Chess Match Pits East Against West
By Jessie Fredlund ’07
Can King Arthur defeat Garuda,
the Hindu firebird, in a battle to the death? Will Japanese
demons Oni and Tengu triumph over the Norse Valkyries?
This Saturday, Oct. 21, as part of Family Weekend, the Smith
Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (SSFFS) will stage these
unlikely battles of epic proportion in a live-action, human
chess match, pitting folklore and ancient mythology from the
East against that of the West.
The war begins at 1 p.m. on Seelye
Lawn. In case of rainy weather, the games will move to the
Participants will dress as their favorite characters from
Eastern and Western mythologies. Following directions from
players Shain Neumeier ’09 (representing Western) and
Lauren Myers-Wong ’07 (Eastern), the live chess pieces
will act out battles to gain control of 3-by-3-foot squares
on a super-sized chessboard.
Leading characters on the Eastern side will feature Hindu
deities as the king and queen, the Japanese Sun Goddess as
a bishop, and the Japanese Radish God as a rook.
The Western team will be lead
by King Arthur and Queen Mab, as their respective game pieces.
Other key pieces include bishop Titania, the fairy queen,
a vampire rook and the four horsemen of the apocalypse as
Costumes are often elaborate
and are one of participants’ favorite aspects of the
event, says Eleanor Rosenthal ’07, SSFFS president.
A Family Weekend tradition, live-action chess has been an
annual event since 2000. Each year, friends and family of
participants gather with other Smithies to watch the matches
Past themes have included Harry Potter versus Lord of the
Rings; pirates versus ninjas; American cartoons versus Japanese
anime; and the dead versus immortals.
Although several of the recent
years have ended in 1:1 ties, the ninjas wiped out the pirates
in 2003, a dark day in the memory of then-pirates like Rosenthal.
Despite her previous defeats, Rosenthal is enthusiastic about
this year’s games, but declined to speculate about which
team will triumph Saturday.