TAMPA — As a sword-wielding samurai took out a ninja assassin, it became clear this was no ordinary game of chess.
The pieces were alive, the weapons were real and the costumes expertly made.
In place of rooks, pawns and bishops stood actors dressed as characters from Japanese animation and video games. Instead of the usually quiet movement of the game, choreographed make-believe battles ensued to determine a winner.
It was all part of Florida's largest anime convention, Metrocon. The three-day event brought lovers of Japanese animation, video games and comic books together for costume contests, panel discussions and more this weekend at the Tampa Convention Center.
The human chess match took three months and more than 50 people to create, said Reko Rivera, who played a Japanese anime character in it.
It's more a story or a play than a game of chess, the 24-year-old from St. Petersburg said. "The story line continues from one year to the next."
The event's game is touted as the original anime human chess match, according to the event's website. It was first held in 2004 and took inspiration from the human chess games held at Renaissance festivals.
Besides the chess match, people came for costumes. From lime-green contact lenses to wigs in every shade and style, costumed convention-goers attempted to replicate their favorite characters.
The convention offers freedom for self-proclaimed nerds, said Dylan Tucker, 18, from Orlando, who was dressed as a character from a video game.
"You can come to these and feel just like everyone else," he said.