Our Illustrated Chess History series was very welcome. Unfortunately, we had to leave out a lot from the certain parts, because it would have been too long for anyone to read it through. But I decided on starting a similar series named Chess Curiosities, in which I will try to gather the most interesting chess related happenings. Receive the first part tenderly.
The most monumental chess battles were inevitably displayed in the former Soviet Union. The fifth stage of the huge human chess road-show held in a different town each year was in Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg) on 24 July 1924. The beautiful Palace square was transformed into a huge chessboard, the sides of which were approximately as long as the width of a football stadium. 8000 peaceful spectators followed the events on that beautiful summer evening. They even purchased an admission ticket, although not very long before it was the very place from where they launched the victorious assault against the Winter Palace and the tsar.
The white pieces were recruited from the sailors of the Red Navy and the black pieces from the soldiers of the Red Army. It is nearly unbelievable but a real horseman was the knight, and an artillerymen with a real gun was the rook. To make the king well visible it was represented by a large banner carried by four persons and the queen was wearing a sarafan, which is a Russian folk costume. Only the paws resembled to the traditional human chess pieces, they were sailors and infantrymen. I am sure that this was the real thing to show chess for kids.
Otherwise, the game was played by the two excellent grandmasters, Ilya Rabinovich and Peter Romanovsky on a normal size chessboard and the moves were transmitted to the troops through the contemporary telephone. The moves were recorded on a board, using chalk, according to the level of the age.
The game went on for five hours and Black accepted White’s draw offer in move 67. Were the spectators satisfied? Unfortunately, we do not know it, because the game did not survive. One thing is certain: they could really learn chess by enjoying the show. Although I consider learning chess online more effective, the experience must have been unique.