New York City Chess Update

12.02.15 On a recent trip to Manhattan, we checked out the typical chess haunts and found a few changes to the scene. Here's an illustrated report featuring action at the Marshall Chess Club, Washington Square Park, Union Square, and the Village.

Downstairs at the Marshall Chess Club

The southwestern corner of Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan, where International Master Josh Waitzkin cut his chess teeth in the rough-and-tumble crucible of blitz-banter-park chess, recently received a facelift including twenty brand new chess tables and benches. During the renovation, however, chess players were displaced and began migrating to the south side of Union Square just outside Union Square Park. On the day we visited, the chess tables in Washington Square Park were nearly deserted while there was quite a bit of chess action happening in Union Square despite a light rain.

The Chess Forum has been left alone to host the chess action on Thompson Street in the Village as the Village Chess Shop, the longtime icon for bohemian, coffee shop players and masters alike, has, sadly, closed its doors. Up on West 10th Street, the Marshall Chess Club is still going strong with tournaments nearly everyday of the week. We kibbitzed a four-round, no-draw tournament in which if the first game ended in a draw the players would immediately set up the pieces again and play another game!

Here are some of our photo impressions walking the streets of Manhattan.

New York! Just like I pictured it. Living for the City --Stevie Wonder

A statue of Mohandas K Gandhi stands beside one of Manhattan's new chess nuclei: Union Square Park

Some blitz, some slow games, and some lessons were happening all the while shoppers, pedestrians, and traffic raced by.

Your humble web editor (right) took on Andre. See below to replay this game.

The conversation around park chess can sometimes include cash and contraband.

Making our way south from Union Square we passed the campus of New York University (NYU) on our way to Washington Square Park.

Plenty of beautiful new chess tables...but very few players.

The functional aesthetic design of the chess tables makes use of a feature called "floating squares" in which the black square's outside border is implied rather than stated.

The life of a park chess player can be lonely and difficult.

Continuing south of the Park on Thompson Street we come upon the Chess Forum.

A comfortable indoor venue open to the public where folks can play some games and peruse the shop's fine collection of chess sets and books.

Local heros: Josh Waitzkin and...

Jennifer Shahade

Chess sets for every kind of player

The former site of the Village Chess Shop is now a clothing store.

Back north through the arch at Washington Square Park we paid respects to the people killed and injured in the Paris attacks.

Headed to West 10th and the Marshall we passed Church of the Ascension on lower 5th Avenue.

The namesake of the Marshall Chess Club: Frank J Marshall, US Champion 1909-1936

Young and old play at the Marshall. This student, representing Chess-in-the-Schools the entity that teaches chess to public school students in New York City's five boroughs, was playing a few blitz games in between rounds of the no-draw tournament.

Taking a look at a recently played game. Hey! That's our park chess player Andre (right with khaki hat).

The Marshall has an impressive collection of antiquarian chess books.

A signed photo of Jose Raul Capablanca hangs in the main tournament room.

In the back courtyard of the Marshall

Heading back to our hotel in midtown we spotted this chair in a bank office.

After an afternoon of chess exploits, we settled down to some great eats with...

three-fourths of the 2006 Maine State Scholastic K-3 Team Champions from the Airline School in Aurora, Maine (left to right): Haley DeLuca Lowell, Anna Bryan, and Laddy DeLuca Lowell.

From the March 30, 2006 Bangor Maine Weekly newspaper: The full 2006 Maine State Scholastic K-3 Team Champions from the Airline School in Aurora, Maine (left to right) Andrew Jones, Haley DeLuca Lowell, Anna Bryan, and Laddy DeLuca Lowell.

Brick oven artisan pizza and chips with warm artichoke dip

Balsamic green salad with goat cheese

A little dessert to top it off!

The spectacle of Times Square

Until next time! Au revoir New York!


Premier Chess is now offering New York City Chess Tours. We will share the game of chess and all the NYC chess sites, including, but not limited to, The Marshall Chess Club, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and the Chess Checker House in new York. We will do a lesson in one of the spots and tour the rest.

Guests will gain experience this tour from someone who is a born and raised New Yorker, National Chess Master and Active Teacher.

For more information about Premier Chess or to book tour, see or

Thank you for all you do for the Maine chess community.

Great read. I very much like reading these adventure stories.

As usual Dan, nice article and I wish that I could see all that. Nice game for you.
Thanks for doing all the reporting for all these years.

Paul Dumont

Post a comment

  • Navigation: