Heath Ledger's Passion for Chess
01/26/2008 AT 12:00 PM EST
"I saw him a few times, mostly last summer. He seemed like a nice guy," says Earl Biggs, 63, who was a spectator at Ledger's early-morning games. "He'd usually lose. We played for a couple of dollars and he'd lose a few dollars. He just had fun, he loved it."
Ledger, who died on Tuesday, played chess since he was a youngster, telling MTV.com, "I've played since I was a kid. I play at least one game a day."
The actor, 28, was also a trash-talker, playfully getting into verbal duels with his rivals.
"We'd talk trash talk at the chess table ... Oh, you don't want to know what we'd say!" Biggs remembers. "We'd say things to him like, 'How can you make that move! How can you make a move like that!!!' And he'd just laugh."
Biggs says park visitors didn't notice the Oscar-nominated Brokeback Mountain star.
"Heath would just come around and jump into a game. People walking by didn't bother him," Biggs says. "We didn't talk about anything personal except, "Hey, you owe me five dollars!"
There was, however, one opponent Ledger could beat: his father. In one of several heartfelt messages printed in the West Australian on Friday, Ledger's father, Kim, remembers the his chess-loving son.
The elder Ledger wrote: "My beautiful boy, so loving, so talented, so independent, so caring, so young ... no more chess games mate ... this is it, couldn't beat you anyway!"
Reporting by NATASHA STOYNOFF