Marcel Duchamp was the strongest chessplaying artist the world has seen. He defeated a number of master players, including Koltanowski, the Knight’s Tour expert and exponent of blindfold play, and represented France in the Chess Olympiad. Chess permeates his work; there is even a chessboard pattern concealed beneath his work Étant donnés in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Duchamp’s obsession with the game influenced other artists of the Dada and Surrealist schools such as Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Francis Picabia and Man Ray, to incorporate chess themes in their work. René Clair’s 1924 film Entr’acte, which has been described as an absolute Dadaist movie, starts with a chess game on the rooftops of Paris.
Barry Martin, former vice-chairman of the Chelsea Arts Club and official artist for the World Championship matches of 1993 between Kasparov and Short at the Savoy Theatre, and the London 2000 match where Vladimir Kramnik defeated Garry Kasparov, is probably the strongest chessplaying artist in the world today. He too has incorporated chess themes in many of his works and this week I publish two games he has sent me.
Barry Martin-Internet Opponent; Online 2012; Caro-Kann Defence
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 Bd3 Bxd3 5 Qxd3 e6 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 Ne7 A blunder which loses a pawn. 8 dxc5 Nbc6 9 a3 Qc7 10 Re1 0-0-0 11 b4 b5 A desperate and futile counter measure against White’s advancing pawns. 12 Qxb5 Kd7 13 Bg5 Rb8 14 Qd3 h6 15 Bxe7 Bxe7 16 Nc3 f6 17 exf6 Bxf6 18 Rad1 g5 (see diagram 1) 19 Nxd5 A sacrifice which causes Black’s instant collapse. 19 ... exd5 20 Qxd5+ 20 Qf5+ Kd8 21 Rxd5+ forces mate. 20 ... Kc8 21 Qe6+ Kb7 22 Rd7 Black resigns
Internet Opponent-Barry Martin; Online 2012; Martin’s Defence
1 e4 d6 2 d4 e6 3 Nf3 Ne7 4 Be2 Ng6 5 0-0 Here 5 h4 looks stronger. 5 ... Nd7 6 Re1 Be7 7 Nc3 0-0 8 d5 e5 9 g3 a6 10 h4 This now comes with much less force since White no longer has his rook on the h-file. 10 ... Nc5 11 Be3 b6 12 Ng5 Bxg5 13 Bxg5 f6 14 Be3 f5 15 b4 Nxe4 16 Nxe4 fxe4 17 Bg5 Qd7 18 Bf1 h6 19 Be3 b5 20 c3 Rf6 21 h5 Nh8 (see diagram 2) This move is reminiscent of Nimzowitsch’s notorious retreat Nh1 in his game as White against Rubinstein from Dresden 1926, an example of pure Dadaism on the chessboard. 22 Bc1 Qf7 23 Be3 Rf3 24 Be2 Bg4 A powerful sacrifice to dominate the light squares around the white king. 25 Bxf3 Bxf3 26 Qc2 Qxh5 White resigns Mate is inevitable.