The Chess Hustler
I’ve avoided writing a story on the Washington Square chess hustlers because they are almost too obvious. Many of them are homeless, or borderline homeless. But they are the smartest homeless people in the world. A lot of them are drug addicts. They are all eccentric. When you walk by the chessboards, they call out to you, trying to convince you to “take a shot.” The starting wager is $2 a game. I’ve never played. But I imagine, like all hustlers, they let you win the $2 game. They probably even let you win the next $2 game. Then, reluctantly, they allow you to raise the wager to $20. That’s when they beat you in 90 seconds.