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Boxes in the garage...
For as long as we can remember, there were boxes of old chess pieces in the garage. As it turns out, they were International Master Herman Steiner chess sets, like the ones that were used at the famous 1961 Fischer vs. Reshevsky match held in California, and the Piatigorsky cup tournaments held in 1963 and 1966.


In 1966, Dad was a university student at UCLA. He was a chess player, and attended the Piatigorsky cup tournament in July. As kids, we often heard the story of how he fell in love with the sets.

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Click to read Dad's story.


We've been in touch with Herman Steiner's sons, (Eugene and Armin Steiner) who've graciously shared their memories of the sets. We were suprised to hear how much detail they remembered, including how the wood for the sets was originally scraps from a furnature shop!

"What a bit of history relived. I remember as if were yesterday, when a young UCLA student came over the Formosa house and fell in love with these sets. I am so happy you want to finish them off. This will be a fine tribute to Herman Steiner..." - Eugene Steiner


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Sets in action at the Piatigorsky Cup.

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Samuel Reshevsky and Bobby Fischer with a set in 1961.

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IM Herman Steiner, and a set with actors.


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IM Herman Steiner, Sonja Graf and a set.


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The Herman Steiner chess set in action:
Spassky wins his 1st round game against Unzicker.
He went on to win the 2nd Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica, California.


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Here with Sonja Graf and a set in action.


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Samuel Reshevsky, Max Euwe, Herman Steiner.


A few complete sets...
It was a golden era for Hollywood and the sunny west coast. Chess was as popular as ever. Herman Steiner was a big part of it and made notable contributions to the game, including designing these sets that were used in the famous Piatigorsky cup tournaments. There were a lot of boxes in the garage, and there are a lot of pieces, but only a handful of complete sets. It seems a shame to keep these sets boxed up, and we would like to offer them to enthusiasts, collectors or historians who want to carry on the legacy. Each set comes with a signed Letter of Provenance.


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Unfinished black pieces.


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Unfinished white pieces.


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Finished pieces.


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A sample of unfinished and finished knights (black, mahogany wood).

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A sample of unfinished and finished knights (white, maple wood).


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Click to read the Letter of Provenance.



Contact us with any questions or comments you may have, or to share your memories of this era. We'd be happy to hear your stories! We've also set up a paypal account that lets you request a set (right side of this page).

We hope you enjoy the story, and pictures. We added a contact page to make it easy for you to share your comments and questions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Josef and Josh Mentzer