Outside the door a knight stands protecting the King and inviting potential opponents to walk through the door.
Stepping into the store I am filled with a feeling of nostalgia. Imad Khachan, store owner, welcomes us as we enter and offers the tables in the back if we are interested in a friendly, or not so friendly game of chess.
Inside soft light fills a room lined with old but sturdy wooden cabinets filled with glass shelves. Classical music plays softly in the background. The warm light and comfortable textiles are welcoming, and I am encouraged to step into a space that immediately feels familiar.
In the backroom small tables lining the walls are covered with simple mats and 32 plastic figures waiting for their turn to come alive.
This is the world of Chess Forum in Greenwich Village. Just a few blocks from NYU campus and Washington Square, this magnet for strategic minded individuals is home for chess masters and beginners alike.
Peering into the wooden cabinets I find small artistically styled worlds assembled on the glass shelves, each piece standing on his designated square, begging for a chance to compete and compelling me to invest.
I am amazed by the collection.
The front door opens and ChessMaster enters. It is clear he has the respect of regulars who are hanging out near the tables. He is available for sport or for hire. Khachan tells us to watch for ChessMaster at the tables in Washington Square. Someone tells me if you see him there, don’t bother playing the game just leave your wallet and save yourself the embarrassment.
In this place people learn more than chess. The seemingly fading art of strategic thinking, advanced planning and deliberate moves are more than a board game, they are life lessons that are developed with the challenging game of chess.
I leave with a beginner set and plans to return for an upgrade.
As I walk down Thompson Street toward Bleeker, I think about other life lessons to be learned from the game of chess. Here are the ones that come to mind.
- Respect your opponent.
- Think before you commit.
- Actions have consequences.
- Invest in learning the skills of your trade.
- Don’t think too highly of yourself.
- Don’t give up too soon.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Sometimes the obvious choice is not the best one.
- Be a good loser.
- Be a better winner.
What life lessons might you add to the list?