Many students are familiar with the Guinness Book of World Records, but Ken Taylor is one of the few who is actually listed as a record holder. The SAIT’s first-year legal assistant student and his father set a Guinness World Record in 2009 when they built a giant outdoor chess set in Medicine Hat.
Ken’s father, Dr. Bill Taylor, was first inspired by an over-sized chess set he saw in Austria in 2004, and began constructimg his own board in 2005 which was eventually awarded the Guinness World Record for the 19 ft. 4 in. chess set board.
“We didn’t set out to set a world record,” said Ken Taylor.
“My dad was just very passionate about this, so I helped.”
They received approval from the city of Medicine Hat to build the chess set in 2005, and began construction the same year.
“It wasn’t until I saw a Guinness Book of World Records that I got the idea,” said Dr. Taylor.
According to him, there was a record held in Sacramento, Calif. and it was the exact same size as the board they had just finished constructing.
“So I sent off some emails to the Guinness people to find out if they had this record, and what the record was,” said Ken Taylor.
They attempted to get the record with his original board size of 17 ft. because when measured precisely, it was about half an inch larger than the Sacramento board, but they were denied.
The Taylors’ original board, “had been poured improperly,” said the younger Taylor.
“It had pits in it and the paint was peeling, so when they fixed it, we got them to make it bigger.”
“It took us three applications to Guinness before they approved our record breaking chess board,” said Dr. Taylor.
On May 27, 2009, the chess set board, located on 1st Ave. in Medicine Hat, between the city’s public library and Court of Queen’s Bench, was awarded the Guinness World Record.
Rob Renner, a member of the legislative assembly of Alberta, gave a speech to commemorate and congratulate the new record holders.
Although the concrete chess set board is the only part of the set which is actually the record holder, the pieces of the board hold their own uniqueness.
“We managed to track down some chess set pieces [in Thailand] made from Indonesian teak wood and had them shipped over [to Medicine Hat],” said Taylor jr.
“The King is the largest piece at 3 ft. 11 in. tall, 1 ft. 2 in. wide at the base and it weighs 35 lbs.
“All the pieces together weigh over 870 lbs.”
According to Dr. Taylor, his son was instrumental in fundraising, writing letters and computer skills throughout the years and remains supportive even though he now goes to school and lives in a different city.
“It is nice to say that I am a world record holder,” he said, although he acknowledged that the record also belongs to the chess club.
“It is just a satisfying feeling.”
Dr. Taylor also said he keeps a laminated photocopy of the Guinness World Record certificate in his car.
“I do have future plans to break another record,” he said.