The Rook Project

The Rice Chess Society, in order to gain funding and publicity, decided to perform a jack during Rice University's Willy Week 2000. The jack named 'the Rook Project' consisted of constructing and hoisting a 10 foot high rook piece over Willy's statue (and tomb), in a single night.  Several days went into planning; the result was one of the most unique displays seen at Rice...

Top: Jason Whitney, Tony Berning, Patrick Herron, Daniel Felix, Trushar Sarang, Jon Noak;
Side standing: Eric Krause, Sam Poutasse; Sitting: Joon Choe, Polly D'Avignon, Andy Iles, Alex Torres.
Taking picture: Kai-How Farh


The idea for the Rook Project was conceived by Kai-How Farh and Tony Berning.
Design and Construction by Tony Berning, Joon Choe, Kai-How Farh, Daniel Felix, Alex Torres, and Trushar Sarang.
** Special thanks to the Jones's people who helped us hoist the rook onto the statue.  email the web master to insert your names if you desire.
** Also, thanks to Marc Russo (the car), Randy Letness (showing up), Joe Blocher (tools), Tom Miller (tools), & Johnny Wallace (tools).

March 16, 2000______________________________________________________________
The idea is first formulated by Tony Berning, Chess Club president, and Kai-How Farh, member.  Initial brainstorming and designs begin.

Material to use would probably be paper mache and some sort of wire support.

March 17, 2000______________________________________________________________
Consult architecture students, for design issues.  To build the base we decide to use a strong metal rim on the bottom, chicken wire on the sides, then use paper mache to cover and decorate the rook.

After more planning we, trash the paper mache idea; we decide to use garbage bags and duct tape from the inside.  The rook will be weather proof, faster to assemble, and won't need drying.

March 19, 2000______________________________________________________________
After several days of planning, and designing we meet for dinner to discuss materials, and final problems.  We plan the jack for tonight!  However, hardware stores close soon on Sundays... Decide to postpone the Root Project for Tuesday night or, technically, 0200 Wednesday.
March 21, 2000______________________________________________________________
Go to the hardware store to purchase materials.  We looked at the materials for sale and decide that welded wire will be better suited for this project rather than chicken wire.  In addition, black painting covers would be better than garbage bags for covering the wire.  We also purchase: 100ft x 4ft welded wire,  1 can paint, 2 brushes, 1 roll of heavy gauge wire to use as twist-tie secures, 2 bags of black plastic, and 3 rolls of duct tape.

We collect all other supplies, such as rope, wooden planks, and pliers and store them in a car....

All is ready for tonight.

March 22, 2000______________________________________________________________
We meet at Physics Lab at 0200 Wednesday morning.  The campus is quiet.  Weather is humid, but cool.  We construct the base of the rook by rolling a 25ft x 4ft piece of wire sheet together.  We try a test fit on Willy, and decide to shrink our estimates some (we have over-estimated by a lot).  We decide to shrink the base of the rook to a 7ft diameter.  Here is a picture of the construction of the first tier:

 Alex Torres on the outside, Daniel Felix bending wires on the inside.

The height estimate of the final rook remains at about 10 feet tall.  We then construct the second tier of the rook.  Twist tie the two frames together and test its sturdiness.  The rook looks like a giant cylinder cage:

Alex Torres bending down, Daniel Felix in red, Tony Berning supporting large base.

The third phase is to build the crown, which is made out of another 25ft long piece of welded metal.  This piece is slightly larger and is expected to fit over the rook like a hat:

Trushar Sarang, left, Joon Choe, right measuring metal strips for the crown.

We finished the supports for the crown and  try to lay it on the cylinder.  We notice too much wobble and decide to support the structure with a clothesline.   Below is the constructed frame for the crown and the cylinder base.  The plastic covering is also taped on and ready to go...

The crown needed  extra string supports.  The cylinder base is nearly done!

After wrapping the crown with plastic and securing it to the base with twist ties, the rook is done at around 0530 (only 3.5 hours to construct the rook:

From left to right: Joon Choe, Daniel Felix, and Kai-How Farh

Now we paint our necessary chess slogans and then get the rook on Willy before classes start!  We carry the rook to the statue and pause for a moment to bask in our glory:

Kai-How Farh sitting next to willy, then left to right: Trushar Sarang, Joon Choe, Alex Torres, & Daniel Felix.

Now, how do we get it up there?  It seems that our structure is a little bit taller than we anticipated.  Therefore, Kai-How goes to Jones College to get some friends to help.  He comes back with what you can consider  a small army for being awake at 0600 at Rice.  With their help, we are able to hoist the structure over Willy's head and conclude the Rook Project.  This is what the rook looks like:

Lonely rook.

Another picture:

The rook with friends.

One final look:

The front and the back.

Last updated: March 22, 2000