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White Bishop goes missing in Istanbul

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White Bishop goes missing in Istanbul

You might wonder what on earth happened. Did one of the many bishops in Istanbul get kidnapped by ISIS?  Fortunately, the story is not so sinister and is somehow related to our game of chess.

The Turkish Chess Federation hosted the 2012 Istanbul Olympiad. They had made a unique chess set to commemorate this world-class event. I am a crazy guy about chess sets and was over the moon when my friend Mehul bought this set for me together with the book “50 Essential Chess Lessons” by Steve Giddins and an Istanbul diary.

2012 Olympiad chess set

My joy turned to horror when I opened the set and realised that it had one White Bishop missing and it had an extra White Rook. At that moment both Mehul Gohil and I thought this is a simple matter and we can always ask the Turkish Chess Federation to send us a White Bishop.

I have enclosed some photos below. The King is 8.5 cm, the squares are 5 cm, and the base of the King is 3.5 cm. The pieces are not felted and made of sturdy plastic.

The bag to carry the set.
The bag to carry the set.
The bag to carry the set.
The bag to carry the set.
The 2012 Olympiad chess set.
The 2012 Olympiad chess set.
The 2012 Olympiad chess set.
The 2012 Olympiad chess set.
The inside of the box.
The inside of the box.

Search for the missing Bishop

I have now learnt something – searching for a White Bishop is no easy matter in this world.  I have sent many emails, made phone calls and last week we visited Istanbul, Turkey for a family vacation.  Most chess sets in Kenya come from China while the Turkish set has a distinct and unusual design.  I am one of those fussy chess players who hates chess sets that are made up of different types of men.
My hopes were briefly raised when one of the leads told me that he was going to show me the chess factory and I thought that would be brilliant.  I could then do a story on it.  His emails suddenly went cold when he realised that I wanted to order only 20 sets and get a White Bishop.
The final story that I heard was that the company that made this particular set has shut down.  That is a sad state of affairs when a chess factory closes down.
I was told to visit a particular shop in Istanbul near the Spice Bazaar and see what they have.  Looking for the shop in the narrow alleys was interesting.  I even found a shop selling guns and machine guns.  I was hesitant to take a photo due to the current climate in that area with President Putin dropping bombs next door in Syria.

Chess set from Staroyun

I then decided that I will buy another chess set from Istanbul to compensate myself!
The set that I bought was manufactured by a company called Star (website www.staroyun.com.tr).  This is what I liked about the set;

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·         The King is approximately 3.75 inches (9 cm) tall, and the pieces are fairly chunky.
·         Nice bag to go with the set with a strap to sling over your shoulder.  The roll up board is of a high quality.
The biggest problem this new set has is that the board is a little too small with the square size being 4.7 cm and the base of the King is 4.2 cm. I just do not get it.  How can the factory produce sets with the wrong size of board?  Has nobody complained?

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