Challenge Chess Masters in Harvard Square, But Beware of Hustlers

Prepare for war if you head into Harvard Square because there are battles raging across chess boards in this legendary spot for one of the world’s most popular games.

For years, this historic gathering place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been the hub for chess pros to find challengers and amateurs to prove their skills against some of the top players in the area.

"Once you establish this is where the strong players play, that’s where everyone gravitates towards," said President of the Massachusetts Chess Association Nathan Smolensky. "On a nice day, when you get some fresh air and some good games. Nothing like it, it’s exhilarating."

Over the years this area has been the training ground for players like International Master David Vigorito, and the young champions like Master Carissa Yip. There is no gender or age separation when it comes to chess in this public space, all that matters is the skill of players.

You’ll need that skill if you want to challenge the chess hustlers who are playing for money and ready to take advantage of the overconfident players.

This mecca for the local chess scene has gone through some changes over the years and has been recently renovated with chess players in mind. Tables with chess boards on them have returned after a two-year hiatus, and players can be seen in action in front of the Smith Campus Center.

A whos-who of the best players in the area held a tournament to celebrate this return and the birthday of William Dean Collins, a well-known local chess hustler. He has been playing in Harvard Square for decades and capitalizing on all the mistakes other players make.

"Moving quick for one, being overconfident for two," said Collins, "because when you are overconfident you try things you wouldn't try with somebody you think is as good as you. You try tricks."

Whether you are looking for a quick game with a friend or a challenge against a chess pro, Harvard Square is the spot that should be on your Boston Bucket List.

Have something you'd like to add to the Boston Bucket List? Tweet your idea to @NBC10Boston with the hashtag #BostonBucketList.

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