The men of the Capitol Pool Checkers Club move through life together

Members of Washington's Capitol Pool Checkers Club gather nearly every evening for a friendly game of checkers, some camaraderie -- and lots of trash talking.
Washington Post Staff Writer
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."

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