Duchamp’s Pipe: A Review Part 2

Published by North Atlantic Books, which can be found by clicking here:

Duchamp’s Pipe

The quoted text is pulled directly from the book.

Marcel Duchamp vs George Koltanowski

BEL Cup 01st Brussels 1923


1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. f4 c5 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9. Bxd7+ Nxd7 10. e5 cxd4 11. cxd4 O-O 12. Nf3 e6 13. O-O Nb6 14. Ba3 Re8 15. Qb3 Bf8 16. Rfc1 Bxa3 17. Qxa3 Qd7 18. Rc2 Rec8 19. Rac1 Rxc2 20. Rxc2 Nd5 21. Qc1 a5 22. g4 Nb4 23. Rc7 Qd5 24. Qe3 Qxa2 25. f5 exf5 26. gxf5 Qb1+ 27. Rc1 Qxf5 0-1

“For Koltanowski, it was as much about what attracted him to the game as it was how to attract others to the game. To that end, he developed a chess persona along the lines of a visionary chess maniac.”

“Koltanowski understood his memory as a different order of knowledge outside conscious effort – a trance state that the fortunate artist or chess player might experience.”

Duchamp said, “Chess is a sport. A violent sport.”

“After crossing paths at a few tournaments in Europe, from their Paris match in 1924 to The Hague in 1928, Duchamp and Koltanowski met again in 1929 at a chess match at the Tournoi d’Echecs, the Paris International Chess Championship. In an unexpected twist, Koltanowski lost to Duchamp in fifteen moves.”

George Koltanowski vs Marcel Duchamp

Paris 1929

E00 Queen’s pawn game

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4 b6 5.f4 Bb7 6.Bd3 Nbd7 7.Nf3 e5 8.d5 g6 9.O-O exf4 10.Bxf4 Bg7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Nxe5 O-O 13.Qd2 Nxd5 14.Nxd7 Nxf4 15.Nxf8 Bd4+ 0-1

“Koltanowski only casually mentions the game in his Chessnicdotes – in which he relates a more detailed win in 1944:

Marcel Duchamp vs George Koltanowski

New York 1944

Grunfeld (D94)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. e3 Bg7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. Be2 c5 7. O-O cxd4 8. exd4 Nc6 9. Bf4 Bg4 10. c5 Ne4 11. Ne5 Bxe2 12. Nxe2 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Nxc5 14. Nd4 Qd7 15. Re1 Rac8 16. Qd2 Ne6 17. Rac1 Rxc1 18. Rxc1 Nxf4 19. Qxf4 Rc8 20. Rc3 Rxc3 21. bxc3 Qc7 22. Nf3 Qxc3 23. h3 Qc4 24. Qg5 f6 25. exf6 Bxf6 26. Qe3 d4 27. Qf4 Qxa2 28. Ne5 Qb1+ 29. Kh2 Qf5 0-1

“Marcel Duchamp, the renowned artist (Nude Descending a Staircase),

loved the game of chess. He played in the French Championship on a number of occasions, was a member of a French Olympic team, and his book, L’Opposition et les cases conjuguees (1932) was very successful.

His painting of a family chess game in the garden, which hangs in the Philadelphia Museum, is one of the more famous paintings including chess as its theme.”


“He helped the American Chess Foundation tremendously with his works of art and getting the support of the New York elite…I played him twice in Brussels tournaments, winning in both cases. In Paris, 1929, I lost.”

“Following his triumph against Koltanowski in 1929, Duchamp was at the pinnacle of his chess career. In the following year, in Hamburg, he played his friend Frank Marshall-whom he knew from his many evening games at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. That the game was a draw was an impressive result, given that from 1909 to 1936 Marshall (1877-1944) was the US Chess Champion.”

Frank James Marshall vs Marcel Duchamp

Hamburg olypiad (Men) 07/13/1930

E12 Queen’s Indian defence

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 Bb7 6.Qc2 d5 7.e3 O-O 8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 Bxd5 11.Bd3 h6 12.a3 c5 13.dxc5 Rc8 14.b4 bxc5 15.Rc1 Nd7 16.Ba6 Rc7 17.e4 Bb7 18.Bxb7 Rxb7 19.bxc5 Qxc5 20.O-O Qxc2 21.Rxc2 Kf8 22.Rfc1 Ke7 23.Nd4 Ke8 24.f4 Rab8 25.e5 Nf8 26.Rc5 Rb1 27.Rxb1 Rxb1+ 28.Kf2 Rb7 29.Rc8+ Ke7 30.Ra8 Ng6 31.g3 Kd7 32.a4 Ne7 33.Nb5 Nc8 34.g4 Rxb5 35.axb5 Kc7 36.g5 hxg5 37.b6+ Kb7 38.Rxc8 Kxc8 ½-½

“Koltanowski describes Frank Marshall

as an artist who loved the brilliance of chess: Love of the game for its own sake, rather than for the awards which fall in the path of a successful player, was apparent throughout Marshall’s career. Winning did not matter to him half as much as the creation of a masterpiece on the chessboard.” Koltanowski in Chessnicdotes

“At the least, Duchamp’s pipe is an latered industrial object that embodies a friendship of shared wit and a mutual love of Caissa. But the pipe is not only a utilitarian object; in chess it is part of the activity and environment in which it is used-held to the mouth in a physically intimate way, simultaneously concealing the smoker’s expression. Undulating smoke, the pipe’sn mutabel fumes enhanced concentration and reflection, creating a meditative state of mind within the comfort of habit. Duchamp’s pipe embodies a authentic gesture of exchange, infused with a Duchampian cocktail of ideas that unwrap the ebb and flow of their personal relationship.”

“Marcel Mauss askes: “What power resides in the object given that causes its recipient to pay it back?” This is the power of exchange. Embedded in the pipe, the relationship flows through the redolent smoke as ephemeral as thought. The pipe embodies something of Duchamp, something of Koltanowski, and something personal and “affectionately Marcel,” as Duchamp frequently signed his letters. The intimate nature of smoking – drawn from the mouthpiece, through the mouth and exhaled through the breath – is made visible in Duchamp’s pipe. The smoky vapors surround and scent both men, creating an atmosphere of communal enjoyment. Embodying the phenomenon of “the gift,” the pipe expresses an exchange beyond words or measure.”

“Mauss claims that “objects are confounded with the spirits who made them.” Given from Duchamp’s hands, Koltanowski’s pipe is not merely a material object; it is also an expression of kinship and reciprocity saturated with the smoky fragrance of the chess players. More than the sum of its parts, the pipe gives form to an altered significance. It is not surprising that pipe-smoking is linked to gift exchange in most world cultures.”

“I believe that pipe-smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” – Albert Einstein

“Duchamp and Koltanowski puffed their pipes while playing chess, the transicent tendrils curling upward around each posture and gesture. The smoke veiled their thoughts and scented the surroundings. Smoke simultaneously revealed and concealed the chess game, joining the players together in an infrathin screed of smoke and intense concentration.”

“Duchamp’s attraction to Koltanowski derived from their mutual passion for chess, complemented by an interior mental focus that bordered on the mystical.”

“For Duchamp, chess was an art, its primary function cerebral “play.”

“Art is a road which leads towards regions which are not governed by time and place. – Marcell Duchamp

“A game of chess washes the mind.” – Koltanowski

“Koltanowski simply pursued the pure cerebral enjoyment of chess-and he made his passion contagious.”

“Duchamp enjoyed the pure intellectual play of the game; it was a cerebral pursuit without repetitious art production, and at the same time it required a great deal of imagination. Koltanowski found Duchamp’s chess choreography compelling. Both loved chess for its aestetic brilliance.”

Many people in the art world wondered why Duchamp “Gave up art for Chess.” They did not understand that Duchamp did not “give up art” because he knew Chess to be art or else he would not have said, “While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.”

The review ends with the Afterword: Coffee House Chess, by Irwin Lipnowski:

“All the human attributes of intuition, judgment, creativity, rational foresight, and computational skill become inconsequential in competing with the processing speed of a chess-playing program. Admittedly, human beings designed the program’s evaluation function and human beings have significantly improved the processing speed of computers. Yet it is difficult to overestimate the negative impact that computer chess development has had on the sense of accomplishment and self-esteem of chess masters and grandmasters.”

























Honor The Intent

It has been my policy to approve all comments left by readers, especially if signed by the respondent, with only a few exceptions. It bothers me not if I am criticized because one of the things that sets our country apart is freedom of the press. I have even printed comments left by people using a nom de plume. However, there is a line and I do enforce the line from time to time.

A scathing comment was left recently by someone disgruntled because of what had been written in the post, Chess Segregation. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/chess-segregation/) The writer was obviously “ticked off” by, “There are more women and girls involved with Chess than ever before and it started with the so-called “youth movement,” which began when money earmarked for Master Chess was, shall we say to be kind, diverted to children’s Chess.”

Among the many things I was called during the diatribe was “liar.”

I am sixty nine years of age and will be the first to admit my memory is not what it used to be. Still, having participated in brain and memory studies at Emory, Georgia Tech and the Veteran’s Administration (the results of which were to be used to help veterans who had served our country), I am thankful for how much better off than others even younger than am I. That said, I will admit to having an occasional “Senior moment” which is exacerbated by fatigue.

After receiving the salvo comment I racked my brain in an attempt to recall what and where I had read concerning the diversion of funds. I seemed to recall something former POTUSCF Don Schultz had written in a Chess Life magazine, thinking it was a letter to the editor, but I could be mistaken. I went to the internet in an attempt to locate anything about the matter. What you are about to read is the only thing I managed to locate. If anyone can shed any more light on the subject please leave a comment.

Honor the Intent

by Don Schultz

During the 1990s the direction of the American Chess Foundation changed from sponsoring a wide variety of chess projects to almost exclusively promoting their highly successful New York City inner city school programs. In order to emphasize this redirection, the American Chess Foundation changed their name to Chess-in-the-Schools. Although their inner school programs continue to be enormously successful, part of the funding of these programs comes from income from donations of patrons who intended other uses for their contributions.
Case in point, when former USCF President Fred Cramer died in April 1989 he bequeathed a quarter of a million dollars to the ACF. Throughout his life, Cramer was an avid advocate for better communication and improved chess journalism, particularly at the state level. In order to partially satisfy Cramer’s wishes, Fan Adams, then President of the ACF, used a portion of the income from the Cramer bequest to sponsor the Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism. Unfortunately Chess-in-the-Schools has now cancelled their financial support of the Cramer Awards Program. They did this so they can redirect all of the income from the Cramer bequest to support their NYC inner city school programs.
The Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism are not the only victim of the Chess-in-the-Schools new policy. An example is the income from over a million dollars of Thomas Emery donations. Emery was a close friend of many of our finest players, including Frank Marshall and Al Horowitz. He helped support master chess. He also was a member of the Marine Corps during World War I and as a result had an enduring interest in armed forces chess. He sponsored the first Armed Forces Championship in 1960, and continued to sponsor it during his lifetime. He had every expectation that income from his donations would continue to be used for master and armed forces chess promotions. But it is not. All of it is now being used for the Chess-in-the Schools New York City inner city school programs.
Chess-in-the-Schools does continue to support a few projects unrelated to their inner school programs. These include the Denker High School Invitational and the Paul Albert Awards. But the patrons for these projects are still living and members of their Board.
However invaluable the Chess-in-the-School programs are, income from bequests and contributions such as those from Cramer and Emery should be used to pay for the intended programs of the patron. If you agree with this assessment, please express your feelings to Members of the Board, Chess-in-the-Schools, 353 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036, tel. 212 643-0225, fax 212 757-7704.


Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Joe South

[Verse 1]
If I could be you
And you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way
To get inside
Each other’s mind, mmm
If you could see you
Through my eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you’d be
Surprised to see
That you’d been blind, mmm

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

[Verse 2]
Now your whole world
You see around you
Is just a reflection
And the law of karma
Says you’re gonna reap
Just what you sow, yes you will
So unless
You’ve lived a life of total perfection
You’d better be careful of every stone
That you should throw, yeah

[Verse 3]
And yet we spend the day
Throwing stones
At one another
‘Cause I don’t think
Or wear my hair
The same way you do, mmm
Well I may be
Common people
But I’m your brother
And when you strike out
And try to hurt me
It’s a hurtin’ you, lord have mercy

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

[Verse 4]
There are people
On reservations
And out in the ghettos
And brother there
But for the grace of God
Go you and I, yeah, yeah
If I only
Had the wings
Of a little angel
Don’t you know I’d fly
To the top of the mountain
And then I’d cry