Another lovely Dubrovnik

I traced down another original Dubrovnik II set, owned by a retired friendly chess player in Ljubljana. I checked it out up close and confirmed it was made in Jakopović workshop in the fifties, all the details match. Sadly, the set is missing both black rooks and they were replaced. The black side chessmen are a bit faded, but overall it is a beautiful set with no damages. If only those rooks were original ...



-Izmet Fekali

The Fischer Set

The original Dubrovnik chess set, made in the Fifties and Sixties in Zagreb in the renowned master Jakopović's workshop. These are the pieces that Bobby Fischer proclaimed his favourite, this is the chess set that we can see him analyze with in various documentaries and photographs. This is the chess set that everybody wants to copy, but usually fails.

This set is a bit different from the original 1950 Dubrovnik chess set that was apparently used only once in the 1950 Olympiad and then never again, while this one was reissued shorly after that with some changes in design and used most notably in 1958 Interzonal in Portorož and in 1959 Candidates tournament in Bled, Yugoslavia. Note a bit bigger king, the fat rook, the bishop that looks a bit like a small child pacifier, and the differently but still superbly carved knight. These sets was very expensive at the time, costing about one average socialist worker's month pay.

The pieces are not weighted, just the way Bobby Fischer liked them, and were made from maple and beautifilly colored on the black side, note how the color has nicely faded with use and old age.

This is it, this is the Fifties Dubrovnik no. II, this is the Fischer set.


Eighties Dubrovnik II


GM Milan Vidmar's Original 1950 Dubrovnik

This set from IX. Chess Olympiad in Dubrovnik was gifted to the late GM Milan Vidmar at the end of the 1950 "Tournament of Nations". Currently in care of newly formed Ljubljana Chess Museum and it's curator, yours truly.


3D Demo Chess Set

Fascinating find from Celje, Slovenia, donated by Celjski šahovski klub (Celje Chess Club). An interesting design, a mix of Staunton (King and Queen) and Austrian coffeehouse (Bishop, Knight, Rook and Pawn) style. I might have exaggerated it's age in the video (it's probably in the 70-80 year of age range).


Bobby Fischer Talking About His Dubrovnik Chess Set

From 1999 to 2002 Bobby Fischer was staying in Philippines, residing in the same neighborhood as grandmaster Eugenio Torre, his close friend and second during the 1992 rematch with Spassky. During this time he was interviewed over the phone more than 35 times on radio stations in Hungary, Iceland, Colombia, Russia and Philippines. Most of them were done for one particular Philippine radio station, a Manila based AM Sports Radio. It was the only station that tolerated his anti-semitic rants as the interviews proved to be big rating boosters for a small and obscure radio station. His interviews elsewhere were usually a one time affair and often stopped on the air for obvious reasons.

(Warning! His words can and probably will make you uncomfortable at some point in the interview.)

On June 27th 1999 in one of these telephone interviews conducted by GM Eugenio Torre, he answered an interesting question from a listener from Mongolia:

"Where can you get the chess set like the one you used in the 1992 match with Spassky or the one that I've seen in your photos analyzing?"

This was Fischer's answer:

"What I played with with Spassky in 92 was the original Dubrovnik set, and it's very, very rare, I mean, it's almost impossible to get one, … To get one, if you can get one in good condition, you know, but it's absolutely … I think it's the best chess set I've ever played on, ... you remember, Eugene, no? It's just a joy to play with, a joy to hold, the definition of the pieces, the design, … it's just a marvelous set, but it's very hard to get, I don't have it.

On photos you see me playing and analyzing, that's another Dubrovnik set, that was made later in Croatia, I got that in Zagreb around '68 or '70 and that's a great set, but they stole it, ... That was one of the things ... That was on the cover on Life Magazine and many other pictures. I used ... That was my set that I always used to analyze with, I took it all over the world with me for years, I just loved that set ... You remember, don't you, Eugene?"

- Yeah, yeah, beautiful!

"No, no! I don't think you ... This was back earl- ... I think the set you saw was another set. No, no, you didn't see the original ..."

- Aah, the original one ... I saw only a ... probably ... just kind of a ... imitation.

"You saw a later one. This is the original one, Eugene, I loved so much I kept it in my safe, you know, like some people have their original jewels and they keep them in the safe and they will use like fake jewels ..."

- Where is it now?

"Well now, ... The Jews took it!"

- Oh! ...

"Yea, yea ... So, that picture you see me playing with, that chess set that you see me playing with in so many magazines, on the cover of Life Magazine and I'm playing with it in a, ... the picture in a ... on the cover of Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, it's the same picture that Bobby ... on a website."

- Oh, okay.

"That set was stolen by the dirty Jews, that's worth a fortune! I mean that set is worth easily hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe more. I mean, it's on the cover of Life Magazine, you know. That was stolen too, and I used to love to play with that ... 'cause the wood was so hard, it was very hard to break it, it was very, very light, perfect for traveling with, you know? And the balance of the pieces, the pieces didn't fall over, and the ... and the design, just a great, great set. That was stolen by the dirty Jews, so ... I don't want you to buy that set, you know, even if they offer ... even if you can afford it. I don't want anybody to buy any of this stuff that was stolen from me up there by Bekins, you know?... Nobody should buy it. Even if it's your intention to give it back to me. Don't buy it, don't play that game. Nobody should ... that's all stolen property. Don't buy stolen property."


P. S. Bobby is talking about three Dubrovnik sets here. The first paragraph is about the original 1950 Dubrovnik (made in Subotica, Serbia) he requested at Sveti Stefan 1992, but never owned.
The rest is about his Dubrovnik II (also "original" in a sense, somewhat rare and made in Vjekoslav Jakopović workshop in Zagreb, Croatia in the Fifties and Sixties — as opposed to cheap imitations made later and still available today) that he acquired in Zagreb in the 1968-1970 and was photographed and filmed with extensively. This set was later stored in Bekins Co. storage facility in Pasadena, California and was later sold at a public auction, because Fischer's account — maintained by a Pasadena businessman named Bob Ellsworth, — was in arrears. Fischer since claimed his Dubrovnik II set was "stolen".
The third set mentioned above briefly was most probably a simpler replica of his Dubrovnik II that GM Eugenio Torre saw him use much later in the 90's, probably at the Sveti Stefan rematch in Montenegro, where versions of the Dubrovnik could be found a dime a dozen.

BCE magnetic II

Over the weekend the second batch of BCE magnetic chessboards was delivered. Here's the next iteration, made in Slovenia:


This time only 11 boards were made in two colors, bordeaux red and greenish blue. The new batch sports our website URL, improved edge to edge printing and better selection of interesting wood grain with aesthetically pleasing imperfections and beauty marks. Treated and coated with shellac for a smooth playing surface.

Field size 55 mm, total weight 880 g! Named BCE Stage 1 Quattro Print boards will be signed on the back per request.

Availability is very limited, a few of the boards are already reserved for previous BCE customers, the rest are available for € 99,99 + shipping, all appropriate taxes (VAT, etc.) included. Email me if interested.


Note the ergonomic side grip for easy lifting the board from a table:


Still searching for that perfect design.


DGT Classic Chessmen

DGT Classic chessmen reviewed. A nice simple replica of 1972 Jaques of London WC Reykjavik design. A classic of note in our modern digital times.

Unweighted, 3.75 inch king, ebonized, compatible with all DGT electronic chessboards. Similar feel to DGT sheesham Timeless pieces at a notch (11 €) higher price.


Picochess on DGT 3000

The newest addition to the DGT chess clock lineup makes the old DGT XL it replaces look, well, ... old. Wider display, more characters available for our chessbots and there's that US tourney mode with USCF approved time controls. It's a cool clock.

The web user interface running on the iPad (or any other locally connected machine) is quite intriguing. It runs in any standard browser like Safari, Firefox or Chrome. It shows the opening tree, connects to a remote database of games for reference and can show engine evaluation. But for now, there is no way to play the game via UI. When this is enabled in the future, you will be able to simply give the URL of your machine to a friend and play a remote game on your DGT board, Picochess keeping score and storing PGNs. Skyping each other on top of that for a fine quiet evening match is a nice option ...

Of course I am quite aware that DGT boards already come with software enabling remote play on ICS and other chess servers. But it never works, really.
I believe here's a chance for DGT to develop a new platform for remotely connecting chess players. I believe they would be served well by a small investment into programming resources for this (OpenSource) project. (Sadly, I am no programmer, can only do ideas, design and testing.)
Imagine this scenario:

  1. You give the URL of your machine to a friendly chess coach, he observes you playing a game against the machine from their comfy home using their Chrome browser. Coach comments on the game via chat or Skype. The point is: a.) You are playing against a known trusted person, not "Kacpar0v_1991" or some other 11-year old with an engine in Brazil. b.) Remote player only needs a browser and URL address of your machine. No logins to monthly-fee servers. No usernames. No ads.
  2. You turn off the engine, play a remote game against the intrigued friend. You are using the DGT board, they are using a mouse and the Picochess web user interface from their home. It's fun, convenient and instructional. Picochess is keeping score and recording PGNs.
  3. Next day friend gets a Picochess machine themselves, they have a coach too, you know. (Bingo!, there goes another DGT board sale!)
  4. Your chessbot connects to their chessbot via a simple IP exchange, now you can play a remote game with pieces on both ends. Picochess keeping score and PGN's, of course.
  5. Next day the coach gives their URL to another coach. And a friend. A friendly GM. A twitter follower. A chess club member. There's another Bingo! there. And maybe another.
  6. Next year there are online tournaments, Picochess bots connecting players, keeping score, analyzing, verifying identities, checking for cheating, running automated tournaments.

It could go viral. Bingo, bingo, bingo!


P. S. Please excuse my excited naiveté.

Dubrovnik II Plastic Replica

An accurate replica until you get close.

Unweighted and lovely. The plastic is low grade, I see these totally worn out in local chess clubs but somehow still in play. Cheapest sets ever. And then they became rare.

Knights Up Close

A close look at some finest knights ever.

Which one is your favorite?


Champ's Set

Nice photo on the WCC 2014 match homepage, I like it.
But then I look closer. I see Anand playing with the DGT Timeless pieces, move on, nothing to see here. In front of Magnus however I see a very strange chess set:
WTF? Is this a joke?


BCE Natural on Revelation II

A customer was inquiring about our natural chessmen on Revelation II chessbot and I realized we have no photos of this particular combo. So I took out my iPhone and snapped a few shots with our Stage 1 Eastern Natural DGT enabled chessmen on the mighty Rev in the afternoon sun.
The set was custom felted orange, I love it how the color feebly shines through at the edges ...

I believe this looks like a perfect mach.

I rest my case.


DGT 3000 Setup Test

We test them so you don't have to.

A very fine update to the old XL. Bigger display, more info, same basic design.


Dubrovnik 70's Club Chess Set

Original, supposedly not very rare. These budget sets were produced in numbers for Yugoslav clubs and are still being used today, I snatched this one from a chess club in Ljubljana, Slovenia (and donated one of our S1EBT sets in exchange.)

The design is surprisingly close to the Dubrovik II originals, excepting few details (bottoms not fat enough, crude queen crowns). Unweighted, lacquered. No extra queens.

We Have a World Champion

Congratulations to WFM Laura Unuk, 2014 World Youth Champion!
Laura, you made us so proud! Thank you.


Unboxing DGT 3000

New off the shelf, it's not even listed on the official DGT homepage yet. A replacement upgrade of the old 2003 DGT XL, it was about time. Same design, but nicer color, better LCD screen with more info available. This one can display hours *and* seconds at the same time. Compatible with DGT electronic boards and yes, with latest Picochess 0.28 too.


Noj Dubrovnik Quality Control

Food for thought:


CB Soviet Replica Chessmen

Nobody else offers these on the market these days, the Soviet chessmen the way Mikhail Tal liked them. Believe me, I looked. These are from ChessBazaar, they just recently decided on offering an exact replica of the 50’s Soviet chessmen. It’s all hush-hush, but I know, as I talked them into it. Available soon!
Pasted Graphic

Weighted and charming. Actually, these are better than the originals below as the knights and finials are not made of plastic.


Testing Picochess 0.28

It’s a big rewrite.

Here is a video of our 5-year old playing against the simple POS chess engine (, ELO 500) using Pichochess on Mac Pro and Phoenix Systems Revelation II chessbot board.
Note the extremely robust interface and http broadcasting of the game, analyzed in browser running Stockfish. (Yes, the engine runs in the browser.) The game PGN is automatically emailed upon completion or downloaded via browser. Additional moves can be entered via web interface for analysis. A database of games will be added.

Picochess now runs any UCI chess engine on Raspberry Pi, Odroid, Mac OS X, Windoze, you name it.

We believe this is best chess teaching tool ever. Imagine a remote tutor monitoring a game between two kids (or kid vs. engine) via web interface & Skype.


The Dubrovnik Chess Set

There's a legend of the most beautiful chess set ever that is impossible to buy, made in a country that no longer exists.

Novica 1

The Dubrovnik.

The year was 1950. A Serbian sculptor Petar Poček was commissioned to design new chessmen for the upcoming IX. Chess Olympiad in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. The event was held with an impressive flourish as state authorities with marshal Tito in the forefront were involved. No expense was spared. In the spirit of the times a special ad hoc art committee of the ruling Communist Party was formed to approve the design.

(Update: It is claimed by at least one Serbian chess collector that the first 1950 Dubrovnik was designed by Josip Poček, but this information is still not verified and is heavily disputed by the some members of Croatian Chess Federation. It is quite possible that the original 1950 Dubrovnik was designed by Croatian cartoonist Andrija Maurović and made in Zagreb, but we are not yet sure.)

Photo below (and video above) featuring IM Branko Grosek's 1950 Dubrovnik, currently in care of the Grosek family, Ljubljana, Slovenia:

No religious symbols was the order of the day. The designer came up with a beautiful set with smooth curves, opposite capped bishops (for easier bishop/pawn distinction) and surprisingly elegant knights done differently than the usual Staunton Elgin marbles style. Unconventionally wide at base, felted in green, light, sturdy, utilitarian but elegant chessmen with a nod to great Staunton/Jaques of London tradition, the pieces were made out of maple and chestnut in natural color. No extra queens were included, a laughable idea at this side of the iron curtain, (where an upside-down rook is traditionally used in an unlikely event of promoting to another queen). Every set was boxed in a big folding veneered chessboard felted with baize, field size 60 mm. Big mother of a board folding into a box with a simple hook latch. A small metal badge with inscription “IX. šah olimpijada 1950 Dubrovnik Jugoslavija” adorned the inside of the box.

Below are photos of GM Vasja Pirc's (of the Pirc Defense fame) original Dubrovnik, currently in care of the Pirc family in Idria, Slovenia. The set is in astonishing mint condition, there's nary a scratch on this particular 1950 jaw-dropping chess set.
Vasja Pirc Original Dubrovnik 1950 - 05
Vasja Pirc Original Dubrovnik 1950 - 09
Vasja Pirc Original Dubrovnik 1950 - 13

The unweighted (!) pieces were according to late Mr. Karakljajić produced in an unknown workshop in Serbia. (Alas, this information is not yet verified.) About 50 sets were made by hand. Seven of them were gifted to the victorious Yugoslav team after the tournament:

  • The rest were sold off at a price equivalent to one average months pay in 1950’s Yugoslavia. Only a handful remain today.

The Dubrovnik design was used again in 1958 Interzonal tournament in Portorož, Yugoslavia with young Bobby Ficher competing and earning his Grandmaster title at age 15. This was his first encounter with the Dubrovnik, later proclaimed as his favorite chess set design. Again, a limited number of sets was produced. We have no information on what happened to them. The same goes for Dubrovnik sets from the 1961 International Tournament in Bled, again with Fischer competing (and winning second place behind Mikhail Tal.)

In the Sixties the renowned Croatian cartoonist Andrija Maurović designed a reissue of the famous 1950 Dubrovnik set to be mass produced and sold to general public., Some minor details were changed, most notably the size of the pieces (all pieces a bit fatter and taller by about 2 mm), carving of the knights (simplified carving, larger heads) and the number of cuts in the queen crowns (only 5 as opposed to original 12 to 15). Pieces were made in the Vjekoslav Jakopović workshop in Zagreb, Croatia. Maurović's original design blueprints and drawings were used in production of Noj, d. o. o. reproduction of Dubrovnik II chessmen.

Dubrovnik II chessmen were used in most events on the Yugoslav soil in the sixties. Here's a video from the 1968 Svetozar Gligorić vs. Mikhail Tal WC candidate match in Dom sindikata, Belgrade, Yugoslavia:

Dubrovnik II sets were available for sale in chess shops and were usually purchased as prizes in local tournaments. Here’s an example of such a set awarded to a tournament winner in Deskle, Slovenia on December 22nd 1968. Note the added ornamentation at the bases of chessmen:

Dubrovnik 68 - 06
Dubrovnik 68 - 11
Dubrovnik 68 - 12

The lower price & quality replicas of the Dubrovnik II were sold wildly in early seventies in Yugoslavia and neighboring countries. There was a lot of variety in carving quality and coloring of the pieces, the cheapest sets were often lacquered in black. They were later discontinued as the cheaper and simpler Subozan sets from Subotica flooded the market. By his own admission, world champion Bobby Fischer bought his Dubrovnik II in 1970 in Zagreb. He can be seen analyzing with his Dubrovnik II in numerous photographs and film clips. This set was put in Bekins Storage Co. warehouse storage room in Pasadena, California. The contents of the storage room were sold at a public auction, because Fischer's account—maintained by a Pasadena businessman named Bob Ellsworth, was in arrears. Fischer since claimed his Dubrovnik II set was "stolen".

Here is the transcript of his radio interview, discussing the original 1950 Dubrovnik:

"What I played with with Spassky in 92 was the original Dubrovnik set, and it's very, very rare, I mean, it's almost impossible to get one, … To get one, if you can get one in good condition, you know, but it's absolutely … I think it's the best chess set I've ever played on, ... you remember, Eugenio, no? It's just a joy to play with, a joy to hold, the definition of the pieces, the design, … it's just a marvelous set, but it's very hard to get, I don't have it."

Discussing his 1970 Dubrovnik II:

"On photos you see me playing and analyzing, that's another Dubrovnik set, that was made later in Croatia, I got that in Zagreb around '68 or '70 and that's a great set, but they stole it, … That was one of the things ... That was on the cover on Life Magazine and many other pictures. I used ... That was my set that I always used to analyze with, I took it all over the world with me for years, I just loved that set ..."

"On the cover of Life Magazine, you know, that was stolen too, and I loved to play with that ... The wood was so hard, it was very hard to break it, it was very very light, perfect for traveling with, you know. And the balance of the pieces, the pieces didn't fall over, and the design, just great, great set."

Bobby Fischer Dubrovnik
Bobby Fischer 03 - Dubrovnik
Bobby Fischer Dubrownik room
Bobby Fisher Dubrovnik close
Below are three fantastic and copyrighted photos by David Attie, showing Fischer's Dubrovnik in great detail. The original prints can be purchased at Rock Paper Photo, we strongly encourage visitors of this blog to do so:

In January 1972 when interviewed by Ira Berkow, Fischer mentions his Dubrovnik II thusly:

"Look at these pieces. Smooth and light, no hard edges, beautifully carved. The best set for playing with that I've ever seen. Here, feel this knight!"

By his request, the original 1950 pieces from a private Belgrade collection were used in 1992 Fischer/Spassky World Championship Rematch at Sveti Stefan, Montenegro that year. Fischer later proclaimed it as "the best chess set I have ever played on".


This particular chess set from the 1992 Sveti Stefan match was actually a combination of *two* original 1950 Dubrovnik chess sets, a cleaned up and refinished hybrid, as the organizers were unable to locate a complete set in good enough condition (pieces missing, pawn collars broken) to be used in such a prestigious event. After the match the one of the arbiters IM Nikola Karakljajić sold this hybrid to a Serbian collector Novica Matić and it was since offered for sale on (and later removed from) GM Siniša Dražić's blog, a friend of Mr. Matić.

The set was not sold as the asking price was ridiculously high. A chess collector from Brazil contacted Mr. Matić in 2014 and was given the hybrid (in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money) with an understanding that it will be returned to Republic of Serbia in the future. No contract was signed. Here is the video of this chess set, filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia by the set's current caretaker that wishes to remain anonymous:

Today the original 1950 sets are almost impossible to find and cannot be bought. An old grandmaster friend of mine showed me six pieces of unknown origin but does not have a complete set. On a short visit I shot a picture on his coffee table:


A few of the originals are still owned by the families of the IX. Olympiad participants, as the sets were gifted to them at the end of the tournament. Some were sold at a somewhat high price (equal to about average Yugoslav one month salary) to general public at the premises during the Olympiad. At the time of this writing (spring 2015) the following originals have been located and documented, historically owned by:

  • GM Milan Vidmar, chief arbiter at IX. Chess Olympiad in Dubrovnik 1950. Set was donated to Ljubljana Chess Museum and is currently in care of Izmet Fekali. Located in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
  • GM Vasja Pirc, Idrija, Slovenia, Olympic team Yugoslavia 1950. Set currently in care of the Pirc family. Located in Idrija, Slovenia.
  • GM Stojan Puc, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Olympic team Yugoslavia 1950. Set currently in care of the Puc family. Located and displayed in offices of Noj, d. o. o., Brezovica, Slovenia.
  • Unknown origin hybrid (from two damaged and incomplete sets, original owners not known), used in Fischer/Spassky match in 1992 at Sveti Stefan, Montenegro. Set currently in care of anonymous collector. Located in Brazil.
  • IM Branko Grosek (bought the set on the Olympiad premises in 1950 in Dubrovnik). Set currently in care of the Grosek family, located in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

None of these sets can be purchased. Don't even ask.

Another set was owned by GM Svetozar Gligorić, Belgrade, Serbia, Olympic team Yugoslavia 1950. His set was supposedly gifted to Bobby Fischer in early sixties and supposedly stolen in the seventies. This is not verified, Fischer never mentions this particular story in any interview, the set cannot be located. (Not to be confused with his Croatian made Dubrovnik II, sold off by Bekins storage warehouse landlord, claimed "stolen" by Fischer as a part of "Jewish conspiracy" against him.)

The spirit of the new design lives on. Today a rough and simplified plastic replicas of the Dubrovnik set are being sold in Serbia and Croatia.

Some setmakers are using the basic idea only but introducing own designs and naming conventions like “Zagreb” or “Yugoslavia”. Note the opposite colored finials on kings and queens in the modern variants -- in the original Dubrovnik only the bishops enjoyed the privilege. However, these sets are not even close to utility and specifications of the original pieces and have dubious historical origin. Their supposed Yugoslavian heritage is pure marketing fiction. This and similar designs were never used in any tournament on Yugoslav soil:


A small family business in Slovenia is still producing exact replicas of the historic Dubrovnik chess sets, both 1950 and Dubrovnik II designs:

Noj Dubrovnik Black - 12

Original 1950 pieces used in the 1992 Fischer vs. Spassky rematch were used as a reference, courtesy of a Belgrade collector Novica Matić. Yes, these were handled by Bobby and Boris themselves, here's a photo:


The knights are the trademark of the Dubrovnik set. At this time there are only two artisans in the world (in Brezovica and Slovenske Konjice, Slovenia) having the necessary carving skills to do the Dubrovnik knights properly. Just take a look at the prestigious House of Staunton’s try at it, I rest my case. It is a dying art.


The Dubrovnik II replicas are based on original blueprints and drawings provided by Šahovska naklada of Croatia. This organization is claiming copyright over the Dubrovnik design and awarded explicit permission to Noj, d. o. o. for using it in their replica chess sets. However, they did not take any legal action against any manufacturer for unauthorized use of said design to date.


Here’s a pic and a video of my personal red stained Dubrovnik II, modified with DGT coils:


And here’s the Noj, d. o. o. 1950 reissue Dubrovnik:


P. S. This essay is and will be constantly updated as the new information is gathered. The information is presented as is and some of my sources will for various reasons not be revealed. It's a dog eat dog in the chess collecting world. It is only natural that some collectors are cherry-picking and hiding (and others revealing) the information in an attempt to enhance the value of their particular collections. I try to reveal the truth under the layers of various admissions and stories to the best of my abilities. Nevertheless, be advised I am one of the collectors also. :)

Caveat emptor!

Best Chessboards Ever S1QP - First Pro Batch

The S1QP serial moniker stands for “Stage 1 Quattro Print” boards. Had them done by professionals this time. Turned out perfect.

Magnetic all the way! Nothing beats the utility of these. Light, flat, sturdy and transportable with pretty on the top. These are the Best Chessboards Ever.


I believe it.

The prototypes:

BCE Stage 1 on a Conchess Monarch

I modified our 3.5” Stage 1 Home edition chessmen to work with old electronic chessbots.

I simply printed rings for 12 mm flat magnets to hold them in place, glued them on the bottom and refelted.

Printing BCE Chess Pieces

I have a friend that builds 3D printers. So he built one for me. After a day of testing, guess what was the first thing printed?

Yes, I’m back to the drawing board (Google Sketchup), that knight needs a facelift.
(UPDATE!) The knight is remodeled!

Pasted Graphic

Novag Quartz Chess Clock

Novag Quartz Chess Clock
A chessclock from prehistoric future. Make that 1980. Prepare to be awed.

I love Novag’s attention to design. They were always a step ahead above H&G or Fidelity or anybody else in *that* department. We are talking eighties and early nineties here, the golden era of dedicated chessbots. Until the engines wiped them out.

The designers were out of line on this one, though. Form over function, so much that it hurts. Ouch.

  • Plastic.
  • Breakable Hinged display.
  • Fancy automatic power on. Ooh. Aah.
  • Detachable buttons. Yes. Detachable.
  • Star Trek communicator look and feel. Not in a good way.
  • Membrane buttons.
  • Aaaaaargh.

They tell me the clock can be hooked to a Novag Savant. Riiiiiiight, ...


Subozan Size 3

My neighbour's Subozan size 3, a smallish portable set from a country that is no more, Yugoslavia.
Subozan 3

Made around 1970. Not weighted, not felted. Never used, the neighbour is no chess player. A barebones, cheap as cheap can get, simple simplissimus chess set, derived from Austrian Coffeehouse designs. Unstable pieces, poor lacquer finish, painted bishop finials (!), all pieces turned from same diameter rod including king & queen. The box is flimsy, thin plywood painted board. A simple hook mechanism for closing the box that gets loose over time. Misaligned halves.
Subozan komerc 3 Bratanič - 05
Subozan komerc 3 Bratanič - 07
Subozan komerc 3 Bratanič - 08
Subozan komerc 3 Bratanič - 09
Subozan komerc 3 Bratanič - 10
A thirld world chess set. Sux deeply, pardon my French. Lots of nostalgic power, though. This design was sold in millions behind the iron curtain, every household in Yugoslavia had one of these in the 70'. Repeat after me: Every. Household.

I love it.


Jaques of London Chessmen

A closer look at the industry standard.


Chess Mission Impossible

He. Larious.


Kosteniuk in da House

I was lucky to record a friendly game of chess between GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and WGM Darja Kapš on the eve of Ljubljana Chess Festival 2014, WFM Indira Bajt dropped in for some kibitzing. Alexandra Konstantinovna was welcomed and presented with BCE Stage 1 Eastern Black chessmen and BCE Stage 1 Quattro Red magnetic chessboard. Both were tested at once in the lobby of Hotel Lev, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Kosteniuk, Kapš & Bajt - 2
The trio autographed my personal Stage 1 Eastern Rh Red set. In other news our BCE GM Count is incremented once again. I’m happy as a little kid.


Pycochess Hardware

Building a Pycochess chessbot. Ingredients:

One Raspberry Pi computer.
One PiFace Control & Display interface.
One 8 GB SD card.


BCE S1 3.5" Home Edition Chessmen

King size 3.5 inches, weight 40 grams. Total set weight 650 grams. No extra queens. Price? Very reasonable. Email me.


Here’s a size comparison to regular 3.75” chessmen:

height diameter weight
King 88 mm 38 mm 40 g
Queen 79 mm 34 mm 29 g
Bishop 71 mm 31 mm 20 g
Knight 67 mm 32 mm 29 g
Rook 53 mm 31 mm 26 g
Pawn 47 mm 27 mm 13 g


Alternative Input in Pycochess 0.21

Next iteration of the awesome chessbot adds some more menus and, most importantly, autonomous operation. No electronic chessboard needed!

If interested in purchasing a ready-made plug & play solution, I advise against as parts are readily available on the web and software is open source. If you insist, email me.