Ebony ...is it worth the extra

Malc_C
chessroboto wrote:

I can only appreciate the quality of pieces made out of ebony wood when they’re large like sets with Kings taller than 4”.  
Library and analysis sets are just too small and too light for me to appreciate any difference in the heft, stainIng and grain quality of ebony pieces compared to properly ebonized weighted boxwood pieces such as those sold by houseofstaunton.com. 

That's a really good point. I think you're exactly right setting the size to look at ebony from, at about 4" or 'tournament' size - a set for matches, something to be proud of, and something big enough to admire in detail.

theendgame3

Great thread, so cool to have the usual guys on here as my friends

theendgame3
Malc_C wrote:

As requested, here are my inexpensive chess sets. I'll take some good quality Macro shots if anyone's interested, but for now here are the pictures that sold them to me: The box for the 3" set, though obviously old, must have been kept in a cupboard, untouched, for decades (same applies to the card board); the wood is absolutely raw yet completely lacking greasy fingermarks or dirt.  I applied a good spray of real beeswax polish to both sets of chessmen, the box and wooden board to protect from getting grubby.












Thanks Malc- really nice bro

Malc_C
Audioq wrote:

Actually I think that pawn was (once) a single piece of wood. The screw thread is just to hold the weight in place in the base of the piece. Obviously this pawn was badly abused and fell apart so it looks like it was two parts held together by a screw thread. 😃

 Ahhh, thanks, I get it.  The screwed in part actually *is* the weight, or contains it.  The pawn was once one piece with a female thread cut into the recess in the base.  Again, you learn something every day; I've only seen glued in weights before this.

Malc_C

If anyone sees a 4"+ ebony/boxwood Staunton set with definite and easily seen grain in the ebony, could you please be kind enough to share a link.

theendgame3
Malc_C wrote:

If anyone sees a 4"+ ebony/boxwood Staunton set with definite and easily seen grain in the ebony, could you please be kind enough to share a link.

I'm sure you will get plenty of links Malc, there's lots great collectors on chess.com with awesome ebony sets. I'm looking forward to seeing them.

MCH818

I have never had a 4" set but I can imagine how much more detail there would be in the carvings and designs. I am not sure about the ebony though. I can't really see the grain in the ebony sets I have but then again my sets are 3.5 to 3.75" which is probably too small to notice. I always have to put my ebony pieces under LED to see the grain. I would love it if the grain in ebony was more visible in normal light.

Actually now that I think about it I did order a 4" Collectors in ebony once. I returned it because it was way too big for my 2.25" board. Here is a photo of it. The photo does not do it justice in terms of size. In real life it looked way more massive compared to the board:

Here is the knight under regular light. The grain is not visible.

 



chessroboto

Ok maybe 4”+ Kings maybe too much to ask to appreciate real ebony. 
I’d consider getting ebony if I were to own commemorative sets such as the 2019/2020 tournaments which are weighted and are DGT-enabled. 
https://www.houseofstaunton.com/the-2020-cairns-cup-commemorative-chess-pieces-dgt.html

 

MCH818

@Chessroboto I love the Cup sets from HoS such as Cairns and Sinquefield but man those are so expensive! I think I mentioned in one of the recent threads that I considered the 2017 Sinquefield Cup set from CB because the HoS version is too expensive. Anyhow I love that set you posted.

 

 

chessroboto

Wish I can post pics of my own set, but I don’t see myself owning that set due to the price. Did you click at the other sets that were offered? HoS had the actually pieces used during the tournament and comes a certificate that has the signatures of all the players who participated. Great for collectors. Each set sold for $2,500. The 2019 sets were sold out before I learned of them sometime mid 2020 through chess.com. 

MCH818

@Chessroboto Yes I looked at them all. $2,500 is way outside my comfort zone. Besides I am into the design aspect of the chess pieces. I am not into owning a set used in a famous tournament, so I would not pay extra for that privilege. Collectors I am sure would love it. I am not that guy though.

chessroboto

Unfortunately I myself started to want to own and play with pieces used either in major tournaments or those endorsed by important chess players. I was perfectly happy with the standard Staunton with German Knights sold by DGT in 1998, then the 2013 WCC set was released. That particular chess bug bit me hard. 

martyn-n

The type of gloss they put on any wood nowadays make them all look the same. Shiny and a bit plastic-like. I rub all that off with alcohol or something stronger and the woodgrain will become visible. Don't think any type of wood is glossy naturally. I like normal ebony when grain is visible and the wood is mat-black or with some dark brown through it.

MCH818

@Chessroboto I totally get it! You love pieces used in major tournaments like I love certain designs such as the knights form old Jaques sets like Morphy and Cooke knights.

KnightsForkCafe

Ebony is prone to cracking. For this reason alone I stay away from Ebony. Wenge I believe is a better wood if your really want a dark chocolate brown to black. However there are not many sets made out of Wenge. Ebonized Boxwood is a preferred finish if I am wanting a black set. That's just me. Ebony is good for boards but I just can't bring myself to own an Ebony set due to the cracking nature this wood is known for. 

KnightsForkCafe

Here's one set out of Wenge.

https://www.houseofchess.com/wenge-wood-boxwood-chess-set-pieces-yugo-zagreb-staunton-4-inch-102-mm-2-extra-queens-wooden-storage-box.html

chessroboto

That’s the first time that I’ve seen wenge chess pieces. I always envisioned wenge to be deep dark brown. Those pieces sold by Houseofchess.com are lighter to the point you can see the grain of the wood. 

Malc_C

Thanks! I've only seen Wenge in guitars before. I read it's incredibly hard but difficult to finish smoothly and can be brittle.