Chess Boy at a younger age, no less a chess master

What we imagine Chess Boy looked like at a younger (no less expert) age

Bwog sent investigative Staff Writer Amara Banks to discover the true identity of Morningside Heights’ elusive Chess Boy. What she found might surprise you. (Or perhaps even checkmate you.)

You may or may not have noticed the chess lesson flyers decorating Morningside Heights’ street lamps and ATMs. The person posting them claimed to be a chess prodigy and was offering lessons for $20. The only thing I wanted more than to meet a chess prodigy was to learn to play chess, so it was certainly worth reaching out to him.

After some communication back and forth over email, a time and place was set with the self-promoted chess genius. He never disclosed his name or any identifying factors during our email exchange, so in order to find him in Diana I actually had to yell out, “chess boy!” Luckily he responds to that as well as his real name, Gabe. I choose to further affectionately refer to him as “Chess Boy.”

Being that he is a senior in high school, I was impressed with his ability to claim Chess Tutor as his part-time job. Chess Boy seemed to be very smart—he wore a New York Times sweatshirt, was punctual, and had short fingernails. When I asked him where he was applying to college, he said Yale. However, I could tell there were other things that Chess Boy was good at, and as our lesson went on, one of those things was revealed to me: being sick.

I have had a cold since I moved in last month, and until my lesson, I honestly thought that no one could do congestion better than I could. But Chess Boy proved me wrong. Not only did he out sniffle me, but he was also equipped with a secretly stashed handkerchief (like, an actual piece of cloth, and not just a tissue.) As I desperately (and disgustingly) wiped my nose on my sleeve, he professionally blew his nose into soft, forgiving cotton. Although I did lose the chess game that we played during the second half of the session, I felt more defeated by the fact that he wore a cold better than I did.

Despite the colds that we were battling, the lesson itself was actually great. Chess Boy brought the game pieces and after showing me the basics, we played a game together. I didn’t realize how much thought went into every single move; I found myself taking a lot of time when it was my turn. He was very patient though when it was my turn; he quietly sat, blew his nose, and thought about Yale. At the conclusion of my lesson, Chess Boy asked me reflective questions that challenged me intellectually—when did you start to realize the consequences of your moves when you didn’t think them through, what motivated you to think about all of the outcomes of your actions, etc. I don’t know if he intended to, but he got me to think about life and my choices in general. Chess Boy dug deep.

His lessons are $20, which is a bit of a high charge. However, he is also a high school senior trying to pay his application fees, so we happily paid the price. Invest in today’s youth and pick up a mentally sexy skill—take a chess lesson with Morningside Heights’ Chess Boy. You can contact Gabe at Tell him Bwog sent you.

Young chess boy via Shutterstock