On the International Day of Chess - exhibit in detail: Marine life chess set

It is generally considered that the history of chess enumerates at least one and a half thousand years. Multifarious versions of chess origination and spreading throughout the world exist – The Indian, Byzantine and other ones. According to the most common of them, the progenitor game appeared in India no later than the 6th century. Once in the neighboring India countries, the game undergone a number of changes. In the 9th-10th centuries, it came to Europe and Africa. European players modified the game, as a result, by the 15th century it led to establishing the "the classic" rules. Those rules were finally standardized in the 19th century, when international tournaments were organized systematically. In 1886, the title of world chess champion was established, and on July 20, 1924, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was organized, under the auspices of which, since the middle of the 20th century, the majority of international competitions were held.

Different artisans competed in manufacturing chess pieces. We got used to the standard appearance and colour of chess pieces since childhood. However, they got the modern shape by the middle of the 19th century. Until that time, the form and color of chess pieces varied. They were made from multifarious materials. Ivory and wood were traditional ones. The tusks of elephants, mammoths, walruses; hard and rare woods, silver, precious stones, mother of pearl, amber and birch bark were widely used. Many old chess pieces are stored in the museums around the world, the samples of miniature sculptures that are real art works.

During the late Middle Ages, chess was extremely popular in Europe. In the middle of the 13th century, they appeared in monasteries; merchants and burghers played chess. As a result, the demand for more affordable materials for chess pieces production emerged. Along with popular exquisite chess figures, playing which the nobility mainly spent their leisure time; standardized (conventional) items appeared and developed. Their principal distinction was the convenience and ease of fabrication. That is why the simple symmetrical shape appeared. This type of chess piece proved to be so convenient that it became predominant by the 15th century. A significant role was played by the fact that it was more convenient to play chess with such pieces - they did not distract attention from the game process, did not harass by many details. As we know, the chess reform was implemented at the end of the 15th century. The game became more aggressive and dynamic.

The last important change up to date occurred in the rules of the Western European chess in the 16th century. Two rooks appeared on the chessboard edges instead of various local figures that did not become popular in other countries.

Thus, the appearance of the modern chess pieces was determined almost five hundred years ago. This, of course, does not mean that they did not undergone further changes. Five centuries is rather long period, and over the years, many singular and weird-looking chess sets have been created. 

On the example of the Marine life chess set from the museum Collection exposition one realize that even in the 20th century the creator's imagination is limitless - based on the standard set of typical pieces, genuine works of art are created.

Gemologist and jewelry designer Sylvia Quispe* designed the Marine life chess set. This chess set is an exquisite item, for the lover of the game, the keen gemologist, or simply for those who appreciate items fashioned with the highest artistry from the finest materials. Rich purple Tanzanian ruby plays royal blue Afghan lapis, the pieces fashioned as various sea creatures. The ruby pieces are mounted on Peruvian pink opal seashell and starfish bases, whilst the lapis is raised on quartz. The King and Queen of each side are turtles with clear quartz head and limbs, and each of the thirty-two pieces is accented with gleaming gold. The playing board with alternating squares of quartz and black obsidian, illuminated by an electric light from beneath, bordered with ebony and mounted in a dark zebrawood** veneered base.

*Sylvia Quispe is the founder of Spheni Switzerland and founder of QAS Switzerland GmbH (2000). Born into a family with a background in gemstone trading and a cutting workshop, her passion for gemstones was sparked in her childhood. She put her in depth-knowledge into practice while working for several prestigious gemstone companies in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.

**The name zebrawood is used to describe several tree species and the wood derived from them. Zebrawood is characterized by a striped figure that is reminiscent of a zebra.