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Chess comes to life at Farmington Community Library

Part of Potter Pallooza, community members take part in life-sized chess game

After an hour, Farmington City Manager Vince Pastue was finally captured Saturday — on the chess board. 

Pastue was one of the 32 community members taking part in life-sized chess game. The event was part of "Potter Pallooza", a celebration tied the installation of an exhibit called "Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine" at the Main Library on 12 Mile Road in Farmington Hills

Pastue served as king on the black side, before his reign was toppled by the white side's victory. 

While community members took their places on the life-sized board in the library's auditorium, 10-year-old Anand Suchet and 13-year-old Sudhu Srinivasan called the shots, maneuvering pieces from a regular chess board before they were mimicked by the real-life counterparts. 

Srinivasan won the game and took home the top prize, a case containing a number of board games. Appropriately, Suchet took home two packages of Pepperidge Farms "Chessmen" cookies.

"It was pretty fun, especially to have real people," Srinivasan said. "I've played games on-line where they have the pieces move and kill each other, but this was better, since you got to see the emotions when someone was taken."

Not only did he witness the emotions of the pieces, it's the first time that Srinivasan has had the chess pieces talk back, or suggest moves. 

Richard Lerner, who represented the Farmington and Farmington Hills Optimist Club, was in Srinivasan's ear from the beginning. Some of his wishes were granted, and he moved around the board eliminating several pieces in his role as a white knight. 

"It was fun, at times we'd be talking about what we would do if were in the same situation on the board," Lerner said. "At one point, I thought I'd be able to get to checkmate in two moves. But he wasn't doing that and with how it ended up, my move would have been a terrible mistake."

The game capped a long planning period for organizer Amelia Yunker. A children's librarian, she first started making phone calls to organizations for volunteers on April 1. 

"I got a couple laughs. It's not every day that someone calls and asks you to play life-sized chess," Yunker said. "It also didn't help that I started making calls on April Fools Day."

However, there was no fooling Saturday when Srinivasan ended the game with a single word: "checkmate."

Correction: This story originally reported an incorrect number of community members playing the game of life-sized chess and incorrect identification of the black and white queens in a photo.

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