By KELLEN TANIGUCHI on June 16, 2021.
The Queen’s Gambit move has been made into downtown Medicine Hat on Tuesday, where Hatters will be able to stand on the world’s largest chess set board and call Checkmate this summer.
The Medicine Hat Chess Club has been keeping the big board going since 2005 and with Alberta in Stage 2 of its re-opening plan, and closing in on Stage 3, organizers say they are excited to give people the opportunity to get out of the house for a game of chess.
“We’re really happy that we’re able to get it going again. We’re happy that with everything going on in the world with COVID and all of that, that we’re at least able to open with some restrictions,” said Dave Allen, CORE Association’s chair.
“I love going downtown, I walk down here quite frequently and it’s really nice to have something both as visually beautiful as a large chess set … it’s stunning to look at and then also there’s something about the game of chess that every kid wants to learn how to play it and it’s a really easy way to sit down and spend some quality time with your family.”
Rita Bessant, CORE’s executive director, says she thinks the chess set brings something different to the downtown area and adds to the culture of Medicine Hat.
“I think it just brings an additional interest. We love downtown, CORE has been downtown for many years, we support downtown, businesses and the people. And I think the chess, this setup, really enhances the downtown area of Medicine Hat,” she said.
Bessant says this is the seventh time the CORE Association has helped open and facilitate the chess set and she adds it gives opportunities to employees to engage with the community. Bessant says the chess set gives employees with disabilities a way to serve in the public and for the public to have a positive attitude about people with disabilities.
The large chess pieces are from Indonesia, and Jerry Fitzgerald, treasurer for the Medicine Hat Chess Club, says he recently sanded, filled in cracks and re-painted all the pieces and he works to maintain the pieces over the years. The current chess pieces are the second set, after the first set needed to be replaced a few years ago.
Fitzgerald says it’s important for him to keep the board and pieces in good shape because it will always be used in the Hat.
“I’ve always played chess. I’ve played chess ever since I was a young kid with my dad and it’s kind of neat. It’s a game that’s played electronically online quite a bit, but the old way of playing it against somebody and stuff is still very much popular amongst a lot of people and this is quite the local attraction for Medicine Hat.”
Bessant says the Hat has a dedicated group of chess players and people come out and play chess for hours on the weekend.