Dating back to the late nineteenth century but officially started in 1946, the World Chess Championship is the Super Bowl of chess, a single match between the top two players in the world. Organized by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation), the game has been played every other year since 2006 in different cities around the world. (From scanning the Wikipedia page, the championship has been riddled with soap opera drama for most of its existence.) Earlier this week, FIDE held an event to announce the location — London, UK — of the 2018 Championship match and introduced a new identity designed by Moscow, Russia-based Shuka Design.
First, you might wonder why a chess game is getting the full Review treatment… Halfway down the post you’ll see why, as part of the identity has gone viral because, well, you’ll see, but I think that, drowned in the noise, there is a remarkably cool identity that is way better than it probably needs to be. Also, this is the last Review of the year — our holiday break starts tomorrow (we will be posting Best/Worst of The Year through the next two weeks) — so I didn’t mind ending the year on a lighter note.
2016’s logo and graphics, also designed by Shuka Design, were pretty great with a slew of New York icons embellished with overlapping circles and textures and a key graphic that hinted at the complexity of chess (and it also looked like when the Tasmanian Devil moves around). The new logo draws from the patterned texture of the World Chess organization (designed by Pentagram) to create an intricate illustration of hands interlocking over a board. There is perhaps one hand too many — since there are only two players and the maximum number of hands possible would be four — but I love the tension that the visual creates and the idea of the hands tangling in chess combat. The plain version without the textures is pretty cool too.
In application, along with the light slab serif used, it makes the event look both brainy and exciting. But then things get… kinky.
As perhaps you’ve seen already on the internet — particularly on Reddit where the comments seem to be vying for the 2018 World Sarcasm Championship (i.e., “It looks like it was made by an alien who heard about chess over a staticy phone call”) — the alternate logo for the event, purposefully, shows two players playing chess and demonstrating probably the most underrated Kama Sutra position ever. Yes, it is super weird. Yes, it is super distracting from the event. Yes, it is utterly gratuitous. Yes, it is unfathomable to consider playing a round of chess while consensually scissoring. But, hey, adding a little bit of a rock-star-snorting-cocaine-off-a-naked-body attitude to the world of chess is not the worst or weirdest thing that has happened in 2017, so why the hell not?
The World Chess organization even doubled down on the alternate logo going viral and made a limited-edition print available for sale, which perhaps you could place in your bedroom hanging from the ceiling for those times when the mood strikes to get it on with your partner while playing chess — because we’ve all been there.