While Main Campus prepares for International Games Day, the Southampton Library has an ongoing game of its own. Chess is one of the oldest and most popular games in the world, appealing to players of all ages and cultures. You can find chess boards in parks, bookstores, online, and at the Southampton Library! Anyone can use the library’s chess set, located near the armchairs by the circulation desk. While some people use the board for individual games of chess, we also have an ongoing match that anyone can participate in!
It began when a student moved the first white piece and then left the board to go study. Later, a different student walked by and moved a black piece. Once the game had been started, there was no stopping other students from participating. People make moves on their way to lunch, as they come in to the library to study, while they sit and collaborate with friends, whenever they happen across the board. Each student only makes one move and leaves the board for others to make the next move. It’s chess played like you’ve never seen it played before: anonymously, with no coherent strategy, trusting that whoever comes next will make a good call.
The game has been fierce so far. There have been mishaps, people have forgotten whose turn it was, pieces have been mistakenly returned to the board or mistakenly removed, and occasionally improvisation has been required when pieces were knocked over and no one could remember where they belonged. Even with all the chaos, the game has continued. Though it doesn’t have the coherent strategy and concentration that a traditional game of chess would have, the Ongoing Chess Match at the Southampton Library brings players in to the library and makes them think about the game in new ways. Students give a brief moment of their time, taken from an otherwise busy day, to advance a game that they may not see the end of. They choose a side, or play both sides at different times, working hard toward a goal with unknown partners in a spirit of cooperation born out of a mutual love for an age old game. In addition to being a fun distraction, the Chess Match is a symbol of the progress that can be made when individuals take a small step toward a common purpose, not knowing what the end result will be, but knowing it will bring some small joy to those who come after.