Kevin and I are members of a collective in Brooklyn which supports psychogeographic and urban exploration work. I wrote an article about the Austin game on the glowlab site, and if you'd like to you can read it here.
My wife heard about the event a couple of days before and when we asked my 11-yr old son if he’d enjoy spending the day dressed as a chess piece in a human scale chess game, our Sunday afternoon plans were set. Driving up from San Antonio, we really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, who answers the call to impersonate a chess piece on a City-sized chess board? So, when we pulled up and saw a Jester on a unicycle, several ladies in wedding-type gowns, a guy in a cat-in-the-hat hat and another guy wearing an oversized pope miter carrying a sandwich board imploring “God Save The Queen” … well, we knew we’d fit right in.
We took our starting position at f7, and awaited instructions via cell phone. We had camp chairs, Subway sandwiches and candy to keep us occupied. Oh yeah, and my son had The Incredibles playing on his portable DVD player.
We took our role as expendable black pawn very, very seriously, costuming and arming ourselves appropriately. We wore helmets that were very Corinthian looking…
…except ours were fashioned out of black poster board with scissors and stapler rather than out of steel with hammer and anvil… and our helmets had the word PAWN plastered across the forehead portion. All-in-all though, very convincingly medieval I would say. And the plastic play sword I carried and the hollow flag pole my son carried enhanced our appearance, making our resemblance to medieval human chess pieces quite uncanny.
At one point we got the call to move – capturing a Pawn, then a Knight and another Pawn. Each time we got a call we packed up the camp chairs, dvd player and assorted food stuffs and shuffled to the appointed space. By the third move I had tossed the camp chairs, dvd player and back pack full of treats into the car, which my wife slowly drove beside us.
We traversed about 10 city blocks during our moves and elicited a consistent reaction from passersby… a reaction that said “what the…?”
About 3 hours into the game, as we awaited certain death, my son's helmet went sailing down the street with a gust of wind. I, still wearing my helmet, went chasing down the street after it. I passed a car full of college kids stopped at a stop light and they stared, awestruck, as if they’d never seen a helmeted man in black chasing after an airborne helmet with faux sword at the ready. When I got back to my son he remarked "now there's something you don't see every day!"
Shortly thereafter the King-in-the-cat-in-the-hat hat rounded the corner and announced in flawless Dr Seuss verse that, sadly, the jig was up. We retired to the base camp at the restaurant, thanked the organizers (Sharilyn and Kevin), met some of the other players, took some photos and quietly left (sans helmet).
This was a very exciting game between two fierce competitors, both of whom were playing remotely via cellphone. Unfortunately, we had to stop the game after 3 hours of play because the pieces needed to leave the board!
we've chosen the hickory street bar and grill as our base camp for the human scale chess
game. it is located at 800 congress, the corner of w 8th and congress. for those of you studying the chessboard, this corner is f4. a map to the location.
plan to meet me at hickory street at 12:30p on sunday if you are playing a piece, so we can meet you and get your cellphone number. if you can't be there at this time, feel free to email me and we will make other arrangements. hickory street will also be the place you'll return to if you get captured. the first beers are on me.
intermittent rain is predicted for sunday, albeit only a 30% chance. we plan to go forward with the game
regardless of the weather so please dress appropriately and bring umbrellas or rain gear if it looks inclement on sunday morning. and don't forget to wear black or white, depending on which side you are playing.
thanks to everyone who spread the word, we made a mention in the austin chronicle (unfortunately, they got the date wrong!). to see it online, visit this link and scroll down to "volunteer calls":
- if your cellphone has SMS text messaging capability, you can sign up to get the moves of the master game sent to your cellphone. this is optional but i think it'll add something to the game. we'll all be joined together in what's called a 'txtmob'. here is what to
do to participate in this feature:
1) go to http://www.txtmob.com
2) register your phone
3) join the txtmob called 'austinchess'
4) let me know if you have any questions about this process
- if you're playing for white, please wear white; and if you're playing black, please wear black. if rainy weather is predicted for that sunday, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
- we need help documenting this game so please bring cameras or any other recording devices you might favor. i'll have a few disposable cameras for anyone who isn't already equipped. if you have any friends who might be interested in taking photos or shooting video for us, let me know.
We need 32 volunteers with working cellphones to play the roles of the chess pieces. Sign up now and select the role you will play. To participate, you will need a working cellphone and a couple of free hours on Sunday May 15. Costuming is strongly enoucouraged.
SMS simulcasting and webcasting will likely be used during the Austin game.
We are also seeking expert players to play the master game. Additionally, we are looking for people interested in helping to document the game with video, still photography, audio, or any other format you can think of (digital media preferred).
We've had tremendous fun putting this on in different cities and hope you will be able to join us! the games are great fun and offer a totally different way to interact with your city and experience the game of chess.
There will be an afterparty. Check this page for updates as more details become available!