NOVELTY CHESS

Novelty Chess
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NOVELTY CHESS



Written by Jade French
30 Sunday 30th September 2012

Top image: Jake & Dinos Chapman, 2003

Chess is a game of strategy, not a game of chance. You have to sit and think, preferably with a furrowed brow, chin rested in hand and a thick NHS prescription glasses and suit combo. The current Saatchi Gallery exhibition The Art of Chess explores the game and its continuing influence on art with Yayoi Kusama, Jake and Dinos Chapman and Damien Hirst all reimagining chess sets and their place in the artistic mind.

In fact some of the worlds leading chess players (Anish Giri, Peter Leko, Wanghao, Veselin Topalov and Leinier Dominguez Perez), even rolled down the the Saatchi Gallery today to compete with the custom made chess sets.



So far, so esoteric. But what did Saatchi miss?


The 'Italian Family Resturant' Set



The Italian restaurant game is a tricky business- chef on chef, head waiter on regular waiter. Imagine the plot of 'The Godfather' had incorporated a chess game instead of the Italian families going violently head to head. Instead of practicing mobster lines with all the aplomb of Hugh Grant in Mickey Blue Eyes, we might instead be whispering 'knight to queen's bishop 3'.

The 'OJ Simpson Trial' Set


 

What is one to do when confronted with a case which has been described as the most publicised criminal trial in American history? Make a chess set out of it! It's lucky that chess is such an old and mighty game otherwise this might seem like someone is trivialising... especially with all that gold lamé.

The 'Let's Play Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Set



Although ostensibly you're supposed to play chess with these pieces there might be some temptation to just play dolls. Think of all the magical moments you could re-enact and the gruff David Boreanaz voice you could put on. When normal doll sized Buffy just won't fit in your bag, these miniatures (okay, "chess pieces") prove to be handy travel sized pieces. And we can see Buffy and Angel might reign as king and queen, but get Spike to the far side of the board, promote him to regality and there's vampire love triangle potential.

The 'Progressive Super Mario' Set 
 

Super Mario and Luigi take their place as King and Queen on this brightly coloured chess board. You might think the creators of the board might be more inclined to follow gender stereotypes and have Princess Peach and Mario as the ruling class, but instead they've given that honourable role to the oft-overlooked other Mario brother. Far from being the 'other' sibling, in the world of chess the creators have given him a fitting part. Green L, much like Queen Boadicea before him, is quite the freedom fighter: "Luigi is willing to listen to both sides of the story before resorting to violence, and has devoted his life to helping the weak and oppressed".


 

The 'Throw Enough Mud at the Wall' Sets

This chess set above is a homemade work of art. Although a well thought-out pairing of the girly (Disney princesses, fluffy puppies and that stalwart of goodness, Mickey Mouse) and boyish (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain America and Magneto) the creators of this could have taken a leaf out of Mario's book and mixed up the go-to gender stereotypes a bit more!

The chess set below is an actual piece of art and one which Saatchi didn't miss. Designed by artist Mauricio Cattelan the hand painted porcelain figures representing people he admires and despises like 'White King' Adolph Hitler and 'Black King' Martin Luther King. Other 'baddies' include Rasputin, Donatella Versace and Stalin. Sigmund Freud is on both sides. And the figure next to Hitler looks suspiciously like Voldemort, although it's more likely to be Dracula.


The 'Down it, Fresher!' set

Watch out pre-drinkers everywhere. Soon Beer Pong will be over-taken by Beer Chess. If you thought 'Ring of Fire' was a time consuming drinking game, think again as the more you drink the less your naturally strategic mind will be able to keep the Castles straight from the Queens from the little horsy one.

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