Watchtowers and water tanks game
لعبة أبراج المراقبة وخزّانات المياه

An alternative chess set, with watchtowers and water tanks as pawns, that is impossible to play

Chess is a game of conflict, with two opposing parties trying to defeat one another through their tactical intelligence. An ordinary chess game can take several hours. In some cases it can even end without a winner, leading to a draw.

The ‘Watchtower and water tanks game’ is based on the aesthetics of chess, but this game, stemming from the reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, is stuck in status quo. There are no possibilities of movement, since all the squares on the board are occupied. There is no winner.

64 pieces in total; 12 are watchtowers and relate to the 12 Palestinian governorates: Al-Bireh, Gaza, Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, Jerusalem, Nablus, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Salfit, Tubas, Tulkarem and Qalqilya.


  • Mark Jan Van Tellingen (NL)

    Designer Mark-Jan van Tellingen is an Amsterdam based Dutch designer, who studied at the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam (Masters Rietveld Academie).

    Report of one day during the create-shop 2013: RUMBLING MACHINES

    Rumbling machines, steady hands, and hospitality would summarize todays Wonderland. After half an hour drive we arrived in Hebron were we would spend most of our day. When entering the city a warning sign welcomed us ‘No entry for Israelis, entry illegal by israeli law’, as if it was Area 51. In Hebron, the biggest city in Palestine considering the 170.000 inhabitants of H1 and H2, our first stop would be the ceramic and glass workshop. After a quick tour we wandered around the place, admiring the craftsmen that were blowing glass and gracefully decorating pottery. The ease with which they made their glass products was fascinating to see. With the options in mind some of us started painting or collecting ideas for possible products. Several tourists and interested people entered the workshop on and off and were shown around, for a while making it look like an artisan showroom. Our next stop was The Hirbawi Keffiyeh Factory “Raise your keffiyeh, Raise it” as Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf sings in “Ali Keffiyeh”. The rumbling sounds of weaving machines slowly came towards us when entering the factory. In the entrance hall a big bedouin tent was implemented as a business meeting point. Two man were keeping a close eye on the keffiyeh during the manufacturing process, removing the threads that were superfluous. The factory, operational since 1961, annually produced 150.000 scarfs until the early 1990s. “Today, due to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the opening of trade with the outside world, only four machines remain in operation producing a mere 10,000 scarves a year. Not one of these scarves are exported, as overseas suppliers produce mass quantities at a fraction of the price, and the shrinking Palestinian economy and Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks create further hindrances to production and trade for small businesses like Mr. Hirbawi’s. In Mr. Hirbawi’s own words: My machines are in good shape. They can start working tomorrow. I just need a market.”

    In the office factory several keffiyehs were bought either for personal use or for artistic purposes. After we filled our bags with the Palestinian symbol of all symbols, Maher Shaheen — one of the participants — invited us to his house for a tea and a sweet arabic coffee. It was a perfect closure of the day being invited into the intimacy of a palestinian family. 

  • 2013

    Olive Olive wood

    38 * 38 cm (board)

    12 watchtowers & 52 tanks