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PORTSIDE  November 2011, Week 4

PORTSIDE November 2011, Week 4

Subject:

$5 Chess Game, Best-of-Three, Zuccotti Park

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Date:

Wed, 23 Nov 2011 22:35:09 -0500

Content-Type:

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text/plain (97 lines)

$5 CHESS GAME, BEST-OF-THREE, ZUCCOTTI PARK.


BY DAVID HILL
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/5-chess-game-best-of-three-zuccotti-park
- - - -
It's six in the morning in Zucotti Park. Quiet hours
started at eleven, but that isn't stopping the kid behind
me from singing and playing Bob Dylan's greatest hits on
his guitar. I politely tolerate it until he starts to play
"Rainy Day Women." That cinches it.

"Knock it off, it's quiet hours."

I point to the sign nearby that lays out the self-mandated
rules about music. He scowls at me as he puts his guitar
back in its case.

I'm usually more patient than this. Maybe I'm feeling
punchy because in two hours the police are supposed to
show up and arrest all of us. More likely it has to do
with the fact that I'm down two pawns going in to the
endgame.

"Sorry, man, but this is a money game," is all the apology
I can muster. I have to focus.

It looks bad now, but you should have seen me earlier. I
got here around three, right after the rainstorm quit,
after getting several emails and text messages that the
cops were planning to storm the park at seven. I packed my
bag with extra clothes and some comic books, wrote the
National Lawyer's Guild phone number on my arm, kissed my
wife on the forehead and told her I was going to go get
arrested at the park. She mumbled something like "good
luck" and rolled back over to sleep.

When I arrived at the park people were trying to settle in
and get some rest. It had been a rough night of rain that
likely kept a lot of people who were planning to help
occupy the park away. There were only a couple hundred
people here, drying off, straightening up, and winding
down.

I walked over to the chess table. Bystanders held their
cell phones over the table to offer the players some
light. I watched a game between an Eastern European
student with a backpack and a young Middle Eastern man in
a baseball cap. One glance at their position told me these
guys were patzers. I asked them how much they were playing
for.

"We aren't gambling."

No shit. I asked who has next; the onlookers all shook
their heads. I sat down and played the Middle Eastern kid
and end up holding the table for the next couple of hours.
I'm no chess master. My last rated game had me around
1450. But tonight I was king of the park. It isn't saying
much. This is no Washington Square Park. The players in
Zuccotti Park are an embarrassment to the
lumpenproletariat park-dwellers of New York City. Then
James showed up.

James was a young Puerto Rican guy from the Bronx. He
worked for the MTA, a member of TWU Local 100. He had on a
59fifty Yankees cap, a grey hoodie and a backpack. He was
polite and pleasant. Like me he had a wife and baby at
home. He kept texting his wife to let her know he was
still okay and not in jail. He told me he was "a little
rusty." I beat him pretty easily in our first game. I even
let him take back a few moves. I felt like a goddamn
grandmaster. Then he brought me back down to earth with
one question.

"You want to play for money?"

for the rest of this story, go to
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/5-chess-game-best-of-three-zuccotti-park

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