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House of Chess

  • #21

    No, all pieces were placed directly on the scale one at a time, except for the pawns that were weighed 8 at a time. Where the weights of the queen and extra queen were different, I use the weight of the heavier queen for determining the set weight.

    Since I've been working up dimensional designs for chess sets, I recorded the heights and widths of each piece and used a spreadsheet to calculate the various ratios for all my sets. This allowed me to compare the results from many different sets and correlate those results with the ratios that looked best to me. Playing around with the data, I found certain numbers (constants) kept popping up again and again (.586 and .765). Ratios at or close to those numbers are highlighted in yellow in the table below.

    For example, below is the spreadsheet for my Monarch bud rosewood (actually Padauk) set.

  • #22

    I bought several sets from them going back about five years. The Monarch in rosewood is one. I played prison chess last night with it in fact. Nice set although I've always thought the pawns are just a little too large.  I found the quality of all the sets I bought to be good. I looked at their site a few days ago and it seems prices have gone up. Clearance items at House of Staunton may be a better value. I just bought HoS Margate 1923 in bud rosewood for $75. Lovely set, especially after waxing with Howards Feed-N-Wax. 

  • #23

    I did purchase the 4" Monarch in bud rosewood with a case via eBay.  The box arrived not only damaged, divider was only glued and not in a cut groove, it did not have a dovetail as it showed in the picture on the listing I bought it from.  They did replace the box and this time the divider was placed in a grove as it should be but no dovetail. They told me they quit making a dovetail box which obviously cuts down on labor. 

    The pieces are decent when you consider the price for it delivered with a box.  Is it a spectacular bargain, no.  Is it worth the $150 delivered, yes.

    Let's face it as we are always looking for bargains.   I would like to see some of the direct India manufacturers hike their quality up a few notches and their prices up 30-50% to cover it and still outsell the competition and quiet the naysayers.  Will it happen, I doubt it. 

    I still do not understand who is buying the 2 headed knights and also monstrous knights that take up so much space on the chess board they look out of place from the rest of the pieces.  That has to be about 50% of all sets from India.  

  • #24

    Well Mike, maybe the naysayers aren't that at all but just people pointing out the problems.  I mean this in a respectful way.

    Since the sets are made and then sold from India we sort of expect a cheaper price because they appear to be cutting out the middle man.  Well, the companies selling are not the producing companies, that I can tell.  So they are still the middle man.  Yes, they will save on shipping from the manufacturer to the retailer.

    Now, material costs are the same no matter who sells the product.  Sure, The House of Staunton has higher quality standards for their materials and quality of workmanship.  But, wood is still wood and there are other retailers selling the higher quality woods and workmanship as well.

    We hear of the sweat shops that produce the sets for very little cost of labor.  But, how are we to really know if these sweat shops are producing to what companies?  I remember you, Mike, saying that Vik of Chess Bazaar has well paid workers.

    Anyway, the cost of labor also needs to be factored into the cost.  So, you have materials and labor.  The producer must make a profit to exist as does the retailer.

    So, with these inexpensive sets something has to give.  I understand and agree that these retailers from India could raise the quality of materials and workmanship, put out a better product and still be lower priced than the not from India retailers.  But then and again, how much cheaper could they really be if they upped the quality and therefore the cost?

    The House of Chess has put out some nice products over the years, from what I have read on this forum.  Yes, they have some apparent drops in quality and increases in prices, but they are still very inexpensive on a lot of their products.  Maybe we see a drop in quality because they have existed longer and the "newness" of them to the manufacturers is gone leaving them with the lesser quality products at the same or higher prices.

    I don't know how long Chess Bazaar has been around.  When I came to this forum 5 months ago, they were pretty darn close to perfect from what a lot of posters said.  And those posters are qualified people in the chess set buying game.  GoodKnightMike and FrankHelwig are just two off the top of my head.  Yes, Mike I know you are also the man, at least in my eyes.

    Anyway,  the infamous red stain problem was the first that I know of showing this company to have any faults.  The lesser quality staining procedure would very well explain part of the price difference between them and the HOS competitor sets.  During this discussion we took a closer look at the 3 competing sets of the Dubrovnik design.  Those pictures showing the three company offerings, next to each other showed the difference in quality that made it easy to tell which piece or set was at which price.  Of course the Noj sets are priced in a very different range from the other two, but that's another discussion.

    The point is that we can see the difference in quality from one priced set to the next and that quality translates into material quality and workmanship quality and time.

    I'm all for getting the lesser expensive set and accept the quality differences, especially when the cheaper products are still of a nice quality in weighting and finish, as the CB sets appear and have been reported to be.

    Yes, it would be very nice if the people that ran these companies would take a step back to look at their products.  And then it would be nice if they would simply invest a bit more in some of their sets to improve the quality and the price, while still maintaining their pricing edge over the competition.

  • #25

    Eye Doc, the problem with the india companies........I have offered my opinions on what would and would not sell in the USA and also how they could ramp up sales in the USA.  I guess Europe might be a different market and I am sure Asia is.  What did I ask for in return just a 10% better discount is all, just 10%. No money no fees.  I would have to buy a set and they have more than 10% extra built in so it would really not cost them anything as I do not buy even 12 sets a year.  The companies will remain nameless but they refused.  WHY?   It is only conjecture on my part but I do beleive they do not TRUST US in the USA.  Maybe they feel I work for the opposition. I also know others who proposed the same as I did but maybe asked for more, I do not know as it is none of my business, but all I know were turned down.  

    To another point I was told from a trust worthy person that Vik pays his workers well to retain the same crew.  When I chat with their employees on line late night they are always the same names. 

    On the topic of the red Dub set bleeding the pigment.  I have my own thoughts on that. but it wasn't handled the way I suggested to them to handle it.  Since most of the holders of the sets would have kept it anyways the 30% off the new Sheesham set satisfied them.  And I did order a set for the 30% off just to let you know and I know it is nicely done and is one of my favorite sets.  What they should have done???? In my eyes they should have followed protocol. 

    As collectors we really don't want to voice much to any agency as we all like the lead weights, do we not?  Let me tell you that all Inida manufacturers would have to stop loading the bases with lead weights if it became known.  If anyone knows anything different and is an expert on the The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act)  please tell us about it. 

  • #26

    I did alter my original post to the above. I read in detail what constitutes a child's toy vs. general use.  Very good article here:


    So I can not say that a chess set is a child's toy.  There would be quite an argument in a court of law in the USA if it ever came up.  When I handed out my chess sets for Xmas to the food pantry and toy collection center I did put a chockable warning in with eact set/board/bag.  


    Appeal has a lot to do with it as well as atrraction.  I would imagine 2 good minds can argue the point all day long as to general use vs. childrens use.  

    I have my own reasons to feel strongly on what should have taken place.  I am not out to disparage or trash any one selling such a set as I like all their other work.  What I mean is every set that comes out there is a following who take one or two pieces and bashes the crap out of the design or facsimile.  I do not do that and would not do that. Anyone can see what the pieces look like before they buy them and CB has some of the best close up pictures of any seller be it domestic or foreign.  If you can not see clearly get some corrective lenses.  CB does have a 100% guarantee even on SALE or CLEARENCE items.  


    I would have had sent out an email to all buyers giving them an option of sending the sets back for replacement or a full refund on CB's nickel or simple keep it if happy. Period end that would have ended the whole discussion instead of dragging it out for weeks.  But that is how I think being born here in the USA and knowing that is the best way to settle differences quickly. I am guessing again they think differetnly in other countries (Europe & some others excempted).

  • #27

    I agree with you, Mike.

    Chess Bazaar does do the custom work and then makes the styles they think will sell available to everyone.  An example is the 4" King Dubrovnik set.

    As I said earlier, CB was very clean in reputation when I first happened on this forum.  I still read people suggesting to others to buy one of their sets for the great value at a low cost. 

    The House of Chess also had a good reputation.  Look at the people in this thread that bought a number of sets from them and were satisfied.  Yes, lately there have been some complaints.  But the beat goes on.  They still keep selling sets as does CB.

    I claimed how much I was tempted by the House of Chess Yugo (Zagreb) set in Blood Rosewood.  I'm no fool.  I realize that this set does not have the highest quality wood in it.  Look at the pictures on eBay, for yourself.

    These companies have their own lives.  The House of Chess is older than Chess Bazaar.  I bet CB has had a rush of business because of their newer offerings that is so different than all the others.  Look at the Dubrovnik set.  There are only 3 companies making one, and the other 2 are more expensive than CB.  Plus CB's set is of decent quality and design.  I have said it more than once on these forums that the CB Dubrovnik all by itself is a nice looking set.  Yes, they have the greatest departure from the original design, but for what they charge, it is a nice set.  CB also has their Liberty Series and their Lardy reproductions out.  And they are both not expensive at all.  It will be interesting to see how this company develops over time.  Will they keep coming up with new and different reproductions?  That's the fun of it.

  • #28

    Actually, I have seen several reports of problems with CB's customer service, even before the Crimson stain debacle. But the people voicing their problems were always shouted down by the very loud proponents of CB.

  • #29

    Here are some pictures of the boxes House of Chess provided with three of their sets I bought over the past year or so.

    I think these boxes were well worth at least $50 a piece, so I figured I got the bud rosewood Zagreb and Monarch sets (pictured above) for $100 each! And at that price, I'm not complaining. I'll post pictures of the actual sets this weekend.

  • #30

    4" Bud Rosewood Monarch

    4" Bud Rosewood Zagreb

  • #31

    Blood Rosewood looks really nice & much better than a Crimson stain. Is that Zagreb Knight in the bottom picture really that Dark.? If it is, that would drive me nuts.! The Monarch set has a fantastic color.

  • #32

    Kick, the poor lighting in the photo makes the Zagreb knight look darker than it appears in-hand. Still, it's darker than the other pieces . I too love the color of this Monarch set. It almost looks as if it could pass for red sandalwood. As such, it's become one of my favorite sets.

  • #33

    I prefer the opposite color finials only on the bishops 

  • #34

    I missed that Reb.! I agree that Bishops only should have the opposite color finials. Those snipers are dangerous critters in a chess game.!!

  • #35

    This is the first House of Chess set that I bought shortly after they were forced to change their business name, IIRC, it is the Emperor set. It's in red and ivory lacquer. The King is 4 inches high with a base of 1 7/8 inches diameter. Haven't weighed the set, but it is certainly the heaviest set I own by far.

  • #36

    BTW, the board is Mark of Westminster with 2 1/2 inch squares in rosewood. 

  • #37

    Very nice, ChessSpawn! Those red lacquer pieces look delicious!

  • #38

    I think it was Ruben Fine who said that he prefered using red pieces when analyizing as the brightness of the color made him feel good. I also have a House of Staunton Professional set of chesspieces in natural lacquered and red lacquered colors.

    Ironically, by purchasing the HoS set on clearance a few years go, it cost about the same as the House of Chess Emperor set .

  • #39
    Reb wrote:

    I prefer the opposite color finials only on the bishops 

    Since the set is a mash up of the Dubrovink and Zagreb sets, and all the pieces, save for the knight, are in the Dubrovnik style, I think they used the "four opposite colored finials" to add another tounch of the Zagreb into the design. As I owned an HOS Zagreb set for about 10 years before selling it last year, I guess I just got used to the opposite colored finials, so the presence of the Zagreb knight makes the finials look okay to me.

  • #40
    loubalch wrote:
    Reb wrote:

    I prefer the opposite color finials only on the bishops 

    Since the set is a mash up of the Dubrovink and Zagreb sets, and all the pieces, save for the knight, are in the Dubrovnik style, I think they used the "four opposite colored finials" to add another tounch of the Zagreb into the design. As I owned an HOS Zagreb set for about 10 years before selling it last year, I guess I just got used to the opposite colored finials, so the presence of the Zagreb knight makes the finials look okay to me.

    I have a HoS Zagreb set which I use with the Byzantine finials. Lovely set, but, God never seems to help me with my game no matter which finial I use. :-)


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