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The Staunton Chess Design

The Staunton Chess Design

billwall
Aug 7, 2007, 12:00 AM 9 Fun & Trivia

The Staunton chessmen is the standard pattern for chess pieces used in all world chess federation and United States Chess Federation events.

On March 1, 1849 the pattern was first registered by Nathaniel Cook. Prior to that, the pieces most commonlly used were called the St. George design, follwed by the Calvert, Edinburgh, Lund and Merrifield designs. Cook registered his wooden chess pattern under the Ornamental Designs Act of 1842.

The design of the knight came from the Greek horse of the Eglin Marbles in the British Museum (brought to the museum in 1806).

In September 1849 the manufacturing rights were bought by John Jaques of London, workers of ivory and fine woods. Jaques was the brother-in-law of Nathaniel Cook. The sets were made in wood and ivory. The unweighted king was 3.5 inches in size. The weighted king was 4.4 inches in size. Jaques removed much of the decorative features that topped earlier chess patterns, and was able to manufacture the new design at less cost. The king was represented by a crown and the queen was represented by a coronet.

On September 8, 1849 the first wooden chess sets from Jaques was available. The first sets actually had a different pattern to the King's Rook and King's Knight that distinguished it from the Queen's Rook and the Queen's Knight.

On the same day that the Jaques chess sets were available, Howard Staunton recommended and endorsed the sets in the Illustrated London News. Nathaniel Cook was Staunton's editor at the Illustrated London News. The ad that appeared in the newspaper called it Mr. STAUNTON's pattern.

Later, Staunton began endorsing the set and had his signature on the box of Staunton chess pieces. One of Staunton's chess books was given free with every box of Staunton chess set.

In 1935 the Jaques company no longer made ivory Staunton sets.

During World War II Jacques was asked by the British government to mass produce chess sets for the troops. The factory was later bombed by the Germans and destroyed.

At the start of the 1978 World Championship match in Baguio, Philippines there wasn't a Jaques Staunton chess set in the city to use for the match to fit the occasion. Someone had to drive to Manila to find a Jaques Staunton chess set, which arrived just 15 minutes before the start of the scheduled match.  They borrowed a Jaques set from Justice Moreno, ex-president of the Philippine Chess Federation  (Thanks to Dante Fangon for this information).

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