Lot #886. The Herman Steiner Piatigorsky Cup Master Chessmen


The Herman Steiner Master Chessmen, 5.0″ King with a 2.0″ diameter base. Offered in several finished, including Burgundy and Natural lacquered. The pieces are felted and heavily weighted. Includes a copy of The Herman Steiner Legacy.

In stock


The Steiner Master Chessmen.

Offered here is a set of the famous Herman Steiner Master Chessmen. The Kings stand a statuesque 5” tall with a 2” diameter base, are heavily weighted, and stand atop green baize base pads. Among several other options, we have also reproduced the chess pieces in the original Burgundy finish but using an exotic wood rather than staining them as Steiner did. As with all House of Staunton and Camaratta Signature Series chess sets, an extra pair of Queens is included to aid in Pawn promotion – a feature pioneered by The House of Staunton. It should be noted that Steiner was a protégé of William Pinney. His storage boxes are strongly reminiscent of those cedar boxes which housed the Pinney sets made between 1932 and 1950. The inspiration for the Knights seems to have come from the 19th century Austrian Coffeehouse sets, like the one shown here.

2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the Second Piatigorsky Cup tournament. It is no coincidence that the beautiful Limited Edition set you see before you is a tribute to the man responsible for the famous Piatigorsky Cup Tournaments, Herman Steiner. There can be no doubt that were Herman alive today he would be proud to see his set memorialized to the degree of precision embodied in this official House of Staunton Limited Edition Herman Steiner Signature set. It is the only reproduction expressly approved by the Steiner family!

These sets are available in the authentic Antiqued Boxwood and Bois de Rose, as well as Antiqued Boxwood and Bacote and several other finishes. Also included with your purchase is The Herman Steiner Legacy, a book devoted to Herman, his life, his connection to Hollywood, his inventions and his games.

The chess pieces play and display best on a chessboard with 2-1/2″ squires.  No board is included, but a suitable new or antique chessboard can be found here.


This chess set has a strong pedigree with a storied history. It was designed by the enterprising Hungarian American International Master Herman Steiner, near the end of World War II in Los Angeles 1945. Steiner’s association with Jacqueline Piatigorsky was a relationship of special importance to American chess history. As it turns out, it was also a relationship that catapulted Steiner’s chess set design into immortality. Jacqueline took over Herman’s Hollywood Chess Group after his sudden death from a heart attack in November 1955, re-christening it the Herman Steiner Chess Club in his honor. She also carried on Steiner’s legacy of promoting international chess events.

It was always Herman’s goal to host an epic international tournament rivaling the legendary New York International of 1924. It is hardly surprising, given his special relationship with the Piatigorsky family, that the Piatigorsky Cup Tournaments of 1963 and 1966, as well as the 1961 Fischer-Reshevsky grudge match, were contested o Herman Steiner Master Chess Sets.

One notable feature of Steiner’s pieces was their size. With 5-inch kings they were about a half-inch taller than other luxury sets, something that provided a stunning presence without being gaudy or obtrusive to game play. It is unclear how many sets were actually produced. The bulk of production work occurred between late 1946 to early 1947, with the first finished sets publicly displayed in the Spring of 1947 at Steiner’s club. The first documented appearance of the set in the photographic record occurred in June 1947 with Steiner’s match against California master Harry Borochow.

It is estimated that fewer than a hundred sets were ever completed, The sets offered here are the first and only reproductions approved by the Herman Steiner family using fully and partially finished pieces from Herman’s personal workshop.

Additional information

Weight10 lbs
Dimensions14 × 14 × 10 in

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