NERDY IN LA: Chessmaster Gets No Ass

This is the first installment of a new monthly series I’ll be writing for the LA Weekly called “Nerdy in LA” about ways to engage your nerdiness in the 323, the 310, the 213, SOMETIMES the 818 and very occasionally the 626. If you’re a Nerdist in LA or are merely fascinated by our poor public transportation and vapid egocentricism, then this periodical offering is for YOU. Thanks get heaped onto my friend Erin Broadley, the hot pack of firecrackers with a rapier wit who asked me to do this.


Founder Mick Bighamian (right) will be nice to you

Nerdy in LA: The Los Angeles Chess Club and Reflections on a Jr. High Championship (the Chessmaster Gets no Ass, it Turns Out)


The year was 1984. I had won the Memphis City Jr. High Chess Championship, narrowly defeating my arch nemesis Gus Lipman. Gus was a “Mr. Boy” type of kid who wore tortoise shell glasses, a London Fog trench coat and carried a briefcase for some reason (We were ELEVEN. What was in that briefcase? Filed boogers?). His heart was made of spiders and he had acid where his blood should be. He was a chess bully. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? ALL-CAPS MEANS YOU ARE EXTRA-WRONG. When a jock comes at you, you know what’s happening — some type of physical assault that heals up with medicine and time. A chess bully, however, tries to creep into your psyche like a cockroach in the walls.

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