Why are there so few (if any) chess cafes in England today? I think it’s a great shame that ‘social’, as opposed to ‘competitive’, chess rarely gets linked up with hospitality and cuisine.
I must confess that I only really know London and the South East [famous quote from Dr. Johnson can be supplied on request!
], but a trawl around the Internet is most uninformative, and there certainly aren’t many references to chess cafes on this site.
It’s perfectly true that there was such an establishment in Camden in the late 1980s [can anyone remember the exact name and location?] but it didn’t last for very long. I remember that the chess side of this enterprise was reasonably successful, but I also recall visiting it in passing on a weekday afternoon and it was completely dead and I was the only customer. [I must have had some now forgotten - but important - reason for visiting that part of the world on non-chess business; I distinctly recall that it wasn’t a scouting expedition, anyway.]
I fear I may be waffling. Let’s cut to the chase.
This small piece of evidence, and a strong intuition on my part, tells me that a chess cafe has to work as a catering business without the chess element, and that the chess has to be worked in as an element of the enterprise, rather than the raison d’étre. And I think this probably directs us to the nub of the problem; the kind of person who is attracted to (and skilful in) catering and hospitality probably isn’t going to be that interested in the noble game; and the warriors of the sixty-four squares are usually followers of Fischer, not Floyd (Keith). But clearly the problem is not insurmountable, because chess cafes flourish in other countries, and the famous phrase ‘the coffee house style’ entered the lexicon long ago.
So ‘What is to be done?’ - as Chernyshevsky and Ulanov once put it. I have my own theories, but I wanted to hear from you guys (and guyesses). Why else post here?
All thoughts and contributions gratefully received.
‘I have nothing to declare but my genius’ (Oscar Wilde)
‘The problem with you Clive is that you’re not as good as you think you ought to be.’ (Sandys Dickinson).