The Food Court Gambit: Checkmate

In April, we covered the story regarding the Park Royal Mall Chess Club. The mall has been home to a chess club for 50 years. Then the mall decided to give the chess club the boot. I promised you a follow up. Here is how the story happily concludes.



Park Royal Mall
Park Royal Mall

Locals in West Vancouver, British Columbia have gone to the Park Royal Mall to play chess. This tradition started over 50 years ago. In March of this year, the mall renovated their food court. When the renovations were done, the management at Park Royal issued an order to the long standing chess club to look for a different facility to support their club.

That’s when the hubbub began.


Point of view: the chess club

Local chess player (Rafferty Baker/CBC)
Local chess player (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The Park Royal Mall chess club was stunned by the letter. The letter was a cease and desist order along with a $500 stipend to get them to move somewhere else. The chess club had always believed they were a pillar of the community. Why would the mall evict them?

Over five decades of cooperation was about to come to an end. Local chess player George Ingham said,  “My reaction was, ‘What are they kidding? They’ve got to be kidding. This has got to be a joke; it’s April Fools, it’s April the 1st.’ But it wasn’t a joke.”

The mall didn’t just allow the chess club to have a home there, they actually encouraged it. They installed a 12′ x 12′ chess set in the mall as a hat tip to the long standing partnership.

The ominous letter can be seen here. This author’s favorite line from the letter is the threat to involve the West Vancouver Police.


Point of View: Park Royal Mall management

Fast food sushi at Park Royal
Fast food sushi at Park Royal

The Park Royal Mall renovated their food court. The renovations did not include the type of space or seating that the chess club would need. This should not be construed as a snub to the chess club.

The chess club has been in numerous areas in the mall over the years. It’s only been in the food court for the past couple of years. Consideration to the chess club’s needs were not part of the plans because the chess club migrated numerous times over the past five decades to other areas in the mall. As such, the new renovations could not both accommodate the chess club and meet the business needs of the mall.



Chess players
Chess players Credit: Arlen Redekop

The public outcry was loud. So loud that it was heard in Muskegon. The two sides “dug in their heels” according to VP of Park Royal Mall Rick Amantea.

Cooler heads did prevail. The mall found a spot near but not in the food court to support the club. The club has accepted the mall’s comprise.

The Food Court Gambit paid off. Checkmate!


Continued reading

If you’d like to read more about this, the BC news sources have covered it. Also, Ashley, a Canadian championship chess player, has written about it in her blog.

Park Royal Chess Players Stay – It’s a DRAW! A Win/Win

Chess players offered new play place in West Vancouver mall stalemate