The Match Game is a mixed-media table-top installation that grew out of an email correspondence between Sasha Chavchavadze and her father in which she asked him questions about a match game he invented as a boy and played throughout his career as a Cold War CIA operative.
Stored in a Cuban cigar box, the original match game included old matches, flags, BBs, instructions, scoring notes, and a government-issued pen. A war game in which players battled each other with armies of different colored matches marked with insignia of rank, the original game employed pre-safety matches that could be easily lit.
Chavchavadze’s recreation of the match game, a stylized version, incorporates match tips painted to replicate the pre-safety Ohio Blue Tips used in the original game, chevrons and stripes added to the match sticks as insignia of rank, sand, rocks, BB’s, and World War II battle maps.
The Match Game is documented in a 12 minute DVD created by Chavchavadze at a multi-media residency in 2006. A 2-minute excerpt can be found on our About page.
An example of an email between Chavchavadze and her father regarding the match game:
From: S. Chavchavadze
Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2002 1:00 PM
To: D. ChavchavadzeSubject: match game
Can you describe the match game you played when you were a boy? I started to think about it when I read about a match game in Nabokov’s Speak, Memory, so I wondered about your matches.
From: D. Chavchavadze
Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2002 4:48 PM
To: S. Chavchavadze
Subject: match game
The match game was invented by me in 1940. In those days there were kitchen matches that could be lit by almost anything and different companies had different colored match heads. The matches represented individual soldiers and had insignia of rank. The game was played outdoors and the matches were stuck upright in the sand or dirt representing trenches or foxholes. If it was my turn I fired a BB gun at the enemy’s matches, one shot for each match I had on the front. There was also artillery represented by rocks being lobbed at the enemy. Matches that were knocked down were wounded and given a stripe. If a match was lit it was dead. I have never described this in writing. Would be glad to answer more questions.