Christchurch's Cathedral Square Chess

Chess player returns to Cathedral Square for first time since Christchurch earthquake
Last updated 14:29, June 12 2016

For five years, chess veteran Ian Facer has had some “unfinished” business in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square.

On February 22, 2011, Facer was playing a game on the Square’s over-sized chess board.

When the magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit at 12.51pm, the chess veteran of 70 years was flung to the ground.

“The ground was shaking like a leaf.”

He watched as part of Christ Church Cathedral came crumbling down, and was then forced to make the three-hour journey to his Cashmere home by foot.

Facer, now 83, returned to the Square on Friday, with the help of his daughter, for the first time since that fateful day.

“I used to play down there quite often,”he said.

“It was something to do in retirement. When you get old, you’ve got to do something to keep your mind occupied.”

He did not come out victorious in Friday’s match against Vernon Omeri, but Facer was not fazed by the result.

“I can’t win them all. Otherwise nobody will want to play with me.”

Now into his 80s and having to use a walking stick, Facer did not think he would get the chance to return the Square and play his favourite game on the over-sized grid.

“It was a lot of fun.

“It brings a lot of people from all round the world together. I’ve met people from all walks of life.”

Facer’s daughter, Andrea Thompson, was visiting from Australia and took the opportunity to take her father into the central city so he could “finish off some unfinished business”.

“He always used to go down there every day,” she said.

“It was a very special moment to watch him have that game because he was affected by the earthquake.”