Check Please!

Check Please! Chess Dining & Decor 

June 3, 2021-January 30, 2022
Curated by Shannon Bailey

Scope of Show:

Food, like the game of chess, brings people together. Check, Please! highlights food and drink-themed chess sets and chess inspired tableware, utensils, etc. from the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. Many of the latter date from the 1960s and 1970s, when American grandmaster Bobby Fischer brought attention to the game through his phenomenal performances on the international and national stages.

In addition to the exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame, Check, Please! will also be featured as the subject of one of the golf holes in the 2021 Golf the Galleries at The Sheldon. Additionally, during the Missouri Bicentennial celebration, the Central West End will be celebrating Saint Louis’ connection to the ice cream cone. An exquisite loan of xxxx from xxxx will be on display in Q Boutique and later added to the Check, Please! gallery.

Check, Please! features over 150 artifacts from the permanent collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame including photographs, glassware, aprons, chessboards and sets, advertisements, salt and pepper shakers, menus, bar signs, serving dishes, tablecloths, kitchen towels, and alcohol vessels all featuring or highlighting chess.


While the overall theme of the exhibition is to present a fantastic collection of chess items that relate to food and beverages, it is also meant to be a fun and educational look at how chess is incorporated into everyday life and decor.

Chess is often incorporated into alcohol or fine dining ads to celebrate it’s perceived intellectual or prestigious associations. Because of the sculptural and artistic elements of the chess pieces, they are often used as vessels and in this case as alcohol containers or carafes. Additionally, myriad themes are used in the place of traditional chess pieces and after viewing several sets in our permanent collection that had pieces that represented food, drinks, or beverage companies, it seemed like a very entertaining and accessible subject of an exhibition.

Artifacts and Display:

All of the objects in the exhibition are part of the incredible permanent collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame. The overall collection is rich and varied and some new pieces were acquired just for this exhibition.

Moving away from a traditional museum method of displaying objects by type, the artifacts in Check, Please! will be displayed in four immersive environments which will allow the visitors to get lost in the spaces as well as allow the objects, which we now consider artifacts, to be shown as they were originally intended. As visitors walk around a bar, a diner, a home area, and a fine dining restaurant, they will get to see a variety of objects used as fun props as well as see chess sets in themes related to each environment.


Associated with qualities like intelligence, style, luxury, tradition, and strategy, chess has been incorporated into advertisements for a number of products. This exhibition includes  advertisements for a wide range of products, including whiskey, chewing gum, and Raisin Bran. Some companies have even created themed chess sets promoting their products. Among these are sets produced by The Coca-Cola Company, featuring characters from the organization’s famous holiday ad campaigns. The WCHOF’s collection also features an oversized chess set distributed by Old Crow Whiskey, which includes pieces that also double as decanters. Beverage makers were not the the only manufacturers to use chess as a form of advertising—in the wake of Bobby Fischer’s 1972 victory in the World Chess Championship, Church’s Fried Chicken sponsored a high-level American tournament that included former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian and future World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov. They also sponsored exhibition tours by players like Grandmaster Larry Christiansen.

Chess Players

George Koltanowski, 1986 inductee to the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, collaborated with Paul Masson winery to create a series of memorable advertisements that challenged their viewers to solve chess problems. Also on view in this exhibition are menus from dinners at famous chess matches, including one for the event celebrating Bobby Fischer’s victory in the 1972 World Chess Championship and Garry Kasparov’s victory in the 1990 World Chess Championship, the final championship match held between him and his rival World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov. A silver service given to prominent 19th-century chess player Paul Morphy for his victory in the 1857 American Chess Congress and a tablecloth hand embroidered with the signatures of famous chess players by Martha Lasker, wife of World Chess Hall of Fame inductee Emanuel Lasker, will also be part of the exhibition.

Chess Sets

Not only will sets advertising food and beverage companies be included in Check, Please!, but there will also be creative food and beverage themed sets in the show. Among the highlights of these are a playful fruit and vegetable-themed chess set, and fun 3-printed chess sets featuring breakfast foods and coffee. A delicate ghzel tea and coffee-themed set will also be included in the exhibition.


  • A photo of a cake presented to Samuel Reshevsky (US Chess Hall of Fame, 1986) and Svetozar Gligoic for Winning the Dallas International Chess Tournament
  • Boris Spassky Eating a Watermelon during a break in a Tennis Game in 1972 before losing to Bobby Fischer in the World Chess Championship.
  • 1962 Photo of Bobby Fischer playing chess with Mikhail Tal in Tal’s hospital bed with a food tray with tea and juice. Both in the Hall of Fame.
  • 1991 Hall of Famer Arthur Dake enjoying a beer.
  • A collection of the top chess players in the world competing in the Norway Chess Cook Off in 2018 and 2019. A selection of these are also on display at Kingside Diner in the CWE.
  • Several chess advertisements dating back to the 1930s which include, Paul Jones Whiskey, Old Crow Whiskey (we will also be displaying the vintage chess “pieces’ - whisky bottles along with the ad), Bombay Gin, Segram’s Seven, 7Up, Coke, and Pepsi.
  • A newly acquired 3D printed Breakfast Chess set, several Coca-Cola chess sets, Anheuser-Busch Collectors Chess Set, and a fish and poultry themed chess set called Checkmeat.
  • Many vintage barware and glassware sets from the 1950s and 1960s.

There will be an opening reception on Thursday, June 3, 2021 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. More details and photos coming soon!


8/4/2021: KMOV — New Exhibitions Celebrate Chess from Around the World and Food and Drink-Themed Sets

6/30/2021: Riverfront Times — New World Chess Hall of Fame Exhibitions Celebrate Chess from Around the World and Food and Drink Themed Sets

6/23/2021: American Towns — Exhibition - Pawns and Passports: Chess Sets from Around the Globe and Check, Please

6/18/2021: St. Louis Post Dispatch — Exhibitions at World Chess Hall of Fame


6/8/2021: SportsMedia Report — World Chess HOF Debuts Food and Drink Exhibits

6/8/2021: St. Louis Sports Day — St. Louis’ World Chess Hall of Fame Announces New Exhibitions

6/3/2021: Explore St. Louis — Check, Please

6/3/2021: WFMZ Channel 69 — New World Chess Hall of Fame Exhibitions Celebrate Chess Prodigies, Chess from Around the World and Food and Drink-Themed Sets

6/3/2021: Branson Tri Lakes News — New World Chess Hall of Fame Exhibitions Celebrate Chess Prodigies, Chess from Around the World and Food and Drink-Themed Sets

6/3/2021: PR Newswire — New World Chess Hall of Fame Exhibitions Celebrate Chess Prodigies, Chess from Around the World and Food and Drink-Themed Sets