Chess

Pioneer square in downtown Portland is the scene of today's story.  I was walking around on a busy Saturday afternoon enjoying the summer weather just as many Portlanders did.

 I came upon these two chess players.  As I stopped to watch, I quickly realized that they were playing a different version of chess that I had not seen before.  Clearly I am not a chess expert.  I found out later that they were playing speed chess or in this particular case "lightning" chess, where each side is given much less time, to make their move, than in normal chess.

Some passersby would stop and watch for a while, some would just glance and carry on, and others would be totally oblivious.

Initially, I just watched this fascinating scene, full of focus, dexterity and total determination.  I thought that it was quite interesting to be playing in public, standing and seemingly in a not so comfortable location with a lot of activity going around, when you possibly might have needed more calm and quiet.  Maybe it was adding to the challenge of the game.

Eventually I decided to photograph the players.  I had time, as nobody was paying any attention to me.  I still tried to be as discreet as possible to not interfere.  I shot several frames from different angles.

I feel that this photograph represents closely what I experienced when I was watching the scene.

The extreme concentration of the two players, perhaps the man, with the hat, is not coming up quickly enough with a clever move, and the other one is ready to pounce.  The two men on the left are watching the game closely. Others are just passing by, walking or even riding their bike. Many are on and off the Max train.

It looks like total chaos on this busy sidewalk, and yet our two players are acting as if they were there, all alone,  just with their game board and pieces.

There are ten persons in that frame (and if you look very closely, eleven) and I was fortunate enough that they all seem to participate, in one way or another, in the story I was trying to capture.

In this case the photograph was not just a matter of reacting, but an attempt to put all the pieces together in a way that seemed coherent.  A little work and effort on my part and some luck as always, made this possible.

I wish to thank my wife, Maria, for her input on this post.

Thank you for visiting and until next time!