Members of CORE Association and the Medicine Hat Chess Club were joined by several well-known community figures Friday for the 2022 giant chess set opening.
The chess set, declared largest in the world by Guinness World Records, is an annual fixture of the city’s downtown. Not only does it encourage area residents to traverse the city’s core, it entices tourists and chess enthusiasts from across Canada.
The set was conceptualized and introduced by the Medicine Hat Chess Club, however CORE Association has since taken over operations. During the summer months, CORE clients manage the set, which operates Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“I think having something, in the core of Medicine Hat, like a chess set shows what we value as a community,” CORE Association board representative, Dave Allen, said Friday. “We value culture, we value families getting together, we value games and we put that right in the centre of Medicine Hat.”
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes is impressed to hear the set was visited 800 times in 2021 and says he believes it will continue to garner attention this summer.
“It’s so important this continues,” Barnes said. “Eight-hundred times people stopped in and played the game or saw it. That is very important to build the character of Medicine Hat and show the rest of Alberta what we offer, just as CORE does.
“Not only is chess regarded as an important cerebral social game, it has really put us on the map. (While in Edmonton) I’ve said to hundreds of people, ‘Have you ever been to Medicine Hat?’ Ninety per cent of them say, ‘No.’ A large part of the 10 per cent who say, ‘Yes,’ say one of two things to me; either they just drove through, or ‘Oh, yeah, you’re the city with the big chess set, aren’t you?’ That is important. That is important for our people and important for our community.”
Dr. Bill Taylor, president of the Medicine Hat Chess Club, first proposed the giant chess set in 2005. Now, nearly two decades later, he is glad it has remained an item of interest for individuals within and outside Medicine Hat.
“It’s a legacy for our community,” Taylor said. “It’s a beautiful, usable work of art. And it’s another recreational opportunity and a gathering area for things to take place in our downtown Medicine Hat. I would like it to last forever.”
Though its opening ceremony took place Friday, the set will officially open Tuesday. CORE clients will be present at the set throughout the summer months.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News