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  • Writer's pictureSoviet Visuals

Soviet Checkmate

Chess in Soviet Russia was much more than a recreational board game. The Kremlin grandmasters considered it useful to develop strategic thinking in their loyal pawns and knights. Up to a certain limit, of course.

Circus animal tamer Stepan Isaakyan playing chess with chimpanzee Rikki. Photo by Miroslav Murazov, Yerevan, Armenian SSR, 1965

"Chess and checkers - to the masses!" Soviet Uzbek poster, 1934

"Vladimir Lenin, Maxim Gorky and Nadezhda Krupskaya" painting by Pyotr Vasilyev, 1943

Abkhazian centenarians playing chess. Photo by Yuri Somov, 1967

Pensioners playing chess on a park bench. Photo by Boris Kavashkin, Moscow, 1969

"Chess in the USSR" magazine cover, 1933

At a Tallinn cafe. Photo by Alexander Makarov, 1964

Moscow boulevard, 1960s

"Chess Fever" film poster, 1925

Underwater laboratory of the USSR Academy of Sciences Institute of Oceanology. Photo by Oleg Galushko, 1970

"Let's become masters of cultural recreation!" poster, 1933

World champion grandmaster Mikhail Tal during a game. Photo by A.Ekekyan, 1962

Match for the title of world chess champion between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. Photo by Boris Kaufman, 1985

Seamen of the Baltic Fleet during a simultaneous chess game. Photo by Mikhail Kukhtarev, 1977

Anatoly Karpov, chess grandmaster, 1970s

Chess lesson at a school, Pskov, 1975

Still from "People on the Bridge" film directed by Alexander Zarkhi, 1960

Gorky park, Moscow. Photo by Bruni Barbey, 1967

Tundra chess. Photo by Lev Garkavy, Kamchatka region, 1972

Border guards playing chess while off duty. Photo by Lev Polikashin, Tajik SSR, 1966

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