Locals and mates check out fun street activation

Locals and mates check out fun street activation

A giant chess board is bringing together people of all ages while activating public space in the heart of the Pyrmont community.

The chess board was installed in March after residents asked the City of Sydney for an innovative way to revitalise the unused upper level of John Street Square.

After a successful trial period, it is now a permanent fixture for budding Grandmasters.

Director of City Operations Garry Harding said the chess board had provided a positive social environment during the trial, and it would now be a permanent addition to the local community

“The chess board has revitalised the square, providing residents and workers with a valuable new community space where they can improve their knowledge, learn from local players, or enjoy some healthy competition,” Mr Harding said.

“We have public chess boards in our locations throughout the city, and we know it’s an exciting way to unite the community.

“John Street Square is at the centre of Pyrmont village, and is an ideal space for the chess board, as it’s a central meeting place surrounded by the Pyrmont Community Centre, Pyrmont Point Hotel, the John Street Square light rail stop, shops and homes.

“I’m delighted we have been able to provide a social hub in the heart of Pyrmont that everyone can enjoy on an ongoing basis.”

The Friends of the Pyrmont Community Centre group welcomed the chess board, and have set up a mailing list of keen players who meet once a month to ‘battle it out’ in the square.

The group has also held several ‘Chess Days’, where visitors, residents and even former NSW chess champion Roy Travis – a local resident – thrilled onlookers and passers-by.

Mary Mortimer, from Friends of the Pyrmont Community Centre, said the chess board was a wonderful community asset.

“The chess set has attracted residents who are keen chess players, from six-year-olds to people well into their older years, as well as people who’ve always wanted to learn how to play the game,” Ms Mortimer said.

Ms Mortimer also said chess champ Roy Travis donated 10 regular-sized chess sets to the Pyrmont Community Centre, which are available for residents to brush up on their chess skills.

Last month, The New York Times newspaper said chess had the ability to “bridge cultural divides” thanks to the movie Brooklyn Castle.

Former Russian Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk raised the game’s profile while featuring in US Vogue, and Canadian Idol superstar Carly Rae Jepsen revealed she was an avid fan.

The Pyrmont Point Hotel has been a valuable partner in establishing the new community meeting place by setting up the giant chess pieces each day and storing them at night.

This month, the City is also undertaking essential maintenance and improvement work to the Pyrmont Community Centre on the corner of Mount and John streets.

The work involves:

  • Restoring the building’s façade and stonework;
  • Repairs to the roof and belltower;
  • Drainage improvements;
  • Internal painting; and
  • Sanding and polishing timber floors in the main hall.

The centre will remain open while these improvements take place, and will be completed next year.

For more information visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/residents

For media enquiries or images, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Jodie Minus phone 0467 803 815 or email jminus@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au