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  • Soviet 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