Kasparov Signature wooden chess set, white pieces
Updated 2016-04-25

Kasparov Signature Chess Set

Kasparov Signature wooden chess set, white knight detail

First, let me say that this set is not like any of the "new" Kasparov-endorsed chess sets you may see in stores or on eBay. This is not any kind of novelty set, not a smaller-sized travel set and certainly not a set that should be selling for $50 or less. This set is now over 20 years old, and based on my occasional searching for it online, seems very rare. I don't know how many sets were made, but those who have them are holding on to them.

Chess is an art and not a spectator sport.
— Garry Kasparov, Russian Grandmaster

This chess set was influenced and commissioned by World Chess Champion Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, then crafted by the artist Rafael Guigou of Paris. According to its appearance in USCF Catalogs, it seems this set was available only for a limited time in 1994. (At the end of this post, I've included a photo of each of the product pages from the March and June 1994 USCF Chess Life catalogs, where I got most of the information shown here.)

I didn't purchase my set when I first saw it in Chess Life, but always thought I should have. By the time I got around to thinking about buying one, several years had passed and they were nowhere to be found. After months and months of watching eBay, I finally saw one. I won the auction and acquired my set for $81.00.

Kasparov Signature chess set box placard detail

Placard detail from the Kasparov Signature chess set box

Details about the Kasparov Signature Chess Set

Kasparov Signature wooden chess set, white king

The kings are 3.75" tall (basic tournament regulation height), and the set is weighted rather heavily. Mr. Kasaparov requested that the rooks be made larger than normal to better reflect their greater value compared to the bishops and knights. The knights, whose pattern is based on what is known as the "German Knight", are stout and a bit more broad above the base than most other German Knight-styled sets (compare this to my German Knight set). The knight's mane detail has a distinct wave — almost sawtooth-like design — running down its back spine. Most other German knight sets have smooth spines with groove detail along the back edge of each side. The bishop is rather plain with a flattened top finial and a very conservative mitre cut.

Kasparov Signature wooden chess set, white queen

The pure ebony and boxwood set sold for $269, and the extra-dark brown and boxwood set sold for $99; each came with felt bottoms in a black leather-like box. For an extra $89, you could purchase a Kasparov Signature Wood Board designed to complement the chess sets. Two boards were available: a dark chess board made from wenge (dark squares) and koto (light squares), and a light chess board made from walnut (dark squares) and sycamore (light squares). If you wanted something distinctly different and unique, you could buy a very glossy, "smooth as glass" red and black lacquered set sold for $269, but each piece had a real leather bottom, and the set included a high-gloss, black-bordered red burrwood chess board with 2" squares.