Checkmate – Mick Flannery’s new album takes an innovative turn

A LOCKDOWN-induced obsession with chess turned out to be the inspiration behind a collection of new songs from the pen of internationally acclaimed Blarney singer/songwriter Mick Flannery.

Leading his highly anticipated performance at next month’s Choice Music Prize, Flannery has released a 12-track album on bandcamp based on the stories behind 12 famous mid-19th century chess sets and their players.

The album is accompanied by a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFT) titled “A Night at the Opera”, reminiscent of the famous 1858 chess game between Paul Morphy and the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard at the Opéra de Paris, with the profits of both shared with the social aid movement “Altruisme Efficace”.

For those not in the know, an NFT is a digital asset that represents real-world objects such as artwork, music, game items, and videos stored on a blockchain, a form of large digital book. These can be purchased online often using cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.

Although NFTs have been around since 2014, they have become increasingly popular in recent years as a convenient method for selling and buying digital artwork.

Flannery’s new album takes an innovative approach to the art of songwriting, with the movements of pieces from each of the historical chess sets dictating a song’s bass notes, with the song in turn telling the pieces when to move.

At the same time, the NFT collection, produced in collaboration with Sarah, Flannery’s sister, and her husband Luc, contains a selection of videos illustrating the marriage of chess and song.

A preview of the NFT collection can be seen on YouTube alongside Flannery going through different aspects of the collection.

More information about this project can be found via

In a recent interview with Irish Tech News, Flannery said that money was always going to be digitized, so Bitcoin’s emergence “wasn’t that unexpected.”

“Even though there are energy issues around layer one blockchains, it’s hard for me to see a greater use of energy than the conservation of people’s time and labor,” Flannery said.

Talking more about the genesis of the project, which was heavily influenced by Croatian chess player and YouTuber “Agatmators”, Flannery explained his thought process behind the songs.

“A chess piece is given a corresponding musical chord, and so the structure of the song follows the movements of a chosen (mostly famous) chess game. The lyrics of the songs deal mainly with the often complex lives of the grandmasters who play the games,” Flannery said.

“The NFT idea is related to videos where people (chess nerds) can watch the game of chess play out in time and in harmony with the chords of the song. There will be 2D and 3D versions of these and they will be sold as digital tokens, with 20% of all proceeds going to effective altruism,” he added.

For more information on the project and how to purchase the album and NFT, visit

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