Black People : Harlem Chess Crew

cherryblossom

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All-Season Play for a Chess Crew in Harlem



Richard Perry/The New York Times
Players at the St. Nicholas Chess and Backgammon Club are known by their nicknames; Black, at left, and Clayton in a recent match.

By KIA GREGORY

Published: January 15, 2013


On a cold evening, darkness enveloped a lonely street in Harlem, but for the glow of fluorescent lights cascading from a storefront. Inside, there were sounds reminiscent of combat. Hands slammed on time clocks in a vigorous percussion, accompanied by the taunts of opponents:


“This is masters’ chess.”
“Master that.”
“Don’t you run from me!”
“I ain’t scared!”
“You can’t get out of there.”
“Watch this.”
The games being played had been honed by years of chess matches at St. Nicholas Park, near 141st Street, where regulars, hustlers and occasional visitors played for hours on end, drawing crowds and creating street chess legends.
But with winter’s arrival, the games moved inside, to the St. Nicholas Chess and Backgammon Club, on the corner of 139th Street and Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem. It is a place where the art of the hustle can get lost amid the players’ familiarity with one another.
“We eat together, we party together, pray together,” a regular named Two Hand Dave said. Like most who frequent the club, he is known only by his nickname, particularly to outsiders. Two Hand Dave, 41, got his name because of his style of play, but also to distinguish him from players known simply as Dave and Big Dave....
...The loser, known in the club as Easy E, slid back from his chair and asked someone up front to hand him the Chinese takeout food he had ordered, growing cold on a backgammon table.
“You done beat the man into hungriness,” Fred, a regular wearing a hunter’s hat, shouted over the battlefield of arrested chess pieces. A few spectators chuckled. Easy E, a 49-year-old transportation engineer, sulked away, but vowed to return. The victor, a petite woman nicknamed Mousae, with her hair wrapped in a black-and-gold colored scarf, now a crown of glory, grinned and offered some words of wisdom: “You can’t win the game with a pawn.”...
....cont.... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/nyregion/chess-in-a-harlem-park-moves-indoors-for-winter.html?_r=0
 
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