Olympic Commemorative Soviet Ambroid Chess Set.
Offered here is the very colorful and unusual Soviet Ambriod Chess Set. The chess pieces are cast from Baltic Amber (Solid Electrum) crystals, a commodity that’s almost as valuable as gold these days, and intended as a presentation chess set to commemorate the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. The King stands 3.9″ (10 cm) tall with a 1.4″ diameter base. Each of the chess pieces sit atop green baize base pads. The chessmen are unweighted. The pieces are UV resistant and ideal for display as well as casual and blitz play.
These sets were produced during the late 1970s to commemorate the heavily boycotted Moscow Summer Olympics of 1980. The Soviet-Afghan War had just kicked off a year earlier. The Soviet Ambriod Chess Set consists of 32 translucent Yellow and dark brown, heavily figured chessmen. The pieces are housed in a folding chessboard/box measuring 16″ square with 1-3/4″ squares. The chess pieces and chessboard are in excellent condition. These Chess Pieces are among the many historical Soviet and Russian chessmen illustrated in Dr. Isaac Linder’s The Art of Chess Pieces (Moscow 1994).
Ambroid or amberite, is derived from, can simply be defined as ‘faux amber’ consisting of minute fragments of actual “famous Baltic amber,” sometimes referred to as ‘Russian Gold’. The granules are finely ground and compressed under high temperature. When this raw amber dust is heated to around 400 degrees F, it decomposes, yielding ‘oil of amber’ or ‘pitch.’
Historically, the Baltic coastline of west Konigsberg has been the main source of amber dating back to the twelfth-century – over 150 years prior to the emergence of gold on the European continent. The Soviet Ambriod Chess Sets originate from the city of Kaliningrad, (an old Gulag called The Kaliningrad Amber Combine) which still operates today. The ‘Konigsberg Amber Factory’ was renamed The Kaliningrad Amber Combine by Josef Stalin in 1947. The factory mainly produced varnishes, lacquers and enamel paints until the Stalin’s death on March 5th, 1953.