rob waller

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gene Zelazny's diagrammatic chess set

Each piece on this chess set, designed by Gene Zelazny, is a diagram of how it moves.

Gene Zelazny is Director of Visual Communications for McKinsey & Company, and I corresponded with him for a while when they were a client a few years back in the mid-90s. He's been there for many years (he started in 1961 and I think he's still there), and has trained generations of management consultants to do those diagrams they all love - I saw a great collection he compiled of visual metaphors used in management communications, but I don't think he's published it anywhere (he has several books out on the design of charts and presentations).

As a sideline he designs wonderful chess sets - I mentioned to him Ken Garland's interest in board game design, and he sent me one of his diagrammatic sets to pass on to Ken (which I reluctantly did). Here's a link to his chess set gallery.


  1. Anonymous12:18 pm

    Probably you've already seen the Bauhaus chess set, where each piece is a 3D diagram of the way it moves?
    (My Dad made me a set when I was a boy, making me the coolest member of my after-school chess club, surely?)

  2. No I wasn't aware of it - should've been no doubt and would have made the link.

    Thanks for this - just googled it and there is a nice picture of it at

    It doesn't quite as far as Gene's diagrammatically but is an obvious much earlier precedent - and it's 3D too.


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