How About A Nice Game Of Chess?

When I was a kid and got interested in learning how to play chess I checked out a book from the library. It was a kids’ chess book and had pretty clever pictures of the various pieces as people dressed up in medieval garb, only in black and white. The pictures were a lot more interesting to me than the actual mechanics of playing chess: the bishops wielded wicked-looking morning stars, the knights were on horseback, of course, the pawns were squat little soldiers with clubs, and the queens had long swords. The kings just looked kind of pensive since they were the primary target. I don’t remember what the rooks looked like, which is strange, because I think they would have been the most interesting characters of all, being mobile castles. In fact the British call that piece a “castle” which makes more sense than “rook” since a rook is a bird, but that’s another story.

And while I could usually hold my own fairly well in a game of chess against my friends any time I went up against adults I got trounced. My parents were probably relieved I wouldn’t be searching for Bobby Fischer, for a number of reasons.

Anyway my pottery instructor also teaches ceramics classes and one evening she had some chess pieces one of her students had made. My aunt who made ceramics used the same mold which brought up a wave of nostalgia for me. And I thought it would be fun to make my own chess set out of pottery.

Because of my lack of skill and because pottery isn’t as malleable as ceramic I went for a more stylized look.

Here’s the white side since in chess white traditionally goes first:

chess-white

And here’s the green side. They were supposed to be red but pottery glaze is a funny thing. Like a good chess player it’s unpredictable.

chess-green

And now a little chess-related music.

11 Comments

  1. Gilly Madison

    OMGoodnes! That funky bass line brings back memories. Thanks for the musical interlude. I am waaaaaaay too stupid for chess – not a strategist at all. Can’t sit still for long enough 🙂 Am off to visit your aunt – sounds like an entertain post…

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s the strategy that always does me in too. For a while I tried playing chess with a computer. The thing that amazed me was the computer always seemed to have a thoroughly worked out strategy that it stuck to no matter what I did. And I always lost.

      Reply
  2. Gilly Maddison

    or entertainING should I say!

    Reply
  3. Ann Koplow

    Love that tune and this post, Chris. I might be looking kind of pensive right now, but that’s another story. Nice chess pieces.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I look forward to when you’re looking less pensive.

      Reply
  4. Laura - CaledonAcres

    These look so good!! Congrats! I love chess, but not many ppl like to play with me because I am one of those that takes a really long time to think my every move … the definition of “hurry up, it’s not a game of chess”.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That sounds like the ideal way to play chess–it’s a game that should be played slowly. I think the reason I always lost was because I moved too quickly and without thinking.

      Reply
  5. Jay

    My elementary school was chronically strapped for cash. The library was woefully empty, so during library period, we either a) read free newspapers or b)learned\played chess. I promptly forgot how to play as soon as I didn’t have to anymore. No big regrets though. I’m not great at sitting still for that long anyway.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, it is a game of long sitting and contemplation. That makes it seem like an odd think for elementary school children, although not as odd as reading the newspapers.

      Reply
  6. Michelle

    What cool chess pieces! And they didn’t explode in the kiln a la Harry Potter’s wizard’s chess either so that’s a bonus. my eldest is 7 and quite keen on chess, surprisingly, though I think it started because a lot of his mates were attending chess club after school and he learned from them. I’ve only played him once and only narrowly beat him, but not before feeling very on the back foot with his aggressive (AND FAST! I am also a slowcoach) playing style. I should play him again but have a feeling I won’t win any more.
    And OMG I love that song! Quintessential 80s. Any post that has both Murray Head and The Thing in it automatically wins.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’ve had other pieces explode in the kiln (including a plate I’d made for my mother) so I tried to avoid that when making these pieces.
      And the funniest thing to me about that Murray Head song is when I was a kid and it was running frequently on MTV I had no idea it was about chess or from a stage play. Actually there’s a lot in that song I didn’t understand–“I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine!”–which was probably just as well.

      Reply

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