A cigarette burned in the 31-year-old’s left hand, an Auburn cap on his head, and gaping holes in his jeans exposed his knees. His opponent, Ryan Brown, 21, eyed Clark as the two faced off in the parking lot of the Lenlock Shopping Center on a newly established oversized chess board.
Last Sunday a co-owner of Lenlock Hobbies, Charles Smith, put the finishing touches on the giant chess board, painted in grey-and-white checks onto the pavement in front of his store. Now, he says, customers and passers-by can stop to play a match.
“It’s a good advertising tool,” Smith said. “I thought it’d be a good idea to get people to come and play.”
It’s only been on the ground a few days, but people are already noticing the oversized game. He said people have been stopping by to take snapshots of the set.
Smith said he purchased the set for $1,200 from MegaChess, a company in California. A website for a company by that name states that it sells chess pieces that are up to 12 feet tall. The tallest pieces in the Lenlock set rise to about 2 feet.
Oversized chess sets are not new to Smith, who said he learned to play on an oversized set in Germany as a child. Smith said he lived there when his dad, a military police officer, was stationed in Stuttgart in the 1970s.
The plastic playing pieces at Lenlock Hobbies are weighted with sand to keep stray breezes from knocking them over. The set also includes a lightweight interlocking board Smith said he plans to use for indoor play at the shop, which his family owned since 1987.
If people begin stopping by to play a round of chess, it won’t be the only game going on there. Shop regulars often stop by to play card games. Brown, Clark and Wayne Smith, 18, knew each other before they met and played chess in the parking lot Wednesday.
“The people who gather at hobby shops, they also play chess,” Brown said.
The opponents, and Smith, who said he is not related to the owner, all said they’d been playing the game since they were young boys. In between pensive poses and smack talk the players moved the clumsy pieces toward each other. At one point Smith stepped into the game to play the part of the king, standing tall and still.
In the end, the game ended with Clark resigning, a means to end a chess game if the inevitable end is obvious.
“It makes you feel like more a part of the game,” Brown said.
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.