Chess players poised for a strategic move

Pasadena Star News
Article Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2004 – 10:10:37 PM PST

Chess players poised for a strategic move

By Naush Boghossian , Staff Writer

GLENDALE — Chess enthusiasts are getting ready to move from their normal
haunts in local cafes to the city’s new $540,000 chess park, which opens
Saturday evening.
More than three years in the making, the free park offers 16 boards amid
towering chess piece sculpted in a converted passageway along Brand

“We’re definitely excited because there are a lot of kids who like to play
at their leisure and don’t have a permanent place to play,’ said Harout
Akopyan, 23, a coach for the All American Association Chess Club, which runs
chess schools for youngsters in Glendale, Reseda and Hollywood. “This park
is good for everybody.’

Glendale is something of a chess hub, since the game is very popular among
Armenians, who make up more than 70,000 of Glendale’s 200,000 residents.

In Armenia, people begin playing chess when they’re young, and the schools
there encourage competitions from a very young age. Akopyan’s club, which
serves about 150 children, continuously produces national champion chess

Akopyan has 13 national championship titles himself.

The concept for a park came from local chess clubs, who encouraged the City
Council to maximize the potential of the little-used passageway.

“We’ve taken a piece of property that was underutilized and created an urban
park that is not only aesthetically attractive but serves the community,’
senior project manager Emil Tatevosian said. “We’ve realized that we have a
large chess community in the city, and this is a good venue for all of them
to come together.’

The new park is divided into zones, each accented with a chess piece King,
Queen, Bishop and Rook and has tables with inlaid game boards and benches.

And chess-themed light towers also will allow for nighttime games.

“There is potential to create a hub of activity there with the Alex Theater
and Brand Books, which is open until midnight,’ Tatevosian said.

The concept of having an area for chess players to gather and play is very
popular in other countries, said president of the L.A. Chess Club Mick

But in Southern California where the only other chess park is in Santa
Monica players tend to gather at coffee shops, where the unwritten rule is
you have to spend money to be able to stay and play.

“I think this is a great movement as far as keeping the youngsters and
senior citizens to have something leisurely to do at no cost to them,’
Bighamian said. “And the park helps the promotion of chess to get the image
it truly deserves as a fun and challenging game.’

Naush Boghossian can be reached at (818) 546-3306 or by e-mail at
[email protected] .