Story One: Place On Olympus
In the 20th century, chess featured prominently in the literary works of many writers. They tried to show varied human dispositions in the context of chess.
If one were to gather and compare all that has been written, the prize, for sure, would go to the novel The Royal Game. Not partially but wholly, this work is devoted to chess. “Royal” is the highest praise for this game of skill and intelligence. Some consider this the finest novel ever written about chess.
The well-known Austrian writer, Stefan Zweig knew from his own experience the mysterious attraction of The Royal Game. According to him, chess is “that game among games devised by man, which rises majestically above every tyranny of chance, which grants its victor’s laurels only to a great intellect, or rather, to a particular form of mental ability.”
I remember an interesting student party at Moscow State University. It was about chess as part of the cultural life of many nations. Members of the school’s chess club had been discussing this, and they brought up the biblical legend of the tower of Babel. In that story, God punished the hubris of the people who attempted to build a tower up to heaven in order to be equal to God. The Almighty confounded the tongues of the people so that they were no longer able to communicate with each other and, therefore, could not complete their project. The people were then dispersed throughout the earth and the Bible attributes the birth of different languages to this event.
Despite this descent into mutual unintelligibility between nations, one language remains that can be understood by all: that is the language of chess. In fact, the banner of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) bears this motto: “Gens Una Sumus” (We are all one family). Indeed, thinking about and playing chess knows no national boundaries.
“Chess is like life,” many great players have remarked, and that may explain why this game, which emerged from India some 2000 years ago, is now the world’s most popular one.
Many brilliant players inhabit the heights of the chess Olympus, some that fate decreed would become world champions, and others, equally talented, whom destiny did not intend such public recognition.
Wilhelm Steinitz entered chess history not only as the first official titleholder but also as the founder of a way of teaching that became a turning-point in the game’s development. A new approach to fighting chess was illustrated in Steinitz’s most celebrated game.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 d5 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.0-0 Be6 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Bxd5 Bxd5 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.Bxe7 Nxe7 14.Re1 f6 15.Qe2 Qd7 16.Rac1 c6 17.d5!
Steinitz determined that the real value of pieces and their maneuverability depended on the particular pawn structure. Here, White wants to bring into play hidden reserves. He sacrifices a pawn and creates an important outpost in front of Black’s isolated pawn. Nowadays this idea is widely practiced.
17…cxd5 18.Nd4 Kf7 19.Ne6! White occupies the weak point!
19…Rhc8 20.Qg4 g6 21.Ng5+! Ke8 22.Rxe7+! (See diagram # 4)
A critical situation has arisen: all White’s pieces are participating in the attack. His rook begins a bold raid in the enemy rear. If 22…Qxe7, then 23.Rxc8+ And after 22…Kxe7, White wins by 23.Re1+ Kd6 24.Qb4+ Kc7 25.Ke6+ Kb8 26.Qf4+.
22…Kf8 23.Rf7+ Kg8 24.Rg7+ Kh8 25.Rxh7+! 1-0
The well-known German master, Kurt Bardeleben, was shaken by this combination. He had seen the inevitable downfall and looked in wide-eyed astonishment as his opponent’s mate threats. The loser silently left the tournament hall. The 60-year-old Steinitz was as happy as a child when he showed his mating attack: 25…Kg8 26.Rg7+! Kh8 27.Qh4+ Kxg7 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qg7+ Ke8 31.Qg8+ Ke7 32.Qf7+ Kd8 33.Qf8+ Qe8 34.Nf7+ Kd7 35.Qd6 Mate
This game is very impressive. Steinitz offered to sacrifice his rook four times! Such a maneuver had never before been seen in world tournament practice.
It was an era when world champion caliber players could confidently expect to compete at or near the highest levels at the age of 50 and beyond. Following Steinitz, other players of the past such as Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik come to mind.
Since then, many conceptions about the ancient game have changed, but the combinational style of playing has remained the most beautiful, attracting millions of amateurs.
Adams - Kasparov
Linares, Spain, 2005.
This was the last victory of Kasparov’s professional career.
1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 e6 7.Be2 Qc7 8.Qd2 b5 9.a3 Bb7 10.f3 Nc6
This was a typical Kasparov position, and he won it in his typical style!
10. 0-0-0 b4 11.axb4 Nxb4 13.g4 Be7 14.g5 Nd7 15.h4 Nc5 16.Kb1 Rb8! 17.h5 0-0 18.g6 Bf6 19. Rdg1 Ba8! 20. Bg5 Be5! 21. gxh7+ Kxh7! 22.Nb3 (See diagram # 5) 22…Nxc2! 23.Nxc5 Na3+ 24.Ka2 Qxc5 25.Na4 Nc2 26.Kb1Qa3 0-1
Robert Fischer was among the greatest chess players of all time, despite his personally defects. Most experts placed him the second or third best ever, behind Garry Kasparov. The latter wrote that Fischer brought will to win, in-depth preparation, an exact calculation not only of detailed variations but of strategies and endgames to new heights.
A unique situation arose in the 13th game of the 1972 world championship match in Reykjavik (See diagram # 6). Boris Spassky had white pieces.
Fischer’s rook is cut off from the play but five persistent pawns compensate for this defect. The following variations belong to Vassily Smyslov.
This important passed pawn acted like a living man who worked his way up from soldier to general. The new queen lost her life for the sake of her king who rushed to help his bold warriors. The move 64…f4 did not answer the purpose because of 65.Rd6+ Kc7 66.Rd1 f3 67.Kb2 Kc6 68.Rd6+, and the black king could not come to the defensive line.
65.Rxh1 Kd5 66.Kb2 f4 67.Rd1+ Ke4 68.Rc1 Kd3 69.Rd1+?
This was a fatal check. White could fight for a draw by 69.Rc3+ Kd4 70.Rf3 c3+ 71.Ka1 c2 72.Rxf4+ Kc3 73.Bb4+ Kd3 74.Rf1 Rxg7 75.Kb2.
69…Ke2 70.Rc1 f3 71.Bc5 Rxg7
Black also wins by 71…f2 72.Bxf2 Kxf2 73.Rxc4 Rxg7 74.Rf4+ Ke2 75.Re4+ Kd3 76.Re1 Rg3!
72. Rxc4 Rd7 73.Re4+ Kf1 74.Bd4 f2 0-1
The king was a hero of the struggle. If 75.Rf4, then 75…Rxd4 76.Rxd4 Ke2, and now even a beginner can win by 77.Rf4 f1Q 78. Rxf1 Kxf179. Ka1 Ke2 80.Kb2 Kd3 81.Ka1 Kd2 82.Kb2 a1Q+ 83.Kxa1 Kc3! 84.Kb1 b2
“Having conquered the chess Olympus, Fischer was unable to find a new target for his power and passion,” wrote Kasparov.
Lately, the difficult situation on the chess Olympus has worried many specialists and amateurs. For a long time, it has not been clear: who was the World Champion, who was the King? During the times of Botvinnik, Smyslov or Tal the answer to this question was never in doubt. At the beginning of the 21st century, however, many people were perplexed by this query. Somebody named Kasparov as the world champion even though he lost the title several years before.
For many years, only FIDE had the right to name the world champion. However, Kasparov’s match with Kramnik was held without regard for FIDE’s rules. The winner, Vladimir Kramnik, was recognized as the “classical chess” champion, but the chess world was not used to this title.
At the age of 17, Kramnik, thanks to the insistence of Garry Kasparov, was included on the Russian team which appeared at the chess Olympiad in Manila. Playing at the first reserve table, Kramnik achieved phenomenal results, scoring 8.5 points out of 9!
In 1991, Kramnik became the youth world champion (under 18). Since then his dream was to hold the highest title at the world level, then held by his former chess teacher, Garry Kasparov.
Why didn’t Kramnik and Kasparov play a return match? It is a long story. Did Kasparov fall prey to his own self-confidence? Was Kramnik too diffident? Most likely, if Kasparov had found himself in Kramnik’s position, he would have given his opponent the chance to play a new match.
Nonetheless, Kramnik avoided a return match with Kasparov. “I will defeat Kramnik if the opportunity comes because, like before, I play chess better than anyone else,” Garry often repeated. But the elite grandmasters would not give Kasparov a chance to reclaim the title. Therefore, at the beginning of 2005, he announced that he was quitting professional chess.
So Vladimir Kramnik was the only person who beat Kasparov in a match. According to long-standing tradition, one could be recognized as a new chess world champion only by defeating his predecessor in a match. Since the rise of Kramnik, nobody has done it. Peter Leko of Hungary attempted to, but did not succeed.
This is the final position (See diagram # 7) of their 2004 world championship match in Switzerland. Leko (Black) resigned and Kramnik waved his fist in triumph, like a boxer. By winning this game, Kramnik equalized the score (7-7) and retained his title.
The famous Ukrainian boxers, Vitaly and Vladimir Klitschko, eye-witnesses to this game, were the first to congratulate the winner.
Both brothers came to Switzerland not only to see the grandmasters go at it, but also to be associated with the leading chess players in the world. The sportsmen related that they find a lot of time for chess when taking a break from boxing.
“Chess is very similar to boxing,” said Vitaly. “Here and there, it is necessary to realize a strategic plan, to be two or three moves ahead of one’s rival. However, there is one difference. Chess has few professionals but almost everybody knows how to play. By contrast, in boxing there are a lot of professionals but the majority of them never fight in the ring.”
Now, the list of greatest grandmasters includes a new name, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. In 1992, he moved to Spain as a 17 year-old talented grandmaster. In 1996, Veselin was the most successful tournament player in the world, but subsequently his progress stalled. And then, in all the 2005 super- tournaments he finished in or near first place, including winning the FIDE world championship in Argentina.
The ascension of Topalov was not without its complications and ambiguities. He was eager to play only a commercial match with Kramnik. The latter was ready to take up the gauntlet, but wanted the event to be a unified world championship match.
Topalov would not consent to this condition, declaring that he was the legitimate world champion with the highest rating, while Kramnik was then ranked only seventh on FIDE’s rating list. Kramnik took exception, pointing out that world champions were not always the best tournament players or the top-rated grandmasters. Since then their relations became worse.
The controversy on a point of principle was over when they agreed to play a championship match in Elista (Russia) in the fall of 2006. For chess fans this event brought a sigh of relief: after many years the chess world would have an undisputed world champion.
Going into this contest, both players claimed the highest title. Topalov was the champion of the World Chess Federation. Kramnik based his claim on having defeated Garry Kasparov in 2000.
However, all is well that ends well. The basic part of this match did not reveal a winner: 6-6!
There had never been a playoff for the world championship because previous matches featured a champion and a challenger. In those matches, a tie left the champion with the title.
The playoff in Elista was like the final rounds of a brutal heavyweight fight. Before the decisive rapid game, the score was equal: 1. 5 – 1. 5. Then Kramnik delivered the knockout punch.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Be2 Bb7 9.0-0 Be7 10.e4 b4 11.e5 bxc3 12.exf6 Bxf6 13.bxc3 c5 14.dxc5 Nxc5. This move was new, and a bit risky.15.Bb5+ Kf8 16.Qxd8+! Kramnik likes to play without queens. 16…Rxd8 17.Ba3 Rc8 18.Nd4 Be7 19.Rfd1 a6 20.Bf1 Na4 21.Rab1! Be4 22.Rb3 Bxa3 23.Rxa3 Nc5 24.Nb3 Ke7 25.Rd4! Bg6 (25…Nxb3 26.axb3 Bb7) 26.c4 Rc6 27.Nxc5 Rxc5 28.Rxa6 Rb8 29.Rd1 Rb2 30.Ra7+ Kf6 31.Ra1 Rf5 32.f3 Re5 33.Ra3! Rc2 34.Rb3 Ra5 35.a4 Ke7 36.Rb5 Ra7 37.a5 Kd6 38.a6 Kc7 39.c5 Rc3 40.Raa5 Rc1 41.Rb3 Kc6 42.Rb6+ Kc7 43.Kf2 Rc2+ 44.Ke3 Rxc5. Black should have played 44…e5 to try to restrict White’s king. 45. Rb7+! (See diagram # 8) 1-0
Kramnik became the undisputed world champion but he had to defend his title at the 2007 World Chess Championship, held in Mexico City. Seven top world players were his opponents at this tournament, the strongest one in a while. The Indian ace, Viswanathan Anand, led from start to finish and captured the chess crown. The winner was one point ahead of the defending champion, Vladimir Kramnik, who took the second place.
According to Indian mythology, very long ago, the Indian queen Mandodari is said to have invented chess as a pastime when her husband was away at war. At the age of 31, Anand won the 2000 FIDE world championship. At present, he is at the highest stage of the chess pedestal. The following game, Anand’s decisive victory in Mexico City, also deserves to be represented at the chess gallery on Olympus.
Anand - Morozevich
Mexico City, 2007
The Indian knew that winning this game would bring him very near the crown. Therefore, he worked hard, squeezing the position to the maximum.
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6. f3 e5 7.Nb3 Be6 8.Be3 Nbd7 9.g4 Nb6 10.g5 Nh5 11.Qd2 Rc8 12.0-0-0 Be7 13.Rg1 0-0
When the kings of both opponents are hiding in different flanks, it presages a very sharp fight.
14.Kb1 Qc7 15.Qf2 Nc4 16.Bxc4 Bxc4 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.Rxd5 f5 16.gxf6 Rxf6 17.Qe2 Nf4 21.Bxf4 Rxf4 22.Rd3 Qd7 23.Nc1 Rcf8 24.a3 Kh8
If 24…Bh4 25.Qg2 R8f6 26.Ne2 Rg6 27.Qh1 R4f6 28.Rxg6 Rxg6 29.Qf1, White wouldn’t allow the opponent’s pieces to be more active (29…Qh3 or 29…Bf2)
25.Na2 Qh3 26.Rg3 Qh5 27.Qg2 Rh4 28.h3 Qh6 29.Rb3! b5 30.Nb4 Rh5 31.Qf1 Rh4 (Black threatens 32…Rxe4) 32.Qg2 Rh5 33.Nxa6 Bh4 34.Rg4 Bf6 35.Qe2 Rxh3 36.Rxb5 Bd8 37.Rb8 Qf6 38.Nb4 Rxf3
White is winning after 38…Qxf3? 39.Qxf3 Rhxf3 40.Nc6 Rf1+ ( 40…h5 41.Rg1 Bh4 42.Rxf8+ Rxf8 43.Rh1 Rf4 44.b4 Rxe4 45.b5) 41.Ka2 h5 42.Rg2 Be7 43.Rxf8+ Bxf8 44.a4
39.Nd5 Qf7 40.Qa6!h5 41.Rg2 h4?
White could meet with more resistance after 41…Qe6 42.Qa8 Be7 43.Rh2 g6 44.a4 Kg7 45.Rxf8 Rxf8 46.Qa7 Rf1+ 47.Ka2 Rf7
42.Qxd6 Be7 43.Qxe5 Rxb8 44.Qxb8+ Kh7 45.Qc7 Bf8 46.Qxf7 Rxf7 47.Rg4 Rf1+ 48.Ka2 Rh1 49.e5 Bc5 50.e6 Kh6 51.Rc4! h3 52.Rxc5 h2 53.Ne3 Ra1+ 54.Kxa1 h1Q+ 55.Ka2 Qe4 56.Re5!! (See diagram #9) 1-0
The final position is very beautiful!
Viswanathan Anand successfully defended
his World Champion title against Vladimir Kramnik in a 12 game match in Bonn,
Germany, October 14th - 2nd November, 2008. Anand won before the appointed time
with an overall score of 6.5 - 4.5.
Which chess qualities can serve as criteria for taking a place on Olympus?
The Viennese grandmaster, Rudolf Spielmann, famously advised that one should aim to “play the opening like a book, the middle game like a magician, and the endgame like a machine”.
San Luis (Argentina), 2005
1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Re8 11.Nbd2 Bf8 12.a4 h6 13.Bc2 exd4 14.cxd4 Nb4 15.Bb1 c5 16.d5 Nd7 17.Ra3 c4 18.axb5 axb5 19.Nd4 Qb6 20.Nf5 Ne5 21. Rg3
All of White’s pieces are ready to attack. Even both White bishops participate in the ambush!
21…g6 22.Nf3 Ned3
And here comes the bomb! 23. Qd2! (See diagram # 10)
If 23…Nxe1 24.Nxe1, Black loses after 24…Ra1 25.Nxh6+ Bxh6 26.Qxh6 Rxb1 due to 27.Rxg6+ fxg6 28.Qxg6+ Kf8 (also bad is 28…Kh8 29.Qxe8+ Kg7 30.Qe7+ Kg8 31.Qxe6+! etc) 29.Bh6+ Ke7 30.Bg5+ Kf8 (30…Kd7 31.Qf7+) 31.Qh6+ Kg8 32.Bf6 Rxe1+ 33.Kh2.
24. Nxh6+ Bxh6 25.Qxh6 Qxf2+ 26.Kh2 Nxe1 27. Nh4! Ned3 28.Nxg6 Qxg3+ 29.Kxg3 fxg6 30.Qxg6+ Kf8. 30…Kh8 31.Bg5. 31.Qf6+ Kg8 32.Bh6 1-0
It wasn’t a battle but a massacre!
Anand made the most excellent moves, as if he put a computer in his head. Indeed, many outstanding players work hard with computers.
Vassily Smyslov often came to Mikhail Botvinnik as he worked on the problem of creating an artificial player that would operate using human laws of thinking. Later, it was determined that the computer did not work as a human – it was ruled by mathematical laws. It is cold and unemotional. Its ability to sort out moves and make millions of operations in a second could nonplus the strongest chess players.
Smyslov was not wholly delighted with computer chess: “I think it is only a function of time. In essence, it seems to me that a computer, as any ingenious human invention, exhibits a dual nature – good and evil. Nowadays, even grandmasters are becoming ‘children of computers’”.
Now, in order to be prepared for a tournament battle, it is necessary to study all of the opponent’s games which are stored in the computer’s huge memory.
“To play avoiding mistakes is, of course, a very important deed,” Smyslov develops his thought. “But the human nature of chess involves a precondition of taking false steps. In other words, people are exposed to all the challenges which life will send them. A participant in the world championship, for example, has experienced many different emotions, sometimes he feels that his ‘blood is flowing.’ It is impossible to win a game and to go through nothing!”
One day, Smyslov asked Botvinnik: “What will a human being do if a computer beats him out once and for all?” The reply was: “Man will serve a machine.”
When Mikhail Botvinnik began his successful ascent of the chess Olympus, he published a detailed article about training for tournaments. The point of his method lay in the nature of opening system preparation. Normally novelties are some trick or surprise. Such an innovation is good for just one game. As soon as it becomes known, it loses its impact.
The famous Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, once wrote comparing a chess move with a rhyme: “The most brilliant move cannot be repeated in a given situation for the next game.”
This poetic manner was illustrated in the game Svidler-Topalov at the 2005 FIDE World Championship in Argentina. 1. e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be3 Ng4 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 g5 9.Bg3 Bg7 10.h3 Ne5 11.Nf5 Bxf5 12.exf5 Nbc6 13.Nd5 e6 14. Ne3 Qa5+
Topalov played this move straightway. No doubt, it was his home preparation.
15. c3 Nf3+ 16. Qxf3
16.gxf3 Bxc3+ 17.bxc3 Qxc3+ 18.Ke2 Nd4+ is unacceptable for White.
It was the only way to keep material equal. 17.Ke2 is not possible because of 17…Nd4+, winning White’s queen.
The move 15.Nf3+ (in connection with 17…Qa4+) was a new idea, most likely worked out by Topalov’s second, Ivan Cheparinov, and other Bulgarian grandmasters. It was held in reserve for a long time, waiting for the moment when the “secret weapon” could crush an insufficiently prepared opponent. In many respects, Topalov achieved the peak of success with the help of his assisting team. A player with an aggressive style, he likes dynamic, unstable positions.
After 18.Kc1 (18.b3 Qd4+) 18…Bxb2+ 19.Kxb2 Qb4+ 20.Kc1 Nd4 21.Qd1, Black can deliver a perpetual check - 21…Qc3+ 22.Kb1 Qb4+. He can intensify his attack by 21…Rc8+.
18. Nc2 Bxb2 19.fxe6 fxe6
This unusual position takes both energy and time. Black was actually ahead; he has a little material advantage (a rook and two pawns against both White’s bishops). After 20.Qb3 Qxb3 21.axb3 Bxa1 22.Nxa1, it was hard for White to bring out his knight from the edge. The unlucky knight was brought into play too late, and shortly afterwards Svidler lost.
Two years passed and the circumstances surrounding this sharp opening variation have altered. Playing at the 2007 World championship in Mexico, Svidler took an opportunity to fight with White against the sensational Bulgarian line in the Sicilian (See diagram # 11). He gave his tournament opponent, the Russian grandmaster Alexander Grischuk, a surprise.
It was a nice counter-plan discovered before the tournament by Svidler’s second, the young Russian grandmaster, Alexander Motylev. White wants to keep the queens on and coordinate his minor peaces, while the black rooks are still at home.
20…Bxc1 21.Qf6 Kd7
It directs Black’s attention to 21…Bb2 22.Qxb2 (22.Qxe6+ Ne7 23.Bxd6 Qd7) 22…e5 23.Bd3 (23.Qxb7 Rb8 24.Qg7 Rb1+ 25.Kd2 Qa5+) 23…0-0-0
22. Kxc1 Qxa2 The well-known computer program “Deep Fritz” recommended 22…Rac8 as the best.
23. Bd3 Rac8 24.Rd1! d5
It looks like the only cover (24…Rhe8 25.Bc4! Qxc4 26.Rxd6+ Kc7 27.Rd4+ or 24…Rhf8 25.Qg7+ Ne7 26.Bxd6)
25. Bf5 Rhe8
25…exf5 26.Qd6+ Ke8 27.Re1+ Kf7 28.Qd7+ Kg6 29.Re6+ Kh5 30.Qf7 Mate!
26. Qf7+ Kd8
White is also mating after 26…Re7 27. Bxe6+ Kd8 28.Qf8+ Re8 29.Qd6+ or 26…Ne7 27.Qxe6+ Kd8 28.Qd7
27. Re1! It was the most important moment of this game.
27… Qa3+ 28.Nxa3 Ne5+ 29.Kd2 Nxf7 30.Bxe6 Rc6 31.Bxf7 Rxe1 32.Kxe1 b5 33.Kd2 b4 34.Nc2 b3 35.Nd4 Here this knight is proving useful!
Quite right, Grischuk lost his head 35…Rb6 36.Kc1 a5 37.Bxd5 a4 38.Be5 b2+ 39.Kb1 a3 40.Ba2 Rb7 41.Bd6 Rd7 42.Nb5 1-0
Smyslov played three world championship matches in the course of a decade. Therefore, Botvinnik, his opponent, compiled a thorough dossier about him, including small habits and inclinations. For example: if the game’s tension had increased, Smyslov’s ears became red. Whenever he did not like his position, Botvinnik seized the moment to put pressure upon Smyslov’s pieces.
Chess at the highest levels is a confrontation of wills. It is like a violent sport. The battle is utterly solitary: my wits against yours.
Botvinnik was perfectly friendly with Smyslov, but during every match he grew cool towards him. Botvinnik could do it, taking advantage of each opponent’s defects. Otherwise, one cannot be in the mood to win. After the match, Botvinnik would find ways to restore friendly relations with Smyslov.
The intrusion of computers into chess life will not reduce the attention to the game. As with track and field athletics, people will continue to compete even though cars go much faster. Any intellectual activity will always be very attractive. Chess will surely have a bright future!
The painting reproduction above is by the prominent American artist,
Chess has been called The Royal Game, and this painting reinforces this idea.
The King is the reigning monarch in chess. The King depends for his safety on
defense by the Queen and his other minions.