Have you ever fancied playing Wizard’s Chess, just like Harry and Ron in The Philosopher’s Stone?
Well, Potterheads can raise their wands in delight. You can now recreate the famous chess scene at home with the new Wizard’s Edition Chess Set.
(Oh, and these pieces DON’T come alive and smash each other into bits…)
In an iconic scene from the first Harry Potter film, The Philosopher’s Stone, Hermione enters the Great Hall at Hogwarts to find Harry and Ron Weasley settling in for a ‘barbaric’ game of Wizard’s Chess.
Aside from the pieces moving hands-free and clobbering each other with chairs, the fictional game looks a lot like regular chess and aficionados will recognise the chessmen as the medieval, and appropriately mysterious, Isle of Lewis pieces.
If you’d like a reminder of the scene, you can watch it here.
The great news for chess-loving Potterheads is that you can own a chess set that’s virtually identical to the one played by Harry and Ron – albeit completely inanimate!
The Isle of Lewis Chess Set Wizard’s Edition – THE Harry Potter Chess Set
The Isle of Lewis Chess Set (Wizard’s Edition) should look familiar to Harry Potter fans as it’s almost identical to the set seen in The Philosopher’s Stone.
We’ve been asked about the ‘Harry Potter Chess Set’ more times than you can shake a wand at. So, after studying the scene we noticed that the chess pieces are the spitting image of our limited edition, red and cream Isle of Lewis chessmen.
The Isle of Lewis chess pieces might not be as recognisable as the world’s-standard Staunton, but their fascinating history – and mystery – make them the perfect choice for Wizard’s Chess.
The original Lewis chessmen were discovered at Uig Bay, on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, in 1831. Most historians believe the chess pieces, carved from walrus ivory and whale tooth, were made in Trondheim, the medieval capital of Norway, in the 12th century.
Given their fascinating origin and links to the middle ages, the Isle of Lewis chess pieces certainly look at home in the Great Hall at Hogwarts.
The pieces in The Isle of Lewis Chess Set (Wizard’s Edition) have been made in England to the exact specifications of the original artefacts – and their cardinal and ivory colouring make them a perfect match for Harry and Ron’s set.
For the board, we’ve chosen the beautiful, Italian-crafted black and cream leather board. The size, style and colour make this board identical to the one seen in The Philosopher’s Stone with the only difference being the lack of gold edging – oh, and the decades of wear by the hands of generations of Weasleys!
We believe that The Isle of Lewis Chess Set (Wizard’s Edition) is the closest Harry Potter fans can get to a game of Wizard’s Chess – and, with its elegant presentation box, it makes a magical gift to the Potterhead in your life.
What in Merlin’s beard is Wizard’s Chess anyway?
The game Harry and Ron are playing in the Great Hall looks like any other game of ‘muggle’ chess – except for the pieces being animated and violently attacking their opponents.
We can’t expect anything less from a world that introduced us to invisibility cloaks and extendable ears!
The pieces move under the command of the player, e.g., King to C7, and the pieces seem to be somewhat sentient, as can be seen when one of Seamus Finnigan’s chess pieces advises Harry.
Buy your Harry Potter Chess Set with confidence
The Regency Chess Company is delighted to finally be able to offer The Isle of Lewis Chess Set (Wizard’s Edition) to Harry Potter fans.
Beautifully crafted in England (the pieces) and Italy (the board), you can expect the superior quality and exquisite attention to detail that separates our chess sets from others on the market.
Rest assured that your chess set will be packaged well and dispatched quickly so your set will arrive in flawless condition without you having to wait long.
The Regency Chess Company has become very firmly established in the UK and Europe since our creation in 2008. New for 2018 is our launch in the USA market with a brand new website Regency Chess USA. The new website features a selection of our mid range and luxury chess and backgammon sets. The new site features:-
Our amazing range of luxury Staunton chessmen
Free shipping to all US states
Tax free shopping (orders under $850)
Fast shipping (2-3 days transit time)
Superb range of products
Since 2008 we have served a large number of customers in the USA but we have taken the decision to fully open up this ripe market place.
Last week we paid a visit to a newly opened café in Bristol, Chance & Counters – the first café in Bristol to cater exclusively to board games, created by friends Richard Scarsbrook, Steve Cownie, Alex Ratcliffe and Luke Neal. It’s our intention here at Regency Chess to really reach out to the growing number of establishments that are providing a home for chess, and board games more broadly, within the cosy, vibrant environments of cafés and bars. Whether you’re a board game enthusiast or simply looking for a new experience, the prospect of having a venue to sit down with a group of friends (or strangers!) over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine to play a game of chess, monopoly or whatever you should fancy is an exciting one.
CHANCE & COUNTERS
Nestled at the bottom of Christmas Steps, Bristol, just off Colston Avenue, Chance Encounters looks very much like a standard café, innocuous in its appearance. What stands out, however, is its quirky sign, attached to the side of the building; and, of course, your eyes are immediately drawn to “board game café”. At first it’s a little bit of a curiosity, but when you stop and think about it, it’s very much an obvious direction for a café or bar to go in. When it comes to creating a diverse, dynamic and inspired environment, building it around inherently social activities is a no-brainer.
Upon entry, both Julian and myself were very much impressed; Chance
Encounters is an excellent example of how to put such an enterprise to together. Not only were we treated to great customer service, a very friendly and open chat about how the business came together, but we were able to witness the fruits of their hard work paying off first hand. Although it was quiet when we arrived (roughly 10:30 in the morning), we witnessed a steady stream of customers coming in during our time there, all of whom were sampling the games on offer.
95% OF CUSTOMERS ARE HERE TO PLAY
The décor is modern and minimalistic, and although it’s still in the early stages of development, it’s clear that the focus is on the interactions of players and of what’s going on across the purpose-built tables. And that, arguably, is exactly where it should be. The vast array of boards games, tastefully and clearly positioned on a wide black shelf in front of the counter, are the centrepiece of the café’s aesthetic. The selection they have on offer is quite eclectic, and there’s certainly something for everyone within their current selection of over three-hundred(!), a number which is sure to grow as the business picks up speed.
The time we spent there was fun and interesting, and we even had a chance to chat with one of the owners, Richard Scarsbrook, enjoying our tea and coffee and treating ourselves to a game of chess. Chance & Counters in part comes off the back of Scarsbrook’s own background, writing his MBA dissertation on small businesses – specifically a case study in board game cafés. When asked about the ratio between customers coming in just for a drink or a slice of cake, against those who do so to play a game, he said roughly “95% of customers are gamers”. That’s quite a percentage, and definitely speaks to the demand for such a business and the interest in alternative venues.
KICKSTARTING IT ALL
Like many small businesses with nascent ideas, the guys turned to Kickstarter in order to fulfil their goal. Crowdfunding campaigns are a great way to assess interest and get yourself off the ground, whilst also rewarding backers for their support. The team set themselves a £10,000 target, but like many of the best campaigns rocketed on past it to over £13,000, allowing them to stock more games and expand the café. The reward tiers included a variety of different membership deals (discounts, lifetime membership, etc.) and more personal rewards, such as having tournaments held in your name, or “thank you” cards within a board game of your choice. The campaign took place over the course of a month – January to February – and in spite of a few inevitable delays, the campaign’s success allowed them to open at the end of May.
For our game of chess, Julian and I opted for the ‘Kasparov Championship Chess Set’. It comes with a sleek, elegant wooden board with nine-centimetre pieces. The game was short, and Julian lost – too busy enjoying his coffee, I should imagine. I’m sure he’ll have a chance to come back in the future. On the subject of coffee, it’s worth noting how reasonably priced the café is for the quality on offer. Lattes and cappuccinos are in the £2 range, tea a very reasonable £1.80 – coming in a narrow mug – with a good selection of affordable wines (which we hope to sample the next time!)
As we were leaving, Scarsbrook was leaning over the table of a young couple playing a board game that was relatively new to them, and he was enthusiastically, and politely, explaining how to play it. The enthusiasm on display is evident and the guys’ passion for their business clear. It’s fantastic that they’ve managed to get this up and running in Bristol, and we highly recommend you pay it a visit the next time you’re in town.
Having used the onset of summer to probe a handful of New York City’s many sites in which members of the public can meet one another and play a game of chess (or two!) with human partners, we thought we’d look at one of the flip sides to public play: computer chess in the digital era.
Many of the activities that we were once required to actively seek out can now be accessed on a single device. Rather than carry your dog-eared paperback book in your bag, you can carry hundreds of them on a Kindle Fire; similarly, you can just download an app to your phone that allows you to play chess on a bus, a train, or anywhere you like and at any time. And it’s not just a throwaway bit of light entertainment in an age of endless diversions, either. You can have your small, portable chess board with you at all times, playing games of varying lengths against strangers or friends or, more interestingly, the computer itself.
Digital incarnations of chess have been available for some time now, dating from the mid-70’s, before really picking up the pace and coming to the fore in the 1980’s. But there’s no doubt it has become increasingly widespread in the world of smart phones, laptops and tablets. The game is there at your fingertips, whenever you should wish to match your skills against an artificial opponent. This hasn’t had a discernible impact on sales of chess boards (there will always be a demand for chess boards as a decorative item), but rather it has arguably expanded the game’s influence and, ultimately, made it more accessible to people who might not otherwise have taken an interest in the game. So much of the digital era is catered to accessibility and instant gratification; as a delivery model, it is unsurpassable.
There is also the added advantage of being able to tailor the game to your skill level. Your computer opponent can be tweaked to have different response times in-between moves, and you also have the ability to see what moves each piece can make by clicking on them, should you be new to the game. Other features include undoing moves and being able to trace back your steps, which is perhaps a tidier method of deconstructing the game rather than writing down every move you make as you go. Some apps even have notifications describing certain moves. And almost all of this is happening on smartphones. The possible iterations of chess on mobile devices – the form it can take, the ways in which it can teach and educate, and so on – are infinite. It’s certainly our intention to take a look at several of these apps in the near future to take a closer look at what they have to offer. After all, one of the most important features all of these devices have in common is connectivity. By simply being able to access chess on your smartphone or your tablet puts you into contact with people all over the world, fostering an entire community of novices, experts, and people who simply want to reach out and play the game with someone on the other side of the globe, probably on the bus to work.
THE THING…AND CHESS
When we think of computer chess, our minds go straight to John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)…yes, we know, our minds tend to gravitate towards film on a fairly regular basis! But it’s a great example in and of itself, and hey, this is the decade in which computerised chess started to take off! The film’s ambiguous opening sequence begins with a helicopter chasing a husky across the Arctic wilderness, frantically firing at it for reasons as yet unknown to us. We then segue to the American camp, Outpost 31, where life, as yet undisturbed by the coming menace, continues banally – men of various professions are seen reading, playing pool, and doing whatever else they can to chip away at their six month isolation.
One man, Kurt Russell’s R.J MacReady, is sitting alone in his shack (‘alone’ being a condition they won’t want to find themselves in soon enough), playing none other than chess on his computer, with a glass of whisky in his hand. The computer itself, ‘Chess Wizard’, is fictional, but there were many such devices available at the time. There’s a lot of room to explore the relationship of chess to the film itself, but we’ll only take a cursorily look here.
First and foremost, it sets up the conflict nicely; throughout the film, MacReady is constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the malevolent alien that has taken human form, in the hope of outsmarting it before it can decimate the camp. Towards the end of his game, MacReady thinks he’s got it sussed – “Poor baby, you’re starting to lose it aren’t you”, only to be beaten with the next move (the film concludes with MacReady defeating the Thing, only to realise his victory is more tenuous than he initially believed). He couldn’t beat the machine, which can process multiple possible moves at once, in a similar fashion to the Thing itself, which has many disguises with which to rely upon. But perhaps what is most interesting is that in this all-male cast, the computer is voiced by a woman (provided by director John Carpenter’s then wife Adrienne Barbeau). “My move, rook to knight six. Checkmate, checkmate.” Displeased with his unexpected defeat, he pours his whisky into the machine, killing it off. “Cheating bitch”, he declares, leaving the shack. It’s a hell of an introduction for the character, and by genderising his opponent – a machine – it establishes the tone of masculinity that runs throughout the course of the story. Genderising and anthropomorphising machines is fairly common, but here it has a particularly interesting part to play – is the Thing itself genderless, or is their nemesis in fact female? I’m not sure Carpenter ever gave it that much thought, but that’s easily one of the delights of film criticism: finding meaning (here at Regency, it’s primarily the role of chess) out of the assemblage of pieces within the film itself. One of the problems with that, coined by the excellent ‘FILM CRIT HULK‘, is avoiding undue extrapolation. Only ever work with what the film gives you!
Although the ‘Chess Wizard” device did not exist, the program MacReady was playing was quite real: a feature of an Apple II computer. According to notes by co-producer Stuart Cohen, the crew tried to capture a shot of MacReady playing the game in real time in a single frame, but this did not work out.
KASPAROV AND THE DEEP BLUE
At the time, chess computers were becoming more and more widespread, and were consistently able to defeat strong players. This culminated in the late 1990’s – 1996, in fact – when Deep Blue, a computer designed by IBM, was able to defeat reigning chess champion Garry Kasparov in the first game of their six-match confrontation (however, Kasparov was able to secure overall victory). Following an upgrade to the Deep Blue a year later, Kasparov again came face-to-face with the machine, and he – the world champion – was beaten in a match that applied the standard rules of the game. Kasparov called foul play, and it has been suggested that the match was in part composed in order to boost their market value. A documentary of this was produced in 2003 – Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine. That, however, is a subject for another time, and another post.
As technology continues its rapid expansion, we’re seeing increasingly more powerful computers capable of extraordinary feats, and one wonders if they will reach a point in which “solving chess” – the optimal strategy in which victory can always be attained or at the very least the game forced to a draw – will come from that of an artificial intelligence, and not a human world champion.
I, on the other hand, have been dabbling with a chess app on my Android device, and it has thus far beaten me exactly 81 times! I’ve yet to douse the phone in a glass of whisky, but 100 may prove to be the breaking point…and I’m no Gary Kasparov.
As the years have gone on we’ve added more and more products to our website. It’s sometimes hard to believe that all this started back in 2008 with a handful of wooden chess sets. We now boast hundreds of lovely products and a worldwide reputation that does us proud. The list of premium brands that we stock continues to grow and a recent addition to this was Purling Of London. Purling is a relatively new company set up by the marketing genius Simon Perkis. What Simon has done is take a design classic from the mid 1800s and create a thoroughly modern contemporary product that is putting luxury chess sets back on the trendy map.
The essence of the Purling products is the painting of the sets. The range of Bold chess we now stock are all classic and traditional Staunton chessmen, but each piece has been expertly painted and buffed to a high gloss in a range of gorgeous colours. The painted theme goes a step further with their ‘Art Chess’ where unpainted pieces are given to known artists to decorate in their own style. These unique and fine sets are finding their way into some of the worlds best known interior design shops.
The Regency Chess Company has earned a reputation for selling some of the finest luxury chess products on the market. We’re delighted to have added these to our range. Check out our selection : Purling Of London Chess Sets
And, as the rain kept coming down here in Somerset, in February we sent out our Templar Series Chessmen over to a slightly warmer climate in Thailand.
Our most regular international shipments, though, are over to the United States where our Isle of Lewis range is hugely popular. The Scottish Museum replicas of perhaps the oldest chess pieces in the world are particularly well-liked, with hundreds going out to the States every year.
In light of this we have spoken with our brilliant logistics partners and can now announce that all shipping for international customers will be reduced by 10 percent.
Over on the continent, however, we have been able to do even better.
As of today, our customers in Europe will be paying a quarter less for their shipping.
When we first started in 2008 the costs to send products to places like Spain, Greece and Italy were astronomical.
However, because the market has grown so rapidly, and delivery companies have lowered their prices, we are again able to pass our savings on to customers.
So every chess lover in Europe can now expect a 25 percent decrease in the cost of shipping.
The next question is really what to buy from our growing range of products?
We trust that you can decide that for yourselves although we wouldn’t mind someone sending over a raincoat for us. This writer forgot his and the rain is absolutely hammering it down outside.
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The Regency Chess Company is a trading name of JDS Toys & Games Ltd. Registered office: L5 Commerce Park, Frome BA11 2FB, UK. UK Registered Company number: 05642467. VAT: GB925 9476 81
The Regency Chess Company is a registered trademark number 2523868. The Regency Chess Company Limited, UK registered company number 06955067 is owned solely by JDS Toys & Games Limited.
Shareholder and Managing Director: Julian Deverell.