20.07.2021

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. Various versions of chess emergence and spreading throughout the world exist – The Indian, Byzantine and other ones. According to the most common of these, the progenitor game appeared in India no later than the 6th century. Once in the neighbouring India countries, the game undergone a number of changes. In the 9th-10th centuries, it came to Europe and Africa. European players continued to modify the game, resulting in what are now known as "the classic" rules by the 15th century. The rules were finally standardized in the 19th century, when international tournaments began to be systematically held. Since 1886, the title of world chess champion has been played, and on July 20, 1924, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was established, under the auspices of which, since the middle of the XX century, most international competitions have been held.

Different masters competed in manufacturing of 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 shape and colors of chess pieces could be different. They were made from multifarious materials. Ivory and wood were traditional materials. 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 – samples of miniature sculptures that are authentic art works We are constantly learning about The findings of chess pieces are constantly reported.

During the late Middle Ages, chess was extremely popular in Europe. Already 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 the still popular exquisite figures, playing which the nobility mainly spent their leisure time; standardized (conventional) figures appeared and went through a new path of development. Their main feature was the convenience and the ease of fabrication. Hence the simple symmetrical shape. 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 figures - they did not distract from the game process, did not tire of attention with many details. As we know, the reform of chess was realized 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 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 have not undergone further changes. Five centuries is a long period, and over the years, many singular and weird-looking chess sets have been created. It would seem that chess is played by certain figures known for a long time.

On the example of the Marine life chess set from the museum Collection exposition one can be convinced that even today the author's imagination is limitless - based on the standard set of typical pieces, genuine works of art are created.

Gemmologist 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 gemmologist, 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.