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In Russia, Chess is So Popular that Special Chips are Produced for Chess Players

A few months ago, the cool kids of Moscow got together to watch some sports in the trendy Moscow City Tower apartment. When they turned on Match TV, the Russian version of ESPN, chess was on. The kids were hooked.

Now, in the midst of the pandemic, young Russian trendsetters — journalists, models, fashion photographers, designers, bloggers and socialites, obsess over The Queen’s Gambit, hang out in the chess bar, play chess online, and passionately wait for the release of the Karpov-Korchnoy biopic, due early next year. Also, they have their own potato chips, with yellow chess pieces printed on the eco-friendly paper bag.

Misha Gannushkin, one of Russia’s leading art directors, together with Yan Lebedev, founded the brand of potato chips, called “Paket Kartoshki” (translated “a bag of chips”) last year, about the same time when he fell in love with chess. “It was one of the most thrilling nights of my life, for some reason”, says Gannushkin. “We lit candles, turned on the TV and followed the final game of Karjakin-Carlsen Championship Match” that was taking place in New York. It was night time in Russia, but we were awake and kept in touch with our friends in the US who were actually organizing the match. Since then, we’ve been religiously playing chess every week. Now, with chess so popular, we felt compelled to create the special chess edition of our chips. The sport deserves its own snack!”.

The limited edition chess chips are available in some of Russia’s biggest retailers, including “Home Kitchen”, a popular food delivery service. It’s also available in World Chess Club Moscow, the chess club made famous as top Russia’s specialty bar. It’s founded by World Chess, the company behind the Karjakin-Carlsen Championship match, the scandalous chess Kamasutra logo and other projects that kept chess on the front pages in the last several years. The chips were produced in collaboration with the company.

“Chess has become a TV sport, and we are set to create a culture of watching chess on TV and online”, says Ilya Merenzon, the CEO of World Chess. “You really need a snack that goes well with chess, and the potato chips were a perfect option. When we organize top level events, we always have chips available for chess players for a quick snack. We know how they eat during the tournaments. We are also fans of Paket Kartoshki, the hippest chips in the country, and very happy to enjoy the chess chips. The first batch we received at the club is already sold out, and we ate some of it”.

Paket Kartoshki Chess Edition is available only in Russia for now, but it will certainly delight the participants of the Candidates Tournament, the World Cup and Chess Olympiad, three largest events in chess that will take place in Russia in 2021 and 2022.

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