I've made more than my share as a chess player. Blunders, errors, both big and small. Without them, I suppose, no one would win.
The printers of stamps make mistakes too. Those errors also offer up a lot of spice, in this case for our collections. The key errors are those that actually have something to do with the topic of chess. And some them are quite rare.
For chess on stamp collectors, the San Marino invert is the gem. As you can see in the stamp on the right, the red color was printed up-side down, with a remarkable effect. In chess, when you queen a pawn and you already have a queen on the board, it is customary to flip a rook and use it as a queen. That's a special experience, and so is looking at this stamp.
My kids enjoy trying to find the error. The Bulgarian chess stamp of 1962 has an interesting error, the fourth "window" on the rook.
This stamp from Cuba honors World Champion Jose Capablanca. The stamp in the lower right has the mistake, more evident in the scan below. His name is misspelt "JOSF"
The souvenir sheet below from the Dominican Republic contains an interesting offset of the two chess pieces. In my experience, I have found numerous errors on the souvenir sheets of this issue, so many in fact that it is relatively hard to find a sheet with no errors!
This stamp from Guinea contains an inverted overprint honoring the 1993 World Chess Championship match.
Here, an overprint printed twice on the left stamp.
The next image also shows an inverted overprint, here honoring the 1972 Chess Olympiad.
And yet another inverted overprint.
Here, a block of four showing a beautiful chess piece in which the blue decorations on the piece are offset to left.
The next three images require a short story. The silver foil is a normal stamp. A pawn and knight are part of the design.
All of the stamps contain a serial number. The image above was #3. The following was stamp #590. It has the printed serial number on the back, and the paper was prepared for the foil... but there's no foil!
So the printer made another silver foil, and wrote the serial number on the back by hand!
Here's an interesting error on the British chess issue. The first block of four are all fine.
But here, the queen's head is visibly shifted!
Finally, there are errors on postmarks too! No error in the first image. Note the date, at the Siegen Olympiad in September (19), 1970.
The cover below, however, uses an hour rather than the year. 30+ years ago, the postal clerks had to change the hour manually. Here, by mistake, on about 30-40 covers, the clerk changed the year instead!