Many people today choose to play with nontraditional chess sets that do not feature common chess pieces like bishops and kings, but rather, have more modern characters for the chess pieces. There are commemorative chess sets representing historical events such as the American Civil War. Popular characters for TV shows and movies are also immortalized in chess pieces. Some of the most popular themed chess sets are of Civil War characters, the Lord of the Rings, and of the popular animated TV show South Park.
Many popular themed chess sets feature figures from the Civil War, with one person playing as the Union and the other playing as the Confederates. Civil War themed chess sets are extremely detailed and realistic. The pieces are painted and carved to look as if they are wearing authentic civil war uniforms and carrying weapons of the period. The pieces, themselves, use historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis as the kings for their respective sides and generals like Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee also appearing as bishops or rooks.
Characters from the Lord of the Rings trilogy of books and movies have also been immortalized as chess pieces. These fantasy characters are perfect for adaptation as chess pieces. Characters like Aragon, Gollum, Frodo, and Gandalf cast as kings and bishops, while orc warriors and hobbits represent the pawns.
Not all themed chess sets feature historic figures or movie warriors, some feature cartoon characters and comic figures. One of the most popular themed chess sets features characters from the rude and crude cartoon South Park. It is nearly impossible for fans of the show not to laugh at these lowbrow cartoon characters turned into kings, queens, bishops, and such. The selection of characters is irreverently appropriate, keeping with the show’s sense of humor. Wise school cafeteria cook Chef is cast as the king, with overweight Carman riding a dog as a knight, and, of course, hapless Kenny as the pawns.
Themed chess sets are great for people who are interested in history or are fans of TV shows and movies. These chess sets allow people to support their favorite movie or TV show while playing an ancient game of strategy.