Chess provides refuge for economic downtrodden
4:57 PM, Jan 7, 2012
DENVER – Down on the 16th Street Mall, there’s a place where anybody can be king. And, if you ask them about the kingdom, they say someone’s been making the wrong moves. “We’re beggars and it hurts,” said Alex Maxwell, a homeless man. “There are a lot of people that come down here. A lot of them are homeless.”
Near the corner of 16th Avenue and Arapahoe Street, there are tables set up for people to play chess. Maxwell says he plays and adds that it gives people a break from their daily woes.
“When you see people come down here and play chess, they’re on common ground,” said Maxwell. “It shows how intellectual a lot of people are.”
If you watch the games, there’s sophisticated strategy at play.
“You can’t just sit there and look at those pieces and decide in one or two minutes how you’re gonna move,” said Dionne Gilbert, a newspaper distributor who watches the chess matches frequently. “It’s highly strategic, but it also takes an awful lot of deep thinking.”
Steve Kelly is unemployed and plays chess on the mall all the time. He says the chess board provides a good analogy as to what’s wrong with America’s economy.
“You’ve got the fully employed economy using everything,” said Kelly. “You get the unemployed economy without anything to do battle with.”
If life is like a game of chess, then many of the people playing down here are like pawns already taken off the game board.
Kelly says the answer is get people back on the board.
“You put everybody back to work and then the economy is fine,” said Kelly.
Until then, they’ll have their little corner of chess to ease.
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