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MegaChess Manufacturer and Distributor of Life-sized Chess Pieces!

MegaChess manufactures and distributes the largest collection of big chess sets and chessboards in the world — most found nowhere else but here. Over 50 different giant chess sets made from 20 different materials in sizes from 8 inches tall to 12 feet tall.

Hundreds of chessboards and giant chess accessories. We are experts in chess park design, selecting a great chess set to match your situation, and the many ways to leverage a giant chess set for fun and profit. Our customers include the over 9 million regular chess players in the US, and many more who identify with its positive themes of intelligence, winning, tradition, strategy, and nobility. We are the only vendor in the world of large individual chess pieces.

Our Mission

Our founder, Peter Shikli, ran his fingers over a large teak chess piece years ago and realized he had to surround his home with this unique art form. With his father a wood carver, Peter had no choice but to start MegaChess.

Over the years, we were all surprised at how popular MegaChess became. Besides providing our customers the finest hand-carved chess pieces, MegaChess grew to have another mission. We are on a mission to win young people over from TV and video games, to introduce them to a pastime that uses their minds more than their trigger fingers.

We see hoisting giant chess pieces as a way of putting the fun (and even some exercise) back into the learning process, to make it fashionable for our children to think. We have thus launched several initiatives to help chess clubs and schools to inspire our kids to play chess. And we believe the friends kids make playing chess will last longer than the ones met on the corner. Pummeled by electronic soundbites, artificial entertainment, and growing world violence, we feel it is time to go back a thousand years, to the game of our forefathers. When kings and conquerors met on a battlefield of the mind.

In March 2012 Peter Shikli, the founder of MegaChess transferred ownership of MegaChess to Sarah and Peter Hagerstrom. Sarah and Peter are committed to expanding MegaChess in the same spirit of our founder.

MegaChess and Kids!

Having owned and operated MegaChess for a few years now, I have learned first hand where giant chess sets help kids with chess. The greatest contribution of giant chess to kids is to inspire them to begin playing chess. It's not enough to say the US has 7 million kids who play chess, not when we have over 10 times that many who do not. Giant chess addresses those many kids who are left out.

To understand how, ask yourself, "What is the greatest obstacle to a pre-teen beginning a life-long connection to chess?" If you answered a fragile ego, particularly among boys, you are correct. Few things terrify a grammar school child more than being shown to be dumb in front of his friends, and worse, where it can't be explained away by bad luck.

Chess has a thousand-year tradition of being an indicator of intelligence, and kids are smart enough to know that they will fail the challenge on their first try because the other kid will know the game rules. Neither the herd instinct nor peer pressure favor a kid taking a chance on losing a public intelligence contest. This is where giant chess comes in, transforming the battle of brains into playing around with life-sized action figures. Marketing types call this curb appeal, the ability of a giant chess set to get kids to cross the street, a park, or a school yard to see the giant chess set up close. We call it the "Harry Potter Effect".

Sitting through "The Order of the Phoenix", I was astounded at how Harry could command the silent attention of so many kids by walking in on a giant chess game. At the time, I didn't know how Harry did it, but I knew I was in the presence of an unstoppable marketing machine that knew the inner workings of a child's psyche -- so I paid attention, too.

Empowering imagination

The answer came to me when I put Harry together with an episode years earlier. My daughter had just taken her Christmas present, a sit-in truck, out of its box. She then piled into the box with her stuffed animal friends, and went for a ride. It soon had cutout windows, and over a period of a week was worn to shreds. The box started out as a truck, soon became a cottage, then a space ship, a tank while shared with her brother, and countless other things. Cast aside, the truck waited patiently for the box to fall apart, because it could only be a truck.

As adults, we lose this profound ability to imagine, to join with the products of our imagination, and to visit the worlds they're part of. The giant cardboard box and Harry's giant chess pieces are tools to empower this imagination. A chess king can be King Arthur, a stone king in Harry's cave, General Patton, the captain of the Starship Enterprise, and many other leaders. And because it is the size of the child, it can be the kid imagining himself to be all these things. Not only is a chess game a field of imagination, but so is each chess piece.

If we take the other giant chess pieces, each one comes with a thousand years of associations to people, things, and places -- each available for imagining. That is why kids are drawn to giant chess sets. It helps them do what they are born to do well, and want to do often.

Consider a walk through Central Park in New York. A man waits patiently behind a chess set for an opponent. Across the way, a giant chess set is set up in the grass. Regardless of how kindly and inviting the man, we know which a kid will choose. As parents, educators, or chess club promoters, that "Harry Potter Effect" is what we can leverage to introduce every kid in the country to chess. That is where giant chess shines.

My favorite moment was watching my son sling a giant bishop under his arm the first day I brought home a giant chess set, and start machine-gunning the opposing pieces -- with sound effects. I pointed out that he can only gun down the pieces on a diagonal from him, and he adjusted his sights. He learned how the rest of the pieces move through similar antics.

A giant chess game is a grand subterfuge where we sneak up on play time with learning. Compared to regular-size games, giant chess games often don't conclude to a checkmate. Other kids come up, jostle their way in, and the game is a bubbling community of players, kibitzers, interlopers, and cheerleaders. In the melee, there is no embarrassment asking, "How does this horse move?" "He jumps over the other pieces," comes the reply, sometimes with the knight slapped between legs and demonstrated. Set up and parked in a corner, a giant chess set remains a risk-free invitation to the young endowed with more imagination than a desire for intellectual combat. But lying in wait is a sneaky ruse that transforms this imagination into intellectual advancement at every turn.

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