Kings and Şahs; Pawns and Piyons

Over the years our Okçular Book Project raised lots of dosh that was mostly spent making our village primary school a better or more fun place for the children and staff. This is a story about one of those projects – the Okçular School ‘Antique’ Outdoor Chess Set.

The idea of an outdoor chess set came to us last year when the school chess club entered a local tournament and came away with a whole bunch of medals and citations (I suspect everyone gets something to encourage them). They were so pleased with themselves that a ‘show piece’ outdoor set for the school seemed a very good idea.

Anyway, try as I might to find a plastic garden set online I couldn’t get a better price than $20 a set . . . as long as I bought 200 sets! So, I asked a computer-savvy Turkish friend to help. ‘What do you want it for?’ ‘The school chess club’ said I. ‘Well, I have the very thing in my garden shed’ said he; ‘It’s old, wooden and a bit battered, but you can have it if you want.’ ‘Nuff said!’ said I, ‘I’ll bring it tomorrow’ said he; and he did.

chess1
gluing the bits back together and making new bits

What he delivered could have better been described as a pile of logs!! The quality of the pieces was obvious, but their condition was grim. Many were broken into bits as a result of his kids getting bored and using them as clubs for fighting with; there were parts missing and splits all over the place. I smiled manfully and thanked him!

chess2

What followed was three weeks of 8-10 hour days on a restoration project that, whilst unexpected, was actually rather enjoyable. With help from Will, a chum from the other end of the village, and a true master of the art of shaping bits of wood using slivers of broken glass, and J’s undoubted skills with a pot of paint and a brush, we ended up with a uniquely beautiful chess set for the kids. Osman, one of the fathers and a builder by trade made and tiled the playing area, and the whole was handed over to the children. Their faces were a treat and worth every cut and curse of effort to bring this little project to completion.

The Okçular Book Project was all about community and giving something back for all the kindness shown to J and me since we first moved here more than 20 years ago.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures;

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

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