Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you choose the right size squares to match your set to a board?
The proper square size for a set of properly proportioned Staunton chessmen is such that the width of the base of the King should be 78% of the width of a square. So, divide the King's base diameter by 0.78 and you get the proper square size. You can increase the square size by 1/8", but the square size should not be any smaller. For example, a Staunton King with a base diameter of 1.75" would require a square size of 1.75"/0.78 = 2.25". Hence, you should use a chessboard with either 2-1/4" or 2-3/8" (+1/8").
2. Are solid black pieces preferable to rosewood?
Black pieces are NOT preferable to rosewood. It is a matter of personal choice. Both are used in tournament play. Black wood sets are more common that rosewood wood sets, but they are generally less expensive (except, of course, for ebony pieces). Ebonizing is the process of turning wood (in our case, the boxwood) black to resemble ebony. It is much less expensive and is difficult to distinguish from real ebony without close examination. Ebony is a strong, expensive but brittle wood. Rosewood is an excellent wood for chessmen; it is very resilient and does not chip very easily.
3. How do I take care of my new set and/or board?
Chessmen should be lightly waxed and buffed once or twice/year, using only a high quality paste wax with a cotton cloth or cheesecloth - never use a liquid polish. A chessboard should never by dry-wiped. Any good quality furniture polish and a good cotton cloth or cheesecloth will work. Avoid polishes that contain silicone. Also, use the wax sparingly. In both cases, allow the wax to dry before buffing. Use only a paste wax such as MinWax, sparingly, once or twice a year. DO NOT USE A LIQUID WAX!
4. Why are some sets (and boards) so much more expensive?
Many items determine the cost of a chess set. Ebony is more expensive than rosewood, which is, in turn, more expensive that boxwood, etc. Next, the quality of the Knights. A set of finely carved knights can represent up to 50% of the total cost of a chessmen. Then, the quality of the turnings, the finish and the uniformity also add to cost. Most Indian-made sets are relatively inexpensive. They are almost always of very poor quality. They will have burn and tear marks, burrs, poor finishes, etc. The Indian manufacturers also have no regard for U.S. and International copyright laws, and will make counterfeit copies of most anything on the market. But, you get what you pay for. Finally, look at the storage box. A very high quality box can have a value of several hundred dollars or more. Most Indian-made sets come in very inexpensive boxes, hence can be marketed significantly below a high quality chess set housed in a fine box.
5. What if I lose or break a piece? Can I get replacements?
We keep a large inventory of spare pieces from each cutting of our chessmen, so spares and replacements are always available. This is a significant expense for us that other sellers do not have.
6. How do I order House of Staunton products?
Our products can be ordered on-line, or via telephone. Since many of our products can be ordered to your specifications, sometimes a phone call is most appropriate.
7. Can a fitted case be purcased seperately?
Yes, we stock a large inventory of chess coffers and boxes to store your heirloom quality chess pieces
8. How can I best insert the cross into the king?
Generally, you twist and seat the cross. However, the "wings" of the cross can break off rather easily, if you twist too hard. If it does not seat easily, you can use soap or wax to lubricate the shank. If it is too loose, a small bit of paper can be used to help wedge it tight. It is better not to glue it in, because then it is very hard to fix if it breaks. And it is almost always better to replace a broken cross, than the entire piece.
9. Please distinguish between Ebonized and ebony. Is this as durable as ebony??
Ebonizing is a process of turning wood black. In this case, we dye the boxwood black to resemble ebony. Ebony is a very hard, dense, and expensive black wood. Ebony is much stronger than boxwood, but is more brittle, so it does not withstand impacts as well. The Ebonizing can wear off on the sharp corners and details in time, but it is easily restored.
Ebony pieces are far more sought after and ebony sets more collectable than most other woods.
10. What does "Sold Out" mean on the Price page?
Items marked " Sold Out" are currently out of stock, but are still in production. Please call or email for expected availability dates.
11. What does the term "triple-weighted" mean?
The term "triple weighted" by the Indian manufacturers from the Drueke Company. Drueke used the term single, double and triple weighted to designate whether its chessmen had one, two or three metal slugs glued into the base for weight.
If you want to know the weight of a chess set, ask the distributor or manufacturer for the weight in ounces. We offer that courtesy to allow customers like yourself to determine whether the chessmen you are contemplating purchasing are weighted to your liking.