ⓘ Chess in the arts


The Game of Chinese Chess

The Game of Chinese Chess or The Game of Chinese Checkers is a drawing by the French artist François Boucher, showing an orientalised image of two people playing Xiangqi - actual Xiangqi pieces are all round, whereas the shapes of the pieces in the drawing are more varied. It is best known through the 39.4 by 27.7 cm engraving made after it by the Englishman John Ingram 1721 - c.1771; fl. 1763. It was part of a series of etchings he made of Bouchers chinoiserie subjects between 1741 and 1763 - he had moved from London to Paris and probably made Le Berger Content or The Happy Shepherd there ...


Chess (musical)

Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of the pop group ABBA, lyrics by Ulvaeus and Tim Rice, and a book by Rice. The story involves a politically driven, Cold War–era chess tournament between two grandmasters, one American and the other Soviet Russian, and their fight over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other. Although the protagonists were not intended to represent any real individuals, the character of the American grandmaster was loosely based on Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have been inspired by the chess careers of Rus ...

Chess in the arts

ⓘ Chess in the arts

Chess became a source of inspiration in the arts in literature soon after the spread of the game to the Arab World and Europe in the Middle Ages. The earliest works of art centered on the game are miniatures in medieval manuscripts, as well as poems, which were often created with the purpose of describing the rules. After chess gained popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries, many works of art related to the game were created. One of the most well-known, Marco Girolamo Vidas Scacchia ludus, written in 1527, made such an impression on the readers that it singlehandedly inspired other authors to create poems about chess.

In the 20th century, artists created many works related to the game, sometimes taking their inspiration from the life of famous players Vladimir Nabokov in The Defense or well-known games Poul Anderson in Immortal Game, John Brunner in The Squares of the City. Some authors invented new chess variants in their works, such as stealth chess in Terry Pratchetts Discworld series or Tri-Dimensional chess in the Star Trek series.


1.1. History 10th to 18th century

Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace in Palermo you can admire the first painting of a chess game that is known to the world. The work dates from around 1143 and the artists who created the Muslim players were chosen by the Norman king of Sicily Roger II of Hauteville, who erected the church. The earliest known reference to chess in a European text is a Medieval Latin poem, Versus de scachis. The oldest manuscript containing this poem has been given the estimated date of 997. Other early examples include miniatures accompanying books. Some of them have high artistic value. Perhaps the best known example is the 13th-century Libro de los juegos. The book contains 151 illustrations, and while most of them are centered on the board, showing problems, the players and architectural settings are different in each picture. The pieces illustrating chess problems in Luca Paciolis manuscript De ludo scacchorum Latin: On the Game of Chess c. 1500, described as "futuristic" even by todays standards, may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

After chess became gradually more popular in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries, especially in Spain and Italy, many artists began writing poems using chess as a theme. Scachs damor Catalan: Chess of love, written by an unknown artist in the end of the 15th century, describes a game between Mars and Venus, using chess as an allegory of love. The story also serves as a pretence to describe the rules of the game. De ludo scacchorum unrelated to the manuscript mentioned above by Francesco Bernardino Caldogno, also created at that time, is a collection of gameplay advice, presented in poetic fashion.

One of the most influential works of chess-related art is Marco Girolamo Vidas Scaccia ludus 1527, centered on a game played between Apollo and Mercury on Mount Olympus. It is said that, because of its high artistry, the poem made a great impression on anyone who read it, including Desiderius Erasmus. It also directly inspired at least two other works. The first is Jan Kochanowskis poem Chess c. 1565, which describes the game as a battle between two armies, while the second is William Jones Caissa, or the game of chess 1772. The latter poem popularised the pseudo-ancient Greek dryad Caïssa to be the "goddess of chess".


1.2. History 19th century onwards

Since the 19th century, artists have been creating novels and – since the 20th century – films related to chess. Sometimes, they are inspired by famous games, like John Brunners The Squares of the City, structured after the famous match between Wilhelm Steinitz and Mikhail Chigorin; Poul Andersons short story Immortal Game, inspired by the 1851 game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky which also appears in the film Blade Runner; or Waldemar Lysiaks Szachista Polish: The Chess Player, centered on a game played between Napoleon Bonaparte and The Turk. The game Frank Poole versus HAL 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey is also based on an actual match, albeit not widely known.

Other artists drawn their inspirations from the life of players. Vladimir Nabokov wrote The Defense after learning about Curt von Bardeleben, while the musical Chess was loosely based on the life of Bobby Fischer. Some authors invented new chess variants in their works, such as stealth chess in Terry Pratchetts Discworld series or Tri-Dimensional chess in the Star Trek series.

One unusual connection between art and chess is the life of Marcel Duchamp, who almost fully suspended his artistic career to focus on chess in 1923.


2.1. In literature Poems

  • Caissa, or the game of chess 1772 by William Jones. Inspired by ancient Greek mythology, the poem tells the story of dryad Caissa, with whom Mars falls in love. In an attempt to win her heart, Mars asks the god of sport to create a gift for Caissa. The god creates the game of chess
  • Scachs damor Catalan: Chess of Love late 15th century. Describes a game between Mars and Venus
  • The Game of Chess included in Dreamtigers 1960, a poem two sonnets by Jorge Luis Borges
  • Versus de scachis c. 997, earliest known reference to chess in a European text
  • De ludo scachorum On the Game of Chess early 16th century by Francesco Bernardino Caldogno. A collection of chess gameplay advice in poetic form
  • Scaccia ludus 1527 by Marco Girolamo Vida. The poem describes a game of chess played by Apollo and Mercury on Mount Olympus
  • Chess c. 1565 by Jan Kochanowski. An epos parody which portrays a game of chess as a battle between two armies
  • A Game of Chess, a section in The Waste Land 1922 by T. S. Eliot


2.2. In literature Short stories

  • Striding Folly 1939 by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Unicorn Variation 1983 by Roger Zelazny, included in Unicorn Variations
  • The Immortal Game 1954 by Poul Anderson, inspired by the 1851 game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky
  • Quarantine 1977, a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, about an extraterrestrial civilization which discovers chess after visiting Earth

2.3. In literature Plays

  • A Game at Chess 1624 by Thomas Middleton
  • Endgame 1957 by Samuel Beckett
  • The Tempest 1610 by William Shakespeare

3.1. In film and television Feature films, short films and TV shows

  • Wicked Blood 2014, about a teenage girl trying to escape a criminal family, with a chess poem interwoven among the plot shifts - one of her uncles was once the state champ
  • The Luzhin Defence 2000, based on the Nabokovs book The Defense mentioned above
  • Revolver 2005
  • Bobby Fischer Against the World 2011 An HBO original documentary directed by Liz Garbus premiered on June 6, 2011. The ninety-minute documentary explores the complex life of the troubled genius.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968, features a game of chess played between the HAL 9000 computer an astronaut, Frank Poole see Poole – HAL 9000
  • Life of a King 2013, an ex-con teaches chess to inner city high school kids
  • Geris Game 1997, an animated short film about an old man named Geri who adopts two personalities to play chess with himself
  • The Chronicles of Riddick 2004 briefly features prison guards playing chess against mercenaries, using live ammunition for pieces
  • The Dark Horse 2014, about a bipolar man who helps at-risk youth by teaching them chess
  • Knights of the South Bronx 2005, about a teacher who helps students at a tough inner-city school to succeed by teaching them to play chess
  • Knight Moves 1992, about a chess grandmaster who is accused of several murders
  • Independence Day 1996, features one of the main characters, David Levinson, playing chess with his father in New York City; later, David realizes that the aliens have set their ships across the world like that in chess and plan to attack
  • Mighty Pawns 1987
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone 2001, the sorcerers stone, has magical chess game
  • Pawn Sacrifice 2014, a dramatised account of Bobby Fischers 1972 match with Boris Spassky
  • Queen to Play 2009
  • X-Men 2000, X-Men: The Last Stand 2006, X-Men: First Class 2011, and X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014 Charles Xavier and Magneto both have a passion for chess and play it in many of their scenes together.
  • The Chess Players 1977, one of the subplots tells the story of two men obsessed with shatranj
  • Grossmeister 1972, Soviet film about the rise of a young grandmaster
  • The Seventh Seal 1957, centered on a game of chess between a medieval knight and the personification of Death
  • Entracte 1924, a short Dadaist film by Rene Clair
  • Mystery of Chessboxing 1979
  • Blade Runner 1982, the replicant Roy Batty and his creator Eldon Tyrell play a game of chess based on the Immortal Game
  • Chess Fever 1925, a short Soviet comedy film featuring a cameo appearance by Jose Raoul Capablanca.
  • The Shawshank Redemption 1994
  • Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land 1959, featuring Donald Duck on the chess game board based on the book by Lewis Carolls Through The Looking Glass
  • The Great Mouse Detective 1986, featuring Basil of Baker Street, Dr. David Q. Dawson, and Olivia Flaversham are looking for her father who was kidnapped by Professor Ratigan and Fidget looking at them walking through the chess game board inside the toy store in London, England
  • A Chess Dispute 1903, a one-minute comedy by British film pioneer Robert W. Paul. Earliest known film with a chess theme.
  • Chess Poem 2016, a short film adaptation of J.L. Borges poem "Ajedrez." Narrated in Chinese, features Wei Yi "immortal game"
  • Black and White Like Day and Night 1978, German Television film directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring Bruno Ganz as a deranged chess player challenging the Soviet World Champion
  • Casablanca 1942, Rick Blaine Humphrey Bogart, analyzes a game
  • Dangerous Moves 1984, about two men competing in the World Chess Championship Games
  • Searching for Bobby Fischer 1993, based on the life of Joshua Waitzkin
  • Fresh 1994
  • No Name on the Bullet 1959, a Western movie with chess scenes that symbolize how the main characters are trying to outsmart each other
  • From Russia with Love 1963, based on the Ian Fleming novel of the same name, as mentioned above


3.2. In film and television TV show series

  • Doctor Who, in the episode The Curse of Fenric 1989, features chess as a theme, both the physical game and as a metaphor for the events of the story.
  • Endgame TV series, 2011 Canadian television series that follows former World Chess Champion Arkady Balagan who uses his analytical skills to solve crimes
  • Twin Peaks 1990–1991
  • Mission: Impossible 1966-1973 one episode "A Game of Chess", season 2, episode 17.
  • The Wire 2002-2008, Dee uses the game of chess to explain the drug trade to Bodie and Wallace.
  • The Prisoner 1967–1968 one episode "Checkmate" The Prisoner features outdoor chess using people as pieces
  • House, in the episode "The Jerk" 2007, about a prodigy with behavioral problems
  • Last Exile 2003, an anime series. All the episodes are named after chess-related terms see the list of episodes
  • Doctor Who serial, in the 2013 episode Nightmare in Silver, Doctor Who plays chess against the Cyberiad, the collective consciousness of all Cybermen
  • The X-Files series, in "The End" episode 1998
  • Columbo, in the episode "The Most Dangerous Match" 1973, has Lt. Columbo match wits with a murderous chessmaster.
  • Code Geass 2006–2007, an anime series
  • Land of the Giants 1968–1970. The season two episode "Deadly Pawn" features the castaways as chess pieces in a game for their lives.
  • Law and Order: Special Victims Unit series, in the "Hothouse" episode of season ten 2009, in which a young genius is seen obsessing over a chess game
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles 2008–2009 – the origin of the Skynet organization is a computer chess program; chess tournament is featured in season one episodes
  • Star Trek since 1966, several episodes of which features a Tri-Dimensional chess variant
  • Noggin the Nog 1959 - 1965. The characters design is inspired by the Lewis chessmen

4. In painting

As the popularity of the game became widespread during the 15th and 16th centuries, so too did the number of paintings depicting the subject. Continuing into the 20th century, artists created works related to the game often taking inspiration from the life of famous players or well-known games. An unusual connection between art and chess is the life of Marcel Duchamp, who in 1923 almost fully suspended his artistic career to focus on chess.

  • The Chess Players 1876 by Thomas Eakins
  • A lot of paintings by Samuel Bak
  • I Giocatori di Scacchi The Chess Players c. 1590 by Ludovico Carracci
  • La famille du peintre 1911 by Henri Matisse
  • Portrait de joueurs dechecs Portrait of Chess Players 1911 by Marcel Duchamp
  • Les Joueurs dechecs The Chess Players 1863 by Honore Daumier
  • The Chess Players 1929 by John Lavery
  • Arabes jouant aux echecs Arabs Playing Chess 1847 by Eugene Delacroix
  • Super Chess 1937 by Paul Klee
  • The Veterans 1886 by Richard Creifelds
  • Femme à cote dun echiquier 1928 by Henri Matisse

5. In music

  • Chess, a musical by Tim Rice and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA
  • Checkmate, a ballet by the composer Arthur Bliss
  • The game is referenced in Wu-Tang Clan songs such as "Da Mystery of Chessboxin". "I love the game of chess," explained founder RZA. "The person who taught me chess was the girl who took my virginity. She was pretty good at chess and the pussy was even better. Now I take that shit seriously. I hate losing." In 2005 Wu-Tang Clan member GZA released an album entitled Grandmasters in which every track had a chess theme.
  • awarded to some games in certain tournaments and also in the world of chess composition. There are many books published featuring chess problems or puzzles
  • Correspondence chess is chess or variant chess played by various forms of long - distance correspondence, often through a correspondence chess server, a public
  • published by the United States Chess Federation US Chess Chess Life is advertised as the most widely read chess magazine in the world, and reaches more
  • Apple Chess Battle Chess Battle Chess Game of Kings Battle vs. Chess Chessaria: The Tactical Adventure Chess Genius Chessmaster Chess Mates Chess Titans
  • Chess is a two - player strategy board game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 8 8 grid. The game is played by millions of people
  • The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to chess Chess is a two - player board game played on a chessboard a square - checkered
  • World Computer Chess Championship WCCC is an event held periodically since 1974 where computer chess engines compete against each other. The event is organized
  • Romantic chess was the style of chess prevalent from the late 15th century until the 1880s. Chess games of this period emphasized quick, tactical maneuvers
  • A chess piece, or chessman, is any of the six different types of movable objects used on a chessboard to play the game of chess Each player begins with
  • The Chess Players is an 1876 genre painting by Thomas Eakins, Goodrich catalogue 96. It is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is
  • called The Chess Review. Published in New York, it began on a schedule of at least ten issues a year but later became a monthly. Isaac Kashdan was the editor