Monday, September 10, 2007

Change of Venue: Hyde Park Chess

Yesterday I drove past the Hayden Market on 53rd Street between Greenwood and Ellis. That’s the convenience store that has let out its east room as a chess club for local blitz players in recent years. Apparently, not anymore. It’s now the Lundy Market, under new management, and from the look of things the chess club is gone. The store was closed when I stopped by and peeked in the window, but there was no sign of chess sets or tables anywhere.

So the Hyde Park chess diaspora continues, and once again the neighborhood’s itinerant players must find a new home.

Where have they gone? There hasn’t been much of a chess scene at the Starbucks at 53rd and Harper this summer, though I have seen people playing there a couple of times.

I went by Harold Washington Park at 53rd and Hyde Park Boulevard and was happy to see that both of the chess tables there were being used, and by chess players, not picnickers. It was encouraging, because chess players have been slow to make that spot a regular venue since the tables went up a few years ago.

Then there’s the second-floor café at Borders on 53rd and Lake Park, where some members of the Ray School Chess Club, such as Phillip Parker-Turner and Sonam Ford, like to play. There always seems to be a lively chess scene there whenever I stop in, and the store’s management has apparently relaxed its earlier rule that chess players could only gather on weekdays. I’ve seen two and three games going at a time on Saturdays and Sundays, and I commend the store’s proprietors for the welcome they have given to chess.

Finally, there are those two chess tables in Nichols Park near the 54th Street cul-du-sac that were hauled away from Harper Court and dumped in the park a few years ago when chess was banned from the shopping center. I can see them from my living room window; no one ever plays there. Pity.

Anyone have any other intelligence about the local chess scene, indoors or outdoors? Any ideas for livening things up? If so, please leave a comment.


Tom Panelas said...

A Ray School chess mom tells me that as she understands it the previous owners were essentially driven out of business by a boycott by people who didn't like the chess players hanging around the store.

Does anyone else have any information?

Anonymous said...

Please verify your source before posting a "he say she say". The former owners allowed other family members to take over the store. The new owners would prefer not having the Chess Players and that is their right to do so. Chess Players were not "hanging out" around the store, they were always respectful to members of community as well as the owners of the store.

Anonymous said...

yo that old store didn't sell anything! there were alot of "chess players" in there often with that huge screen TV too.. the scene smelled kinda funky if ya ask me! i wouldn't be suprised if there was more to the story than what you suggested, tom.