Based on Ben Bresky’s report in Israel National News:

baka chess

Courtesy Ben Bresky (Israel National News)

The annual Baka Street Fair took place 22 days ago on Derech Beit Lechem in the Baka (Geulim) neighborhood of Jerusalem. It allowed both well-known musicians and lesser known groups from around the country to show off their skills, for local shop owners to market their trinkets, and for the general public (me included) to have an awesome time.

I got there at around 6:30pm when things were warming up. Activists for candidates running for mayor of Jerusalem and the city council were busy passing out leaflets, the food stands were just beginning to sell an assortment of foods, and, most importantly, the chess boards were getting set up.

I spotted a kid who was taking on several grownup’s in an exhibition of pure skill and continued trying to pester him into playing me throughout the evening. I remembered when I’d been “that” kid whom everyone wanted to play.

I ended up playing a Master who later competed against four kids blindfolded. I had a feeling I was in for a fight, but almost ended up pulling a rabbit out of my kippah. He beat me of course, but there were others whom I crushed with my calculations and tactics.

Then, it was on to mingling with the locals. I took a walk down the length of Derech Beit Lechem, offering my affection to fellow Jerusalemites and indulging a flock of party activists in a conversation regarding the chances of their candidate. I bought a really cool shirt that changes colors when there’s a lot of sunlight (maybe for next year), a totally useless rock that ended up disappearing on my way home and participated in some “rikudei am” or Israeli folk dancing at the newly remodeled Old Railway Station.

Next year’s event promises to be just as fun—and who knows—maybe there will be a live circus show with walruses and elephants! Well, no, that’s just my imagination at work, but y’all are welcomed to show up nevertheless! There will be chess after all…