A steel-and-wood chess set crafted at summer camp by a Scout working on his Metalwork merit badge is now in the World Chess Hall of Fame.
The one-of-a-kind creation is the work of Boy Scout Chandler Francis, who crafted the piece this summer at Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation in Gravois Mills, Mo., part of the BSA’s Great Rivers Council.
“We congratulate Chandler on being featured at the World Chess Hall of Fame,” says Doug Callahan, Scout Executive of the Great Rivers Council. Callahan says the camp and council are “proud to have helped him in this endeavor, and we hope his creativity inspires other Scouts.”
To earn the Metalwork merit badge — No. 40 on the list of last year’s most popular merit badges — Scouts learn how to safely work with metal. They choose from one of four tracks: sheet metal mechanic/tinsmith, silversmith, founder or blacksmith.
Chandler selected the blacksmithing option and worked with camp counselor Justin Tattich on his project. The requirements state that Scouts must forge two objects — one with a decorative twist and one with a hammer-riveted joint.
That means Chandler could’ve stopped after making, say, one queen and one rook. But he kept going, creating all 32 pieces using a variety of forging techniques.
But Chandler wasn’t done. He paired the pieces with a wooden board he created with a laser engraving machine.
The result is a blend of old-world techniques and new technology that’s worthy of Hall of Fame status.
A fitting home for chess
There’s a place at Lake of the Ozarks Scout Reservation called the Sinquefield Invention Lab. It’s where Scouts can earn merit badges like Metalwork using state-of-the-art equipment — much of it donated by generous members of the community.
Its connection to chess goes beyond Chandler’s work of art. The lab’s founder, Dr. Jeanne Sinquefield, helped the BSA create the popular Chess merit badge.
She’s a co-founder of the Saint Louis Chess Club and, along with her husband, Rex, provided the seed funding to move the World Chess Hall of Fame to St. Louis in 2011.
All these forces aligned perfectly for Chandler to explore his passion for metalwork, chess and Scouting. And now his work is part of chess history.
Thanks to the Thomas Yang of the Great Rivers Council for the post idea.
Photos by Michael DeFilippo, courtesy of World Chess Hall of Fame.