Exhibit in detail on International Chess Day: Marine Life Chess Set

For many years, since 1966, July 20 has been celebrated as International Chess Day. This holiday was established by FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs), which was founded on this day in 1924. FIDE has the authority to establish the rules of chess, the conditions for the World Championship and all other international chess competitions, and to award international chess titles. Currently, more than 40 official championships are held under the auspices of FIDE.

Chess is one of the oldest intellectual games, combining sport, scientific thinking and elements of art. As an accessible and inclusive activity, the game can be played anywhere. Chess can be played by everyone - transcending language barriers, differences in age, physical ability or social status. It is a global game that promotes fairness, inclusion and mutual respect.

The name of the game comes from the Persian language: shah mat – “ruler is dead”. The birthplace of chess is India. There in the 5th century appeared the predecessor of chess - the game of Chaturanga. The name "Chaturanga" is translated as "four-sided" and is presumably explained by the fact that Chaturanga was originally played by four people. Chatrang, and later Shatran, was the name given to the game when it appeared in Persia around the year 600. It then spread along the Silk Road to other regions, including the Arabian Peninsula and Byzantium. By the year 1000, chess had become popular in both Europe and Russia, where it came from the Great Steppe.

The first international tournament in the history of modern chess was held in London in 1851, and was timed to coincide with the World Industrial Exhibition.

Chess is a board game on a 64-cell board with 32 pieces (16 white and black pieces each). Two partners play. The aim of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king. It is believed that playing chess helps to develop memory, mental abilities, creative and logical thinking.

In Russia, practically every city has a chess club where admirers of this sport gather. On International Chess Day, these clubs organize tournaments, entertainment events, and amateur lectures to share experience of the game.

Since childhood we have been accustomed to the traditional look and color of chess pieces. But they became like that only in the middle of the 19th century. Chess pieces were made of various materials. Most often, undoubtedly, it was bone and wood. And there could be tusks of elephants, mammoths or walruses, rare woods. Silver, precious and ornamental stones, mother-of-pearl, amber and birch bark were widely used. During the late Middle Ages, chess was very popular in Europe. Already in the middle of the 11th century the game appeared in monasteries; merchants and burghers played chess. As a result, there was a need for more affordable materials for the production of chess pieces. And now, along with the still popular exquisite figures, for the game that mainly was the nobility leisure, appear and undergo a new path of development standardized (conventional) figures. The main thing in them — convenience and ease of manufacture. Hence the simple symmetrical form. This type of chess pieces turned out to be so convenient that by the 15th century they became predominant. A significant role was also played by the fact that such pieces were more convenient to play with — they did not distract from the game process and did not tire the attention with a lot of details. So, the appearance of our 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 time, and during these years many rare and unusual chess sets have been created.

For centuries, talented masters have competed in the art of making chess pieces.

On the example of the Marine Life Chess set, stored in the museum collection section “Lapidary Works of Art”, one can see that even in the 20th century the author's imagination was boundless — on the basis of a standard set of typical pieces genuine works of art were created.

The Marine Life Chess set pieces are designed by gemologist and jewelry designer Sylvia Quispe2). The chess pieces in the shape of sea creatures are carved from rich purple Tanzanian ruby and royal Afghan lapis lazuli. The ruby figures are mounted on pink opal shells and starfish, while the lapis lazuli figures are mounted on shells carved from quartz. The King and Queen on each side are depicted as turtles with clear quartz head and paws, each of the thirty-two pieces decorated with gold elements. The game board, in the form of alternating squares of quartz and black obsidian and edged with ebony, is mounted on a stand lined with zebrano veneer.