A unique responsibility
Very few chess sets in the world have as much thought, care and attention paid to their creation as the Battle of Bannockburn and Robert Burns Chess Sets, with a remarkable bonus for chess players:
Have you ever played with a chess set where all 32 pieces are different? Only then do you have the additional responsibility for each character on the board – losing a pawn is one thing but losing a Campbell Pikeman, a Highland bagpiper, or an English Archer is suddenly a bit more personal – and could you take the responsibility for losing William Wallace or Richard de Burgh; Stirling Castle or the Tower of London?
Whenever we play at home and it looks like we’re about to lose a Wallace or a king’s bannerman, we switch the pieces around. Which probably breaks every rule in the book – but then, Bannockburn wasn’t won by Queensberry Rules!
By appointment to Mickey Mouse
Nigel Tranter’s Bannockburn Chess Set was the predecessor to today’s magnificent 700th Anniversary edition and was launched to the trade in 1996 at the International Spring Fair in Birmingham.
The first visitors to our stand was the buying team for Walt Disneyworld, Florida. They were fascinated by the set and spent almost half an hour poring over the figures and the detail in the pieces, wanting to know the story behind the battle and each of the 32 different chess pieces.
Disneyworld didn’t have a suitable retail opportunity but, instead, bought the set for permanent display in the British Pavilion at Disneyworld’s World Showcase Epcot centre.
Sadly, we haven’t been back to Florida for many years and have no idea if the set is still on show or whether Mickey & Minnie now have adopted it for their own private pad. Either way, it was an accolade we will always treasure.
The legacy of Nigel Tranter
Nigel Tranter’s Bannockburn Chess Set was the predecessor to today’s magnificent 700th Anniversary edition and was inspired the historic novelist’s trilogy, “The Bruce”, a literary time machine that transported me back into the deepest and most passionate heart of our nation’s history and sowed the seeds for this magnificent set.
It was then a delight and great honour when the author agreed to work with us in producing what is now one of the world’s finest chess sets. Over 18 months between 1994 and 1996 we met regularly, deciding who the players would be and reviewing the excellent models produced by artisan Steve Trickett, under the watchful eye of historic costume historian, Andrew Spratt.
There was debate, compromise and always fascination.
With Tranter’s sad death in 2000 we closed off sales of the Nigel Tranter edition, only returning to the adventure in 2014 to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. In order to protect the integrity of the original, we changed six of the players for the new edition.
As it was he who inspired the first set, it is to his honour and memory that we have dedicated this 700th Anniversary edition of the Battle of Bannockburn Chess Set to Nigel Tranter, the gentleman novelist.
The world is waiting
The first Bannockburn Chess Set, which was sold between 1996 and 2000 is gracing the homes of delighted owners not only in Scotland but across the world.
In addition to the UK and Europe, most of the first edition Bannockburn Chess sets found homes overseas: from the east to the west of America, in Canada, China, Japan, Singapore and Russia.
Now, with the release of the new 700th Anniversary Battle of Bannockburn Chess Set into a whole new world market, accessed by Facebook, Twitter and all the new rules of social media, who knows where the battle between Bruce and the Plantagenet will be played out?