No playing of chess at common areas

From ‘Poster banning chess did not reflect intentions: Marine Parade Town Council’, 14 March 16, article by Loh Chuan Junn, CNA

The poster put up by Marine Parade Town Council (MPTC) banning chess games at common areas did not reflect the intentions of the Town Council, MPTC said on Monday (March 14).

The clarification came after a picture of a poster stating “No Playing of Chess at Common Areas” caused a stir online when it was first posted on social media on Sunday (Mar 13), with some people questioning how “rowdy” a game of chess could be to have caused the ban.

…Responding to Channel NewsAsia’s queries, a spokesperson from the Town Council admitted that the content of the poster was not clear, and that there was no ban on playing the game.

“We acknowledge our oversight for the content of the poster which does not reflect our intention well,” said MPTC. “As such, we would like to apologise for the wrong context of our poster.”

I wonder how much time and effort was spent making the chess poster, when in fact the game that’s causing all the fuss is actually draughts/checkers, or colloquially known as ‘dum’, a word that describes perfectly the thought process that goes into the creation of such a notice. Firstly, they got the game wrong. Nobody plays classic Western-style chess in public anymore and aristocrats don’t live in HDB flats. Second, by specifying chess you set yourself up for cheeky retorts like: ‘So does that mean poker or mahjong is OK?’. What about having a Magic cards gathering, or ping bloody pong? No chess? No problem. Unleash the Go! set.

The real problem, though, is not so much the noise, but when a dum gathering turns into a makeshift gambling den. One player reportedly lost $30,000 over a week. Still, if you’re a die-hard gambler, what better way to get your fix through a battle of wits instead of praying to the gods for lucky numbers. I would rather experience the clatter and commotion of a dum match than the annoying squeals of a casual handphone game, or the pontianak mating calls that pass off as karaoke singing. Board games like dum are also an entertainment source for sore-loser drama. We all know of that one petty friend who flips the board over whenever he loses a match, ruining the party for everyone. You can’t vent your frustrations on your precious phone.

Like void deck football, the image of uncles crowding around a grandmaster duel looks set to be a thing of the past. A couple of generations down the road and the concept of a game that requires you to move physical tokens, instead of swiping pixels on a screen, would be, tragically, an unfamiliar one. Gone too would be the ‘terrazzo tables‘, an icon of the senior citizen’s corner where Chinese chess enthusiasts gather, and in its place metal barriers and naggy posters telling you to shelf your activities and just stay at home while dementia gradually kills you. If all else fails, there’s always Fish Hunter at the arcade. Yes, you’ll spend the rest of your dying days gawking at digital fish instead of engaging whatever’s left of your brain.

Not all hope is lost though. If you can’t kick a ball around or have a dum tournament in your own void deck, I’m sure town councils would be perfectly happy turning the space down there into a library outpost, but they probably have to ban reading newspapers because of the noise generated from all the page flipping.

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