by Kevin Conran, black f-pawn
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).