Chess is more than fun and games. That is the point driven home by two new exhibits, which opened Friday, at the lately opened World Chess Hall of celebrity in St. Louis.
World Chess celebrity of Fame Director Susan Barrett said the organization’s goal isn’t manifestly to teach everyone to play chess but rather to give self-assurance people to look at chess in a new way. Those involved in improving their skills can hop across the street to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis.
Our goal is to show how chess is really a symbol. It’s astonishing that everybody can understand, even if you don’t play chess. It’s cross-cultural; it’s cross-historic. Everyone understands chess in some style. Chess game has a place in our culture as a symbol for different things. The great thing is we can take chess, a very specific subject, and turn it into chess in history, chess in art, chess in music,Barrett said.
Amanda Cook, media contact for the World Chess Hall of Fame, likens the social insinuation of chess to the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in which players connect Hollywood figures to the actor in six steps or fewer.
Perhaps the more obvious tie to the edifying significance of chess is the first exhibit, which features the work of photojournalist Harry Benson. Benson had restricted access to chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer during his famous 1972 match against Russian winner Boris Spassky. That match became a symbol of Cold War tensions, and for a time, Fischer was seen as one of the most significant political figures of the time, Barrett said.