Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tiny chess set built between heartbeats

A microscopic chess set no bigger than a match head could be the smallest board game in the world. The board is 3.5 mm by 2.5 mm and the gold and silver pieces are 0.15 mm and 0.3 mm high.

The set is one of the most remarkable works of the Russian micro-miniaturist Vladimir Aniskin, who has spent a decade perfecting his craft. He uses powerful microscopes and equipment that he designed himself and says that he must work between his heartbeats to create the tiny pieces.

“While working I hold my creation in my fingers,” he said. “Even one’s heartbeat disturbs such minute work, so particularly delicate work has to be done between heartbeats.”

The chess took six months to complete and he has about another 40 works to his name. His first was a grain of rice inscribed with 2,027 letters. “The rice grain took three months, camels in an eye of a needle took two months and camels in a horse hair also took two months,” he said. “Even with these simpler jobs it is still time-consuming.”

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