World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (R) plays Sergey Karjakin during round 9 of the World Chess Championship in New York City, November 23, 2016.
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (R) plays Sergey Karjakin during round 9 of the World Chess Championship in New York City, November 23, 2016.
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World-Class Chess, World-Class Design

Design firm Pentagram created the chess set being used in the World Chess Championship. It also designs Tablet’s print magazine.

by
Jonathan Zalman
November 30, 2016
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (R) plays Sergey Karjakin during round 9 of the World Chess Championship in New York City, November 23, 2016.
World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen (R) plays Sergey Karjakin during round 9 of the World Chess Championship in New York City, November 23, 2016.

Two of this planet’s best grandmasters, Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, are currently battling it out for the World Chess Championship. Their bout marks the first time the championship has taken place in New York City in 21 years, and, despite a few quick and bland draws, the match has been largely riveting. On Wednesday, it’s do or die for both players who enter into an intensely formatted tiebreaker. It’s been a classy affair in a classy city that will end in a metaphorical bloodbath.

Adding to the intrigue of the battle on the board has been the lovely venue in lower Manhattan at the South Street Seaport—a clean, classy affair that has more or less sold out every round and provided attendees with an intimate, lively atmosphere in which to watch… chess. Part of the reason the space has been so appealing is the undeniable design of it, which begins with the work of Pentagram, a design firm based in New York City that was hired five years ago by chess marketers to rebrand the face of game. Part of Pentagram’s efforts have been focused on designing the actual pieces the players use. And let me tell you, they pieces feel great: nicely weighted, smooth, exquisite, official. (And from the looks of it, they’re all sold out at the moment.)

Pentagram is also helming the design of Tablet’s print edition, which is beautiful, in case you haven’t heard.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.

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