In the 1957 Swedish epic film The Seventh Seal, a medieval knight named Antonius Block attempts to extend his life during the Black Plague by challenging Death himself to a game of chess. In much the same way, the 1,000 plus members of Walking Across Chicago attempt to avoid family obligations, tax returns, and normal weekend routines as we traverse the city each month, walking away from somewhere and ending up nowhere.
While I wouldn’t want to spoil the outcome of the great dark comedic film for those who haven’t seen it, it is true that the film’s director Ingmar Bergman will be celebrating his 100th birthday from below a tombstone on the island of Fårö on July 14.
On this month’s 7.5 mile walk, we will honor Bergman, the game of chess, and death itself as we visit several of Chicago’s outdoor chess sets- first at Paseo Prairie Garden (2614 N. Kedzie), then Humboldt Park (southeast corner by Luis Munoz Marin Drive), then Senior Citizen’s Park (2228 N. Oakley), then Lincoln Park Chess Pavilion (1601 N. Lake Shore Drive). The first to arrive and willing at each site will play a game; others can watch or re-enact scenes from the movie or run circles around trees in squirrel-like fashion.
The starting point is right by the Blue Line CTA (and also a stop of the Diversey bus). We will meet right in the garden, but you can stop at New Wave Coffee (3103 W. Logan) or Mac Donald’s (2707 N. Milwaukee) for restrooms. If the weather outside is frightful, games will still be played under shelter in the CTA Blue Line underground, Humboldt Park Boat House, and within local businesses near the planned locations.
As always, please use Google Maps or similar to find the best way to reach the starting point from wherever you are traveling. If you don't know how to play chess, find another walker who doesn't know how to play chess and make up the rules as you go. Because the walks are spontaneous and we encourage stopping at interesting places on the way, we don’t operate on a strict timetable once the walk begins. If you miss the beginning and want to catch up later, it’s best to connect directly with another walker you know. I will also encourage members of the group to volunteer to post our location on this page periodically. Otherwise, here is our general course: https://goo.gl/maps/RpCRMiTGauv
Bring chess pieces if you have them!