Through the Mirror of Chess: A Cultural Exploration

For the last 1500 years, the game of chess has been at the cultural forefront of a startling number of different societies, consistently enthralling millions of players while simultaneously influencing literary styles, community values and scientific development.

Explicitly geared to both the curious non-specialist and chess aficionados, the upcoming 4-part documentary series, Through the Mirror of Chess: A Cultural Exploration, is devoted to a detailed investigation of the remarkable relevance of chess across a wide range of times and places touching on cultural history, art and literature, the nature of competitiveness, artificial intelligence, chess variants, psychology and much more in an attempt to comprehensively address the question of what makes the game so unique. 

This is a comprehensive, narrative documentary series featuring a wide range of world-leading experts in different fields plus several top chess players, including Hou Yifan, Jovanka Houska, Irene Sukandar, Bruce Pandolfini, Pontus Carlsson, Raymond Keene, Danny Rensch, David Smerdon, Elizabeth Spiegel, Russell Makofsky, Mikhail Korenman, Tom Dart, Deborah Freeman Fahid, Jenny Adams, Elisabeth Pähtz, Ulrich Schädler, Carl Portman, Antonio Panaino, Davud Kwan, Wang Lee, Elshan Moradiabadi, Theo Wait and Jenny Yan – more updates soon!


Below is a brief synopsis of each episode: 

PART 1 – UNIQUENESS: The historical importance of games, what makes chess special, different types of chess played over time and around the world.

PART 2 – THE FIRST MILLENNIUM: The socio-cultural impact of chess from 600 to 1500: from ancient India to Sasanian Persia to the Golden Age of Islam to medieval Europe.

PART 3 – ART, SCIENCE, SPORT: The socio-cultural impact of chess from 1500 up to the present day: from the birth of the modern game to the Café de la Régence to the Mechanical Turk to Fischer-Spassky to AlphaZero.

PART 4 – CONTEMPORARY IMPACT: Contemporary applications of chess to education, behavioral economics, computer science, prison reform and social inequality; what chess today reveals about current attitudes to gender, technology, sports, entertainment and the nature of play. 

Expected release of the docuseries: Fall 2022

NOW AVAILABLE: Chessays: Travels Through The World Of Chess by Howard Burton

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