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on the chessboard. The art and science of chess

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A photo essay on the game of chess that explores different aspects, navigating between art, literature, and science.

Photography by Massimo Listri

The book is presented by Franco Maria Ricci Editore on the chessboard. The art and science of chess, with texts by Zachary F.Mainen, Razvan Sandru, Stefano Salis and Adolivio Capece, with photos by Massimo Listri, a selection of which you can enjoy in the gallery at the end of the article.


Chess – a complex game as it’s universally known – and chess boards – deceptively simple things that hide a wide range of possibilities – are the protagonists of Franco Maria Ricci’s new book of genres.

On the Chessboard - Cover on Massimo Listri
On the Chessboard – Cover on Massimo Listri

The magic of this game, which requires logical thinking, concentration, abstraction, self-confidence and discipline, within the limits imposed by the exact rules, has remained the same over time and has already increased, as has its prevalence and scale. It explores the different facets of art, literature and science.

Brain mechanisms activated during the game are the subject of the article at the beginning, written by Portuguese Champalimaud neuroscientists Zachary Mainen and Razvan Sandru, which provides an analysis of the mental processes underlying various game strategies.

This is followed by a long journey by Stefano Salles, journalist and writer with a passion for chess, who accompanies the reader on a path that chronicles the birth and development of this unique and ancient game and presents its reflections in cinema, in the graphic arts. in literature. from Nabokov Seventh SealFrom Borges to Duchamp, the texts intertwine with his small autobiographical details, in a shift in perspective from the public to the private that so well represents the dual dimension of chess, the intimate and the universal, perhaps at the origin of his fortune.

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Photography by Massimo Listri
Photography by Massimo Listri

The volume concludes with the appendix edited by Adolivio Capece, a chess player and journalist, who in addition to providing a summary of the basic rules introduces a collection of famous games, both real and fictional, that reveal their movements and curiosity.

The importance of chess over time is also illustrated by the things with which it was played: chess sets were one of the most precious gifts given to kings and dignitaries of state and church. Noble metals, the rarest woods, ivory, were worked to the smallest detail by the finest craftsmen and goldsmiths. To illustrate the scale, the finest pieces were selected for one of the world’s most valuable and complete private collections. Brilliantly depicted by Massimo Listri, chess boards and pieces of this identification tell the game in its aesthetic and figurative aspect, also suggesting that there may be a relationship between the artistic expression represented by chess boards and game pieces and the object of study and the knowledge that constitutes.

Texts by Zachary Menin, Razvan Sandro, Stefano Salles and Adolivio Capisi. Photos of Massimo Listri – on the chessboard. The art and science of chessEditore, Franco Maria Ricci, p. 168, 60 euros

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