Chess is not an outdoor sport, except perhaps on the two big, new chess boards that have been installed on the Michigan Avenue sidewalk in front of the 1001 Woodward Building. "Dan Gilbert picked a perfect day" to have the two chess sets installed, Brian Westin said. It has been somewhat of a cool summer, but today, August 16, has been slightly warmer, very sunny, and without rain. Westin, a restaurant worker who lives in Detroit, watched several games while seated on one of several chairs that have been installed near the chess sets.
"When they make them this big, it becomes a spectator sport," Westin said. At home, Westin plays chess on his computer. The last game he watched today at 1001 Woodward pitted a janitor from Preferred Building Services playing White against Gregory Dawkins, owner of the New Dexter Auto Wash, playing Black. "I’ve been playing chess on a normal size board for 30 years," Dawkins said. Both players castled early in the game (castling is a special move that puts the king in a somewhat more protected position), but Dawkins was eventually forced to move his king to the middle rows of the big board.
"He’s going to win," said Micah Harris, another janitor from Preferred Building Services, as he watched his colleague. "He’s got the queen, looks like it," Harris said when asked if his colleague was going to win. "White’s in a better position," said Mike Reed, a labor activist who was also watching the game. The Black king "can dance around a bit," Reed said, referring to Dawkins. Dawkins did lose, and the two players hugged after the checkmate. "The game is the same, the pieces are just bigger," Reed said. Reed has played chess with big pieces in Las Vegas.
The Securitas security guards assigned to the building declined to speak on the record, but they did confirm that the chess sets were installed by order of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert; that the sets will definitely be available for play on Monday during the day, possibly on Saturday, too; and that the pieces will be put away at night each night.