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The Searching For Bobby Fischer Chess Park

Oct 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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One location that I have been wanting to stalk for years now is the park where child prodigy Josh Waitzkin (aka Max Pomeranc) and Vinnie (aka Laurence Fishburne) played chess in the 1993 movie Searching for Bobby Fischer.  I actually thought I had found this location in Central Park during my very first trip to the Big Apple six years ago, but upon closer inspection after arriving home, realized I had stalked the wrong outdoor chess park.  LOL  It turns out that New York has quite a few of them.  Then last year, thanks to fave New York stalking book Manhattan On Film: Walking Tours of Hollywood’s Fabled Front Lot, I finally found the right spot!  And I was shocked to discover that Chess Table Alley, as it is more commonly known, is actually located in Washington Square Park, a place that I had visited numerous times on my many trips to New York!  Ugh!  I can be such an airhead sometimes!  LOL

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Not only has Searching for Bobby Fischer long been one of my family’s favorite movies, but chess has also long been one of our favorite games. I can’t say that any of us are especially good at it, but we love to play nonetheless.  So, in 1993 when a film based on the life of real life child chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin premiered, you can bet we were some of the first in line to see it.   Ever since that day, I’ve wanted to see, in person, the outdoor chess tables where Josh first perfected his game.  And, during last years trip to New York, I finally got to do just that!  Thanks to the movie, I had visions dancing in my head of the park being occupied by hundreds of chess geniuses hunkered over the cement tables, furiously punching timers and screaming out “Check mate!” to their opponents, but, in actuality, that’s not really the case.

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When we got to Chess Table Alley, the tables were surprisingly empty – probably due to the fact that it was about three degrees below zero outside – and the place was startlingly quiet.  LOL  There honestly wasn’t a soul to be found or a chess player in sight!  Nevertheless, it was still extremely exciting to be stalking the outdoor chess park.  And, I am happy to report that it still looks very much the same in person as it did in the movie.   The name “Chess Table Alley” is something of a misnomer, though.  The outdoor chess park is actually set up in the shape of a semi-circle, not an alley, and, unfortunately, because of  the way it is situated, I wasn’t able to snap a great photograph of the entire thing.  But you can get an idea of what it looks like in the picture above.

According to Wikipedia, not only did Stanley Kubrick play on the outdoor tables as a child, but Chess Table Alley was also featured in the 2002 movie Bad Company starring Chris Rock.

Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The Searching for Bobby Fischer chess park, aka Chess Table Alley, is located in the Southwest corner of Washington Square Park, off MacDougal and West 4th Streets, in New York’s Greenwich Village.

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  1. David says:

    One of my favorite movies as well, Lindsay. GREAT find.

    So excited to see what else you stalk during your trip.


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