Chess by Shelby Lyman
on December 27 – 12:01 AM
Brick and mortar, what’s that?
The archipelago of Manhattan chess haunts of Bobby Fischer’s time is noticeably diminished, as much by changing habits of would-be players as the exigencies of pricey real estate.
Gone is the rollicking Chess and Checker Club of New York, known better as the Flea House.
Also gone are the Manhattan Chess Club and the Village Chess Shop, among others.
At one time or another, just about anyone you could imagine might hang out or drop in on their premises or those of other chess landmarks
For a time, famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick hustled the chess scene at the Flea House, dreaming of cinema and fame.
Chess genius and World Champion Jose Capablanca spent many of his later years frequenting the Manhattan Club before suffering a fatal heart attack on its premises.
Often seen at the Marshall Chess Club – which happily still does exists – was chess devotee Marcel Duchamp, the putative king of Dadaism, as well as Johnny Marks who composed “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” our Christmas carol forever more.
There were of course many others.
This writer, we confess, has folded up his chess club tents with the passing of time.
Last year, I played over 1,000 games – three or four a day at no more than 10 minutes per game – under the cover of a pseudonym, I neither spoke to, nor found myself face-to-face with even a single opponent. All 1,000-plus games were played on the Internet.