craigslist chess table - recognizable?


Hi everyone,

Over the holiday weekend I picked up the below table for $20 off a Craigslist ad.  I'd planned on just refinishing it, but then when I was browsing the House of Staunton website for a set of pieces, I saw them selling something similar for $5000... so that made me think perhaps I should check to make sure I don't have some historic piece or anything along those lines before I do anything to it.

There are no markings on it whatsoever other than a circled "309" that's on the underside of the drawer.  However, it's exceptionally well-made.  The squares are 2" and there's probably a 1/4" groove between all of them, and there are a few staples in what look like factory-placed locations on the underside of the tabletop that appear to maybe have held packing material, such as protective cardboard. 

Based on the hardware holding it together, I'm guessing it dates back to the late '40s to early 60s.   I'm wondering if that board pattern or the overall shape of the tabletop would be telltale to someone who knows about these things... or if it's just a nice table someone made in their basement.

 Thanks in advance for any feedback.



Hmm, the $4,995 House of Staunton table looks a little different to me. Probably not $4,975 better.  From the description, 

Masterfully hand-crafted, U.S. made chess tables are now available to our customers in limited numbers. These superb chess tables are crafted from the highest-grade materials, reflecting the perfect combination of artistic presence and functionality. The base is created using beautiful White Oak and is finished with a refined Walnut top. The playing field is a combination of Maple and exotic Brazilian Ebony wood squares. Each table is individually made to our customer’s specifications and is personally signed by Master Craftsman Nate Cohen. You are certain to appreciate the flawless craftsmanship and attention to every detail.

// Looks like you got a great deal.


Honestly what I meant was big table, smaller board in the middle.  Aside from the wider drawer, and the fact that mine's beat up and this one isn't, it's the same overall concept, isn't it? 

milobloom34 wrote:

Honestly what I meant was big table, smaller board in the middle.  Aside from the wider drawer, and the fact that mine's beat up and this one isn't, it's the same overall concept, isn't it? 

Your board looks painted on. Theirs is maple and ebony inlaid into walnut.

But yes, they both serve the same function.  You haven't mentioned the coaster holders on the corners. There, you are clearly one up. 

Your initial post raised the question of whether or not you have a historic table. I have no idea. Perhaps you will make it historic with the games you play on it. Smile

All I see is a great deal on a nice solidly built table. Congratulations.


Ah yes, that's correct.  On mine, it appears the lines for the board itself was routed into the wood.  The dark squares are a wood stain... the light squares are the same color as the rest of the table.  Then the whole thing was finished. 

I have two 1960s Ford Mustangs and in that hobby, you could put two unrestored cars next to each other that look exactly the same to the average person, but in reality the one on the right is worth five times as much as the one on the left.  But if you restore the one on the right, it cuts the value in half.   That's the kind of thing I wanted to check on.  I didn't think this was anything special but I'd feel pretty dumb if I refinished something that I should have left alone. 

And I'd suspect the only history that would be made on this table would be made by my kids.  :)  They're the chess players, not me.

Thanks for the help!


I'd go ahead and refinish it.  Lightly sand the top with an orbital sander and fine grit sand paper to get the varnish off and all the scratches out, then restain the dark squares if needed and revarnish. 

Oh and sand and revarnish the rest of it too.


I love this thread. Shame I came to it so late. If the whole thing isn't one big joke, then I love it for how this illustrates how chess players are completely out of touch with reality. This is a cheap pine table that someone has turned into a "chess" table with the help of some black paint and something to gouge out those horrible furrows between the squares (a re-purposed cheese grater, perhaps?) Why would you ever think that you have picked up anything than some crappy old piece of furniture that the seller would doubtless have paid you $20 to take away? Loving all of this - even if it's four years down the road. 


As an afterthought, at least whoever made it painted the dark squares in the correct corners.