All the right moves |

All the right moves

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal John Bristow sits next to the chess set he donated to the Silver Stage Library.

Tell John Bristow to get the lead out and he’s likely to produce kings, queens, bishops and knights.

The 13-year Silver Springs resident has figured out how to turn used lead products into chess sets, large and small, using his own artistry and imagination.

“I used to make bullets,” he said. “Now I make chess sets instead.”

He uses molds to make the game pieces and, for the boards, or “playing fields” as he calls them, Bristow uses a simple piece of wood with a frame, and paints the squares in.

Bristow, 61, uses molds to make the pieces.

Some of the sets are designed with unique pieces, such as the one he made that is loosely based on the Dungeons and Dragons game that Bristow calls Dark Side/Light Side.

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“It has wizards and dragons and things like that,” he said.

Thanks to two sets Bristow donated to the Silver Stage and Yerington libraries, Lyon County kids have discovered a fun way to exercise their minds.

“A couple of them play fairly well,” he said. “Then there’s a few others that try speed chess. That’s a little out of my league. I like to think about my moves before I make them.”

He’s been making the sets since 1988, a hobby that became a lot more after a car accident a year ago left him disabled. He said he has made about 90 sets.

“It’s a hobby that went crazy,” he said. “It started out that I wanted to make something for my brother’s birthday. I decided to make him chess pieces, and it just grew from there.”

His sets can be seen not only at the two libraries, but at the Double Trouble Saloon in Silver Springs.

Bristow’s sets are available for purchase, with prices ranging from $150 to $300.

In addition to chess sets, Bristow also makes cribbage boards and dioramas with his lead figurines.

— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.