Early Soviet Era Grossmeister Chess set from Ryazan ...

Ronbo710


Hi All - I just received this amazing condition set from just outside Moscow. a late 50's (I believe) Grossmeister (Grandmaster) all wood (including finials and knights) Professional tournament set. I don't have to tell most of you how rare these beauties are. And this one is in "time machine" condition. Red bottoms (one black Bishop has a dark blue bottom from an earlier set). Heavily weighted.  The carving on these is my favorite of all chess pieces. Just something about the shape. Enjoy happy.png ...






Bernard_D
Beautiful set Ronbo. I’m one of the members who doesn’t know the significance of your set. Please fill me in.
Ronbo710
Bernard_D wrote:
Beautiful set Ronbo. I’m one of the members who doesn’t know the significance of your set. Please fill me in.

Thanks for asking. The Soviet Grossmeister or Grandmaster set came out in the late 1940's and originally was an all wooden design. Including the finials and Knight upper bodies. In the late 1960's they switched to plastic finials for the Kings Queens and Bishops and plastic for the upper knights bodies. These sets were used in the top Soviet tournaments of the 40's thru '80's. Of course other sets can be seen as well. Another example of this set can be seen here and is owned by Chuck Grau who is a regular on this blog as well as the collectors blogs on facebook. Much more knowledgeable than myself on the history ...  https://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-equipment/beautiful-specimen-of-the-iconic-1960-soviet-grandmaster-set

sound67
Ronbo710 hat geschrieben:

In the late 1960's they switched to plastic finials for the Kings Queens and Bishops and plastic for the upper knights bodies.

Yes, all-wooden knights seem to be quite rare. There are very many such vintage sets available on Etsy, but even the pricier ones (€200 and above) usually have at least plastic for the black knights.

Does anybody know the specific reason why they did that? The wood they were using doesn't seem to be high grade or rare, and the carving on the knights isn't very intricate, so very many people could have done that job for not a lot of money. They could even have sourced out the job to the dozens of thousands of Gulag inmates in Soviet Russia for no money at all. Or is there another practical reason to use plastic? Economizing on time and logistics rather than money=

Though I have to admit that on some of the better sets they did the imitation so well that you'd probably have to feel the pieces in the flesh to notice the difference. 

Haverumwilltravel

Ron , nice set, with the cross on the king that set must of been played in underground tournaments.

I find Soviet/Russian sets fascinating. I bought a 80s Soviet Grandmaster and a Ukraine set a while back. Light wood and troweled on varnish but they have a look and feel of their own. 



 

Rsava

Oh, Ron, that set is absolutely stunning. The Knights are very nice (to me). Ears pinned back, ready for battle. 

Great find, great acquisition. 

Ronbo710
Haverumwilltravel wrote:

Ron , nice set, with the cross on the king that set must of been played in underground tournaments.

I find Soviet/Russian sets fascinating. I bought a 80s Soviet Grandmaster and a Ukraine set a while back. Light wood and troweled on varnish but they have a look and feel of their own. 



 

It really isn't a "cross" finial. These were used in the very top of Soviet tournaments. Chuck Grau has exhibited several period photos here of these pieces in action with great Soviet era GM's.  

Ronbo710
sound67 wrote:
Ronbo710 hat geschrieben:

In the late 1960's they switched to plastic finials for the Kings Queens and Bishops and plastic for the upper knights bodies.

Yes, all-wooden knights seem to be quite rare. There are very many such vintage sets available on Etsy, but even the pricier ones (€200 and above) usually have at least plastic for the black knights.

Does anybody know the specific reason why they did that? The wood they were using doesn't seem to be high grade or rare, and the carving on the knights isn't very intricate, so very many people could have done that job for not a lot of money. They could even have sourced out the job to the dozens of thousands of Gulag inmates in Soviet Russia for no money at all. Or is there another practical reason to use plastic? Economizing on time and logistics rather than money=

Though I have to admit that on some of the better sets they did the imitation so well that you'd probably have to feel the pieces in the flesh to notice the difference. 

It must have been due to cost in one way or another. 

Chessoholicar

They made thousands of sets per month for the entire Soviet Union and eastern Europe. I think they just did not have time to carve so precisely so many knights.

Haverumwilltravel

I have seen Chucks sets. I wonder if the KGB would take that view back then. happy.png

Ronbo710
Haverumwilltravel wrote:

I have seen Chucks sets. I wonder if the KGB would take that view back then.

Here is GM Karpov at the 50th U.S.S.R. Championship with those same paddle type finials. Considering he was like the Soviet Ambassador of chess compared to Kasparov I don't think those finials offended the KGB too much ...

utpic

Ronbo, firstly, what a beautiful set! Congratulations on another fine acquisition.

The one grandmaster set I have seen was lying around an old age home here in Berlin - it belonged to a Russian immigrant. Wooden white knights, plastic finials and black knights. But the plastic knights are far superior to the wooden ones. The latter are crudely carved and were clearly rushed in the making. Just looking at the set and considering that this was a common set that every Pyotr, Vladimir and Evgeny owned, made me realise that this was simply a product of mass production. And for a mass produced "everyday" set, that every Russian schoolboy could play on, it is pretty cool, plastic and all.

willitrhyme

Glad to have clicked on this thread. 😀

Those sets are literally inspiring, a sculpture of the game if you will.

lighthouse

That such a nice table ! whats the history ?

magictwanger

Stupendous looking sets!

Ronbo710
lighthouse wrote:

That such a nice table ! whats the history ?

Thanks happy.png . It is a 30" Drueke vintage table with 2.25" squares. Not huge but just the right size for me to study and play engines on. It is real wood (not veneers).