Baku, August 27, AZERTAC
All visitors to the 42nd World Chess Olympiad to be held in Baku's Crystal Hall from 1 to 14 September will have a unique opportunity to see an exhibition of the Russian Chess Federation's Chess Museum. Rare exhibits and vintage posters from various historical competitions will be on show.
The exhibition will feature sets of Indian Chaturanga, Iranian Shatranj, Lewis Island walrus tusk chess, Charlemagne's mediaeval ivory pieces, Buryat nomads' chess and many other items.
The Central Chess House opened on Gogolevsky Boulevard, Moscow, on 18 August 1956 and, 24 years later, the world's first Chess Museum appeared in the building. Its major focus was part of the collection of Leningrad's Vyacheslav Dombrovsky, the Soviet Union's most famous chess rarity collector. The collection grew over more than 40 years to include pictures, sculptures and posters, as well as chess sets.
Articles in the Chess Bulletin and Chess in Russia journals written by art expert Natalya Ivanova, the Museum's first director, and Grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, сhess historian, introduced chess lovers from all over the country to the most interesting exhibits. There was, indeed, a lot to see: the Museum boasted genuine antique items, such as the porcelain set "Animals of the North vs. Animals of the South", a unique monument of Russian avant-garde not available even in specialised art museums. Spiritual values are also present: chess from the Siege of Leningrad, GULAG chess, and chess pieces from the first Space vs. Earth match that used to float in zero gravity.
The museum takes pride in its collection of awards gained by Soviet and Russian chess players: no other chess museum in the world has such a collection. The table from the Karpov vs. Kasparov 1984 match is particularly interesting to visitors: those very flags, clock, scoresheets and envelopes for currently obsolete game adjournment have been preserved to this day.
Yet the Museum's cramped space and, in recent years, the building's critical condition, resulted in the exhibition closing down for months and even years. It was not until 25 September 2014 that the museum regained a space worthy of its collection: rooms that had been refurbished and equipped for the exposition.