Chess House

Sanfilippo Chess Series - Set XXVI Dragon Slayers

  • June 11, 2018

The set shown here twenty sixth in the Sanfilippo Chess Series. Each set is an original work of art hand built from terra cotta clay, sculpted, carved and then glazed to a high fire for a permanent finish and durability.

Dave Sanfilippo has crafted chess sets for a while now. He has plans to continue until he feels inspired to make his final set - which he says, will be his biggest to date, a very prominent, strong design.

He currently shows/sells his work in two galleries in Pennsylvania and his sets are auctioned at Material Culture, Philadelphia, PA.

Some of Dave's other sets can be found at

Battle for Evergreen Mountain - The Wolf Sanctuary of PA
Raiders of the Aegean Sea - Langman Gallery
Into the Peaked Highlands: Land of the Dragons - Celtic Myth & Moonlight
The Quest for Melissa’s Honey - Honey Acres Museum

You can also find Dave's 21st set "Skirmish in the Bohemian Forest"  in the ShachMuseum in Strobeck, Germany which is a pretty big honor!

The first thirteen sets were hand built from terra cotta clay, low fired and painted.

  • Set I           The Greek City States
  • Set II          Attack of the Siege Towers
  • Set III         Battle for the Fertile Valley
  • Set IV         Battle in the Black Forest
  • Set V         The Fight for the Mountain Springs
  • Set VI         The Defense of Shea's Woods
  • Set VII        The Assault on Orpheus's Orchard
  • Set VIII      The Fallen Armies
  • Set IX         The March on the Nastos River
  • Set X          Conquest for the Wheat Fields
  • Set XI        Control for the Bridges of Perenthus
  • Set XII       Invasion of the Vikings : Conquest for the Emerald Isle
  • Set XIII      Pursuit for the Lapis Stone

Sets fourteen and beyond are hand built from terra cotta clay and glazed to a high fire for a permanent finish and durability for play.

  • Set XIV       Rebellion at the Copper Mine
  • Set XV       The Compromise for Safe Passage
  • Set XVI      Ambush for the Alps
  • Set XVII     Division in the Sate
  • Set XVIII     The Intrusion into Paulus's Bay
  • Set XIX       Theodoro's Coup
  • Set XX        Uprising at the  Iron Furnace
  • Set XXI      Skirmish in the Bohemian Forst   (This set is in the Schachmuseum in Strobeck, Germany)
  • Set XXII      Encounter with the Secret Temple Builders - The Masons
  • Set XXIII    The Trespass into Herleva's Wolf Den
  • Set XXIV     The Battle for Evergreen Mountain  (This set is in the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania)
  • Set XXV     The Quest for Melissa's Honey  (This set is in the Honey Acres Museum in Ashippun, Wisconsin)
  • Set XXVI     Dragon Slayers
  • Set XXVII   Raiders of the Aegean Sea
  • Set XXVIII   Into the Peaked Highlands - Land of the Dragons
  • Set XXIX     Revolt at the Coal Mine  (This set is in the No.9 Coal Mine and Museum in Lansford, Pennsylvania)
  • Set XXX     Journey into the Valley of Sandstone
  • Set XXXI    Standoff at the Coal Mine
  • Set XXXII   Confrontation in the Pyrenees
  • Set XXXIII   The Encroachment into Alianna's Pepper Field
  • Set XXXIV   Pearl Hunters of the Adriatic Sea
  • Set XXXV    The Crossing into Adrasteia's Plum Fields - found in Long Trout Winery in Auburn, PA
  • XXXVI Mutiny at the Limestone Furnace - found in the World Chess Hall of Fame in St.Louis, Missouri

  • XXXVII    Pirates of the Ionian Sea

  • The Final Set - "The Peaceful Tribes" - found in State Game Lands #106 PA

For this set the pieces are as follows

    Dragon Side

    Pawns - Warrior Dragons
    Rooks - Dragon’s Nest
    Knights - Dragon Horse
    Bishops - Senior Dragon
    Queen - Dragon Queen
    King - Dragon King

      Dragon Slayer Side
      Pawns - Infantry with Dragon Spears
      Rooks - Fire Tower
      Knights - Horse
      Bishops - High Priest with Magic Sphere
      Queen - The Dragon Slayer with the Mighty Sword
      King - Chieftain


        The Process

        Each piece is hand built and sculpted from terra cotta clay. When the clay becomes leathery/hardens the pieces are carved. The pieces take several weeks to dry as they are not hollow. The pieces are then low fired, with a cone rating of 4-6 for over fifteen hours. After the low fire, the pieces are under glazed, glazed, and fired high for over twelve hours with a cone rating of 5-6.

        A Cone rating means that you can fire that clay at any temperature up to that cone. The closer you get to the maximum rated cone, the stronger and denser your clay will be. You cannot fire a clay higher than its maximum rated Cone, or it will melt.

        Low-fire clay can only be fired up to Cone 04, or sometimes a little higher. Unlike mid and high fire, it never shrinks much or gets strong and dense even when fired to its maximum temperature. The main advantage to using a low-fire clay when low firing is that your glazes may craze less than if you used a Cone 10 or Cone 6 clay.

        As always, you must fire your glaze to the Cone that is specified for that glaze, regardless what clay you use. Just make sure you use a clay rated at least as high as the glaze.

        During the firings some fracturing, or cracks may develop. These cracks are filled with silver, copper or brass and each piece is unique. The pieces have a permanent lasting finish and are durable for play.

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