Dubrovnik chess set

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A 2014 House of Staunton Dubrovnik chess set

The Dubrovnik chess set is a style of chess pieces influenced by the Staunton chess set.[1] These chessmen are considered to have significant historical importance and are regarded as a timeless design classic.[1] Over the decades several variants of the Dubrovnik chessmen were designed.[1]

1950 Dubrovnik chess set[edit]

The 9th Chess Olympiad was organized by the FIDE and the government of Yugoslavia, supported by Josip Broz Tito.[2][3] The Olympiad was held in Dubrovnik, SR Croatia, Yugoslavia (now in Croatia) between August 20 and September 11, 1950.[1] Chess is a significant part of the culture in Dubrovnik being first documented in 1422.[2] The Olympiad had 84 chess players representing 16 nations who played a total of 480 games.[1] The Yugoslav team won the gold medal, Argentina silver and West Germany bronze.[1]

In 1949 the Olympiad management requisitioned a new style of chessmen. Painter and sculptor P. Poček was contracted to design the Olympiad chessmen.[4] The pieces were made in Subozan in Subotica, Yugoslavia.

The 1950 Dubrovnik chess set was designed without religious symbols. The pieces were designed for play with wide bases requiring a minimum of 55 millimetres (2.2 in) chessboard squares. They had green felted sliders and were not weighted.[4] The chess box was felted with a metallic badge on the inside of the box with the inscription "IX. šah olimpijada Dubrovnik, Jugoslavija."[4] The box was unusually large, featuring 60 millimetres (2.4 in) squares. Approximately 50 chess sets were made with original sets being very rare if not impossible to locate or buy.[4]

In a radio interview Bobby Fischer stated: "This [1950 Dubrovnik chess set] is the best set I have ever played on.[5] It is marvellous. I don't have it."[6] A chess collector provided a chess set after Fischer requested it for the 1992 Fischer–Spassky rematch held at Sveti Stefan.[4][7][8]


The Dubrovnik design has influenced the creation of several chess set variants with a variety of names, including but not limited to, Zagreb and Yugoslavia.[4] These variant chess sets often have opposite coloured finials on the kings and queens, while the original Dubrovnik had opposite coloured finials for the bishops. In addition, the chess sets use different specifications from the Dubrovnik.

In the 1960s a redesigned version by Andrija Maurović, a famous Croat cartoonist, writer and chess player was created and produced in the workshop of master craftsman Jakopović in Zagreb. Bobby Fischer was often filmed and photographed with his own 1970 Dubrovnik chess set that was later stolen. The most obvious changes in design can be observed in the knights with simplified carving, and the queens had only five cuts in the crown as opposed to the original eleven.

1970 variants[edit]

The initial 1950 Dubrovnik chess pieces lacked certain details like a cross finial atop the hing and a miter in the bishops; they were purposefully crafted for tournament endurance, featuring broader and sturdier bases. The Dubrovnik chess set underwent a redesign for the 19th Chess Olympiad held at Siegen, West Germany, in 1970. This tournament gained fame for the showdown between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, laying the groundwork for Fischer's 1972 World Championship match against Spassky. The 1970 rendition of the Dubrovnik chessmen refined the knight's design and streamlined the overall appearance, resulting in a sleeker aesthetic. Fischer has been widely photographed and recorded playing with his 1970s-era Dubrovnik set, notably captured in the HBO documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World.

Modern-day manufacturers[edit]

Due to the continuing popularity of the 1950 Dubrovnik chess sets, the replica plastic versions of the chess sets are the most popular in Eastern Europe, even though they are of low quality.[9]

Gregor Novak of Noj. Ltd makes by hand and offers for sale an exact replica from wood of both the 1950 Dubrovnik chess set[10] and the 1970 Dubrovnik chess set.[11]

Chess Bazaar of India also offers two different variants of 1970 Dubrovnik reproduction in a variety of woods.

Since 2014, the House of Staunton has offered a replica in wood of one of the 1970 Dubrovnik chess sets that were available at that time.[12]

From time to time, The Chess Schach [Alan Power] also offers artistically restored Dubrovnik variations as can be seen in their Archive Gallery.[13]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]