Chess has remained one of the most played games worldwide due to its intricate and engaging nature. Founder of Official Staunton Carmelo Miceli has had an appreciation for chess since his childhood and has made it his mission to provide high quality Staunton chess sets to other avid players.
The gorgeous hand crafted wood designs have been delighting chess players everywhere, from beginners to experts. Carmelo discusses his business and why he thinks chess has remained such a beloved game.
Hi Carl, thanks for speaking with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself to begin?
Hi Monica, and thanks for taking the time to interview me today. Carl by the way is a nick name given to me by those struggling to remember my actual name, which is Carmelo Miceli. I’m the proprietor of The Official Staunton Chess Company. I set up the company in 2003.
When did you start becoming interested in chess? Have you always had a love for it?
I had an early introduction to the game of chess at junior school with the science teacher, Mr. Brown, who ran chess club after school for an hour. I was hooked from move one! For reasons I cannot seem to recall, chess took a back seat for a good long while. Football seemed to take over so chess was substituted I would say, pun intended!
What led you to developing your business Official Staunton?
I had a brainstorm to re-introduce chess sets from the 1900’s with the focus on reproducing them with great accuracy, care and attention to the finer details such as the intricate hand carving of the knight pieces in particular. I wanted to raise the quality benchmark higher than anything that had previously been introduced by our predecessors.
Can you tell us a bit about the range of products you sell?
Sure, we cater to those looking for a basic starter chess set, to mid range upgrade sets, and to the higher end luxury chess sets for collectors. These are a specialty of ours and make great corporate or Christmas gifts. We also supply schools and chess clubs.
What makes Official Staunton unique?
What sets us apart is our complete dedication in the development and continued improvements of existing designs. We are constantly pushing the boundaries using a mix of luxury materials to create some of the World’s finest looking chess sets and boards.
Why do you think chess has remained such a globally loved game?
Chess is not just a game, it’s not Monopoly or Cluedo, it is so much more engaging! From personal experience I can testify that the deeper you get into chess the more you need to absorb! I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “down the rabbit hole”. Well it’s exactly this that encapsulates you and the more you learn and improve, the deeper you’re drawn into the myriad of possibilities with endless outcomes. It’s totally engaging.
What benefits do you think learning chess has for people?
It has been proven that playing chess is extremely enjoyable and engaging but moreover has many health benefits, including developing social skills. There have been many studies linking chess to maintaining healthy brain activity and, in some cases, helping with prevention of dementia.
Finally, what makes a good chess set? What should people look for?
One must appreciate that wooden chess sets are predominantly made by hand and that the knights are actually hand carved! Therefore, it is essential to study the intricacies of the carvings and to pay special attention to the materials used to create the set. I would say a good chess set would be one that has a good Staunton design, is core weighted, and preferably made using fine timbers.
Thank you Carl for your time!
You can follow up with Carl Miceli at www.officialstaunton.com