Photo Of The Day: Checkmate

Today’s Photo of the Day is from a chess game in Amsterdam at Max Euwe Plein (square). Named for a Dutch chess champion, there’s also a museum on site dedicated to the game and player where you can play against a computer, but the outdoor board looks more interesting. Photographer Kumukulanui notes that the man was primarily studying his opponent rather than the game, to better anticipate the next move and his serious expression gives an interesting depth to the portrait. What should be his next move?

Share your best portraits in the Gadling Flickr pool for a future Photo of the Day.

Chess around the globe

Wend Magazine, an outdoor adventure/travel mag with an eco-sensitive slant, has a great photo gallery on their Wend Blog today that celebrates the game of Chess and its universal appeal around the globe. In fact, the blog post compares it to soccer when it comes to international popularity, with chess boards bridging cultural and language barriers across the planet.

The classic game traces its origins back to 6th century India, and over the centuries it has evolved into an art form. Learning the moves of the various pieces is a simple affair, and yet it opens the door for complex strategies and intense battles, played out on a black and white checker-board.

Wend warns that when you play a game abroad, you not only play for yourself, but your entire country, and offers up a few things to consider before sitting down at the chess table. That advice includes such things as don’t play anyone over 60, as they are probably better than you and it’s a no win situation no matter the results, and get familiar with local rules before you play, or you may find yourself schooled by some obscure tactic.

Of course, the real highlight of this post is the photographs, and they are fascinating. There are shots from all over the planet ranging from Argentina to Uzbekistan, and plenty of places in between. The photos capture players of all ages in all kinds of settings, and really do show just what an international game chess has become. Checkmate!

Fiestas de la Virgen de la Paloma in Madrid

If you’re in Spain this week, you won’t want to miss the festival for the “Virgin of the Dove”. This takes place every year in the old barrio of La Latina in Madrid and honors an 18th century portrait of the Virgin that was found in the trash one day and captured the barrio’s heart.

I went to one of these a couple of years ago and it’s loads of fun. There’s music, dancing, and lots of limonada, which is sort of like a cross between lemonade and sangria. Tasty, but potent on a hot evening.

The main festival is August 15, when there’s a long procession and a mass in honor of the Virgin. More secular entertainments include dancers, clowns, and fireworks. Since madrileños can’t conceive of a party lasting only a single day, the festival actually lasts August 12-16.

There’s something for everyone at this festival–chess tournaments, storytellers, dancing, kids’ games, and way more into the wee hours. Last year they even had a running of the bulls suitable for the whole family. The bulls were guys in bull costumes, and kids dressed as matadors waved little capes in front of them. It wasn’t all fun and games, though. Local blogger/writer/poet Sue Burke, who took this shot, nearly lost her drink when she got gored. The running of the fake bulls will happen again this Thursday, so hold onto your limonada.

A full schedule of events is here (in Spanish). Check out this website’s main page for more festivals in one of Spain’s most enjoyable cities.

Undiscovered New York: It’s all fun and games

You’re casually walking near New York’s Washington Square Park when an unusual sight comes into view. A giant Pac-Man comes running past your side, trailed by two blue and red ghosts in fast pursuit. Has your mind lost its grip on reality, you wonder? Fear not, these crazed video game characters writ large are actually playing Pac-Manhattan, a real life version of the famous video game played with humans and New York City’s streets as the playing field.

Truth be told, Pac-Manhattan is just one example of how seriously New York City takes its games of leisure. Although images of frantic chess players in Washington Square Park might dominate your thoughts of games in New York City, it’s only part of the story. Whether we’re talking about games played in the street, in a park or on a board, New York is a great place to play some of your old favorites or try out some gaming experiences that are a bit more unusual. The opportunities are only magnified by New York’s diverse immigrant culture, who brings with them the unique games and traditions of their homelands.

Ready to check out a Cricket match in the Bronx or Boules and Bocce in Brooklyn? Would a clue from a New York City scavenger hunt draw you in to learn more? It’s time to start keeping score as Undiscovered New York goes in search of the city’s lesser known games. Check it out below.
Games Outdoors
Sure, you probably already know New York is a baseball town. But what about a Cricket town? Or a Bocce town? If you like your games international then New York is where to find it. New York’s diverse array of immigrant groups have brought with them an equally interesting mix of favorite pastimes, lending a decidedly multicultural flair to the city’s leisure time.

One sport that has been gaining in popularity is Cricket. Devotees from around the globe gather around the wicket at Cricket fields like the one at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. Even if you don’t have the slightest idea how to play it can offer visitors an amusing insight into one of the world’s more popular games. If you want to learn more, New York Cricket is grand central for all things cricket in the Big Apple.

Equally beloved by New Yorkers is the sport of Bocce or Petanque, a strategy game which involves hurling metal balls across a gravel pit or grass. Though the rules vary slightly by country, the game is widely played in Europe, and the Continent’s New York descendants have taken a distinct liking to the sport. Ready to give it a try? Head to Brooklyn bars like Floyd’s or Pit Stop which both have their own court. Courts are also widely available at many city parks. Make sure to come back in September for the city-wide tournament.

Mind Games
New York is no doubt a thinker’s town and that fact figures prominently into many of its gaming pursuits. One example of that are the New York scavenger hunts created by Watson Adventures. Teams of contestants scour the city’s historic neighborhoods and museums in search of answers to some tricky questions. It’s a great way to learn more about the city and explore some less familiar/overlooked elements that give New York its particular charm.

If thinking games are more your style, you’re probably already familiar with Washington Square Park’s chess corner. Pretty much every day, hard core devotees spend their afternoons racing the clock at one of the park’s several permanent tables. Just down the street on Thompson is row of chess-themed stores selling an array of themed chess sets (think American Independence and The Simpsons) and players come to hang out strike up a few matches. Even if you’re not the next Bobby Fischer, it’s an interesting look at a culture that has long thrived in New York City.

Video Games
Gamers rejoice – New York’s got enough video game goodness to keep trigger fingers busy for hours. Gamers who have reached drinking age should make sure to stop by bars like Barcade in Brooklyn. It’s filled with 40-50 vintage 1980’s arcade games like Frogger and Space Invaders. Grab a quality pint of beer and and a few quarters and you’ll be set for the evening. Other bars like Crocodile Lounge on 14th Street offer a selection of bar games like Skee-ball as well as a FREE pizza with each drink.

If you’re looking for that rare Asian import game or vintage copy of Tecmo Bowl, look no further than Video Games New York. Devotees of Nintendo 8-bit goodness will find just about any older game to suit their heart’s content.

Taking Chessboxing to a whole new level – with a hotel

It has been 4 years since Gadling devoted an article to the fine sport of Chessboxing.

Chessboxing is a hybrid sport combining chess and boxing (duh). The name describes exactly what the sport involves, but if you don’t have a very creative imagination, picture a boxing ring with a chess board. The game switches between playing chess and punching the crap out of each other.

The sport is apparently so popular, that the man behind it has opened a hotel in Berlin with the sole purpose of offering affordable living space for people who play the sport, or those that just want to be surrounded by art inspired by famous chess and boxing icons.

Located in an old East German building near the Potsdamer Platz, the hotel offers 3 different rooms for just 90€ a night. Beds are named after Muhammad Ali, Bobby Fischer, Mike Tyson, Miyamoto Musashi and Anantoly Karpov.

Source: Chessboxing rental apartment