There have been fantastic settings for chess events in history. In the 18th century, the great and the good of the chess world gathered at the Café de la Régence in Paris, while the 19th century masters played their whims at Simpson’s in the Strand in London.
Perhaps the most iconic chess venue of the 20th century was on a stage in Rejkyavik, Iceland, where American Bobby Fischer defeated Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in the dramatic 1972 Match of the Century.
For over a year, chess players and fans around the world have had to settle for a little more modest type of chess room – play and watch online, from their own homes.
But now, with the rapid roll-out of the British Covid-19 vaccination program, there is some hope around the corner and reason to rejoice: On Sunday July 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., ChessFest takes place. set in London – just a mad hatter jump, jump and jump from the old-fashioned chess mecca, Simpson’s.
ChessFest is the first major chess event in the UK since the start of the pandemic in spring 2020, as the traditional London Chess Classic of chess in schools and communities – normally held at Kensington Olympia in early December – was inevitably postponed in December 2020 due to Covid restrictions. Instead, CSC Executive Director Malcolm Pein was understandably excited to be able to host an outdoor festival this summer.
The event, open to everyone and completely free, takes place courtesy of the Mayor of London and Westminster City Council.
Commemoration of a popular children’s classic
And what could be a more magnificent setting for the return of the return of chess over the chessboard than London’s favorite open space, Trafalgar Square? Overlooked by the statue of Admiral Nelson himself and guarded by the famous Four Lions of the square, a whole new audience of budding chess players can enjoy the game as it was meant to be played: on a chess board , with friends and friendly jokes.
Panorama of Trafalga Square – click to enlarge
ChessFest, sponsored by XTX Markets, commemorates one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice”, who performed in her own set of chess in the classic “Through the Looking Glass and What ‘Alice found it there “. – first published 150 years ago, in 1871.
An Alice-themed chess set will be recreated in Trafalgar Square on a giant chessboard, with 32 professional actors each playing the role of a chess piece. Over the generations, the story of “Alice”, describing life as a game of chess, has inspired writers, filmmakers and artists of “magical realism” as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, Tim Burton and Ralph Steadman.
This gif replay follows a recreation of the game made by Glen Downey in his master’s thesis. The main characters are mainly represented by chess pieces, Alice being a pawn, in a world made up of square fields divided by streams or streams.
Some of the basic rules of chess are ignored: a player makes several consecutive moves and a late check is not dealt with. The final position, however, is a complete checkmate.
Failures to change the game
There will be a fascinating range of other chess activities that visitors can participate in and watch in Trafalgar Square.
In addition to the occasional games for the public and simultaneous demonstrations by the grandmasters, there will be free lessons from professional chess teachers for everyone, from the absolute beginner, and the chance to play in the World Championship. Unofficial giant chess – all free to anyone who wants them. come.
To add to the fun, there will also be an Inter-City Chess Challenge match via a live video link from Trafalgar Square, where a team of schoolchildren will represent London against a team of schoolchildren from Liverpool in the North West of the England, where a ChessFest satellite event will be staged in the city’s Chevasse Park.
Among other Trafalgar Square attractions will be a “Battle of Wonders”, which will pit Shreyas Royal of London against Tani Adewumi of New York in a live internet match.
The setbacks were a game-changer for Shreyas (helping him save him from deportation from the UK) and for Tani (whose family fled religious persecution in Nigeria). ChessFest also aims to encourage positive change by bringing the benefits of chess to a wider audience.
In Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”, the story takes place on a magical chessboard, where red and white kings and queens, as well as characters as bizarre and colorful as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, the carpenter and the walrus and the lion and the unicorn, all fight for the supremacy of the kingdom.
Amidst all the weirdness, a young Alice tries to make sense of this confusing and upside down world, eventually growing from a humble pawn to a powerful queen in her own right.
This theme, that of a young person who becomes independent thanks to the dreamlike game of chess, is no different from the story of Beth Harmon in the Netflix hit “The Queen’s Gambit”, where she saw games of chess. ‘ceiling failures in her dreams (see this interesting analysis of The Queen’s Gambit and its relationship to Carroll’s story’ Through the Looking Glass’). Just as Carroll sought to inspire young people in the Victorian era, his fantasy tales remain in some ways the perfect analogy for chess as a potential change in the lives of young people today.
After what seems to many of us to be an far too long break from OTB chess, ChessFest might also be just the ‘kick in the arm’ we all need to get out and play chess again. It certainly looks like a great day and a giant publicity for our game.
For all readers in the London area who wish to participate, please do not hesitate to introduce yourself – no pre-registration is required. Come with your friends and enjoy the chess “fan zone”. The twin magic of Lewis Carroll’s world and the dreamlike mysteries of chess await.
For more information on ChessFest, visit:
Barclaycard presentation pictorial in Hyde Park 2014