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Chess Area Rehab

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An overdue and controversial redesign of legendary Washington Square Park in New York City includes news for the famous chess corner:

Under the agreement, the park will have a raised performance stage area, a 7,000-square-foot expansion of the children's park, a play area for preteens, a refurbished chess area that will house U.S. Chess Federation events, and new plantings.

I've heard of USCF events (and national events in other nations) being held in informal and/or outdoors spots before. There is a massive set of chess tents in the center of the zocalo in front of the Fine Arts museum in Mexico City where there are constant tournaments. That the USCF seems involved in these changes to the park is a welcome sign of sapience on their part.

The hustlers (who aren't likely to disappear regardless) are quite a sight, but a majority of them are more likely to scare people away than attract them. There's someone camped out at each board most of the time, challenging passers-by and refusing to get up without payment for "renting" the board from him. The chess and checkers pavilion in Central Park is usually empty.

We've covered public places to play here before. Add some more here or under that item.


Well, I have not played in Washington Square Park for 25 years, they had the chess hustlers then too! I played Max Dlugy at the Marshall Chess Club back then, I showed a few odd lines of the Richter-Rauzer Sicilian, and he then won some nice games later on with the black side!

I think I just might visit New York in a few years, after they complete the renovations!

If you can, could you please give exact coordinates for all the outdoor playing places so that we can find and explore them with Google Earth.

In Washington State, you can play for free every Tuesday night from 6-8:45pm at the Everett Chess Club at Espresso Americano in the Everett Public Library (2702 Hoyt Ave).

How strong are these hustlers? I am rated ~2000 blitz in playchess.com, would I stand a chance against them?


I played at Washington Square Park years ago while living in New York for a short time. That far corner is a world unto itself! These hustlers are usually very good in blitz... AT LEAST 2000 strength and sometimes as high as 2400. However, it is not necessarily their quality of play, but the fact that they are very fast on the clock.

If I were you I wouldn't get sucked into playing these guys. They are professional hustlers. Just as you have a profession of something that you spent a long time mastering, so have they. If you are also very good in blitz and end up many games, they will tell you they have to go to the bathroom and disappear for awhile. They know who the "fresh" ones are.

I'm not sure if the Well-Lit Chess Pieces exhibit is still up in Washington Square Park:


Seems like a funny little wonderful New York thing.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 18, 2005 10:54 PM.

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