Outdoor chess fans still two pieces short

16:00, Nov 02 2010
Danny Blattler
CHESS APPEAL: Puke Ariki exhibition technician Danny Blattler says the library's outdoor chess set just needs its black Bishop and white Knight to find their way home to be complete once more.

Some speculate they have legged it to Fiji. Others that they have been unceremoniously dumped in a river, buried in a shallow grave or tossed into the sea never to be seen again.

But no one really knows what happened to the black Bishop and the white Knight of Puke Ariki's much-loved, long-absent outdoor chess set.

The game pieces were an everyday sight in front of the library until 2 1/2 years ago, when 14 pieces were pinched after a library worker forgot to bring them inside at day's end.

Eight were quickly recovered by authorities but six remained at large, until the recent discovery of five pieces standing sentinel on the side of Beach Rd in New Plymouth.

That should have meant just one piece remained missing, but the recovered pieces included an extra black Pawn so the set still needs a white Knight and black Bishop to be complete.

"They are possibly in Fiji by now," said Puke Ariki exhibition technician Danny Blattler, the man now responsible for the chess set's welfare. "If it were me I might have been spending some time in Samoa."

Mr Blattler knows his guesses are unlikely to be accurate, not least because it is very difficult for plastic figurines to obtain passports and almost unheard of for them to opt for warm climates when they do.

Puke Ariki marketing co-ordinator Tae Allison said people asked daily about the pieces and the library very much wanted them returned so they could bring chess back into the city.

But even if the pieces do turn up it is unlikely Ms Allison will give them a go. "I played chess as a child but my father used to fall asleep during the games so I used to cheat. That meant my game did not develop very well," she said.

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