Friday, July 25, 2008

All There, In Black And White

My Turn To Make A Move

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


These shots were taken on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia, during our recent holiday. I noticed these four men playing draughts (or checkers, as some of you know it) and I walked over and asked if I could take a photograph.

They nodded, happy to give me permission, so I hit the trigger immediately. I chose a horizontal frame, wide open to include their surroundings as well as their clothing and the relaxed manner in which they were concentrating on the game.

Then, just as the rest of the Authorblog clan climbed into a taxi, I walked in the opposite direction, to thank the men for their kindness. They asked me where I was from and as I replied, I noticed one of them had his hand hovering over the board, in preparation for a strategic move.


In mid-sentence, I lifted the camera again, quickly adjusted the focal length and shot this frame.

Only at this stage did I realise that the men were not playing on a conventional board. Look closely at this and the next shot (below) and tell me if you see the extent of their creativity. There is dark green tape (probably electrical tape, because it is fairly thick and wide) marking the boundary of their makeshift "board" on the white table.

Now look closely and you’ll see that the black and white squares are all painted uniformly onto the surface of the table.

It was only as I sat down to write this post that I realised I’ve never seen four people play a game of draughts/checkers before. I can only assume that there were two alternative explanations. Either they were playing in teams of two; or they were playing one-on-one, with the other two waiting to play the next game.

And what of the Authorblog clan, waiting for me in the taxi? They were not stressed. They know I always like to follow a trail when I have a camera in my hand.

And in this case, the trail led me to a memorable sight - I’ve never been invited to witness such a unique board meeting.


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26 comments:

Cowgirl said...

Ha! Great game. Unlike chess, which is way beyond a simple cow farmer.

susan said...

Huh...you made that simple shot so much more interesting with your observations.

I'll have to keep you in mind and start looking closer at the things around me now.

(really like that 2nd shot, btw)

Maggie May said...

That was unique! That foursome managed to make their own simple pleasures.

JennWasHere said...

That is a very interesting game. I wonder how it is played.

I am new at PSF and my entry can be read HERE. Please stop by if you have some time. Happy weekends!

Jenn: said...

I wondered why there were 4 men as well. Maybe the other 2 are line judges. Haha.

imbeingheldhostage said...

That is so cool. Look what we'd miss without a lens to look through!

Hilary said...

Wonderful photos and commentary as always. Adding to your observations, I'm thinking that checkerboards traditionally have 64 (8 x 8) squares, don't they? I guess four players require a larger board

Lee said...

Interesting shots David! Nice to know the game of checkers hasn't died off. My granddad taught me how to play as a child.

Cheers!

Susie said...

great photo, and great story behind it! now i am wondering why there are 4 guys too!

Chas said...

Great story for the photos. Proof that things are not always what they seem. Now you have me wondering why there were 4 men as well.

MamaGeek said...

This was fascinating. I had no ideas draughts was checkers. So now your blog is an education blog as well. Nice shot.

Meg Wolff said...

Nice photo of the men relaxed and playing. In America we have to go on vacations where there are no computer hook-ups and no TV before we pull out the board games, then they are the times we fondly remember. My daughter , her friend and my nephew are here today ... I'm going to see if I can get them to play one tonight. We'll see. Thanks for the inspiration.

Sandra Ree said...

Keen observation, David. I don't think I would have picked up on half of it. Your writing is as excellent as your photography.

April said...

Wow, thanks for the explanation cuz I never would have looked quite as closely at the board! Awesome story to go along with it.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Hmmmmmmm.... I must give that game a try.

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

I'm going to fwd this to my friend - she is from Malaysia, she will let me know what this game is about.

Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting. I really like strategy games, but I like chess best.

Suldog said...

Huh. A 12x12 board. Reminds me of some of the variations on chess dreamed up by folks who are somehow bored by the "normal" game. Of course, I have enough trouble holding my own in that "normal" game, so I don't need such fantastic new pieces like "tanks".

Not kidding.

http://www.pathguy.com/chess/TankChss.htm

quilly said...

Look at the body language. The man in red and the man in black are playing the game. The other two are watching.

How can I tell? The way the pieces are set up on the board -- and who is touching the table. Those that don't belong at the game, are subtly excluded by the body language of the players.

CrazyCath said...

What an exceptional story! Thanks for sharing this. A unique board, along with a unique (it seems) way of playing draughts. I love that shot with his hand hovering for the next move. The board reminds me of a chess board dad made for me - heavy duty cardboard with the squares marked out in black pen and ink, each black square filled in by hand. I loved that board far more than any wooden one I bought or had given.

CrazyCath said...

Just read Hilary's comment and rechecked - 12 x 12! Well spotted Hilary. A unique board indeed.

Chris Osborne said...

Wait, 4 at once? That's cool.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

There are WAY too many squares on that "board". You always take the most interesting photos, I love to come see what you've posted each week! {I'm pretty sure I say something similar each visit!}

Golightly said...

Always a wonderful story. Thank you for taking me around the world to see the unique and interesting things and people I would never see otherwise!

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

okay - here is the answer from my Malay friend:

The pictures shows two Malay man playing the ordinary chess and the
other two is just watching, mostly a past time for village Malay man or taxi drivers waiting for passengers.

nothing mysterious, I like your queries better!

Cecily R said...

I want that table!! And I won't be happy with a table that's painted like that either...that is just so cool!!

I agree with Susan. You make what seem like the simplest shots wildly interesting and entertaining with your observations. I love that about you and your posts!