Why are there so few (if any) chess cafes in England today? I think itâ€™s a great shame that â€˜socialâ€™, as opposed to â€˜competitiveâ€™, 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 arenâ€™t many references to chess cafes on this site.
Itâ€™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 didnâ€™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 wasnâ€™t a scouting expedition, anyway.]
I fear I may be waffling. Letâ€™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 dâ€™Ã©tre. 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 isnâ€™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 â€˜the coffee house styleâ€™ entered the lexicon long ago.
So â€˜What is to be done?â€™ - 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.
â€˜I have nothing to declare but my geniusâ€™ (Oscar Wilde)
â€˜The problem with you Clive is that youâ€™re not as good as you think you ought to be.â€™ (Sandys Dickinson).