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The History and The Culture of Chess

Chess in the Press - Issue #11 (Volume 2, No. 1)
    May  2006

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Volume 2 Number 1 CHESS IN THE PRESS February 13, 1994
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Living Chess

Blowtorching new paths in chess scholarship, Chess in the Press makes
its triumphant return to signal the birth of a new Golden Age in chess
research. We start off with one of those "theme" issues that only
CITP creates with such verve and panache.

Chess lives. One of the few ways chess can gain the excitement and attention
of the general public is with Living Chess games. Here is a selection of
articles which have appeared on this theme. Oversize chess, too.


"Chessmen Come to Life in Marostica." Taylor, Alexander. National
Geographic Magazine (Nov 1956), p. 658-668.
Centuries ago, the Lord of Marostica, Italy, faced a problem. Two
noblemen seeking the hand of his daughter were prepared to fight a duel.
To avoid bloodshed, the Lord decreed that the rivals play a chess game
with living pieces on the Great Field in front of his castle. The victor
would marry his daughter. In 1954 and 1955, 300 townspeople reenacted the
chess game and participated in a pageant. Thousands of spectators watched
the festivities. A famous chess game is always replayed; this time it's
Adolph Anderssen and Jean Dufresne at Berlin in 1852. Many outstanding
color photographs of the living chess game, pageant, and spectators.
One of the locals was asked how it felt to live in a city so heavily
marked by the past. "Marostica is hardly more than a village," she said.
"But history has washed over it for more than 2,000 years. Take our chess
game. It brings to life a legend of our old days, about settling a
dangerous dispute without bloodshed. This story has a lot of meaning for
today. We have a lot of fun, and we feel that all this pageantry out of
the past really belongs to us."

"Kingsize Chess." Johnson, Richard. Denver Post (Jun 22, 1992), p. E1.
The first U.S. tour by the citizens of Marostica, Italy, to perform
their living chess game arrived in Denver. 106 citizens, assisted by
60 Denver extras and dancers, performed for two nights at the National
Western Complex Arena June 25-26. Denver Italians made the arrangements.
After expenses were paid, proceeds for ticket sales would benefit local
nonprofit Italian-American cultural organizations. The tour went to
Chicago & Denver.

"2 Chess Players Get Real: Actors Become Real-Life Pawns." Heard,
Jacquelyn. Chicago Tribune (Jun 19, 1992), p. 24.
The Living Chess Game of Marostica, Italy, was reenacted at Daley
Plaza in Chicago on June 18. Onlookers swelled around the plaza.
Recorded trumpets played. One of the audience was overcome by heat &
was treated by paramedics. The game was brought by the Chicago Consulate
General of Italy, the Chicago Institute of Italian Culture & the city's
Department of Cultural Affairs.

"Living Chess Game." Inturrisi, Louis. Travel Holiday (Jan 1989),
p. 92.
In Marostica, Italy, a life-size chess game is reenacted every two
years. Over 500 townspeople dressed in medieval costume participate
for thousands of spectators in bleachers surrounding the city's main
piazza, which becomes a giant chessboard for the event. The game is
reenacted on even-numbered years.

"Chess Imitates Life at Street Art Game." Camposeco, Maria. Sacramento
Bee (Jul 29, 1989), p. B1.
The Third Annual Marcel Duchamp Chess Classic was held at Plaza Park
in Downtown Sacramento to commemorate the 103rd birthday of the artist-
chessplayer who founded the Dada art movement. Artist Gary Dinnen
recruited office workers, friends and park transients to serve as human
chess pieces in a living chess game. The participants were given white
or black paper smocks with their designated piece painted on it. The
pieces were "moved" by Dinnen and his opponent, Michael Pribich, who
climbed ladders to get a better view. Pribich emerged victorious. The
festivities are held each year to educate people on Duchamp and what he
stood for. Dada is characterized by fantastic, abstract and non-traditional
art forms rejected by accepted conventions. "On one level, art is a
senseless activity," said Pribich, "and this fits right into it."

"Annual Drive-In Awards: 1992 Hubbies: The Best of Sleaze." Briggs,
Joe Bob. San Francisco Chronicle (Apr 11, 1993), p. 25.
The winner of this year's Hubbies is "Heaven & Earth," one of the
"greatest samurai movies ever made." It's about two warriors so
evenly matched neither can be defeated, so they constantly play a
chess match, using the lives of warriors, priests, women & children
as pieces.

"Sherlock Holmes Faces Death [movie]." 1943. Neill, Dr. Roy William,
Sherlock Holmes uses a giant chessboard with living pieces to
decipher a puzzle and solve a series of murders.

"The Big Reward." Warshaw, Michael. Success (Jun 1993), p. 46-47.
Companies invest a lot of money in annual sales incentive meetings
because "salespeople are critical to the bottom line," says event
producer John Schwartz, founder of JHS Entertainment in New York City.
Schwartz put together the Great Gatsby Party with a living chess game
for 300 qualifiers from State Mutual Life Insurance Companies of
Worcester, Massachusetts. The event included a huge chessboard at the
edge of the ocean at Pebble Beach, with tall lifeguard chairs on either
side and people for pieces. Large companies rely on Schwartz to put
together brilliant, memorable events with budgets ranging from
$30,000-150,000. Says Schwartz, "These events are a celebration, a
salute to these people."

"Chess Grandmasters Meet in Big Game." San Jose Mercury News (Apr 19,
1988), p. A4.
A living chess game, including knights atop real horses, was played
in the central market square in Brussels, Belgium, by Anatoly Karpov
and Jan Timman. The game ended in a draw after 20 moves [photo].

"Chess Game Played with Living Pieces." New York Times (Jul 10, 1933),
p. 16.
An outdoor match on a giant chessboard was played at the World's
Fair. 32 men and women in medieval costume served as the pieces.
The game was directed by Maurice Kuhns, President of the National
Chess Federation, and Dr. Allen Albert, Assistant to President Rufus
Dawes of the Exposition. Kuhn checkmated Albert in 20 moves.

"Living Chess." [Photo.] Times (London) (Jun 17, 1977), p. 3.
A chess match using human pieces was played at Lincoln's Inn
Fields between Tony Miles of _The New Statesman_ and Raymond Keene
of _The Spectator_. The result was a draw.

"People as Pawns." Times (London) (Aug 23, 1982), p. 10.
A human chess game was played at Portmeirion, Gwynedd, reenacting
scenes from _The Prisoner_, a psychological thriller series recently
shown on TV 16 years after it was first made.

"He Makes Chessmen Life-Size." Wiley, Walt. Sacramento Bee (Jan 8,
1990), p. B1.
"I need some chessmen, three-feet tall, and you don't just go down to
the store and get something like that off the shelf," said Curt Westwood,
who was developing a new shopping center called Village Marketplace in
Sacramento. Westwood wanted it to be a place where people congregate,
hence the idea of a life-size chess set. California State University at
Sacramento students battled for a $10,000 prize for the winning design.
Jim Lord, a 55-year-old retired Air Force master sergeant and now an art
student, won the contest. "We're lining up a chess master who'll just hang
out there," said Westwood, "talk chess, play, keep an eye on things."

"Outdoor Chess Board: A Popular Stockholm Feature." Wolseley, Roland.
CS Monitor (Jan 15, 1979), p. 12.
Photo of an oversize chess set in the Kungstradgarden (Royal
Garden). The board is about 15' X 15' and piece about 2' tall. The
board is reportedly in use from 9 in the morning until dark. Contestants
are usually strangers. Playing in the photo are a turbaned Sikh and a
long-haired Swede.

"Soviets Can't Attend P.A. Event." Puente, Maria. San Jose Mercury
News (Oct 13, 1989), p. B1.
After months of planning, the organizers of a 2-week Soviet-American
chess extravaganza found out that 7 top Soviet chess players from
Minsk aren't coming after all: they had been denied exit visas. The
event was called the First Annual Palo Alto-Silicon Valley International
Chess Festival. Chief organizer Steve Farmer had planned to have a top
Soviet & U.S. player go aloft in hot-air balloons to "play" a game on
a giant sculpture of a chessboard, with 10-foot tall chess pieces that
is to be exhibited in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park.

Editor: Stephen Leary []
Chess in the Press is an electronic magazine devoted to printing
summaries of articles about the game of chess that have appeared in
the world's general (non-chess) press. Back issues are available via
anonymous ftp at; path: /pub/chess/texts/ChessInThePress

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Carlos Repetto Torre
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del Rio, Lolli, Ponziani
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Chess Automatons
The Origins of Chess
Chess History is a Pain!
Girl Chess I
The Forgotten Philidor



Franklin's Morales of Chess Pandolfini's Comandments
Six Chess Vignettes
Fischer's 10 Greatest
My Life as a Chess Criminal Celebrities Playing Chess
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Morphy's Brilliant Moves
What is Chess
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