A Chess Wonderland in Second Life

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland – click any image for full size

Chess Wonderland, is a fascinating Homestead region which caught my eye a couple of weeks ago after seeing images pop-up on  Twitter and Flickr, marking it as a place to visit as time allowed.  Designed by EgyptRocker, it is a surreal place with the focus – as indicated in the name – on chess, which is seen not so much as a game of strategy but as an eternal melee of close-quarter fighting.

Visitors are presented with an undulating landscape covered in the black and white tiles of a chess board, which rises into chequered monochrome walls surrounding the region. These walls in turn rise into a roof high overhead, giving the region a gigantic, room-like feel, heightened by the great ceiling light suspended from high overhead which casts a glowing aurora over the top of a great tree occupying the centre of the region.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

This aurora is mirrored by softly rippling sheets around the edge of the landscape as misted pools slowly turn between the hills, and sheets of ocean mist drift beneath the boughs of gigantic trees. Unmissable due to their size, the trees are matched in height by massive chess pieces – knights, rooks, bishops and queens – apparently standing guard over the region while candles cast additional ghostly light.

The battle between black and white is located across the region from the landing point, where Mistero’s Hifeng’s chess pieces have been placed on the tiles of the land. Far from presenting a genteel game of carved pieces on a flat board, they are engaged in a vicious a battle involving blade and arrow.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

Close by sits a huge table, braced by two equally huge armchairs. The table holds a traditional chess board and pieces, and the armchairs smaller copies of themselves suitable for avatars to sit in. The chess board is playable, offering those who sit in the smaller armchairs the opportunity to engage in a more traditional match or two.

Further around the region, guarded by a pair of giant chess kings, sits a castle. Possibly the point of contention between the warring pieces, it also appears to be the location for events – on our visit, a fair few people were gathered with its walls.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

Mistero Hifeng isn’t the only artist represented here, both through his chess pieces and several other sculptures. Sitting close to the landing point is Cica Ghost’s chess player from Strings (which you can read about here), while the string quartet and their pianist from the same installation can be found further around the region, playing under the cover of a fold in the land.

Chess Wonderland is a surreal, beautiful region, unusual in form, softened in look through the considered windlight and use of auroral effects (probably best appreciated with Advanced Lighting Model enabled in the viewer). The presentation of the art pieces by Mistero and Cica – two of my favourite 3D artists – is both imaginative and eye-catching, making for a fascinating and rewarding visit.

Chess Wonderland, Egypt; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Chess Wonderland

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