NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) –  Chess Forum opened on Thompson Street in 1995 as both a store for game equipment and a parlor for community gathering.

At crowded tables, strangers of all ages and backgrounds became chess opponents and conversation partners, debating ideas and discussing life.

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“This place is an integral part of the puzzle that makes the picture of New York City,” owner Imad Khachan told CBS2’s Elle McLogan.

That was until the coronavirus pandemic took the “forum” out of Chess Forum.

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After a temporary closure, the business reopened exclusively as a retail space, restricting gameplay to two card tables set up on the narrow Greenwich Village sidewalk on good-weather days.

Khachan looks forward to welcoming players back indoors at limited capacity this season. The impact of the virus has been devastating.

“In terms of business, basically, we are down around 75 to 80 percent, so this is a catastrophe,” he said.

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Despite the setback, he refuses to give up.

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“A real captain stays on deck, either saves the ship or sinks with it,” he said.

It is his mission to contribute to his city in its time of need.

“This is the city that gave us this opportunity, that gave us home.”

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To keep the doors open, he now depends on the purchase of chess sets and donations through the Chess Forum website.

To Khachan, his chess community is family. Thinking of them reminds him to stay strong.

“I’ll not let you down,” he said.

Chess Forum
219 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 475-2369

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Elle McLogan