I can’t take all the credit for this. Community members have offered constructive and helpful advice, and I have to say, it’s all worked.

I’d like to say it’s all Blender, but it isn’t. This is part of my transition. The pieces are almost (not quite) unaltered from my original Cinema 4D models. The board is re-modelled in Blender, and the lighting and texturing etc. (i.e. everything except the models) are Cycles. I hope that you like it.

EDIT: Most of the pieces have been remodelled, and the textures have all been re-made, now.

12 months on, I decided to re-visit this, to see what I’ve learned. Honestly, the normals in the original were all over the place (no consistency between outside and inside, just very random), and the topology on the bishops where the slot is was horrendous (probably because I booled it back then for lack of experience). The knights had no manes, mainly because I had no clue how to make them. Oh, and the DoF was way too much.

So, I’ve done some cleaning up. Fixed all the normals, added the manes, and re-made the bishop heads using clean quads, and reined the DoF in.

Whilst I was at it, I converted to principled shader, and have started adding felt bases to the pieces (they aren’t obvious apart from the queen in the foreground, but they do make a difference. Not all pieces done, yet).

Not finished, and this is straight out of render (no post work), but it feels improved to me.

Looks like a quick checkmate.

When I built it originally I googled for some classic checkmates (tournament) and this was the one I settled on. Can’t remember now who it was attributed to.

Anyhoo, I’m going to leave the original render here in this post, and have updated the first with the new, improved version.