The Former Village Chess Shop

For more than forty years, 230 Thompson Street was the home of chess in New York City. The Village Chess Shop operated nearly continuously for much of that period, open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Legend is that it never closed.

Much of the time, it operated more like a club, famous for the players who would happily take on all comers. And the business spawned a sibling rivalry of sorts. The New York Times, in 1995, called it a “war”, between owner and founder George Frohlinde and a former employee who started a competing business across the street. Yes, there was even a lawsuit, and The Wall Street Journal followed up on the long-lasting family feud more than a decade later.

Even before the Village Chess Shop, the area had become known as “Chess Row” or “Chess Alley”. And George had gotten his start at a shop owned by Nicolas Rosolimo, who perhaps did more than anyone else to bring chess to the area.

Everyone played at the Chess Shop- from modern greats like Magnus Carlsen to celebrities like Dave Chappelle and Heath Ledger. Woody Allen filmed part of a movie on-site with Larry David. And the many local characters and charming “only in New York” business became a famous spot for tourists to grab pictures.

We’re proud to build on the tradition of this Greenwich Village historical spot, and continue a legacy of board gaming.