Public chess parks are fascinating places, filled with people looking for a challenge, some competition, or sometimes merely enjoying the companionship of other players.
At the International Chess Park on Venice beach the players are young and old, from seasoned pros to beginning novices. A Harvard-trained mathematician may be taking on a homeless man; a curious teenager might be squaring off against a wily street performer.
Several different languages rise up from the soft murmuring at the tables, all set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean with its soft yellow beaches. Many come to learn, teach, and listen to the myriad stories the eclectic participants weave as they move their pieces around sandy, well-worn game tables.
To play is free, and all skill levels are welcomed. The only rules are the ancient rules of chess itself, and the only requirements is an understanding of the innate civility of the game. And, of course, a participant must not mind the colorful company everpresent at the park.