Thursday, April 05, 2007
Chess for non-dummies
For many people, chess is easy to learn and difficult to master. But for New Yorker Joshua Small, it's a way of life. He plays regularly by the corner of 112th street and Broadway, near Tom’s Restaurant in New York. It’s “the ‘Seinfeld’ diner,” referenced in Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner.”

He describes a colorful mix of people who play there, including “people standing around these makeshift tables and chairs on the New York City sidewalk, playing chess and talking trash.” There’s the postman who bicycles over after his route, a writer and poet, an older English gentleman and a building superintendent bearing a strange resemblance to Simon Cowell of “American Idol.” They even have their own vernacular. On a retreat, you say, “Back up and live, G.” Moving the bishop to a “strong square,” one might say, “Post!” When a player is surprised by a move, they say, “You had that.”

It’s serious, he says: “Winner keeps the board and a sturdy milk crate is the seat of choice.” During a major New York blackout a couple of years ago, he and an area book seller with whom he often competes “played past dusk on that night, enjoying some beers, and playing only by the lights of the passing cars.” He’s not the only one of his kind. Check out our hobbies gallery, or comment below and tell us about your leisure time.
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