In the 1990s CHESSCO (as it was known then) was selling two terrific chess boards: the Becker Board and the Emperor’s Board. Blowing both Drueke and House of Staunton out of the water then, I was finally so overwhelmed with retail, wholesale, and publishing I decided to cut back. At that time we also had beautiful cloth cases for the boards too to keep them from harm.
Nowadays the Chinese are making boards. The photos of many boards look good but now we are known as the Chess Butler and we always invite close inspection. And, we’ve hooked up with our English woodworker again, Ken, and he and I have proposed to do the “Morphy Matrix” board in 2 (two) sizes! One in tournament standard 2-1/4″ squares and another in 2-1/2″ squares.
The woods are massively interesting along with a strip of vermilion running around the outside of the squares but inside the frame. A common set up would be walnut and curly maple for the squares and a frame of walnut. Of course it is beautiful not just because Ken is a master who now lives in Vermont but because the woods are amazing. Recently we got an order for purple heart and maple, with a purple heart frame. 2-1/2″ squares. A big board. Stunning.
But my woodmaking buddy told me if I could get at least 3 more orders (esp. including 2-1/4″ squares) he could save everyone at least $100 if he could do each of them in the same time frame. And I am all for that. He requires you send me 1/2 down (theoretically this stops the clowns who have buyer’s remorse somewhere along the line of doing the job… clowns like this tend to be unethical AND immoral, so we are looking for people who can keep commitments, probably you!) My customers tend to be E&M.
Ken’s been making these for years and the woods he uses are: maple, bird’s eye maple, and the dark woods are mahogany, walnut, wenge, bloodwood, and purple heart.
WHAT DO FINE BOARD PEOPLE LOOK FOR?
Amazing as this sounds to say, they don’t want warped boards, the kind most amateurs make because they are unfamiliar with the right glues, the right “cured” wood, and a discerning eye with the “right” cutting tools.
Secondly they want the squares to fit each other perfectly together. I am startled about how often this isn’t done (another reason ours cost more). Drueke told me they no longer make boards because the customers wouldn’t pay the higher prices. That’s total H.S. I think they could’ve reworded this to: “Our customers won’t pay the higher prices because we would have to make so many of them to make it profitable for us.” That rewording is probably true.
It’s kind of hard for me to imagine the number of those those who will buy a chess set for $800-$2000 who would want a Drueke board which would cost, let’s say, $400. Oh they might want it, but actually getting one, probably no sale and who wants to take a chance? I wouldn’t.
A very fine board is like a fine piece of furniture for your home. It’s that simple. Most of your friends will probably swoon over it, especially when that vermilion (paduak) is added to it. That color looks bright when you first get it, but over time, it slowly darkens and acts as a nice “moat” between the squares and the frame.
One other thing we will be doing to your board AT NO EXTRA COST is giving Ken a Morphy Coin to center on the White Player’s side of the board for those who buy the 2-1/2″ squares because the frame will be 2″ wide! The coin is 1-1/2″ in diameter and made of antique bronze (see foto with the gold coin!). Can’t do this with the smaller 2-1/4″ squares. And I just happen to know there are quite a few folks out there who want a big board for their bigger than usual tournament size pieces. A bigger board is not easy to find in the USA. No one wants to take a chance.
BUT, to soften the blow on the shipping costs, Ken is not going to make the “block for the squares” so thick as some do. It will lighten the weight of the board especially for the 2-1/2″ size. Makes it easier to carry.
And on the underside of these boards are two more things you need to know: 1) in each corner are felt pads so the board sits “lightly” on glass or fine wooden tables. No scratching; and 2) there is a back panel which acts as an anti-torquing agent for the other side of the board. It is really slick and beautiful. “Word Press” only allows pictures of a certain size and I am not sure I would get away with putting both pictures up so if you want to see it, send me your name and an email to: email@example.com and I will send you a color photo.
Price is last for one particular reason: it’s going to depend on the size of the squares you want, some shipping for sending the board directly to you and how many pre-made orders we have. In other words, he can do boards 1 at a time, but they cost more. He keeps hinting he would like to do 4 or more boards about the same time (buy all his wood at once and other utilities, as well as cover the winter costs in Vermont). I already have one of his boards, so I am good, though mine is the Emperor). I can go as low as $595 (2-1/4″ squares) if we get enough orders all the way to $800 (2-1/2″ squares) if we don’t. These are NOT concrete firm prices. I need your final specs from you. When I get that from you I will forward to Ken and he will tell me the final prices which I WILL get back to you as soon as he gets specs from me.
Oh yes, Ken prefers to get half down plus potential shipping. What sizes and woods you want is up to you. Sure, I would love to sell you an $800 board. But I am realistic, although in many cases the chance of selling an expensive board is better to the non-chess playing type, that is NOT cut into stone. There are exceptions and I know a number of them. Like I said, one person has already told me what he wants, he does play chess, and he does like fine things. (And he owns one of those Grand Turk sets too.)
I invite questions before I tell you ONE more thing. Your board comes with a complete satisfaction guarantee. No Mickey Mousing around. I am THE Butler, service I also provide.
Mr. 25/8 Chess Guy