Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2018

Grand Chess Tour: Art of Chess 2018 is the second edition of a traveling exhibition that fulfills the global mission of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) by bringing artwork and artifacts to many of the stops of the Grand Chess Tour.

This show includes highlights from the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) as well as loans from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, Purling London, and the organizers of the events in the Grand Chess Tour. The permanent collection of the WCHOF contains trophies, photographs, score sheets, periodicals, chess sets, and other artifacts related to significant players and events from chess history. The exhibition is inspired by the WCHOF’s mission and its 2018 shows.

Among the highlights of this exhibition is an exquisite Hungarian chess set adorned with pearls, amethyst, and jade. Also on view is an enlarged version of the 2013 Sinquefield Cup chess set, created by Frank Camaratta as a gift for the founders of the Saint Louis Chess Club, Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. These are supplemented by photography from last year’s Grand Chess Tour and the trophies for several of the competitions, spotlighting the historic nature of these events.

Dates On View

Leuven, Belgium: June 12-17

Saint Louis, USA: August 9-29

For more information on the Grand Chess Tour, visit

Zymo Sculpture Studio, Sinquefield Cup Trophy, 2013

Zymo Sculpture Studio

Sinquefield Cup Trophy


11 x 11 x 24 in., 28 x 28 x 61 cm

Silver and rosewood

Collection of the Saint Louis Chess Club

This oversized silver king is the perpetual trophy for one of the strongest American chess tournaments, the Sinquefield Cup, which is held annually in Saint Louis. The names of the 2013-2017 winners are engraved on the front. Each winner also receives a smaller “presentation” trophy as a keepsake of their victory. Designers of this trophy gathered inspiration from trophies as varied as the World Series, Wimbledon, and the Grammys, and staff at the Saint Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame voted and provided input on the design. Ultimately, the trophy was created as a Staunton-style king, an appropriate representation of the top honors at the competition.

Tiffany & Co., Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Trophy, 2017

Tiffany & Co.

Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz Trophy


16 x 7 ¼ in., 41 x 19.5 cm


Collection of the Saint Louis Chess Club, gift of Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. generously provided this trophy, the Britannia Cup Award, for the first installment of the Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament. The competition is part of the Grand Chess Tour, a global circuit of chess competitions that also includes the Sinquefield Cup. The first Saint Louis Rapid & Blitz tournament was held August 13-19, 2017, and was won by Grandmaster Levon Aronian. World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov also competed, returning to tournament play after his 2005 retirement.

Jef Claerhout, Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour “Fonske” Trophy, 2018

Jef Claerhout

Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour “Fonske” Trophy


10 ½ in., 26 cm

Metal and copper

Collection of the Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour

Created for the 2018 Your Next Move Grand Chess Tour tournament, this trophy is modeled on a sculpture in Leuven, Belgium, where Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is located. The sculpture’s title Fons Sapientiae translates to “source of wisdom,” and the figure reads a book and pours water or beer in its head. Established in 2016, World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen won the tournament in 2016 and 2017.

Art Tempo, Paris Grand Chess Tour Trophy, 2018

Art Tempo

Paris Grand Chess Tour Trophy


4 x 4 x 4 in., 10 x 10 x 10 cm


Collection of the Paris Grand Chess Tour

In 2016, the Paris Grand Chess Tour tournament became part of the Grand Chess Tour circuit of tournaments. The competition is supported by Colliers International, Vivendi, Canal+ and DailyMotion. The tournament is the second stop on the 2018 Grand Chess Tour and will see the participants competing over 9 rounds of rapid chess and 18 rounds of blitz chess for a total prize fund of $150,000. Past winners include Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura (2016) and World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (2017). This year’s winner will be awarded this glass trophy.

Gregg Louis, Untitled (Chess Set), 2017

Gregg Louis

Untitled (Chess Set)


King size: 4 ½ in., 11.5 cm

Rubbed bronze and plants

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame

Untitled (Chess Set) explores concepts of luck and superstition through a chess set with pieces representing body parts and castle-like towers. Inspired by Louis’s previous body of work, each individual piece is selectively polished to create the illusion that people have rubbed the artwork. For hundreds of years people have been rubbing parts of figural bronze sculptures—everything from Abraham Lincoln’s nose to Buddha’s belly. Louis is fascinated by the idea of a talisman or an object where someone can deposit their worries merely by touching it. This apotropaic observance, intended to ward away bad luck, may be practiced out of vague superstition and/or out of tradition.

Victor Vasarely, A Perplexus Chess Set and Board (Edition 210/1500), 1978

Victor Vasarely

A Perplexus Chess Set and Board, edition 210/1500


King size: 5 in., 13 cm

Board: 1 ¼ x 28 ¼ x 28 ¼ in., 3.2 x 71.75 x 71.75 cm

Cast resin and color screenprint laminated on acrylic

Collection of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield

French-Hungarian artist Victor Vasarely, who is widely regarded as the “Father of the Op Art movement,” created this colorful chess board and set. Born in 1906, in Pecs, Hungary, Vasarely initially studied medicine, then turned his focus to art. After graduating from the prestigious Mühely Academy in Budapest, Vasarely had a solo exhibition at the Kovaks Akos Gallery in Budapest. Soon after, he relocated to Paris to work in graphic design at the Havas advertising agency. For the next decade, in addition to creating some figural work and experimenting in the Surrealist movement, he began playing with concepts that would go on to be the basis of his signature artistic creations—optical illusions. Vasarely became entranced by patterns, including that of a chess board in the late 1930s, which became the quintessential framework for his art.

United States, Sinquefield Cup Imperial Chessmen, 2018

United States

Sinquefield Cup Imperial Chessmen


King size: 8 in., 20 cm

Board: ⅞ x 34 x 34 in., 2 x 86 x 86 cm

Boxwood, padauk, and maple

Collection of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield, gift of Frank A. Camaratta

This exquisite set is a supersized version of the set that Frank Camaratta created for the 2013 Sinquefield Cup, a tournament held annually at the Saint Louis Chess Club that includes the greatest players in the United States and the world. The king in this set is over double the height of the one in the Sinquefield Cup set that inspired it. Camaratta founded The House of Staunton, which reproduces historical styles of chess sets. This oversized set is one of only two that exist—the other is in the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame.

Francesco Jacobello, Inverno (Winter), 2018

Francesco Jacobello

Inverno (Winter)


King size: 4 ⅛ in., 10.5 cm

Board: 21 ⅝ x 21 ⅝ in., 55 x 55 cm

Boxwood, maple, leather, and lacquer

Courtesy of Purling London

Born in Militello in Val Di Catania, Sicily, Francesco Jacobello grew up surrounded by art and artistic expressions. Of his work, Jacobello states, “Every artist has an unspoken desire to construct a connection between his creations and the public. It is not about fame or recognition, but about telling your story in such a way that is their story too. And in the case of expressing this through the visual arts, this mammoth task becomes a part of one's daily routine, even though it is something you do not glimpse as your usual daily concern in life.”

This chess set, which is titled Inverno (Winter), is the second in a series of four sets designed exclusively for Purling London, a creator of unique games that is currently collaborating with the World Chess Hall of Fame on an exhibition titled Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London. The company’s Art Chess line presents traditional Staunton-style chess sets customized by acclaimed artists.

Jacobello states, “In this set, I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the coldest and longest nights of the year through my choice of colors. The classic black and white, which is silhouetted by silver, reminds the viewer of the magic of frost and the frozen haze of the moonlight against the total blackness of winter nights."

Hungary, Silver and Copper Enamel Chess Set and Board, Early 20th century


Silver and Copper Enamel Chess Set and Board

Early 20th century

King size: 3 ½ in., 9 cm

Board: 2 ¾ x 22 x 22 in., 7 x 56 x 56 cm

Silver, copper, enamel, pearls, jade, amethyst, and wood

Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, gift of the Traci L. and Dr. Arthur B. Laffer family

One of the finest pieces in the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, this chess set is part of a centuries-long tradition of intricate Hungarian metal and enamel work. Made of sterling silver and copper and adorned by jade, amethyst, and natural pearls, the chess set depicts two warring armies, but is intended for display as a work of art rather than play. On the corners of the board, warriors holding spears stand at the ready. The sides of the board include enamelwork images of battles and coats of arms. Special care has even been taken to the storage space within the board box—metal chains cradle each of the pieces.


6/21/18: St. Louis Public Radio — On Chess: 'Grand' chess exhibit from St. Louis travels to Belgium