Jaques Fischer Spassky Chess Pieces
A set of Jaques Fischer Spassky Chess Pieces, circa 1970. The chessmen are Boxwood and Ebony, heavily weighted with green English baize base pads. The King stands 3-3/4″ tall with a 1-5/8″ diameter base. This King height is often referred to as the Tournament Size. The White King is stamped “Jaques London ” on the rim of the base. The King side Rooks and Knights are stamped with a red crown on their summits. The Jaques Fischer Spassky chessmen are housed in their original divided Mahogany box, lined in green baize with brass stop-hinges and semi-mortise lock set. Although lacking the exquisite craftsmanship and finish of the early Jaques chessmen, the Fischer Spassky design is very playable, durable, and has a great board feel. The chessboard shown is not included in this sale, but may be purchased elsewhere on this site.
The Fischer Spassky chessmen are the style chessmen demanded by Robert J. (Bobby) Fischer for his World-famous 1972 Cold War Era World Championship match with Soviet Grandmaster and then World Champion Boris Spassky. Fischer’s win broke the 30 year iron grip the Soviet Union had held on the World title. The match was full of suspense and possibly the most followed sporting event of the century. It featured the drama of Fischer’s refusing to continue play after his demands were not met, plus phone calls from then President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger imploring him to play “for the honor of his country.” In spite of falling behind 2-0, Fischer stormed on to win the match by an impressive 12.5 – 8.5. The result is even more impressive if you exclude Fischer’s forfeiting Game 2!
The Staunton Pattern was first offered to the public for sale in the Fall of 1849 by the company of John Jaques of London. The original design was registered to Nathaniel Cooke in the Spring of that year. The chessmen design was named after the self-proclaimed world champion, Howard Staunton, an English Shakespearean scholar. Whether or not the design was actually the brainchild of Cooke is open to much speculation. It is relatively certain that the pattern was not designed by the egotistical Staunton, as he never laid claim to such.
What is known is that, on 1st March, 1849, Nathaniel Cooke, 198, Strand, London, registered an Ornamental Design for a set of Chess-Men, under the Ornamental Designs Act of 1842. At that date, there was no provision for the registration of any design or articles of ivory, registration was limited to Class 2, articles made chiefly of wood.
The right to manufacture such sets was acquired by John Jaques and he began to supply the retail trade on 29 September, 1849. On the same day, the following advertisement appeared Illustrated London News: AA set of Chessmen, of a pattern combining elegance and solidity to a degree hitherto unknown, has recently appeared under the auspices of the celebrated player Mr. STAUNTON. A guiding principle has been to give by their form a signification to the various pieces – thus the king is represented by a crown, the Queen by a coronet, &c. The pieces generally are fashioned with convenience to the hand; and it is to be remarked, that while there is so great an accession to elegance of form, it is not attained at the expense of practical utility. Mr. STAUNTON’S pattern adopts but elevates the conventional form; and the base of the Pieces being of a large diameter, they are more steady than ordinary sets.@ Illustrated London News, September 8, 1849.