional detail in the pieces would have complimented the intricate details of the board itself. However, the beauty of chess sets is that the pieces are not always married to the board. This is a board that I will keep for a long time, but could possibly be used with a different set of pieces sometime in the future.

Overall, this is a beautiful set that now sits in my living room so my wife and I can make moves at random times throughout the day. In my home, there is always a chess game being played. Now, we can play on a beautiful set made from an olive tree, which brings more beauty to our home, the game, and offers an additional connection between our faith and the game.

Final Verdict: ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟