On February 1, 2017, 32 people gathered in Adrienne Outlaw’s studio to play a human game of chess in an effort to practice the art of respectful engagement. They used as a framework for the performance the Match of the 21st Century: Russia versus the Rest of the World. During this game, Judit Polgar defeated Garry Kasparov, marking 2002 as the first time the highest ranking female defeated the highest ranking male. For the moves and mindset of the performance, the players — with guidance from a yogini — drew upon basic tenets of yoga, which like chess, requires focus, skill and practice yet welcomes all beginners. The players divided into teams of red and blue to represent various allegiances. Each person held an umbrella, which served as a symbol of protection and an emblem of dignity. Forced onto a small board and jostling for position with umbrellas held aloft, the players had to help each other navigate their moves and die with dignity. The resulting video, inspired by the Dadaists and Surrealists, reveals how unity and understanding may resolve chaos.
As part of the project, players from diverse backgrounds acquainted themselves with others they may never have had the opportunity to meet. Players, all of whom contributed to this piece, include: Maggie Abbott, Jenna Bauer, Marnie Bermingham, John Bermingham, Mathijs Bicknese, Elena Canovas, Judy Child, Brady Decker, Debora Dobson, Brian Flowers, Daniel Foust, Lauren Franklin, Ilango Gurusamy, Brandon Hentze, Izaiah Johnson, Zeno Lavagnino, Kate Lilly, Christy Lin, Peter Manion, Shanan Manka, Meridith McKinley, Brittany Neier, Julie Preuss, Ben Simon, Jeff Sjerven, Paul Taghert, Leo Taghert, Lauren Tracy, Alessandro Ustione, Lynn Valeri, Alison Warren, Mark Zimmerman. Special contributors include Christy Lin, Shawn Klein, Patricia Joye, David Piston, Kyle Baker, Yoga in Demun as well as the World Chess Hall of Fame and staff. The project continues as opportunities for players to meet again are regularly offered. Connections are being made and people are getting to know each other!