“Every. Single. Day.”
Monster, along with others who go by names such as “Master B” and “Master Paul,” said they gather at the park every day at around 9:00am and play until the sun sets. Some of them are homeless. Others, out of work. And still others, simply looking for a fun and relaxing way to pass the time during a break or day off from the job.
“You wouldn’t know it from just looking at them, but we have some real masters here,” said Monster. “They’re working their way into tournaments in Manhattan or in Tompkins Park.”
“He beats everybody, and can play 3, 4 people at one time,” Monster said. “When he was six years old, he used to come out and have to sit on his knees to see over the table. Even back then, he was beating everybody. He’s the real chess master around here. Nobody can beat him…”
Monster suddenly jerks away and yells, “Eh! Eh! Eh! Look at that over there, that’s The Mayor, y’all!”
“Hey Bratton!” he yells.
“No fool,” says one of his comrades, “It’s de Blasio. His name is de Blasio!”
Mayor de Blasio waved from the sidewalk, paused a second, and then decided to come greet the enthusiastic crowd of chess players, joined by a group of squealing women and children who seemed to appear from out of nowhere.
He stopped to sign autographs and take pictures with the excited group of park goers.
There was one group, however, playing speed chess who, although they had heard the commotion, stayed fixed on their game. Their eyes hadn’t moved from the chess board once. And that’s the table Mayor de Blasio decided to approach.
The other players returned to their tables smiling widely– a little more lifted than they were just ten minutes earlier.
After a decade of the same ol’ chess routine in Fulton Park, that unexpected visit by the mayor for them was, no doubt, “checkmate.”
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