Expo 2020 Dubai will display a chess set played in outer space by cosmonauts from the 1960s. The world fair is also set to receive chess fans at the FIDE World Chess Championship, which will begin later this year in November, 2021. Image Credit: Twitter/@FIDE_chess

Dubai: The mega-event of the year takes another cosmic leap with a specially designed chess set from space to be displayed at Expo 2020 Dubai, which opens its doors on October 1, 2021.

Omar Shehadeh, Chief International Participants Officer of Expo 2020 Dubai, received the chess set when Arkady Dvorkovich, President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), visited the venue of the upcoming FIDE World Chess Championship to be hosted by Expo.

A game of chess in space

From seventh-century India’s 'chaturanga' to Persia and then Arabia’s 'shatranj', chess has changed several hands since its inception. While one of the most ancient games in the world toured the planet, the Soviet Union took its love for chess to the stars.

The cosmonauts of spacecraft Soyuz 3 and Soyuz 4 completed their missions with the company of a special chessboard for the first time in 1968 and 1969, respectively. Soyuz 4 would then go on to make history as the first spaceflight to successfully dock with another crewed spacecraft.

International Chess Federation tweets about specially altered chess set taken on Soviet spaceflights Soyuz 3 and 4 with grooves and pegs for secure hold. Image Credit: Twitter/@FIDE_chess

A chessboard for cosmonauts

In zero-gravity space, your regular chessboard and its pieces would float in vacuum. To keep the pieces in place during a game, the Soyuz chessboard was designed with special pegs and grooves that would allow pieces to slide in and out of their slots.

This memorabilia from the space race commemorates the postponed FIDE World Championship, which will be held from November 24 to December 16, 2021, at Dubai Exhibition Centre.

- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.