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Takako Saito


Book Chess No. 1 [Buchschachspiel No. 1]

Library Information & Colophon


Book Chess No. 1 [Buchschachspiel No. 1] View record in Reed Digital Collections

Library Call #

N7433.4.S35 B835 1999 View Reed library catalog record


Book Chess No. 1 [Buchschachspiel No. 1]

During the game, if a player has forgotten which figure the opponent is playing, he asks him to name it by reading out the text. If a player wants to exchange a figure, he may look at the book underneath his figure and if it is of the same kind, he may change.

Takako Saito 1984
Mergemeier 1999


Takako Saito


Born in 1929 in Sabae-Shi, Fukui, Japan, Takako Saito worked closely with the Fluxus movement in the 1960s and 70s. She is most famous for her disrupted chess sets, where she transforms the game into different interactive sensory experiences. Examples include Smell Chess, where the player must smell various vials to differentiate the pieces, as well as Liquor Chess, where the player must taste the alcohol to play the game. Living in Dusseldorf, Germany, Saito continues to make art and work today, constantly pushing the boundaries between art and life.

Saito's Book Chess No. 1 incorporates her trajectory of disrupted chess sets with the practice of traditional art book production in order to engage the viewer in a game that far surpasses traditional chess sets. The board is made up of tiny square black and white books, where each book represents a piece of the board as well as a piece of the game. Each book is intricately letterpressed and constructed, and the text comes from proverbs and poems related to the pieces they represent, such as nursery rhymes for the kings and great literature for the pawns. The players must read the books in full to discern the function of each chess piece in order to successfully play the game.

References & Links

Takako's Gallery in Dusseldorf (site in German) View website

Thoughts on Game Theory View website