The men of the Capitol Pool Checkers Club move through life together
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Clack. Clack. Clack.
White jumps black.
"Crown me, mister! Just crown me! You don't have a move on the board."
"Put him down. I put him there for a reason, for a season."
"You talkin' way, way, way much too much trash!"
"This is checkers, man! This ain't no damn chess!"
It's a Tuesday evening at the Capitol Pool Checkers Club, at Ninth and S streets NW, and outside the air is cool, cold and gentrified. Inside, nothing much has changed since the '80s. The yellowing tiles of a linoleum floor still yellowing. Wood paneling still buckling. Refrigerator singing. Scent of intensity.
Six checkerboards and 24 men. Their shoulders curled, hovering over a game that mesmerizes them. Brings them out nearly every evening like a sweet addiction. The coolness of a checker in hand. The flatness of the board that rises before them like an empire.
The checkers club is a throwback to the days when men gathered across class and income lines to compete and play the dozens. No women around -- fussing, nagging -- to mess with the mind. Just men and their conversations and games in a competition that will go down to the wire, way past midnight.
"Man, what kind of checkers are you playing?"
"You don't have a move on the board, mister. Not one have you got."