Incredible Okçular!

Kings and Şahs; Pawns and Piyons

A couple of posts back I was going on about the ‘Okçular Book Project’ – there is even a tab at the top of this page where you can learn more of what we are trying to achieve with it. It boils down to this; we have two books about the village that we ‘sell’ to raise funds for environmental and community projects in our village.

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.

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!

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 is all about community and giving something back for all the kindness shown to J and me since we first moved here 14 years ago. There is an ongoing Free Prize Draw for two autographed copies of my Okçular Village Guide Book – to check it out, click here.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures; there are more at: Archers on Facebook

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

6 thoughts on “Kings and Şahs; Pawns and Piyons

  1. Alan, this is SUCH a wonderful post – I love what you and the rest of the community did for the kids. THIS is the type of community I crave these days whilst here in the big city – I am in awe of Okçular!!! The logs were truly transformed – and it looks amazing. Can’t wait to visit some day!

    1. Thanks, Elspeth. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it before, but J and I feel so at home here with these people. If you have time check out the village site I put up (only in English these days), there are loads of photos. If you are ever down this way it would be a pleasure to meet with you and show you some of the magic – November-April is stunning!

  2. This is a truly unique gift that I am sure will be treasured by the school for many years to come.

    May they bring about many more chess champions!

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