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Frequently Asked Questions

Where are warranty, return and shipping policies?

Please see Quick Links on the Homepage's Footer.

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How will I know when my purchase will arrive?

Once the buyer's purchase has been shipped Chess Artistry will send a tracking number and carrier information to the email provided by the buyer.

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What forms of payments does Chess Artistry accept? 

Currently Chess Artistry only accepts credit card transactions.

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 Why has my purchase been opened and resealed?

At Chess Artistry we want the buyer's experience to be the best possible. To this end we inspect each chess set and chessboard to insure that no item is damaged and that all items are properly wrapped and protected for shipment to the buyer.

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Can I get expedited shipping for my purchase?

Currently expedited shipping and international shipping is not available. Please visit the Shipping Information page.Can I get expedited shipping for my purchase?

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How are chessboards sized for proper fit of chessmen?

Foremost, when sizing chessmen to a board, your own visual pleasure derived from the balance of men to board should be your primary focus. Your personal preference reigns supreme. The main concern is that the Chess pieces are not too crowded on the chessboard making play difficult nor are they so spread out that they look lost. The final size of the board is also a consideration. Where do you plan to put it when you play? And if it does not remain out on display, where can you store it?

Having said this, if you want or need to be guided by US Tournament rules then you will want a chessboard with 2 1/4" squares (accommodating kings from 3.75" to about 4 1/4 "). See FAQ about Tournament versus Club Chess sets.

If you find you are having difficulty in deciding between two different sizes of board and the esthetics are similar, then there are a few rules of thumb that you can use. Tournament rules use a guideline focused on the diameter of the base of the king. The base of the king should be no larger than 75% of the square size of the chessboard (1.875 " diameter would exactly fit a 2.5" square). The following formula is quick and easy to use:

square size = diameter of king's base divided by .75

Usage of this rule of thumb is modified somewhat by the fact that you can add or subtract 1/8" (approximately 5%) from the above square size and be good. Thus from the above example, your king with a 1.875 " diameter would fit on a 2 3/8 " (60 mm) or on a 2 5/8" (65 mm) board. Standard board sizes in the US are 2", 2 1/4", 2 1/2". Smaller and larger boards are also available. Many people when given a range of acceptable board sizes (i.e. chessmen calculated to fit both 2 1/4" and 2 1/2" chessboards) often opt for the smaller square size to reduce overall board size.

A second rule of thumb is that four pawns should neatly fit inside of one playing square. This rule may or may not work because today's contemporary luxury sets usually make the pawns' bases larger for stability purposes.

If this seems confusing, it is. Rest assured that Chess Artistry is happy to provide an appropriate suggestion for each of our chessmen sets to help in your decision. These suggestions will be based on both the above calculations and our own visual inspection. If you prefer to do it yourself, we provide the king's base diameter for each chessmen set. In addition, board dimensions will also be given for each board to assist you in selecting a size you can accommodate.

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Why are there variations in wood color and grain in my new chess set/chessboard?

All of Chess Artistry's chessmen and chessboards are made from natural solid woods. It is to be expected that fluctuations in color and grain will occur. Variations in wood grain and coloration is what sets apart products made from natural materials from man-made artificial materials and adds the beauty or wow factor.

The expert artisans crafting these products do their best to reduce the impact of such variations on the products but some variation thankfully will always be present. In addition, as the natural and exotic wood used in chessmen and chessboard production become scarcer and more expensive, more variations will ultimately be present. A corollary to this is that prices will also continue to rise.

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How do I maintain my chessmen and chessboard?

The best preventative maintenance is to use the chessmen and handle them. If they are left out, then remove the dust gently with a very soft 100% cotton cloth.

Use of clear paste waxes or clear furniture waxes containing turpentine may do more damage than good and should be used cautiously. Beware of colored waxes as these will also contain lacquer strippers which will harm the finish and color of your chessmen and chessboards. Use of beeswax may result in a gummy-feeling surface. Traditional beeswax polishes also rely on a turpentine to thin the wax and let it penetrate the wood's pores. The turpentine may also change the finish's appearance on the chessmen.

If your chess sets exhibits exceptional wear and it really bothers you, then a very light application of a supreme quality paste wax might be applied to the worn areas. Avoid any intricately carved surfaces as you can't really remove the wax thoroughly and the residue will get gummy. Wipe down completely until no drag is felt on the cotton buffing cloth. Buff gently to prevent breakage of delicate carved surfaces.

Never oil your chessmen as it will darken the finish and can, as with wax, create a gummy surface. An exception to this is with the Summerville-New England chess boards which have a surface finished with oil. Please carefully read their insert accompanying each of their chessboards for proper handling.

Remember, some wear will occur even during careful use. These are just part of the memories you create and will pass on to future generations.

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My Summerville-New England chessboard top is not centered.  Can this be fixed?

Yes. Your chessboard top may shift slightly in shipping. Please read the instructions from Summerville-New England included with your chessboard for a quick easy fix for re-centering. If you no longer have the Summerville-New England insert, feel free to contact me by email for a copy.

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What is the difference between Tournament and Club size chessmen?

Unless you plan to take your Chess set to play at actual tournaments, the difference between a Tournament or Regulation Chess set and a larger Club set is not really important. Someone playing in tournaments must play with a set (chessmen and board) that follow the sanctioning bodies' regulations. For instance FIDE (World Chess Federation) regulations call for a king's height to be 3.74" tall with a base around 40-50% of the height plus or minus 10%. Chessboards should have 2 1/4" squares for US tournaments (60 mm elsewhere). Few players, however, take their good wooden sets to play at tournaments and opt rather to take a vinyl rollup chessboard with plastic chessmen.

At Chess Artistry we cater to the vast majority of Chess enthusiasts wanting to play with sets that they enjoy and have the room to use and display. These Club (and some technically Tournament) sets might range from those with 3.75" kings to sets with 4.5" kings. Board sizes will vary for practical and esthetic reasons (see sizing of chessboards FAQ) but can range from 2" squares or less to over 2 1/2 " squares. Choosing a set of chessmen and a chessboard is all about what you find attractive and gives you pleasure.

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How do I properly insert the King's Finial (Cross)?

For those chess sets which come with multiple Finials it is best to insert the Cross and gently twist. Care must be used because the Crosses are fragile and break easily. Wax or soap may be used to lubricate the shaft if it is difficult to seat. It the cross seats too loosely then a tiny sliver of paper can be wedged into the hole.

Refrain from using oil for lubrication as it darkens the finish. Also refrain from gluing the Crosses in place as it will make replacing a broken piece more difficult to repair.

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Can I get replacement chessmen if the originals are lost or damaged?

Chess Artistry attempts to have closely matching pieces of the same stock as the chessmen we sell in order to remedy any defective pieces at the time of sale. We do not keep a deep selection of replacement chessmen available for purchase. There are several reasons for this.

1) Over time, matching wood colors, especially Padauk and to some degree Boxwood and Ebony, is very difficult. Timber can be sourced from not only different logs but from different forest tracts making color and grain match usually unacceptable.

2) Chessmen designs do change over time and chessmen sets are discontinued. Keeping a deep supply of discontinued pieces only adds to the costs of the newer sets we are offering.

3) Our chessmen sets are all hand carved and thus are unique to the craftsman and his individual style. Replacement pieces, especially with the passage of time, may not display this same style.

We realize life happens. If you should damage a chessman, please talk to us. We will see if we have an acceptable match. If your piece is not too badly harmed, a craftsman with restoration experience might be an option. Lastly, if the piece is beyond repair, we will inquire if a suitable replacement could be obtained from our carvers and at what cost.

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Why do you sell only solid wood boards and not veneered chessboards?

Chess Artistry focuses on solid wood chessboards made in the USA by expert craftsmen utilizing properly cured wood that will resist warping and shrinkage in all but the most extreme conditions. They are constructed as solidly as fine furniture is constructed and can take two or more weeks just to construct. With proper care they are built to last generations. With an eye on complementing your luxury heirloom chessmen, they add great visual value whether your Chess set is being played or displayed.

Veneered chessboards have their good points and, unfortunately, also some not-so-good points. Veneered chessboards are less expensive for the consumer and can be just as pretty because of the wide variety of wood choices available as veneers. They are good in situations where large swings in humidity occur or in particularly dry climates where moisture content decreases appreciably. The downside includes the wood product used as a substrate for a veneered chessboard (particle board) and the tendency of chipping or peeling off of veneer due to shipping or rough handling.
If you want a veneered chessboard, Spanish and Italian chessboards are some of the best available and are readily available from a variety of vendors.

Solid wood chessboards, on the other hand, are more expensive to purchase (five times that of a good veneered board) because they are more expensive to build. The three-dimensional wood slabs needed to build a chessboard alone cost much more than an equivalent amount of wood substrate and wood veneer. Add to this the expense of skilled labor and you begin to understand the reason for the final value of the solid wood chessboard. The creative design factor also increases with the use of three-dimensional slabs of wood. The downside includes the chessboard being sensitive to extreme moisture variation (not good for taking outside to the park). This can lead to warping and cracking. Separation of wood joints can also occur. These problems are particularly true when the solid wood board is poorly constructed.  At Chess Artistry we focus on chessboards crafted by expert craftsmen with a track record for excellence.

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Why don't you sell reproductions of famous sets (i.e. Jacques, Cooke, 1955 Zagreb, 1950 Dubrovnik, 1935 Botvinnik, etc.)?

There are many reproduction Staunton-style chessmen available for purchase from a variety of vendors. Some of these are of excellent quality and very true to the original patterns thus filling the needs for collectors and Chess enthusiasts. Chess Artistry at this time has decided to not carry these styles and focus instead on contemporary Staunton-style chessmen which exhibit more artistic characteristics and which are still suitable for pleasurable play.

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How do I keep my chessmen from cracking?

Avoid leaving the chessmen on display in direct sunlight, near a heat vent, beside a fireplace or wood stove or any similar environment. This does not mean that you can't play in these locations, even over several evenings. Just don't leave the chessmen there on display for months on end.

Cracking in chessmen, especially but not exclusively in Ebony wood chessmen, is usually an indication of excessively low humidity. Ebony is dense but brittle. If it dries out, hairline cracks can develop. This is true even if the Ebony wood has been properly cured and handled properly during the carving and shipping phases. 

During the dry season keeping the chessmen in a bag or box will help, especially if you place a stick humidifier (about $10.00 from a cigar store or online) inside with the chessmen. These gel sticks, if in good condition, shouldn't leak. Wrapping them in a thin piece of cloth or paper towel is always a good idea. These sticks are refillable using water to reactivate the gel so they can be used over a long period of time at a reasonable cost.

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Why do you sell Padauk wood chessmen and not Sandlewood or Bud Rosewood?

Padauk (African Padauk) is an exotic wood with a very intense color ranging from orange to deep red (heartwood). It is an expensive wood similar in pricing to Ebony. This is especially the case for the deeper red heartwood. It is the current replacement for Red Sandlewood which has been restricted for export from India. Years of over-harvesting have left the Red Sandlewood endangered.

Padauk polishes to a high sheen which shows off both the natural grain of the wood in chessboards and the ornate carving of the chessmen. Red Sandlewood turns to a black, purple, or brown color because the oils in the wood react over time to UV radiation. To preserve the color, Red Sandlewood must remain stored away from light between uses. Padauk will also darken over a long period of time to a deep red/purple color due to oxidation and UV exposure, but the process is slower.

When it comes to wood in the Chess world it is buyer beware. Without getting highly technical (i.e. botanical varieties etc.) any wood can be called something else if it makes it more marketable. To make matters worse, it is difficult to track down accurate information on what actual wood might have been used because of the great number of similar-looking species and varieties that are available within the timber trade (any wood with a reddish color might be called a Rosewood while not being a true Rosewood).

In a similar situation, Wenge wood is sometimes mistaken as Palisander wood in the timber trade. Wenge, is an extremely dark Ebony-like wood used in chessboards because it is a good match for Rosewood, Padauk, and Ebony pieces. It is also cost effective and sustainable in the wild. Its higher priced counterpart is Palisander. It is also a dark wood and a good match for Rosewood, Padauk, and Ebony pieces. But because Palisander is part of the Rosewood family, and scarcer, it costs more. Unless you are a wood expert or do business with a knowledgeable and reputable firm, you may not actually get what you paid for. And, unfortunately, because of variations in the wood itself introduced by varying microclimate and soils in different growing areas during tree growth, even the experts can be fooled.

Blood Rosewood, in reality, may not even exist. When you see this name think either Padauk or Bloodwood. While Bloodwood might be used for chessmen, it is more frequently seen in chessboards where it is beautiful with bold grain and color. Padauk, on the other hand, is the wood for chessmen and chessboards.

With regard to Bud Rosewood, it is described as the root of the true Rosewood tree which gives it a deeper red color. Unfortunately, the description of Bud Rosewood does not seem to extend much beyond the Chess world. In viewing chessmen made from Bud Rosewood and the heartwood of Padauk, the grain and coloring are quite similar. Think Padauk.

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How do I transport my Chess sets?

If transporting your chessmen, then wrap the kings, queens and knights with crumpled-up tissue paper. This is an extra precaution to protect the more ornate and vulnerable carving and crenulation from damage.

If you are using a Chess box, add padding inside the box until there is no movement of the pieces and the lid fits tight with a little resistance (too much padding and the lid hinges may break). If you are using bags, we suggest you place the wrapped chessmen in the carrying bag and then use a sturdy box large enough to accommodate additional cushioning. It would also be a good idea to add the crumpled-up tissue paper around the kings, queens and knights like suggested above. Remember when packing to avoid direct contact between the chessmen or chessboard and cushioning wrap, packing peanuts, or any plastic material. Damage due to heat may occur.

When transporting your chessboards we suggest you use the original packaging or crate.

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Why don't you sell Chess boxes?

Coffer and bin boxes are widely available from a variety of vendors specializing in them. Due to the great number of styles and wood variations, Chess Artistry has decided not to provide boxes at this time.

Chess boxes typically come in two styles. Bin boxes come with either single or double cloth-lined compartments into which chessmen are piled. Coffer boxes provide a step upwards in utility by providing cloth-lined individual compartments for each chessman. Both styles may be made from a selection of beautiful woods and come in a variety of sizes.

Bin boxes come in small, medium, large, extra large etc. sizes. The basic complaint against bin boxes for luxury chessmen sets is that the chessmen will rub and can scratch each other each time you remove or place them in the box. Breakage of ornate carvings may also occur.

Coffer boxes are a better choice and each box is usually designed to fit a narrow range of chessmen sizes. One size does not fit all. The sizing of the coffer box is the problem. You want the coffers to fit snug but not too tight. Also, if too loose or the coffer walls are too low, the pieces can tumble loose inside the box when being carried. This adds to the risk of scratches and breakage.

Additionally, as mentioned under the "cracking" FAQ, a stick humidifier may need to be placed inside the box with the chessmen. While this is feasible in a large or extra large single-bin box, coffer boxes may present a problem. These boxes may not have any room for the stick humidifier. Many people use large and extra large cigar humidors (solid wood or glass and wood styles) to store their chessmen.

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Does Chess Artistry have a showroom where your products are displayed?

Chess Artistry is working on a showroom in the Houston, Texas area but it is not yet open.

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Does Chess Artistry provide gift wrapping?

Currently Chess artistry does not gift wrap nor provide gift cards.

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Does Chess Artistry have a layaway Program?

Chess Artistry currently does not have a layaway or payment plan program.

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