Balcony Players

The Chess Game Design Competition was different this year. The owner of the museum and birthday boy on the day of the award ceremony Ridder Dijkshoorn broke his own rules! Visitors had the chance to choose their favourite design from no less than nine submissions during the year, and normally a maximum of six games are awarded. “This year, however, I thought all the designs were so beautiful and creative that every entry deserved a prize. So I added three extra consolation prizes to the prize pool”, says Ridder. Unfortunately, a tenth entry did not qualify for the competition: the chess pieces were not handmade, and Ridder really could not ignore that condition.

Exciting year

9: ‘Blocks’

The award ceremony traditionally takes place on New Year´s Day, in the Chessmen Museum. There are many guests; the Balcony Players are playing their uplifting gypsy music and the appetisers taste excellent. The atmosphere is great, when Ridder clears his throat to announce the winners: “It was once again an exciting year. There soon seemed to be a clear winner, but many designs made a strong comeback later in the year. The battle for first and second place, in particular, was only decided at the very end!” A total of 775 people voted for their favourite design. To make the occasion even more thrilling, Ridder starts at the bottom of the list, with the total of four consolation prizes.

8: ‘Opposites’

F. Mellink´s ‘Blocks’ design finishes in ninth place. The white and black blocks of wood on a board of tiles received 12 votes.

Eighth place goes to Reini Lap, with her ‘Opposites’ game. The red and green chess pieces represent the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights that occur at the poles. This design was rewarded with 17 votes.

Jan de Visser

Seventh place goes to last year´s winner, Jan de Visser. He also made a green and red design, but the theme of his chess game is ‘Stop thinking black and white’. This colourful chess game with its congenial message received 25 votes.

6: ‘Ode to René Daniels’

In sixth place we find Bob Roes, who was inspired by the artist René Daniels. He received 49 votes for his black-and-white ‘Ode to René Daniels’.

Rotterdam – Utrecht

‘Utrecht Chess’

Now it´s time for the ‘official’ prizes. In fifth place we find André van Schie, former VVD councillor of the City of Utrecht. His design ‘Utrecht Check’ competed with the previously designed Rotterdam Chess Game. Van Schie gathered 61 votes for his 3D-printed game in the Utrecht colours red and white, with chess pieces such as Miffy, and De Dom church as King.

4: ‘Mermaids’

In fourth place is Ivanka Kovacs´ ‘Mermaids’ design. This literally dazzling chess set, with epoxy resin pieces, received 103 votes. This year´s design, consisting of pink and blue sea creatures such as turtles, seahorses and of course mermaids, was much appreciated by visitors.

3: ‘Student chess’

With 125 votes, Rieneke Janssen obtained slightly more points. She created chess pieces from used beer caps and named her design ‘Student Chess’. It was not the most beautiful design, but it certainly put a smile on the visitors´ faces. “Made from beer caps from just one night of drinking”, was a much-heard comment.

The final sprint

2: ‘Battle in the Hills’

This year´s neck-and-neck race for the €1,000 grand prize between Tigone van Overbeek and Adrie Kolsteren lasted to the very end. In the end, Kolsteren finishes in second place with 181 votes for his three-dimensional wooden chess game ‘Battle in the Hills’. The chessboard is also made of wood, that is to say wooden blocks, and each square has a different height than the squares surrounding it. This design gives the chess game a completely different dimension.

The winner of the 2019 edition of the Chess Game Design Competition is ceramist Tigone van Overbeek. Ridder also broadened the competition´s rules for her, literally as well as figuratively, because the design is actually too large. Although it was Ridder´s favourite, this year he abstained from voting: the winning design remains on display in the museum and there is so little space already! Van Overbeek´s chess game is, of course, made of ceramics, and the pieces represent zebras and giraffes. Van Overbeek received 202 votes for her original and beautiful design.

1: ‘Zebras against Giraffes’

She chose animals because she enjoys creating them. Animals are so much fun! She spent at least a hundred hours working on this huge game. “Creating the clay figures was a pretty fast process. After making a few zebras, I could more or less do it with my eyes closed. The glazing of the pieces is the most time-consuming part of the process. I had to do it three times with this design”, comments the winner.

During the glazing process, the figurines are painted and then baked, giving them their final colour and shine. The large chess pieces look massive, but they are actually hollow: “I cut each piece in half with an iron wire, spooned it out and then glued it back together. Massive figures break when baked”, explains Van Overbeek.

Naturally, she also thought about the appearance of the chess pieces. All the pieces are either zebras or giraffes, except for the Knights: “I chose to make real horses, but putting a cover in zebra or giraffe print on them.” To distinguish the Bishop, the ceramist put little shoes on the concerning chess pieces. The whole chess game is somewhat fragile, though. To protect the pieces in case of falling over, the board is covered with felt. The end result is stunning and it is not surprising that the proud Van Overbeek takes home first prize for her ‘Zebras against Giraffes’ design!


Enter the 2020 Chess Game Design Competition

Would you like to participate in the next edition of the Chess Game Design Competition? Then design a chess game and board yourself. You can submit your design to the Chessmen Museum until 1 March 2020. From the Rotterdam Museum Night, on 7 March, all designs will be exhibited for the remainder of the year, allowing visitors to vote for their favourite one. Good luck with your design!

By Marjolein Overmeer