José Antonio Sánchez, promoter of the initiative, with several players in calle Larios. / FRANCIS SILVA

Malaga's main Calle Larios shopping street plays host to nail-biting chess games

For the last three years, every Tuesday and Thursday this thoroughfare in the city centre has seen numerous chess games take place

ANABEL NIÑO Malaga

"I'm here, to enjoy a little chess," said Juan Garrido as he arrives by bicycle to calle Larios in Malaga to face a chess game with a complete stranger. It is the second week in a row that Juan has come to this tourist hotspot to play.

For almost three years, the street's stone benches have been turned into tables for the games which attract appreciative onlookers

The initiative was set up by Malaga man José Antonio Sánchez who lived in Lille for most of his life where the game was played. His idea to organise street games of chess was sparked after he retired and returned to Malaga where he saw a backpacker setting up a chess game.

"One day walking around I saw that the tourist was putting up a small my [chess] board and there were a lot of people, and it reminded me of when I was in France. I offered him one of my boards and that's how it all started," José said with a smile.

"Do you want to play?," he asks three boys who are no more than ten years old and who look carefully at a game. "No, we prefer to just watch."

José said: "There are people from all walks of life, young people, adults and even quite old people who come expressly to play. A lot of people from Malaga, also from other parts of Spain and quite a few foreigners, and that is something I like very much because I can talk to people I don't know and we understand each other perfectly while playing a game of chess".