Backyard Battlefield

BY Amber Adams

Jen and Brett Martin moved to Wilmington where their two sons Zack and Alec were born in 2001. While visiting resort beaches in the Bahamas they got the idea to create a life-sized outdoor chessboard at their Landfall home to keep the boys active all year round.

 Both of the boys have an interest in chess. It is more fun visualizing the board as a battlefield   Brett Martin says.

The super-sized chess makes the game come to life and changes the entire experience.

The Martins  chessboard is placed in the far corner of the yard under a live oak tree next to the kids  1 000-square-foot two-story playhouse building where friends and family can watch the game in progress.

 I wasn t sure how much use it would get   Jen Martin says   but it gets a lot of use. It s usable all year round.

The chessboard was designed by Blair Walton of Element Outdoor Living by alternating light and dark gray marble 2-foot by 2-foot squares accompanied by black and white 3-foot plastic chess pieces. The marble stone is sunk into the grass with 3 inches of space in between allowing grass to grow.

Zack now in fourth grade and Alec in second grade can play chess for hours.

 At some parties we play four against four   Alec says. Both Alec and Zack also enjoy swimming on their school swim team and Alec will begin playing on a basketball team this year.

Lighting the chessboard creates dramatic shadows allowing the game to continue long after sunset.