Delegatskaya st., 3.
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All-Russia Decorative Art Museum

with the support of the Russian Chess Federation


Royal Game

exhibition project

from September 10 to October 27, 2013

Opening: September 10, 18:00 (press show from 16:30)

Moscow, Delegatskaya St., 3

"It's a great huge game of chess that's being played—all over the world—if this IS the world at all, you know."

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

The Royal Game exhibition project will be held at the All-Russia Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art from September 10 to October 27, 2013. This truly "royal game" will be presented in the halls of the museum in such an extent and diversity for the first time in its history. The project will present more than 70 sets of pieces, 5 chess tables, rare objects and memorial exhibits. Chess made of porcelain and metal, in walrus, mammoth and true ivory, of wood, glass and stone, birch bark and amber, carved, chiseled and cast; pieces depicting animals and people. The goal of this "multi-move" and interactive project is to display the world of chess through a diverse set of artwork objects, presenting works of literature, where philosophy and magic of chess action provide a starting point for the creation of poetical images and various compositional plots. The exhibition is accompanied with a series of lectures and meetings with prominent chess players, multiboard chess games.

Real chess competitions will be held in the environment of true masterpieces of the XVII–XX centuries decorative art at the Museum of Decorative and Applied Art. The highlights of this display will be unique exhibits from the collection of the Museum: the bone chess set of the Peoples of the Caucasus displayed at the World Expo 1900 in Paris, where fine carving is combined with accurate depiction of costume details and poetic characteristics of characters, the famous Red and the White porcelain chess set by Natalia Danko manufactured at the State Porcelain Factory in Leningrad in 1925, where the main piece of the "red", the king, is a worker wielding a hammer, while the "white" are led by the death knight armed with a sword. Besides that, the visitors of this show will see wooden sets from Vyatka (exhibits from the World Expo 1925 in Paris) where workers oppose capitalists; Uelen bone sets of 1920s by Vukvol featuring figures of polar fauna. The show will also feature gift cloisonné chess sets from China of the second half of the XX century from the collection of the State Museum of Russian Contemporary History; unique in their craft Indian, Chinese, Tuvinian pieces and boards from the State Museum of Oriental Art; memorial exhibits from the collection of M. Botvinnik Central House of the Chess Player, including the table used in the longest match for the chess crown between A. Karpov and G. Kasparov (1984–1985).

Visitors will surely enjoy cardboard chess – cubes with images of pieces glued to them from the period of the Siege of Leningrad during WWII; wire chess made in GULAG; "marine chess" – wooden pieces with special weights which belonged to Admiral Nakhimov; "space" chess produced for playing in microgravity conditions. This set was onboard the Soyuz 9 spacecraft in 1970. And the legendary "Space – Earth" game between the crew of Soyuz 9 and the Mission Control Center took place then.

Yu. L. Averbakh, who studied and promoted chess, describes the history of the game in a peculiar way: "Gradually, moving from one country to the next, encountering different civilizations, different cultures, chess were transformed from the game of kings to the queen of games, they are more than a game enjoyed by millions. They are a sphere of culture on their own now."

The name of the game is derived from the Persian language where "checkmate" means "the ruler is overthrown". It is believed that the history of chess is at least 15 centuries long. Chaturanga, the first predecessor of chess we know, appeared in India in IX – X A. D. It came to Europe and Africa from the Arab world. European players continued to modify the game, and the rules which are regarded as "classic" now have been formed by the XV century as a result of this process.

In Russia, the history of chess starts in the period of Kievan Rus, and legends describing the life of Prince Vladimir and numerous archeological finds prove that. Heads of the Russian state – Ivan the Terrible, Boris Godunov, Aleksey Mikhailovich, Peter I, Catherine I, Pavel I and Nicholas II – were passionate players of chess.

The modern school of chess in Russia is justifiably regarded among the most powerful in the world. Its followers won world chess championships many times. They include Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosyan, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov.

The Russian Chess Federation, the official partner of the Royal Game project, which held major chess competitions at such famous museums as Tretyakov Gallery, Louvre and the Russian Museum, will organize a meeting with Vladimir Kramnik, the 14th world chess champion, lectures of Yuri Averbakh, an international Grand Master and chess arbiter, quizzes and sessions for children, multiboard play sessions for the connoisseurs and lovers of chess.

The visitors of the Museum of Decorative and Applied Art will have an opportunity to play chess on special tables set up in the exhibition space. They will also be able to view the Chess Fever film produced by directors Vsevolod Pudovkin and Nikolay Shpikovsky in 1925, where José Raúl Capablanca, the world champion in chess then, played himself. The Royal Game project does not only present the history of chess in the historical, cultural and aesthetical context, it is also an interactive project, a game exhibition offering active involvement of the viewer in a voyage through the world of chess.

The program of the Royal Game events will be published on the webportals of and