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Saturday, November 12, 2011

When chess is a healing process for these Cambodians!

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi everyone,

Chess games are played at a gathering spot in Long Beach's enclave of Cambodian refugees and immigrants, many of whom fled the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime. (Bob Chamberlin, Los Angeles Times / September 1, 2011)
This lovely photo is taken from an article in The Los Angeles Times. A nice read. Here it is:

Escaping into the realm of Cambodian chess

By Lauren Williams, Los Angeles Times

The Cambodian men gather near a parking lot hunched over chessboards, some contemplating their next move, others squeezed in closely, offering strategy. Some tease opponents or cheer on players.

The ages range wildly from 18 to 70, but all share an obsession with Cambodian chess, which varies subtly from the game commonly played in the U.S.

They come together every day on a sidewalk on the eastern cusp of Long Beach's Cambodia Town. The smell of tobacco hangs heavy over the group, and a small heap of sunflower seeds sits within spitting distance. The men press together under the shade of a bottle brush tree jutting out of the sidewalk where a Cambodian flag flies alongside an American one. The buzzing of traffic along busy Anaheim Street doesn't faze them as they shuffle pieces across the board.

It is here in an enclave of refugees and immigrants, many of whom fled the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime, that an addicting game of lateral and sideways moves brings escape from a dark past.

"It's part of a healing process," said Gary Fultheim who owns a building near the pick-up chess competitions. "All the problems that the Third World can put forth, Cambodia had. This is their escape from that. This is their cheap psychiatry."

Continue reading here.
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