Chessman

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wrote:

I was curious to see what the USCF rules might say about this and found the following in the Fifth Edition, published in 2003:
From Section 41C. Proportions.:
"The guidelines for determining the proper square size for a Staunton chess set is that the King should occupy around 78 percent of the square. An acceptable square size may be up to 1/8 inch larger than this number, but not smaller."
Fussy l'il debils, ain't dey.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom Watson wrote:

Ya spekt deers uh pup-porshun tween da size uh da base an da hite uh da peece two? I doone tink day wan us ta make dem tings wid uh 2" base an be 9" taul.
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On Mon, 02 Feb 2004 19:19:25 -0700, Grandpa <jsdebooATcomcast.net> wrote:

From the USCF rulebook:
"The king's height should be 3-5/8 to 4-1/2 inches. The cross (or other king's finial) should occupy no more than 20 percent of the total height of the king. The diameter of the king's base should be 40-50 percent of the height."
I toltcha dey was fussy.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom Watson quoted

Fussy - and no sense of design. :(
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Tom Watson wrote...

Yep. It is interesting that the two most popular sets sold by the USCF don't meet those guidelines, technically. (G) That's where I got my dimensions. Together, these two sets fill at least 99% (literally) of all the boards in a typical tournament hall, whether the sets are provided by the organizer or the players.
Actually, I don't know if the USCF is directly selling equipment anymore, what with all the money they (we) were losing; I think we've farmed it all out. But the sets are still the same.
Cheers!
Jim
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wrote:

I hope that they do farm it out. My experience in ordering with them has been borderline awful.
They really aren't set up to do proper online ordering. You have to order without knowing what is in stock and, when you call, no one can tell you when new stock might be in.
I suspect that they have fallen in arrears with some vendors and are not being sent new stock.
The current restructuring (which has produced the hideous, sixties-look magazine), may have some positive outflow.
But, it's wait and see.
(tom - who actually enjoyed the pre-algebraic days when King-Pawn to King-Pawn-Four really meant something - it's so damned dry now.)
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom Watson wrote...

They aren't set up to do *any* order service at all! I was talking about this stuff with Doris Barry a couple weeks ago (she was on the executive board until a year or two ago, and her husband, Denis, rest his soul, was USCF president before that). Doris told me it takes six USCF employees to process an order. And they were turning only something like $2M per year!!
The USCF is so mired in politics that it has a hard time being effective at anything.

That in fact did happen. From what I hear, they're pulling out of it, though.
Jim

*cough* (G)
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wrote:

Pretty much everyone at the Monday Night Chess Club meeting plays with roll-up boards.
I've been thinking of sneaking in one of my wood ones in an attempt to generate some sales.
Maybe I can work a deal on the sales so that some of those guys won't kick my ass so bad - sose I can get my rating up to "breathing".
(watson - who is currently not breathing so well, because our club has too many Masters.)
!!
(shit - i read the books ?!? )
(watson - who still likes the King's Pawn opening - it worked for Bobby ! )
( !?!)
(@#$%^&*()
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker (ret.) (Real Email is tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet) http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Tom Watson wrote...

They are so easy to transport. I can't fit a wood board in my chess bag so it would be another thing to carry to the club or pack on a tournament trip.
I've heard "theoreticians" say that the non-wood colors (dark green and ivory in particular) are better for playing, as they contrast the pieces well, and don't "glare" at you. I sure do appreciate the look of a nice wood board, though, and enjoy playing on them.
At many of the tournaments I've organized or participated in, we've used the vinyl boards for most of the hall, and wood boards for the one, three or five top boards.
For match play, especially at the atmospheric levels of chess, wood boards are more common.

You might get some. I'm always getting remarks about my set, and have been asked to make boards on several occasions.

Don't they all! Tough being a minnow in a pond of sharks.

"e4! and crush"
!? I don' reckonize dat one. (G)
Jim
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Doing the algebra I see that if the base of the king occupies 78% of the square the diameter of the base of the king is equal to the length of one side of the square. Now, it seems to me that just coming out and saying that the diameter of the base of the king should be no more one eight of an inch smaller than the side of a square is more straightforward so I wonder if the folks at the USCF have a funky notion of what it means to 'occupy' some partion of a square.
--

FF

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Fred the Red Shirt wrote...

Funky is a good word for that spec. There's no way that the USCF intends that the king's base should occupy 78% of a square's area, even though that is the way the rule reads. They mean that the diameter of the King's base should be 78% (or less) of a square's side. And they're wrong about that, too. (G)
By the way, the spec Tom cited is a new one. It had been revised in the 4th edition, and was further "clarified" in the 5th. I don't have a 5th edition on hand, but the 4th states, "The king and queen, for example should be subject to easy placement on a square without touching any edge." And as you noted, this isn't the case if the king truly occupies 78% of a square.
Cheers!
Jim
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On Sat, 31 Jan 2004 03:41:45 -0500, Silvan
<snip>

<mo bigger snip>

<no mo snips>
I think that the color is only part of the design thinking. I like pieces with some heft to them. Now, the bottoms could be hollowed and filled with glued in metal (I think that molten lead would char the wood), so maybe that makes the heft thing go away.
I've got some ebony around here somewheres and I was thinking of using some satinwood for the white pieces but might try to scratch up some holly (or use some apple that I've got but I don't know how well that turns and holds detail. See, there's another thing - the wood needs to be able to hold some pretty fine detail without a lot of the small stuff breaking off later.
Here's the set that I'm using for a model:
http://www.shopuschess.org/cgi-bin/SoftCart.exe/scstore/p-S759B.html?L+scstore+ikhd9548+1073169214
The last chessboard that I made was knocked up from cherry and maple ply, with a walnut border:
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1/page31.htm
I like the look of the black and white men on the wood board.
Mike Hide would be the man to talk to about carving the Knights. His carving work is extraordinary, whereas mine is extra-ordinary.
The best tip I was ever given for replicating carving was to break down the piece into elements that you can understand, rather than trying to think of the whole thing at once - that's too scary. But the really good carvers that I've seen go after a piece differently than that. I'm going to work from the general outline to the details and work the details one at a time, from the largest to the smallest.
As you said, these particular plastic men look better than any pieces that I've ever owned, so, if I screw up - we'll always have Plastic.
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret) Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet Website: http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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Tom Watson wrote...

If you keep the thickness of the wood to 1/8" minimum and keep the pour relatively cool, you shouldn't have a charring problem. That's how I did mine.

Ebony is problematic for chess pieces. It turns beautifully, and takes fine detail very well, but if the set will be used with any frequency, you will break pieces. The collars of the pawns will go first. The knights' noses and parts of the mouth (if it's open) will be right behind. Basically any small cross-section of face grain will be weak. I love the look of ebony, but it's just too brittle for a "player" set. For an occasional set or decorative one, it's fine, though.
Cheers!
Jim
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Jim Wilson wrote:

What do you recommend instead of ebony for a "player's" set?
-- Mark
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Mark Jerde wrote...

Hard to say. Walnut and "rosewood" are popular. I put rosewood in quotes because I don't know what kind of wood those "rosewood" sets are really made of, but it's much lighter than the rosewood I've worked with (dalbergia stevonsonii). *That*, by the way, would be an excellent choice. I absolutely love that stuff, but I suppose any dark wood with good split resistance would be ok for Black.
I used walnut because I like it, and I had some dark 8/4 material handy. You might worry that walnut is too soft, but it has held up well for right at ten years now of fairly heavy use. I play weekly for several hours at a time.
For White, maple and boxwood are the species I've seen most frequently, but there are plenty more good choices for the light color. Boxwood is a little lighter in color and weight and takes detail very well. Maple is bit difficult to carve, owing to its hardness.
Cheers!
Jim
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wrote:

Thanks for the tips.
I wonder if there is any kind of treatment that would render the pieces more resistant to this kind of damage without substantially altering the look.
I remember back when lots of folks were using PEG (PolyEthyleneGlycol)(sp?) to stabilize wood - not for this purpose but the basic idea of an immersion in something that would alter the characteristics of the wood is what I'm going at.
I'm not much for having stuff around the house that can't be used in the hurly burly of everyday life, so this set will be a user rather than a showpiece.
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker (ret) Real Email is: tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet Website: http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1
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Tom Watson wrote...

Not that I know of. Ebony is so dense that liquids don't penetrate into it very well. I should temper that a bit; I've only worked with Gaboon ebony, but the ebony chess sets I've played seemed very much the same.

There might be something to that. I've tried to look into wood stabilizing some, and have been unable to find anything definitive. One of those "industry secret" things. (BTW, I *hate* that!) However, I have noted that the stabilized materials -- especially burls -- that I've seen have had a "plasticky" appearance and feel, almost like it was impregnated under pressure (or vacuum?) with something like epoxy. It would be nice to know more about the processes available, and whether any leave a more natural appearance to the surface, which is my personal preference.
Good luck!
Jim
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Jim Wilson wrote:

Out of curiosity, why not place lead shot or strips in the bottom of the chessmen and then fill the rest of the cavity with epoxy? No charred wood or concern over density etc.
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Grandpa wrote...

Nothing wrong with that, if you can fit enough material in to get the weight up where you want it.
Jim
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Jim Wilson wrote:

I supposed another solution would be to pour molten lead into a small container the same size as the cavity and when it cools to epoxy that in. Hmmm, I like that better than the lead shot etc!
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