Chess, an ancient game of military strategy, beautifully mirrors the human experience. As stated by Benjamin Franklin, “…life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it…” Highly respected for centuries, chess was viewed as a fixture of noble culture during the Middle Ages and Renaissance; the game was often used as a didactic mechanism, teaching gentleman of the aristocracy everything from offensive war tactics to caution.
No chess set more perfectly reflects the strategic, militaristic nature of the game than “The Battle of Issus” chess set.
This one-of-a-kind chess set depicts the historical Battle of Issus, a conflict between the invading Greek army, led by Alexander the Great, and the Persians, commanded by King Darius III, in 333 BC. Atop the game board’s sixty-four squares, well-armed opposing armies face off in a fight to the last. Each extravagant game piece is crafted of 14K gold and encrusted with semiprecious stones and vibrant, multi-colored enamel. In fact, in addition to the pink rhodonite and green malachite that comprises the surface of the grid and base of each game piece, the chess set features approximately 4 kilograms of 14K gold, 2.3 kilograms of 24K gold, 5 kilograms of pure silver, 320 grams of garnets, plus accents of pearls, turquoise, rose quartz and enamel. Every last lavish detail of “The Battle of Issus” chess set sparkles!
Perhaps the most amazing feature, each intricate piece is mechanical—seemingly by magic, the ancient Battle of Issus comes to life on the board!
In place of queens, the Greek goddess of war Athena stands next to Alexander while the winged Persian god of war joins Darius. Rooks have been transformed into columned temples and the Persepolis. Meanwhile, Grecian warships sail through mighty waves, and on the opposing side, lumbering elephants charge into battle. Horsemen and footmen complete the troops, each endowed with his own sword, javelin, or bow.
Not to be ignored, the game board itself is an incredible work of art. The grid is crafted of solid squares of pink rhodonite and green malachite, which coordinate with the base of each piece. Continuing the military motif, the sides of the board are formed of pure gleaming silver and are sculpted in high relief. Each side covered with archers, horsemen, chariots, and elephants locked in eternal combat.
The product of 14,000 hours of labor over the course of a decade, “The Battle of Issus” chess set is impeccable. Crafted by a master jeweler as a gift to his daughter, he meticulously studied ancient sculptures, literary texts, and coins to ensure the historical accuracy of the chess set and crafted each and every component by hand.
Incredibly luxurious yet designed to the played, “The Battle of Issus” chess set is undeniably the most extravagant and mechanically complex chess set in the world.