The popularity of the brilliant movie "The Queen's Gambit" a few years back, awakened a new global interest in the age-old game of chess – making it “trendy” rather than “nerdy”. There is much historical controversy as to the true inventor of the game, and from which country it actually originated, but here is an intriguing little tale that caught our fancy .....

‘According to ancient legend, chess was invented by Grand Vizier Sissa Ben Dahir, and presented as a gift to King Shirham of India. The king was so delighted that he offered him any reward he requested, provided that it be reasonable. The Grand Vizier requested the following: "Just one grain of wheat on the first square of the chessboard – followed by two on the second square, four on the next, then eight, and so on ....  multiplying the number of grains on each successive square, until every square on the chessboard is reached."

Intuitively, King Shirham - just like almost anybody else - underestimated the number of grains that would be needed, and laughed at Sissa because he had asked for such a modest gift. But when the king asked his treasurer to calculate the total number of grains, it took more than a week before he returned with the solution. King Shirham apparently paled when he received the answer: the aggregated number of grains on all squares of a chessboard would be 18.446.744.073.709.551.615 grains. This equals the harvest of all the wheat of the world, over several decades. A perfect example of exponential growth.’


Magicians too, have been inspired by the game's intellectual complexity and strategic maneuvering. Shimon Nachmani, one of Israel’s leading developers of mental magic effects, invented a revolutionary magic routine called CHESS MASTER, that leaves audiences spellbound.

The Chess Master can detect which piece each volunteer has chosen and even identify the colour – black or white. It's a mental feat that seems almost magical, and audiences can't get enough of it.


 “For years I follow and admire Cobra Magic’s technologies and products. I use them in my own shows and enjoy the creative solutions and suggested routines, as well as the quality and reliability of the products. I love the game of chess and thought that it can perfectly integrate with their technology. Chess is a game of the mind. It deeply engages chess players, both on the intellectual side and the mental”, says Shimon. “Using the Chess pieces and detecting who is holding which piece, enthralls the participants, and allows the performer to expound on the importance of each piece to the game and it’s designated movements” he continues.

The Chess Master routine works equally dramatically in both very close-up conditions as well as large stage performances. Bringing 5 volunteers on stage and detecting which one of the Chess pieces is held by each, and in which hand, is highly visual. And the final step of finding the odd color piece, adds extra excitement.   

You are most welcome to watch Shimon’s presentation in the following video.

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