WSWD Plans

Checkmate! A Winning Day of Chess in Greenwich Village

A strategy for a perfect afternoon of competition and camaraderie.

Photo by Patty Onderko

Head to Greenwich Village, the center of chess life in the United States for more than a century, for an old-fashioned day of fun and games.

DO: Challenge the Chess Hustlers in Washington Square Park

Play pickup games at Chess Plaza, in the southwest corner of the park. The games will run you $2 to $10 each, depending on the length of the match and whether or not the hustler dispenses advice along the way. If it’s a standard five- to 10-minute match, $3 to $5 is totally acceptable. And yes, you pay even if you win. Main entrance to Washington Square Park is at the base of Fifth Avenue, between MacDougal Street and University Place

EAT: South Indian Fast Food From the Famous Dosa Man

His cart has permanent residence just east of Chess Plaza inside Washington Square Park, and his South Indian dosas, samosas, and curries are worth the hype. Main entrance to Washington Square Park is at the base of Fifth Avenue, between MacDougal Street and University Place

VISIT: The Chess Forum

From the park, stroll south down Thompson Street to this old-timey chess parlor that has been a store and community center of sorts for chess geeks since 1995. Don’t be intimidated by the serious-looking players in the skinny back room, silently moving their pieces by the light of the library lamps; Chess Forum welcomes all ages and all skill levels. 219 Thompson Street (between West 3rd and Bleecker Streets)

SNACK: Coffee, Pastries, and Games at Uncommons

This coffee shop and game café, half a block north of the Chess Forum, boasts chessboards as well as what seems like every single board and table game ever made. 230 Thompson Street (between West 3rd and Bleecker Streets)

DO: Get Serious at the Marshall Chess Club

The crown jewel of New York City chess was founded by grand master Frank J. Marshall in 1915 in a quintessential West Village brownstone (and fictionalized in this fantastic scene from Searching for Bobby Fischer, perhaps the greatest chess movie of all time). This is where the city’s best players come to compete, but Marshall hosts plenty of tournaments for lower-rated players, too. 23 West 10th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

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