Why Championship Chess Sets Are So Expensive | So Expensive

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  • ℹ️ Published 1 years ago
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An inexpensive chess set can sell for $20, but a handcrafted wooden set certified for the World Chess Championship costs $500. Much of the set's value lies in just one piece: the knight. Each knight must be carved by hand to look exactly the same. Making this one piece takes two hours, and there are fewer than 10 people trained to carve knights for the championship chess sets. So, how are these chessmen made? And why are they so expensive?

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Why Championship Chess Sets Are So Expensive | So Expensive

💬 Comments
Author

This episode was especially fun to make after watching “The Queen’s Gambit”. One thing we didn’t have time to include is that the board alone for the full set (worth $500) costs $220. Thanks for watching this episode! What other expensive things do you think we should cover?

Author — Business Insider

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The real explanation why it is expensive is NOT in this video.

It's not the labor. The people you see making these pieces are NOT the ones getting the money.

Author — Jan Klas

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“Artisans use particular steel tools, called cutters.” Very profound.

Author — Kevin Obrebski

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I have one very humble question here. As a person who knows the game, I seriously do not understand how a $500 chess set is different from a $5 chess set, when it comes to the actual game.

Author — ANGSHUDEEP MAJUMDAR

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When she started talking about the artisans, I assumed it would be like the sushi masters, who have to wash rice for 20 years before even attempting to make sushi... but then she said they train for a whopping 4 months... After that, I scrolled down to this comment section and saw that I'm not the only one who realized it's all just exploitation disguised as incredible craftsmanship.

Author — Maka

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The carving looks so satisfying... The artisans truly deserve a much bigger cut of the price..

Author — Youbot123

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"Factory produces 250 sets per year"
"Sets are $500"
"Other pieces carved in minutes"
"Knights only take 2 hours to make"

Author — Poochlol

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I am an Indian, ordered a leather wallet which came from Australia spending 70 USD and later found its engraved as "Proudly made in India". The similar wallets are available in Indian market for 12 USD. Most of the time we don't pay for the quality or craftsmanship, but for the marketing.

Author — Ragesh Radhakrishnan

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Apparently the "hand carved" aspect is important enough to use Indian sweatshop workers instead of robots, but not so important as to bother paying an artisan a few hundred dollars a piece

Author — Mack Crawford

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"Only 250 sets are sold each year" Followed by "we make 30 kings a day" And "a knight takes up to 2 hours" Just doesn't make sense

Author — Fazemand

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As a machinist I can confidently say that every single one of these pieces would be incredibly easy and quick to make. There's absolutely no reason for the ridiculous cost.

Author — edzeplin77

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I thought judging by the price of each set, it would be produced by some Western European Artisans somewhere in France, Switzerland or Italy. But no, they were made by minimum wage artisans in India (they are really good at their job though). But with all the tools and machinery they use, I really doubt that they have to spend that much time on a set. I have 4 plastic sets, 2 wooden sets, and 1 metal set. All of them look more premium and beautiful than any of those in this video. I mean it, because not a single set of mine surpasses the price of $100.
$500 for a wooden chess set with nothing special about it is a scam, and people have to know that.

Author — Nguyễn Đăng Tuấn Dũng

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I just love these "why so expensive" videos. Such a relief to know therere still businesses out there that only rip off the rich.

Author — Singing Machine

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The whole business of producing these top flight "International Grade" chessmen sounds like a real racket for everyone involved, except the skilled artisans who actually make them.

Author — Stuart McCall

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"Only 10 people can make these pieces"
Correction: We could only get 10 people to make these pieces for 5$ a day

Author — Egg waffles

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I’m so glad I’m not the only one who was put off by this video. It’s so glamorized, these people aren’t “master artisans”, they’re laborers in a sweatshop. If these people were payed like master artisans, these chess sets would cost thousands.

Author — Jing Xie

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ignorant question here: since, besides the knight, almost all pieces are symmetrical on the Y-axis, can't they just push a metal mold against the turnstile to shape the pieces? then add the minor details

Author — GoDiMoNsTeR

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Imagine a chess player say "The Knight is carved incorrectly, henceforth, I refuse to play with such an unadequate chess set!"

Author — Giou Eem

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I remember when I brought my first chess board, if was a hard cardboard, on which a glossy sheet having blocks drawn was pasted, with plastic pieces. It costed about ₹20, which was about 35-40 cents at that time.

Author — Subham

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This just proves that the work, the time a worker puts on the product, gives that product its value.

Author — Adley