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How to Make an Outdoor Chessboard


Love chess? If you can't find a pickup game at your local park, it might be time to build a set of your own.
Love chess? If you can't find a pickup game at your local park, it might be time to build a set of your own.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

In 1974, the film "The Three Musketeers" starring Raquel Welch, Richard Chamberlain and Michael York, among others, hit big screens across the U.S. Based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas, the farcical comedy centered on a young man who arrives in Paris to become one of the king's musketeers. The film was noted not only for its all-star cast but also for its beautiful European locations.

To illustrate the extravagance and garishness of France's prerevolutionary monarchy, director Richard Lester filmed a scene in which King Louis XIII is playing chess. Louis wasn't playing on an ordinary chessboard. He was playing on a king-sized one carved into the well-manicured lawn of Versailles. Great Danes, Dalmatians and other dogs served as movable chess pieces.

You might think that playing lawn chess with dogs is a game that only the rich and make-believe kings can enjoy. Hold on to your rooks (or your retrievers). You, too, can play outdoor chess, and we're not talking with a board on a picnic table. Many homes, buildings and public spaces have oversized chessboards. On Long Island, for example, an affordable housing complex called Arbor House has an outdoor fitness park with a jumbo chessboard and pieces standing 4 feet (more than 1 meter) tall. In Scotland, children move chess pieces almost as large as they are to help fight obesity [sources: Alvarez, The Scotsman].

We can set you up with an outdoor set and life-size pieces. All it takes is a bit of ingenuity, or at the very least, a credit card. Read on to find out how you, too, can beat your courtiers on a chessboard that will make your home into a mini-palace.