Introduction to Designing Chess Sets

Designing Chess Sets for the Zen of It

by Gene Zelazny

Book coverI invite all of you to join me in the joy of designing original chess sets. All the more so if you're in any way involved with teaching children from any of the school systems on the Earth, or from any other planet in our cosmos. All I ask of you is to send me a picture of what you created, pleeeeeaaaassssseeee.

To give you an idea of what can be done, take a look at the sets that I've designed.

First are those from everyday found objects. I created the first of these about 20 years ago when I was rummaging in one of those plastics shops on Canal Street in New York City. Playing around, mindlessly, with the hundreds of shapes in hundreds of combinations led to something that looked like a ...knight and then a bishop ...and then, a.... Today I still feel the smile in my body whenever I discover a new hardware store, flea market, toy shop in which to escape while searching for the next set to be discovered.

In between, the sets I've designed have included cabinet door handles, nail polish bottles, salt and pepper, playing cards, and my favorite, Coke vs. Pepsi. Take a look.

I've designed many original sets. My designs capture the essence of the chess pieces with an economy of shapes, cut out of wood, metal, Lucite, or whatever. A friend called them, "irreducible minimums." I like that; less is better. Visit The Gallery to see my favorites.

WolfAlso, I've included the directions for a fun game called Wolf. Enjoy!

So, in closing, let me invite you, as I have all the six-year old children of the universe -- those who will be six, those who are six, and those who wish they were six again -- let me invite all of you to design an original chess set and to send me a copy, pleeeeeaaaassssseeee. I'd like that.