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My chess sets: my Portland cardboard sets

January 4, 2015

This is an occasional series of postings inspired by a brief discussion on the flight home from Turkey this summer. The flight attendant saw I was reading a chess book (quelle surprise) and, just making polite small talk, said she also liked playing chess, saying that depending on whether other crew members played, she would play on stopovers. Later in the flight she asked me if I had a chess set at home…and that set me thinking. How many chess sets do I have? And since then number is, well, shall we say, quite high, I thought I would blog about them especially those which ‘mean something to me’.


I had two of these sets, although as I write, I can only find one.

The other had two boards, and no scoresheet section. I never wrote anything on the scoresheets, that would have spoiled the set (and I wonder how many players did?). Portland sets were aimed at correspondence players, which I never was (save for the briefest of trials, when I entered some postal tournament, only to find that one player never played a move, and another, clearly a beginner, stopped writing after half a dozen moves: and I never gave that version of the game a second chance).

As I write this blog, I can still hear the reassuring ‘shug’ (that’s the nearest to the sound) a piece moved from one square to another. Portland sets also came with optional plastic pieces, which I had as well, but to my mind they never worked as well cardboard: maybe the cardboard men were thicker than the plastic pieces, and so ‘shugged’ better, fitted in tighter.

The Portland sets were my favourites for when reading a book in bed: lighter, easy handle, probably easier to set up positions.

One downside is that if you weren’t careful, and I wasn’t always, a piece could spring our, like a twiddlywink and fly a distance. I spent more times than I would have liked to hunting in my bedroom for a flying piece: fortunately, I never lost any.

Feeling about the set
9/10: probably the second most used set in my formative years as a chess player.



From → Chess

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