Outdoor chess games to come to Princes Street Gardens

THE sight of players huddled over outdoor chessboards is one normally associated with the parks and green spaces of New York City.

Friday, 28th July 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:05 pm
Outdoor chess games are available in West Princes Street Gardens every Thursday from 2pm. Picture: Alistair Linford

But now an 80-year-old enthusiast has brought al fresco chess to the Capital’s Princes Street Gardens.

Dennis Anderson’s inspiration came during a trip to the Big Apple with his son-in-law last year, when he visited a number of the city’s parks and was able to watch players take part in informal “drop-in” chess games.

He said: “On my return I thought if New York can do it – why not Edinburgh?

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“The weather may be the answer to that, but we have a contingency plan.”

Keen players can now turn up at West Princes Street Gardens every Thursday from 2pm and challenge each other to a game.

And although the Scottish weather is far from predictable, Mr Anderson, from Craigentinny, is one move ahead.

Gary Scott, the proprietor of the Fountain Cafe in West Princes Street Gardens, has already offered players the use of his outdoor tables which are normally reserved for customers.

And when it does rain, enthusiasts are allowed to continue games inside the cafe.

“[Gary] has been very supportive and encouraging,” said Mr Anderson.

“He has experienced chess being played at Central Park in New York and is a chess player himself so we are very 

The former shipping company worker said chess had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember.

“During the war, around 1942, my dad came back one day with a chess set,” he said.

“My grandad taught me how to play and we started playing games – although I must admit, I have not gotten much better since.”

Mr Anderson now finds chess much more enjoyable than sitting in front of the TV.

And he hopes his “Chess in the Park” sessions, which are free, will become an opportunity for fans across the Capital to meet and get to know each other.

His passion for the game has already seen him try to tempt his grandchildren to take it up.

“My children were never interested but I am hoping I can persuade my grandchildren to be interested in playing chess,” he said.

“And with the summer school holidays in full swing it would be wonderful to see some children and their 
families come down to play at Chess in the Park.”

So far, the venture is proving to be a success with locals and tourists.

Mr Anderson said: “Last week we had about 14 local players and what encouraged me most was the involvement of tourists to the city.

“A professor from Denmark, who was in town to attend a conference, a young lad from Greece, another from Thailand and a gentleman from Russia joined in with chess in the park.”