Review: Noj Slovenia - 1961 Soviet Championship Tal (Black-stain!)

MGT88
  • Intro:
  • Link to the set I purchased:
  • Stain:
    • Gregor, his brother, and his father make the sets at Noj; it is my understanding that Gregor's father, who is semi-retired, does the stain work. Noj generally do not offer any of their sets in black-stain (except for the BCE, because of its simple/clean lines) because of how difficult/laborious it is to achieve a "pitch-black" finish, and because Gregor's father prefers to allocate his time to more important work. I asked Gregor if they could do this set in maple/black-stained maple for me, and his father graciously agreed. After completion of the work, Gregor advised me that his father is now a little more open to doing black-stained Tal sets (time permitting etc.), because he had great success with the stain on my set. I checked the Noj website and I still don't see black-stain as an option for the Tal, so it seems like its still a special-request type thing that may or may not be accommodated, depending upon how much time Gregor's father's has/what he is working on. Note that the black-stain for my set was +100 Euros. UPDATE: Black-stain is now an option on the site for +100 Euros.
  • Set Review:
    • Design:
      • The set is even more beautiful than I expected, which is what I expected! There is just something about the lines, the robustness of the pawns, the knight (my favorite piece in the set!!), that simply make playing chess more fun and enjoyable (I’m not sure how to explain it; when I play through a game in a book, these pieces just “bring it to life” and spark my imagination). I would describe the look of this set as classic, robust, and "art deco" in a way (this term just comes to mind); a true work of art. While aesthetically pleasing, the set was also used in the 1961 Soviet men's championship, which means it is definitely safe to say that it is also completely functional for play.
      • 4" king, fits very well on my 2.25" board. The kings have "art deco" finials and, paired with the queens, great height ratios with the other pieces.
      • I am blown away by the knight; it is definitely the most beautiful knight design/carving I have seen, and it was one of the main things that drew me into the set.
      • While the knight is my favorite piece in the set, the pawns are a very close second; the wide bases are very pleasing to the eye, and they really bring the whole set together. The stars of this set are the knights and the pawns, without a doubt. My girlfriend affectionately calls the pawns "chubbies", which I find to be quite fitting.
      • I love the mitre cut in western bishops, and I love the overall design of eastern bishops. The bishops in this set are eastern style, with a mitre cut; the ultimate combination!
      • The rooks are solid, with pleasing angles/lines.
      • The set looks quite large in pictures, however, it is actually smaller than my BCE set, which I found interesting; from the pictures alone I thought it was going to be bigger than the BCE.
    • Quality:
      • With Noj, It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyways; incredible craftsmanship. Everything I said about the quality of my BCE 2 set certainly applies here.
      • I am not an expert in chessmen, but I have a pretty good eye for detail and I examined these pieces closely; I cannot find any flaws:
        • Perfect, tight, FLUSH, finials on the kings/queens/bishops; the finials on my HoS Zagreb are not flush, which was extremely disappointing.
        • Nice weighting; feels nice in the hand.
        • Feels solid, well-made.
        • Beautiful finish/lines/carvings/construction; wood-turning is an art.
        • The black-stain is truly jet-black (hats off to Gregor's father); the black-stain on my HoS Zagreb is not even close (e.g., the HoS Zagreb knight's mouths are not even stained).
        • Perfect, tight, clean felting; the felting on my HoS Zagreb looks it was slapped on by a blind man.
        • Rock-solid maple wood.
        • Very nice packaging; came in a nice box (which fits all of the chessmen, STANDING UP!), with black paper wrapping and certificate of authenticity.
  • Overall:
    • The best set of wooden tournament chessmen you can buy, in my view.
  • Pictures:
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Johnny_Gumshoe
Really nice.
liml
Wow! Very nice indeed. How long does it take for Noj to fulfill this order? How much did you pay for shipping? What courier did you use?
MGT88
liml wrote:
Wow! Very nice indeed. How long does it take for Noj to fulfill this order? How much did you pay for shipping? What courier did you use?

Thanks! The actual manufacture time of this set is about 3 weeks, however, the time it takes for Noj to actually fill the order depends on their workload. Noj uses DHL for shipping to Canada; it’s about 75-80 Euros for shipping from Noj to Toronto. I have two sets from Noj (BCE 2 and this Tal); DHL was used for both and they did a great job.

magictwanger

Absolutely the Gold Standard!