Duchamp was a French artist, born in 1887, whose work and ideas had considerable influence on the development of post-World War II Western art. In 1918 Duchamp left his work on the Large Glass and the art scene, and went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for nine months, where he often played chess, and carved from wood the only chess set he himself made. He returned to Paris in 1919, where he lived until he returned to the United States in 1920. By the time he moved to Paris in 1923 he was no longer a practicing artist. Instead he played and studied chess, which he played for the rest of his life (he dead on October 2, 1968) to the near exclusion of all other activity. Duchamp's obsessive fascination with chess can be traced back much earlier to the themes of his major art pieces. The most immediately obvious of these is the chess position known as "trébuchet" (the trap), which gave its title to the Readymade of 1917: a coat rack with four hooks, which is nailed to the floor, hooks uppermost.
The screening of the film "Jeu d'echecs avec Marcel Duchamp" (“A game of chess with Marcel Duchamp”), a documentary by Jean-Marie Drot, was the main point of interest of an event – called “Scaccomatto” (“Checkmate”) - which took place right yesterday in Bergamo's Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (Bergamo is my home town). You can find the film on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SXyMAkZu1M (part 1 of 7) and it’s worth a look if you have some spare time in your week end. A double simul was given by two masters of Excelsior Chess Club, Paolo Mora and 15 y.o. Alessio Valsecchi, after the film: they played against (about) 30 opponents, but many more people watched the documentary (more than 150, I think). Does this mean that culture can help chess? I don’t know, but I hope events like that will be organized in Bergamo, in Italy and in the whole planet again :-)
And now here are some photos from the simul, a couple of famous photos with Duchamp playing chess (?!) and a couple of notable games played by the French artist.
and Marcel Duchamp playing chess (Julian Wasser, 1963)
chess star: master Paolo Mora
or less...) of the simul
Koltanowski,Georges - Duchamp,Marcel [A50], Paris 1929
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 b6 5. f4 Bb7 6. Bd3 Nbd7 7. Nf3 e5 8. d5 g6 9. 0–0 exf4 10. Bxf4 Bg7 11. e5 dxe5 12. Nxe5 0–0 13. Qd2 Nxd5 14. Nxd7 Nxf4 15. Nxf8 Bd4+ 0–1
Marshall,Frank James - Duchamp,Marcel [D55], Hamburg (Olympiads) 1930
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 Bb7 6.Qc2 d5 7.e3 0–0 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 Bxd5 11.Bd3 h6 12.a3 c5 13.dxc5 Rc8 14.b4 bxc5 15.Rc1 Nd7 16.Ba6 Rc7 17.e4 Bb7 18.Bxb7 Rxb7 19.bxc5 Qxc5 20.0–0 Qxc2 21.Rxc2 Kf8 22.Rfc1 Ke7 23.Nd4 Ke8 24.f4 Rab8 25.e5 Nf8 26.Rc5 Rb1 27.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 28.Kf2 Rb7 29.Rc8+ Ke7 30.Ra8 Ng6 31.g3 Kd7 32.a4 Ne7 33.Nb5 Nc8 34.g4 Rxb5 35.axb5 Kc7 36.g5 hxg5 37.b6+ Kb7 38.Rxc8 Kxc8 0.5-0.5