Chess Alfresco
Chess Alfresco
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Street chess, that institution of young, old, rich and poor cerebrally duking it out over a checkered board in the open air, thrives downtown in nearly every big city of America – but recently, that wasn’t quite the case in San Francisco. For more than 30 years, chess has been a permanent fixture near Fifth and Market streets, but late last year, the San Francisco Police Department confiscated the playing equipment, chairs and tables from where dozens of people, mostly homeless, would gather every day to play.


Police said that regular chess players weren’t the problem but that the area had become a hotbed for illegal gambling and drug use. It was the flimsiest of flimsiest pretexts to clear “undesirables” from the area. And they soon realised what a big mistake they had made, following a huge public outcry and ensuing media maelstrom over what had happened – and the big brouhaha didn’t get any better when they came up with the very hastily announced damage limitation excuse that they had always intended the street chess to be moved to a “better area”.


In downtown Seattle, Westlake Park is the place to go for Chess Alfresco – and recently, there was a prominent feature on the thriving chess community there that appeared in the Seattle Weekly by Kelton Sears. Word to the wise, though, before you decide to click on the link to read it: it does feature moi.


Leica M3 & 40mm Summicron-C

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford FP4+(@200)

HC-110 (Dil.H – 1:63 @ 13 minutes)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan