Ilyumzhinov’s Chess City

21 years ago, the General Assembly of the International Chess Federation unanimously approved Elista as the venue for the 33rd World Chess Olympiad. This decision necessitated the construction of the Olympic Village and later the Chess City in Elista after the decision was made to hold the 1997 World Championship there.

No wonder they say that it was after this Olympiad that Kalmykia discovered the world and the world discovered Kalmykia. The Chess City that became the centre for international chess tournaments was built on the initiative of the First President of the Republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, in record time.


The main building, the Chess Palace (Chess City Hall) resembles the Kalmyk kibitka in outlines. The Chess Olympiad and the 69th FIDE Congress took place here. Chess City after several international biennials has become a traditional venue for international and all-Russian forums, competitions, business symposia and exhibitions, scientific and cultural meetings.

The authors of the project “Architecture with Cats” wrote about the unique sculptural compositions located in Chess City:
“Have you ever heard of Chess City? Yes, it is not just the chess capital, but also a storehouse of sculptural compositions. More than 20 monuments are in this town of chess. You will not believe, but it is in Russia. We will introduce you to the capital of chess in more detail.
The ‘Yoryal’ Gold Crown is installed on the central street of the Chess City. The monument is black and white cubes mounted on a white marble column and topped with Oirats symbols. Inside the totem symbol is the Golden Crown - the crown of a chess piece.
One of the smallest sculptures of Chess City is “Walking Bishop”.
The Monument “The Birth of a Pawn” (another name “The Coming of the Pawn”) depicts the birth of a chess piece. It is symbolic that the main composition of the sculpture rests on the petals of a lotus flower.
The sculpture "Crown" located near the entrance to the City of Chess consists of two hemispheres symbolizing the strength of the two parties.
The “Sundial” by sculptors A. Khachaturian and I. Chernoglazov symbolize the essence of a chess game. The composition consists of three parts. The game begins with a pawn and gradually moves from a piece to a piece clockwise.
The sculptural composition "Piece" is devoted to a usual chess piece - a pawn but with ears. The sculptor A. Schnaras from Lithuania leaves it to you to guess its meaning.
The confrontation of the mind and heart during the game is captured in the Hourglass sculpture by A. Beisenov (Kazakhstan). What to listen to, the heart or reason?  
The sculpture of J. Ginevichus “Time trouble” is designed to convey the emotional state of the player: his moves are hasty and therefore lack logic. The player's time trouble is shown by the zigzag position of the pieces.
The beginning of the chess game is shown in the composition of N. Kalinushkin “Gambit” (Bashkortostan). The monument is an eagle that is about to take off.
The ‘Apple of Adam’ by O. Petkov (Bulgaria) represents two profiles frozen in a kiss and displays the bright side of love.
V. Djikia from Georgia portrayed the goddess of chess swiftly floating in a boat. It is named “The Appearance of Kaissa”.
The hard way to victory is immortalized in the sculptural composition “Steps to victory” by M. Mongush. The monument is quite simple - marble blocks of different shapes and sizes stacked on top of each other clearly convey a difficult path to success and victory.
The sculptor A. Baranmaa depicted a boat on a pedestal in the form of a winged knight. The sunflower is a symbol of the sun’s rays, through which the knight is transferred from one bank to another. Hence, the name of the monument is “Inspiration”.
“The Draw” of the sculptor V. Vinnichenko from St. Petersburg is the personification of the martial arts of two equal forces: one of the eternal chess themes. Two kings carved out of grey granite with white and black crowns are frozen in a firm handshake.