attractive animated burning title

I don't own any of these

. . . . and even if I did . . . .

I wouldn't admit it

At the top of my list is an aberration I call the Gothic, after its most ubiquitous and egregious incarnation, Sculptured Chess by Ganine "Gothic" (# 1475, the Salon Edition), from Pacific Game Company of North Hollywood. This plastic thing usually appeared in black and a mutant ivoroid off-white, although there were some variations. Is there anything I like about this set? Certainly - the folding board was a perfectly good black & white one, with no silly stuff like faux woodgrain or marbleizing.

Pacific Games must have sold buckets of these, as they're thick as cockroaches on eBay. But Pacific wasn't the only offender, as those hardy souls who follow this link will see.

UPDATE REALITY CHECK - Oops. Looks like I lied a little about this - it seems I do have one of these 'way in the back.

double ugh Next up in the Hall of Shame is a ubiquitous type often called Aztec. It appears in various colors and combinations, all ghastly. Follow this link for garish images of some noteworthy specimens.

Buying one of these sets is actually a fairly efficient way to obtain a hefty fraction of a cubic foot of foreign rock. Although gawdawful heavy, smaller specimens are sometimes sold as "travel" sets.

The boards are something else, too.

(Update: An alert reader has pointed out that this is one of the few common chess sets actually suitable for use as a weapon.)

I studiously avoid anything in the dated styles called, self-consciously, Modern.

The sample at right is just one of a huge field of worthy candidates. Follow this link for more.

UPDATE REALITY CHECK - Hmmm, I had a page for these, but I don't know where I put it, so the link is dead. Well, fudge - I'd redo it, if it was for a worthy cause - clearly not the case here.

Actually, some of these moderns aren't too bad ..... ahh, in the right light .... maybe.

hard to explain, really

ouch Another large class I avoid are Theme sets, including almost anything from Franklin Mint, Studio Anne Carlton, etc.

At left is part of a recent Russian set carved of mammoth-tusk ivory. It depicts Alexander's war with Darius III. It's fairly obvious which one is Darius (though I'm a bit mystified about the queen).

All well and fine, and I'll be the first to admit that any set with a lamassu as a knight can't be all bad .... but it just doesn't really say chess, does it....

Long extinct are those days when I felt any affinity for commercial or homemade sets made from plumbing or fastening hardware. Sure, sure, I know, once one discovers castellated nuts it's hard to resist putting together some rooks...and those serrated lockwashers look positively dressy....and acorn nuts do make pretty good tops for pawns...1/4" hardware for the pawns, 5/16" for the rooks, knights, bishops, and 3/8" hardware for the kings and queens, giving that Stauntonesque tiered-size effect...and one side can be steel and the other brass - seems made to order, doesn't it? But just visualize what the final result will really look like and it will be easier to resist.

The picture of the annoying specimen at right should help out with that vision thing. This set is actually a commercial item, a steal at [Maestro - drumroll, please] $350.00!

both handy and dandy

just say 'no' Also on my hate list - the glass sets and boards currently flooding the market. Puh-lease. These sound like a moderately neat-o idea if you haven't seen one. If you have seen one you realize they're, well, not so neat-o after all. Sometimes the board is a mirror with black squares painted on .... which doesn't improve things.

There are also crystal sets floating about. They're much more expensive than the glass sets, but not really any better-looking.

I'm afraid I just can't get excited about strange experiments, no matter how grandiose, spectacular, and photogenic their failures might be. Consider this "Berliner Savannah Chess" set, with a particularly brutal closeup of the knight ("eeewww, don't put your lips on it!"). I rest my case. This travesty is available from an otherwise-sober German firm, RCR Terry. looks like some sort of industrial disease

stranger than fiction... Crochet, anyone? Yes, these are for real, and seriously underappreciated, at least by me. Shown is an instruction book from Annie's Attic, a supplier of patterns for intensely weird crochetted stuff - snowflakes, food, calendars .... Just plain weird; maybe even deserving of a genuine WTF?.

Sets made up of empty bottles I can easily do without. It's just too much like making salad bowls out of old Volkswagen baby-moon hubcaps. The fact that most of these ex-bottle sets have more than a little Gothic in them makes for a real double whammy. Ouch.

Major offenders here are Avon bottles ....
.... but they're not alone. The Old Crow decanters are pretty bad, too.

this sort of thing has simply got to stop

- - - stand by for more disasters as I think of them - - -

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