Outdoor chess in Southern California

Considering the fact that I am the worst chess player in the history of the world, Glendale’s Chess Park would seem to hold little appeal.

But I also came of age in the early 1970s, when Bobby Fischer made chess a media sensation. And so, along with my dweeb posse of Scuz, Dwop, Flub, and Tac (I was better at nicknames than chess), I became immersed in the game.

I amassed a collection of onyx sets from Mexico yet little strategy, a problem compounded by an aesthetic bias for certain pieces. I like the look of rooks (aka “little castles”) and the design and zigzag movement of knights (aka ‘little horses”). That said, there seem to be far too many pawns.

The nice thing about Chess Park is that you hardly have to be a grand master to appreciate it. The design firm of Rios Clementi Hale Studios transformed a neglected passageway off Brand Boulevard into a tranquil and whimsical oasis. The park features 16 chess tables and five canvas-clad towers shaped like individual pieces, which light up at night. The king’s base incorporates a thronelike bench ideal for perusing purchases from the neighboring Brand Bookshop―if, like me, you don’t plan on actually playing. It’s your move. Chess Park (227 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale); Brand Bookshop (231 N. Brand; 818/507-5943).

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