Seal of the President of the United StatesThe Protocol Gift Unit of the U.S. Department of State tracks gifts received by executive branch employees from foreign sources. Looking at the data for 2009-2012, The Washington Post published its ranking of the best and worst gifts received by President Barack Obama, and wouldn’t you know it, a few games showed up on the list.

But of course, I couldn’t leave it there. So, below for your inspection is a full list of all game related gifts received by all employees 2002-2012.

A study of the list reveals that Jalal Talbani, current President of Iraq, and the Sultan of Brunei are particularly fond of giving games. The most commonly gifted game object by anyone is a Chess set, though the Sultan has also gifted Shut-the-Box by Front Porch Classics, Forgotten English: Knowledge Cards, and Horse Race Derby: An Action Marble Game.


  • Handcrafted painted game table—President Obama from the Sultan of Brunei
  • Chess set—unnamed employee of the CIA from unnamed donor


  • 10″ x 10″ Chinese checkers plate and 15″ x 15″ glass plate with game board painted on it—President Obama from the Sultan of Brunei
  • “Witcher 2” playing cards, and 5 wooden die in black sack with “Witcher 2” emblem—President Obama from the Prime Minister of Poland
  • Lacquered folding chess/checkers board with backgammon, filled with carved wood pieces. The board is dark wood, roughly a square, but with decorative rounded edges, closed by brass clasps—White House staff member, Michael McFaul from the President of Kyrgystan
  • Large decorative Chess set—Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta from unnamed donor
  • Burlwood and satinwood hingedtop chess set—Deputy Director of the CIA, Michael J. Morell from unnamed donor


  • 16″ × 16″ walnut chessboard with walnut and sterling silver chess pieces, presented in a wooden presentation box—President Obama from the President of Armenia, 2010
  • Wooden folding chess/checkers set with carved details, presented in a black nylon carrying bag—White House staff member, James Jones from the President of Iraq
  • 32 piece hand-made porcelain chess set—Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates from the Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan


  • 14″ x 14″ Bauhaus chess set, with a lightly-colored wood board and pieces carved into the shape of their allowed movements on the board, contained in a carrying box with sliding top, designed by Josef Hartwig—President Obama from the Head of Protocol of Thuringia, Germany
  • Fiorentina Italian leather backgammon set, presented in a 17″ × 9″ presentation box—President Obama from the Sultan of Brunei


  • Wood chess set game box, stamped inside ‘‘KURDISTANSANANDAJ’’, being a hinged box, the outside convex walls with incarved rosettes and foliage, encompassing inset of 2-tone marquetry chess playing board, the box opening to disclose veneer work and game board plus dice plus wood playing pieces for chess and checkers, 21¼″ square, in custom-made zippered green nylon carrying bag—Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates from the President of Iraq
  • Wooden Chess set game box, interior marked ‘‘Kurdastan-Sanandaj’’, marquetry of multiple types of wood, having ridge lined playing board for Chess/Checkers, outside edge of incarved rosettes/ leaves, 21½″ square, plus
    turned wood playing pieces, in green nylon zippered carrying bag—Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, Mary Beth Long from the President of Iraq
  • Wooden Chess Set #077 BC#992504—light wood stained dark including high relief carving of rosettes and leaves on sides, plus polished marquetry playing board, opening to disclose light color and dark-stained playing
    pieces for chess and backgammon/checkers; in zippered cusom fitted green nylon bag—Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates from the President of Iraq


  • Wood Chess Set, Assorted Treats in a Wood Box—Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld from the President of Iraq
  • Onyx chess set on onyx board—Assistant Secretary of Defense, Paul McHale from the Secretary of the Navy of Mexico
  • Three Chess sets with chessmen, each side of different color, board of various inlaid and carved woods, 211⁄8″ x 21″, exterior and interior of board inlaid—three unnamed employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from an unnamed donor


  • Game: Shut-the-Box by Front Porch Classics—President Bush from the Sultan of Brunei
  • Collectable: 12″ x 12″ silver and dark wood chess set with silver and gold-tone pieces—President Bush from the Prime Minister of Egypt
  • Chess Set in wooden case w/inlaid wood design of man and woman—Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers from the President of Iraq
  • Chess Board, Onyx 20″ x 20″, 7⁄8″ Thick. Of The Brazil Origin, It Is Black And White—Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman from the Minister of Mines and Energy of Brazil


  • Two games: ‘‘Forgotten English: Knowledge Cards” and ‘‘Horse Race Derby: An Action Marble Game”—President Bush from the Sultan of Brunei
  • 20″ x 20″ multicolored wood chess set containing pieces carved in traditional Mongolian designs—President Bush from the President of Mongolia
  • Chess Set—Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz from Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan


  • ‘‘The Tribal Heritage Collection’’ Chess set with 14½″ x 14½″ wooden board set on lid of box containing 32 ceramic chess pieces—President Bush from the President of South Africa
  • Silver Enameled Chess Set and a Chess Board—Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz from the Deputy Prime Minister of India
  • Chess set, Russian, wood box with hinged lid being a playing board with squares of light and dark amber chunks set in clear resin, surrounded by border of dark amber resin, with inset wood numbers 1–8 and letters a–h, 31⁄4″h x 161⁄2″w, box interior containing amber playing pieces including 4 horse heads, rest as turned round bottles/jars/urns—Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham from the Minister of Energy of Russia


  • Tooled leather chest board in Kyrgyz design, with a leather carrier. Wooden chess pieces depict the epic ‘‘Manas,’’ with dark-stained hats on one side and clear varnish hats on the opposition. Measures 18″ by 18″—Vice President Cheney from the President of Kyrgyzstan
  • Chess set, tooled leather case, camel bone chessmen, 20th/21st century—Secretary of State Colin Powell from the President of Kyrgyzstan
  • Silver plated and partial gilt chess set and board, modern. D of board: 20 inches. H of chessmen: 31⁄2 inches—unnamed employee of the Central Intelligence Agency from an unnamed donor