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

D85

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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2650757

“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.”

http://www.edochess.ca/batgirl/Imagery_of_Chess_no9.html

“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
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=2652540

“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.”