Barber Medallion

Barber Medallion


Dewain Barber

In the Olympics, each country is invited to participate and winners receive medallions. I created the Barber Medallion to honor all participants who represent their state affiliate in the Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School State Champions.

I remembered seeing a show that did an interview with one of our Olympic Gold Medal winners. As the interview proceeded, the commentator asked to see the medallion that had been presented to our national representative. As he held the medallion in his hand, the commentator said, “I did not realize how heavy this is.” I thought that if we presented medallions they should not be the thin, small award that is found in many scholastic events.We needed a medallion that had some size and weight to it.

I located a company that could make our Barber Medallion, but now the challenge was what design should I use? Would it be a king, rook, bishop, knight or pawn? Everyone knows the king is the most important piece in the game of chess so I started looking at different designs for the king figure. Using the chess figurine charts I came across many kings that were highly decorative and some that were ultra-modern. This simple task had now become very complicated. So, how did I decide?

At this point I decided to contact several members of the GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions  Committee. I asked them to think about a design for the Barber Medallion that would look similar to the Denker Medallion provided by my company, American Chess Equipment, but have its own unique features.

As each suggestion came in, I realized that once again I was up against the challenge of what would work. Everyone agreed that the basic design should be a king, but king figures can be very fancy, especially the cross on the top. I did receive some very decorative and unusual designs, but something told me that these were all wrong.

I began to think about chess sets that are used in beginning and intermediate tournaments. The Staunton design is very plain and easy for a young player to identify. Thousands of these sets are used each year for all grades especially K-8. Thus, I concluded that the design would be a simple Staunton king. Since that time, ACE has provided a Barber Medallion to every player who steps forward when his or her name and state are called.