Monday, September 14, 2009

Making chess come to life

This is a cute story - love the costumes! Photo from article, caption: MARK ARONOFF / The Press Democrat Chess player Raahul Shah, 10, moves a white knight (Tia Romo) during a performance of “Lords of the Board” on Sunday in Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square. The event was sponsored by the Sonoma County Arts Council, Chess for Kids and 8-TrackMinds Productions. By STEVE HART THE PRESS DEMOCRAT Published: Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 3:00 a.m. Last Modified: Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 9:33 p.m. It wasn’t your typical Sunday afternoon chess match at Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square. The “pieces” on a giant chess board were live actors dressed as Vikings, fairies, wizards, unicorns, Goths, Grim Reapers and bat-like gargoyles. Controlling the action were a pair of pint-sized chess players, Fred Marvel, 9 and Raahul Shah, 10. After the boys made their moves on a normal-size chess board, they shifted the living proxies. The human chess pieces taunted their opponents as they knocked them out of the game. “I think you’ll make a lovely slave,” said Shah’s queen, checking Marvel’s knight. It was all part “Lords of the Board,” a performance sponsored by Sonoma County Arts Council, Chess for Kids and 8-TrackMinds Productions. Onlookers said the live chess pieces added a new dimension to the game. “It makes chess exciting,” said Jim Ryan, a visitor to Santa Rosa from Dublin, Ireland. “It’s the first time I’ve seen this anywhere.” Marvel pushed Shah to the limit, but lost in the end. He had fun directing his live chess pieces, he said. “It was kind of crazy,” said Marvel, who attends Binkley Elementary School in Santa Rosa. “It was challenging,” said Shah, who goes to Strawberry School in Santa Rosa. He learned a lesson from Sunday’s match, Shah said. “Even though you might be losing, you can find a way to win,” he said. The human chess event will be repeated from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 20 at Healdsburg Plaza and Sept. 27 at Cotati’s downtown square. It is free to the public. Chess for Kids also puts on a six-week after-school chess education program in Santa Rosa’s elementary schools. More than 50 kids took part in the first all-district chess tournament in January. More information about the nonprofit program is available at

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