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First Moves: What’s Your Chess Workout? Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
June 19, 2009
Jen Shahade in her hulachess studio. Photo by Daniel Meiron
Can you hula-hoop and play chess simultaneously?  We didn’t think so. And those aren’t the only two things
Chess Life Online editor Jennifer Shahade can do at the same time. She is also an author, a newscaster and the co-founder of 9queens. Chess Life takes a closer look at one of our own, an innovative chess promoter.

“In chess there are some extremely beautiful things in the domain of movement, but not in the visual domain." —Marcel Duchamp

Hulachess grew out of a long overdue project—teaching my longtime friend Gabrielle Revlock chess, while she, a professional dancer and expert hula-hooper, taught me hooping. Despite being friends since sixth grade, I never managed to impart the knight move to her. And in my first hour, I could barely keep the hoop going for two seconds. Luckily, our learning curves were both steep, not circular!

After months of practice and in conjunction with Daniel Meirom of DimMak Films, we choreographed and shot hulachess, in which we played through a chess game while both hula-hooping. (We did not do it in one take—it took about nine hours and we dropped both hoops and rooks.) The moves were based on a game that I analyzed for Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess (to be reviewed in the August Chess Life, ~ed.), from the 1924 Olympiad in Paris. Duchamp lost that game against the Romanian master Davidescu, partly because he missed a line leading to perpetual check.
After 1. Kg1, Black continues with 1. ... Rd1+ 2. Kg2 Rd2+ and so on

In hulachess, that very perpetual check is shown in sync with the circles of hooping. My favorite thing about hulachess is that the movement shows visually what all chessplayers know: Chess is constant mental movement. Hulachess is also fun. I created a hulachess studio in my brother's childhood room, and I'm ready to take on any serious challengers.  

To see an excerpt from hulachess and a link to nakedchess, visit Jennifer's blog on Chess Life Online . Starting this summer, you will also find video chess news on uschess.org.